Now it is the turn of the Moscow Helsinki Group to be liquidated

January 3, 2023

Tanya Lokshina, Associate Director, Europe and Central Asia Division, reported on 21 December 2022 on how the Moscow Helsinki Group MHG), Russia’s oldest Human Rights Group, faces ‘Liquidation’

Moscow Helsinki Group’s logo
Moscow Helsinki Group’s logo.  © 2022 Moscow Helsinki Group

Last week, Russia’s Justice Ministry filed a petition with the Moscow City Court seeking “liquidation” of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), a leading Russian human rights organization.

On 12 May Tanya Lokshina received one of MHG’s annual awards for contributions to human rights and the Russian human rights movement. She writes: “By then, in the aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the authorities had shut down Human Rights Watch’s Moscow office, along with the offices of 14 other foreign nongovernmental organizations. I had already left the country with the rest of our team, and my 9-year-old son received the beautifully framed award on my behalf. I first saw it several weeks later, when he joined me in Tbilisi, Georgia, where I had relocated to continue my work. I generally don’t display awards and diplomas, but receiving one from MHG was so special that it now hangs on my wall.”

MHG was founded in 1976 by Soviet dissidents to expose governmental repression. It lasted nine months before the government jailed or forced practically all its members into exile. After the USSR’s collapse, the group revived in the 1990’s under the leadership of Lyudmilla Alexeeva, a legendary human rights defender, and has been working tirelessly to expose abuses, build up a country-wide human rights movement in Russia, and advocate for the rule of law. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/10/russian-human-rights-defender-ludmila-mikhailovna-alexeeva-is-no-longer/]

The liquidation lawsuit is based on the Justice Ministry’s ad hoc inspection of MHG. The liquidation petition cites several supposed violations of Russia’s stifling legislation on nongovernmental organizations, including the group being registered in Moscow but operating elsewhere in Russia, and the group’s charter lacking information on the location of its executive body. These are obviously bureaucratic pretexts that could not justify such a drastic move.

This year, Moscow courts liquidated four other major human rights groups in addition to Memorial, so it’s hard to find optimism for a fair trial for MHG. But it’s not hard to be optimistic about Russia’s human rights movement. It outlasted the Soviet Union; it will outlast today’s oppressors. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/12/12/foreign-agent-law-in-russia-from-bad-to-worse/.

And it goes on, the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, see: 24 January 2023 HRW post: https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/01/24/russia-designates-another-rights-organization-undesirable

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/12/21/russias-oldest-human-rights-group-faces-liquidation

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