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Memorial NGO appeals ‘foreign agent’ label in court

According to NGO’s executive director Yelena Zhemkova, the process was delayed because the organization waited from the Justice Ministry's response to its objections

MOSCOW, November 22. /TASS/. The Memorial international historical, educational, charity and rights society has appealed a decision of Russia’s Justice Ministry on designating it as a "foreign agent," the NGO’s executive director Yelena Zhemkova told TASS on Tuesday.

"The international Memorial brought an administrative action to the court to protest the decision of the Justice Ministry on recognizing the NGO as a foreign agent," Zhemkova said.

The lawsuit was filed with Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky court, she said, adding that the process was delayed as the organization waited for the ministry’s response to its objections.

"We received the response. The ministry said in it that we misinterpret the term "international organization" as Memorial is registered in Russia and by Russia’s Justice Ministry and that’s why this is a Russian organization, and they consider only foreign organizations as international ones," she said.

On October 4, the Justice Ministry proclaimed Memorial was a non-governmental/not-for-profit organization operating as a foreign agent and included it into the relevant register. Head of Memorial, Arseny Roginsky, told TASS he did not agree with this decision as it ran counter to the country’s Constitution Court’s ruling envisaging that international organizations like Memorial are not covered by the law on NGOs considered to be foreign agents.

Memorial is Russia’s oldest human rights organization that was founded in the late 1980s. Its initial task was to study the history of political repression in the former Soviet Union. Now it collects and publishes information about violations of human rights in the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).