Human Rights in Russia week-ending 12 November 2021 - on Memorial, with Sergei Davidis and Jens Siegert

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This week on the podcast we discuss the current situation around Memorial and the moves by prosecutors to close down two organisations: the International Memorial Society and Memorial Human Rights Centre. Our guests on the podcast are Sergei Davidis and Jens Siegert. Sergei Davidis is head of the programme in support of political prisoners at the Memorial Human Rights Centre, an organisation of which he is also a board member. Jens Siegert is a German journalist, writer, and political scientist who has lived in Moscow for many years, was formerly head of the Böll Foundation office in Russia, and is a great friend and supporter of International Memorial.

The questions discussed in the podcast include:

What has happened? The International Memorial Society received two notices. The General Prosecutor's Office has filed a lawsuit to liquidate International Memorial, and the Moscow prosecutor's office is demanding that the Memorial Human Rights Centre also be closed down. Why such a ‘division of labour’ among prosecutors and why now? And what will happen to the regional branches of Memorial?

Just recently a group of people broke into the Memorial during a showing of a film about the Holodomor, then the police came, and the police searched Memorial’s premises and confiscated some of its equipment! Is there a connection between the events of October 14 (invasion + police) and November 11 (Supreme Court notice)?

How has the public in Russia and the international community reacted? Germany is said to have a special relationship with Memorial - what is the reaction there?

What is the significance of this attack on Russia's most prominent human rights organization?

What is the prognosis? What will happen to Memorial? What will happen to the human rights movement in Russia?

This podcast is in Russian. You can also listen to the podcast on our website or on SoundCloud, Podcasts.com, Spotify, iTunes and Anchor. The music, from Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, is performed for us by Karolina Herrera.

Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: "The scale and intensity of recent repression is so great that each new episode of repression competes for public attention," Sergei Davidis told us during the podcast. "Each of these events individually should be enough to outrage society. But when several such events happen on the same day, society simply does not have the strength and resources to react. It should be remembered that the possibility of street protests due to coronavirus bans is also ruled out. Nevertheless, many people have spoken out. On the level of public statements, support is strong." As well as Sergei, Jens Siegert also took part in the podcast. He told us that at first in Germany the news about the prosecutors' moves against Memorial were a big shock. "Few people thought the wave of repression that has been going on in Russia for a year now could reach organizations like International Memorial. It's too big an organization, too important. Many people thought they would probably not touch it. We see a lot of solidarity with Memorial, and I think it will continue to grow. There were protests in front of the Russian embassy in Germany and there will be more. People who are not indifferent see this attack on Memorial as the return of the Chekist state." Sergei Davidis said: "We will fight to the last." I'm sure that many, many people will sign up to these words.

Simon Cosgrove adds: ‘For further information about the past week in Russia, visit our website here.

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