US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Russian Supreme Court's decision to close Memorial International is as an "affront" to human rights.
The United States has condemned the closure by Russia's Supreme Court of the prominent rights group Memorial International.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday called the decision an "affront" to human rights.
"The persecution of International Memorial and Memorial Human Rights Center is an affront to their noble missions and to the cause of human rights everywhere," he said, referring to the group's sister organisation that also risks closure.
The decision, he added, "follows a year of rapidly shrinking space for independent civil society, media, and pro-democracy activists in Russia."
The ruling came after President Vladimir Putin accused the group of advocating for "terrorist and extremist organisations".
We condemn today's decision to forcibly close International Memorial, one of Russia's most respected human rights organizations. Russian authorities should end their repression of human rights defenders and other independent voices.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) December 29, 2021
The court ruling sparked international backlash from Europe as well.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Memorial International's dissolution was a "terrible loss" for Russia, adding the decision was "deeply worrying" for the future of historical research and the defence of human rights.
Germany called the court's decision "more than incomprehensible" and said it went against international obligations to protect fundamental civil rights.
Marija Pejcinovic Buric, secretary general of the Council of Europe, said the "devastating news" meant Russia appeared to be moving " further away from our common European standards and values".
Supporters say its closure signals the end of an era in Russia's post-Soviet democratisation process, which began 30 years ago this month.
Group to appeal decision
Judge Alla Nazarova ordered the closure of Memorial International and its regional branches after prosecutors accused the organisation of failing to mark its publications with a "foreign agent" label, the tag for groups receiving overseas funds.
"Disgrace! Disgrace!" supporters shouted in court after the ruling.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, Memorial International said it would appeal and find "legal ways" to continue its work.
"Memorial is not an organisation, it is not even a social movement," the statement said.
"Memorial is the need of the citizens of Russia to know the truth about its tragic past, about the fate of many millions of people."