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An employee inspects archive documents at the office of human rights group Memorial in Moscow, Russia on November 15, 2021.
An employee inspects archive documents at the office of human rights group Memorial in Moscow, Russia on November 15, 2021. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian human rights organization Memorial, one of the winners of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, was established in 1987 by human rights activists in the former Soviet Union to expose the abuses and atrocities of the Stalinist era.

The group “wanted to ensure that the victims of the communist regime’s oppression would never be forgotten,” according to the Nobel committee.

Memorial’s work is “based on the notion that confronting past crimes is essential in preventing new ones,” it said, noting that the group has been at the “forefront of efforts to combat militarism and promote human rights and government based on rule of law.”

The Nobel committee highlighted the work of the group during the Chechen wars, during which they gathered and verified information on abuses and war crimes perpetrated on the population by Russian and pro-Russian forces.

The head of Memorial’s branch in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was killed in 2009 as a result of this work, according to the Nobel committee.

Last December, Russia’s Supreme Court ordered the closure of Memorial International, ruling that the group had fallen afoul of Russia’s “foreign agent” law. But Memorial said the real reason for the shutdown was that authorities did not approve of its work.

The ruling was a huge blow to Russia’s hollowed-out civil society organizations, which have increasingly fallen victim to President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.

Live updates: Read the latest on the Nobel Peace Prize here.


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