Russia: court closes Sakharov human rights center

The Moscow City Court ruled Aug. 18 to liquidate the Public Commission for the Preservation of the Heritage of Academician Sakharov, or the Sakharov Center, one of Russia's most respected human rights organizations, for "systematic, gross and irremediable violations of the law." The order was granted after an application from the Ministry of Justice.

The Sakharov Center, established in 1996, had been convening public discussions for Russian citizens to speak about the status of human rights and freedom in the country. Earlier this year, inspections were conducted by the Justice Ministry, finding that the Center's discussion groups constituted a "violation of its territorial sphere of activity."

In January, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office added the US-based Andrei Sakharov Foundation, which patners with the Sakharov Center, to its list of "undesirable organizations." The following day, the Sakharov Center's building in Moscow was seized. In a statement, the Sakharov Center warned of closing political space in Russia, saying:

Uncontrolled power...corrupts society... Sakharov warned about this, we see it with our own eyes today.

The decision to dissolve the Sakharov Center was denounced by the French foreign ministry, which said in a statement that "these repressive, arbitrary actions once again demonstrate the Russian authorities' contempt for the rule of law and democratic principles."

From Jurist, Aug. 21. Used with permission.

Note: The Sakharov Center is named for Soviet nuclear physicist and Nobel Prize-winning human rights activist Andrei Sakharov.

See our last report on the crackdown on dissent in Russia.