NIOD Congratulates Memorial for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize
Memorial began in 1987 as an 11-person signature campaign for a monument to victims of Soviet terror under the honorary chairmanship of Andrei Sakharov, and has since grown into the most authoritative research center on Stalinism today. It has gathered thousands of eyewitness testimonies from Gulag victims and produced outstanding scholarly reference works on the Stalinist state apparatus. More than a generation of researchers has benefitted from the material sometimes literally unearthed by Memorial.
History in court
Memorial has been in a tug of war with the state for years on how the story of the Stalinist past should be told. In November of 2021, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation filed to liquidate the International Memorial Society.
In February, the liquidation was finalized. That move against Memorial – in the same week as Russia invaded Ukraine -- manifested an entrenched, systemic hostility to freedom of expression, and the erosion of intellectual and academic freedom in Russia.
It followed years of harassment of Memorial by the authorities -- under the guise of failing to conform to the notorious 2012 “foreign agent” law (alleging that organizations that receive foreign donations, support foreign interests). Its researchers have been arrested on other spurious charges, and two of its journalists murdered.
On the very day the prize was granted, Memorial was in a Moscow court house fighting for the right to keep their building after it had been seized by the state. They lost.
The Nobel Prize recognizes Memorial’s efforts in unearthing and publicizing past and present state-sponsored crimes. NIOD applauds their courage and perseverance, and looks forward to Memorial’s continued contribution to the world’s understanding of Stalinism and its consequences.