VOC Urges International Community To Stand Against Persecution of Memorial Society

We, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOCMF) in Washington, D.C., call on the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation and the Russian government to cease the persecution of the Russian Memorial Society and to close the cases now pending in the Russian courts against the organization.

The Memorial Society is the most famous and respected educational and human rights organization in Russia and its work in preserving the memory of the victims of Stalin era repression is of significance not only for Russia but for the world. Founded in 1989 by Andrei Sakharov and other leading Soviet dissidents to document the crimes of the Soviet Union, its mission is to promote mature civil society and democracy based on rule of law, to assist the formation of public consciousness and the establishment of human rights in practical politics and in public life, and to promote the revelation of the truth about the historical past and perpetuate the memory of the victims of political repression under the Soviet Union.

The Russian government has labeled Memorial a “foreign agent” and is now absurdly treating the claim that Memorial has not so labeled itself as a reason for the organization’s liquidation. Memorial has done more than any other organization to tell the truth about communist crimes. It played a vital role in the fall of the Soviet Union and it remains a resource on which millions of people still depend. In 2017 for the Centennial Commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation bestowed its highest honor, the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, upon the Memorial Society.

During her acceptance remarks, Elena Zhemkova, director of the Memorial Society, stated that fear in Russia is deep-rooted, a legacy of communism where the memory of Stalin is still vivid. “You do not have to arrest all, just a few, and the rest will fall in line. Distrust is widespread, as is xenophobia.”

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation urges the international community to stand against the Russian government’s persecution of Memorial Society. We express our solidarity with the dedicated staff and scholars of the Memorial Society and look forward to them continuing their work in an atmosphere free of threats and intimidation.