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Moscow court dissolves Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia’s oldest human rights organization
A Moscow court granted the Russian Justice Ministry’s request to terminate the activities of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), the oldest human rights organization in Russia, reports independent outlet Mediazona.
In its lawsuit, the Justice Ministry claimed that MHG violated laws pertaining to social organizations by operating outside of the Moscow region, and that the organization’s charter doesn’t comply with current legal requirements.
The Justice Ministry filed a lawsuit against MHG in December 2022, on a “technicality,” according to Eva Merkacheva, a member of Russia’s Presidential Council on Human Rights.
The Moscow Helsinki Group was founded in 1976 to contribute the USSR’s fulfillment of the humanitarian obligations it assumed when it signed the Helsinki Accords in 1975. One of its co-founders was the famous historian and human rights advocate Lyudmila Alexeyeva, who headed the group from 1996 until her death in 2018. Since its formation, the MHG was subject to constant persecution and repression by the KGB and other Soviet law enforcement agencies, which arrested or forced into emigration over a dozen MHG members between 1976 and 1982.
“You’re committing a grave sin. You’re destroying the human rights movement, destroying it! The dissolution of MHG is a serious blow to the human rights movement not only in Russia, but also worldwide,” Soviet dissident and co-chairman of the organization Valery Borshchev told the court. “The ease with which you decide our fate astonishes me. How can you so easily destroy what took decades to build?”
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