THEY WON’T BREAK US! Statement by Perm Memorial


Perm Memorial cannot remain silent on the subject of pressure imposed on it by the law-enforcement bodies.

Two months ago, the Perm regional branch of Memorial was wrongfully charged with “unauthorized appropriation of forest grounds” and sentenced to administrative fines of 250,000 rubles (about 3500 euros or 3900 US dollars). These proceedings followed one of our expeditions “On the Rivers of Memory” in August 2019, during which a small group of volunteers travelled to the former “special settlement” of Galyashor in the Kudymkar (Komi-Permyak) district in order to clear the local cemetery. The “incriminating evidence” for the charges were several old tree stumps (that had been chopped down long before our expedition) and a memorial sign built three years before (not by Perm Memorial) in the memory of the victims of political repressions who had died there. The establishment of the memorial sign had already led to an administrative investigation in 2016, but the case was eventually dropped.

Criminal proceedings about “illegal felling of trees” are currently under way. On October 31, the day after the official Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions, searches were conducted in our office and at the home of our director. Financial statements and IT equipment were confiscated. The participants of the expedition to Galyashor have also been interrogated as witnesses.

The local policemen who turned up at the cemetery in Galyashor on August 10 to stop the volunteers’ work, on the initiative of the Perm Krai Directorate of the FSB (fact recorded in documents related to the case), also took part in the searches on October 31. Recently the campaign to discredit our work has been fueled by malevolent journalists spreading vile allegations.

We cannot and will not condone false accusations related to events that never even happened.

We consider all criminal proceedings against Memorial to be unfounded and all accusations absurd. This ugly campaign has been aimed at bringing discredit and eventually closing down an independent public organization that tries to prevent political repressions from happening again in Russia. Someone apparently doesn’t endorse our activities and aspires to make widespread abuse of power a reality again. Plans to fulfill this purpose are now being carried out.

We ask the members of Memorial not to believe the ridiculous accusations against us and to remain critical of the information being published in mass media at the hand of state propaganda.

We ask the governor and authorities of the Perm Krai to review objectively the activities of our organization and to take a clear stand on this conflict, in which the Ministry of Environment of the Perm Krai is actively involved.

We ask the Public Prosecution Office of the Perm Krai to determine the legitimacy of the actions of law-enforcement bodies towards Memorial and its director Robert Latypov; to determine the relevancy of the involvement of members of the Perm Krai Directorate of the FSB and of the regional Center for Counter-extremism; and to determine the right of the journalists of REN-TV to presumably have access to confidential information related to the investigation.

We ask the media community to react in due form to the provocation of REN-TV and to ensure that aggressive behavior, the manipulation of facts and overt defamation of public organizations and activists don’t become the standard among journalists.

We now turn to all independent public organizations, to the international civil society and to all people not indifferent to this situation: we need your solidarity and support, which can take various forms.

Visual support through banners, pictures and posts on social media – there are already some out there, feel free to add yours.

Formal support, by sharing our statement, signing the petition on the platform Change.org or publishing personal messages in support of Memorial.

At the moment we don’t need financial support, but it might happen in the future, should the courts dismiss the objection we filed against the administrative fines we were sentenced to.

Finally, if you reside on the territory of the Russian Federation and share our values, you would send us the greatest message of solidarity by becoming a member of Memorial. Most of the victims of political repressions, who have always been the foundation of our organization, have passed away. We need the younger generations to carry on the mission of Memorial. No privileges or responsibilities involved, and we would greatly appreciate your support.

The bigger our organization, the harder it will be to break it.

 

The Board of the Perm Regional Branch of the International Historical and Civil Rights Society “Memorial”

November 17, 2019 

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