The Kremlin almost certainly decided to move against Memorial now lest that human rights group serve as a rallying cry and thus crystalize growing opposition among the Russian people against an expanded war against Ukraine, Moscow commentator Igor Chubais says.
A train of Russian military equipment in Voronezh Oblast, which borders on the east of Ukraine. Photo via CIT.
Of course, given censorship and the lack of reliable information about what is taking place inside the corridors of power, he continues, it is impossible to sort out all the rumors now circulating about this decision; but the relationship between Memorial ’s closing and Moscow’s moves in Ukraine is too obvious to miss.
Before giving “the final order” on Ukraine, the Russian leadership “cannot but consider public opinion and the position of the partially destroyed civil society inside its own country.”
A trainload of Msta-S self-propelled howitzers reportedly arrived in Russian-occupied Crimea as part of Putin’s aggressive military buildup targeting Ukraine. Crimea, April 2021. (Source: Social media)
Memorial is “the most serious and well-known civic organization with well-deserved authority inside the Russian Federation and abroad.”
That is especially the case, the Moscow writer says, because it is becoming “ever more obvious that our society is against the intensification of Russian military activity in Ukraine.” Shuttering Memorial will thus eliminate one important channel for those attitudes to come together and influence the West if not the Kremlin itself.
And what that means, Chubais says, is that those who care about what happens to Ukraine must care about what happens to Memorial .
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