St Petersburg “Memorial” archives still not returned


On 24 February the St Petersburg City Court allowed a cassation appeal from the Prosecutor against the ruling of the Dzherzhynsky District Court from 20 January. The latter had found the search on 4 December 2008 of the research and information centre “Memorial” in St. Petersburg to have been illegal, and had ordered the Prosecutor to return all material removed.

The City Court revoked this ruling, deciding that that in the first instance court, the issue had not been sufficiently examined of the authority of lawyer Gabuny present at the search to represent Memorial’s interests.  The case has been sent for a new examination by the same court but with new judges. The date for the hearing has not yet been set.

The previous court ruling ordering the return of the material removed to its lawful owner has been annulled.

The hard discs of the computers containing the results of the St Petersburg Memorial Centre’s work over twenty years - a unique database on the history of Stalin’s Terror – thus continues to be held by the Prosecutor.

The research and educational work of the St Petersburg Centre is as a result to a large extent paralysed.

Today the St Petersburg City Court had the possibility to turn the page on the scandalous and absurd “case of the search of the Memorial Centre”. The Court did not avail itself of this opportunity. Its ruling will merely lead to procrastination and an escalation of a scandal which has already aroused international publicity.

Memorial for its part states that under the present conditions it sees no alternative but to conduct a consistent and full-scale defence of its rights, its professional reputation and good name by all lawful means at its disposal.

We will be regularly informing the Russian and international academic community of our further actions.

The International “Memorial” Society

Arseny Roginsky, Chair of the Board

The Research and Information Centre “Memorial” in St. Petersburg

Irina Flige, Director

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