Statement by the Free Historical Society: "We express solidarity with Memorial"

posted 17 Oct 2016, 05:15 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Oct 2016, 05:42 ]
10 October 2016

Source: [original source: Free Historical Society (Volnoe istoricheskoe obshchestvo)]

The Russian Ministry of Justice’s ruling on the inclusion of the International Memorial Society (full-name: International Historical-Educational, Charitable, and Human Rights Society ‘Memorial’, hereafter referred to as Memorial) in the registry of ‘organisations fulfilling the functions of a foreign agent’ causes bewilderment and protest.

The educational activities of Memorial in the field of history, dedicated to the study of Soviet terror, and the restoration and preservation of memory of its victims, has received widespread recognition in Russia as well as abroad. Memorial was one of the first civil society organisations established during perestroika. Since then, it has done much to fill gaps in the history of our country, preserve historical memory, defend society from inaccurate historical myths, and promote spiritual and moral development.

For a long time Memorial remained a most influential organisation, fighting for aims that are important for every historian: the opening of archives; free historical research; and the development of society’s historical consciousness. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Memorial made a colossal contribution to the formation of the historical memory of several generations of Russian citizens. The organisation has done a tremendous job collecting personal accounts of tragic episodes in the nation’s history, and is actively involved in the historical education of schoolchildren, facilitating a revival of interest in the country’s past through interest in the past of one’s family. The destruction of Memorial, or the imposition of the stigma of ‘foreign agent,’ will have a devastating impact on the mechanisms of historical self-identification among Russians.

The Free Historical Society shares Memorial’s conviction that only lessons from the past can lay the foundation for the building of a positive future for the country. We express solidarity with Memorial, and demand the reversal of the essentially illegal ruling of the Ministry of Justice, since it directly violates the Constitutional Court’s ruling that international and foreign organisations cannot be classified as ‘organisations fulfilling the functions of a foreign agent.’ We are convinced that the law itself, and other normative acts concerning ‘foreign agents,’ are resulting in absurd investigations and doing harm to Russian society and Russian academia. They must be repealed or radically revised.

Translated by Lincoln Pigman