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Moscow court dissolves Memorial Human Rights Center

Moscow court dissolves Memorial Human Rights Center
Russia's Supreme Court judge Alla Nazarova (L) reads the conclusion as lawyer Genri Reznik (C) and Memorial's lawyers listen during a hearing on the International Historical Educational Charitable and Human Rights Society 'Memorial' (International Memorial) case in Moscow on Tuesday. A Moscow City Court also dissolved the Memorial Human Rights Center in Wednesday. Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE

Dec. 29 (UPI) -- A Moscow court has ordered the dissolution of the Memorial Human Rights Center for the "justification of extremism and terrorism" one day after its Supreme Court revoked the legal status of its partner organization.

The center, along with Memorial International, had long been two of Russia's leading human rights organizations and a thorn in the side of the Kremlin under President Vladimir Putin.

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"The court decreed to fully satisfy the stated claims of the Public Prosecutor's office on the liquidation of the Memorial Human Rights Center interregional civic organization," a Moscow city judge said Wednesday, according to the state news agency TASS.

The Memorial Human Rights Center said it plans to appeal the decision to the European courts. Alexander Cherkasov, leader of the center, said he believed the court decision was politically motivated to suppress civil rights.

Russian prosecutors argued that the center's support for the Jehovah's Witnesses, a banned Christian religious group in Russia that they call "extremist," breached its law against such groups.

On Tuesday, Russia's Supreme Court ordered that Memorial International be shut down because it refused to list itself as a "foreign agent" on its website and other materials.

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The International Memorial Society, known as Memorial, was formed with the help of Nobel Peace laureate Andrei Sakharov during the last years of the Soviet Union as it exposed its array of prison camps that were holding political prisoners.

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