Leader of human rights organisation Memorial Yan Rachinsky on Tuesday morning got his apartment raided by police. Photo: private

Police raids Nobel Peace Prize laureate Memorial

The human rights organisation is accused of "extremist" activities and for "rehabilitation of Nazism."
March 21, 2023


Officers from the Russian anti-extremism police department on Tuesday morning raided the homes of at least seven top representatives of Memorial. Among them are Board Leader Oleg Orlov, Deputy Board Leader Nikita Petrov and Managing Director Yan Rachinsky, the organisation informs.



The human rights defenders were subsequently taken to a Moscow police station for interrogations. They are charged with so-called “rehabilitation of Nazism.”

According to Russian prosecutors, Memorial has included in its lists of victims of Stalin’s great terror three names that reportedly either collaborated with Nazists during the Second World War or conducted treason against the motherland.


House search in the home of the peace prize winner. Photo: Yan Rachinsky



The allegations are rebuffed by Memorial

The new clamp-down of Memorial comes only few months after the organisation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In December 2022, Yan Rachinsky received the award in Oslo, Norway, together with co-winners Ales Bialiatski from Belarus and Oleksandra Matviichuk from the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties.

Memorial was built on the heritage of Andrei Zakharov and has been a cornerstone in east European civil society since it was established in the late 1980s. The human rights organisation has been instrumental in revealing the horrors and repression undertaken by Stalin and the KGB.

Memorial was officially ordered closed by Russian prosecutors in December 2021, but has still managed to continue parts of its operations.

In the case filed by the Russian General Prosecutor in early November 2021, Memorial is accused of having failed to comply with regulations on so-called “foreign agents.”

However, according to Memorial and its lawyers, other underlying issues are behind the case.

That was clearly confirmed by the General Prosecutor during the hearings. In one of his addresses, Prosecutor Zhafyarov said that “International Memorial creates a false picture of the SSSR as a terrorist state and smears the memory of the Great Patriotic War […],” Memorial informs.

According to Zhafyarov, Memorial tries to “rehabilitate Nazi criminals,” and furthermore that “someone is paying for it all.”


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