Activists of the Russian Memorial Association Alexander Guryanov and Oleg Orlov were arrested on Sunday during an anti-war protest in Moscow. The arrests took place at the Theatre Square near the Bolshoi Theatre. The activists arrived in the square and held up posters with anti-war slogans. Several minutes later they were approached by police officers and taken to a police station.
Guryanov is the head of the Polish section of the Memorial Association, which researches political repression against Polish citizens in the USSR, including the Katyń Massacre. Last year, the Russian authorities forced the Memorial association – one of the oldest non-governmental organisations in Russia – to shut down. The order was upheld by the Supreme Court of Russia on 28 February 2022.
According to OVD-Info, an organisation monitoring political persecution in Russia, more than 15,000 people have been detained in Russia for protesting against the war in Ukraine since the start of the invasion on February 24, 2022.
The Russian Memorial Association was founded in the 1980s as an association encompassing independent organisations, including 10 operating outside of Russia. For 30 years, the organisation had been researching political repression – including against Poles – in the USSR.