Polish, Baltic States presidents express concern about Memorial association

“We express our concern regarding historical revisionism in Russia and specifically the possible closure of Memorial,” , the Presidents of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Andrzej Duda, Alar Karis, Egils Levits and Gitanas Nausėda, respectively), wrote in a statement published on Thursday in response to the ongoing process of liquidating the association which began in Moscow.

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As they pointed out, “Memorial is one of the oldest independent organisations involved in defending human rights in Russia and documenting Stalinist crimes across the whole former Soviet area.”

The presidents expressed their appreciation of the association’s determination and dedication to “commemorate the victims of Soviet crimes perpetrated against the Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian nations, as well as against millions of Russians, Ukrainians and people of other nationalities.”

They also deemed the “Memorial’s” work “an important contribution to the European collective memory.”

“We will stand together to ensure historical remembrance of the crimes committed by totalitarian regimes,” the statement concluded.

Memorial, established in 1989, is a Russian non-governmental organisation fully independent of the authorities, which documents and promotes knowledge about communist repressions and their victims, deals with the defence of human rights in Russia and provides charity assistance to victims of political repressions carried out by the former Soviet and modern authorities in the country.

The association also deals with repressions against Poles in the Soviet Union. The Polish Commission operates within it, which is seeking, inter alia, for the judicial rehabilitation of the victims of the Katyń massacre and declassification of the reasons for the decision of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation to discontinue the investigation into the Katyń case in 2004.

On Thursday, November 25, the process of liquidating Memorial began in Moscow. The country’s Supreme Court is to examine the application of the Prosecutor General’s Office, which accuses the association of violating the law on “foreign agents.”

In the opinion of Memorial’s management, the accusations are groundless and politically motivated. According to Alexander Guryanov, the head of the organisation’s Polish section, if the association ceases to exist, its archives will have to be secured.