Bruno Kreisky Foundation

for Human Rights

Memorial Movement (Russia)

The umbrella-organization Memorial was founded during the political period of “perestroika” in the Soviet Union. It was created in response to the political persecution that occurred in the Soviet Union. Its main goal is processing Stalinist crimes committed within the Soviet Union, be they political or civil cases. Upon studying the Stalinist past the Memorial society realized the need to rehabilitate the victims of this time period. Above all they hope to ensure the rights of everyone living in former Soviet states in the future.

At its peak, Memorial had approximately 200 committees throughout the former Soviet Union. In January of 1995 Memorial was able to unite over 100 organizations to create an anti-war front. It currently is comprised of dozens of organizations in Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Georgia. They in turn run various types of research institutions including education centers, and museums. They have done extensive research on the detainees’ conditions in Nagorno-Karabakh, Tajikistan, Transdnistria, and on the conflicts in Ossetian-Ingushetian and Chechnya. Museums and libraries also exist in several cities. Memorial is responsible for several publications focused on human rights.

Memorial is a multi-faceted organization that supports human rights in many different areas. As well as their research efforts, they also supported the erection of literal memorials throughout the former states of the Soviet Union.

In 1991 the Law on Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression was passed. Since then Memorial has successfully pressured the government to amend it so that it is more effective. Memorial also strives to ensure that the government upholds all of the parts of the Law, especially those relating to compensation for victims of political persecution. Memorial directly helps those victims through legal and occasionally material assistance to elderly citizens who were subjected to time in Soviet prisons.

Memorial is currently trying to raise public awareness of disappearances in Ingushetia, as well as other parts of the country. Recently the head of Memorial, Oleg Orlov, was accused of slander by head of the President of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov for stating that the Chechnya politician was responsible for the unexplained disappearance and death of a memorial worker.