COPENHAGEN, 29 January 2015 – The Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, Isabel Santos (MP, Portugal), today issued the following statement on the Russian Supreme Court’s rejection of a request by the Justice Ministry to close the human rights group Memorial:

"The decision of the Supreme Court to not shut down one of the country’s most prestigious and important human rights organizations is a rare bit of good news for Russian civil society. I fully welcome this development, while at the same time I reiterate my regret that draconian legislation made all of this necessary at all. Civil society organizations must be able to work free from fear of harassment or persecution and without unnecessary administrative burdens – all of which the Russian government is obligated to ensure. It is also my hope that Memorial will not be falsely branded a 'foreign agent' in the country which it has served for so many years.”

In November 2014 Santos called on Russian authorities to rescind restrictive regulations on the activities of Memorial and other NGOs. She noted that Memorial was compelled to change its charter in an effort to avoid forced closure.