MOSCOW -- Russian journalist and human rights activist Viktoria Ivleva has been detained for taking part in single-person protests to support one of the country's oldest human rights organizations, Memorial, which faces possible closure.
Ivleva was among at least seven other activists who were detained over the weekend on Moscow’s Pushkin Square. While other activists were released hours later on November 20, Ivleva remains in custody.
The exact charges against Ivleva remain unclear. A court hearing on her detainment is expected to be held later on November 22.
Prosecutors allege that Memorial has violated conditions imposed on it after it was designated a “foreign agent” organization -- the Human Rights Center in 2014 and International Memorial in 2016 -- and that its statements contain “signs of justifying extremism and terrorism.”
In the days following the move by prosecutors, civil-society activists and organizations -- many of them burdened by the “foreign agent” label themselves -- have rallied to warn the Memorial case could be a watershed moment for the future of the country and to urge the public to show solidarity with the organization.
Memorial was launched shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, in part to document Soviet repression. In the decades since, it has produced hallmark indicators of the rights situation in Russia and documented historical and ongoing injustices.
Russia’s so-called foreign agent legislation was adopted in 2012 and has been modified repeatedly.
It requires nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign assistance and are deemed by the government to be engaged in political activity to be registered, identify themselves as “foreign agents,” and submit to audits.
The move to close down Memorial has sparked widespread condemnation at home and abroad.