The historic Moscow Helsinki Group Wednesday was shut down by a Moscow court. The human rights group, founded in 1976, had been operational and highly influential in Russia since its founding.
The Russian Ministry of Justice had filed for the group’s abolition, and its petition had been approved, as per the judgment read out in court. However, the judgment can be appealed, which defence Lawyer Genry Reznik has pledged to do, before it becomes effective.
Although only the verdict has been delivered, the court’s motivation for the abolition of the group remains in question. During consideration, the court based its reasoning on the geographical location of the group’s human rights work, claiming that the group had gone beyond its territorial limitations to operate on a nationwide scale. The court took less than half an hour to make and deliver their verdict.
Valery Borshov, one of the three co-chairs of the organisation said during the hearing, “Dissolving the group is a serious blow to the human rights movement not only in Russia but also the world.”
The group’s termination comes amidst a Kremlin campaign to silence opposition to the War in Ukraine. The Moscow Helsinki Group had allegedly been providing support and protection to Ukrainians in Russia to avoid persecution. The Russian Government news page has refused to comment on this development to date.