Komi Memorial Human Rights Commission

Since 1996, helps the victims of police violence, inspects prisons, and assists people in courts

Entrance to the organization’s reception office.

The Comission was created as a branch of Syktyvkar civil society organization Memorial, which was founded in 1989 with the active participation of the famous mathematician and dissident Revolt Ivanovich Pimenov. In 1996, at the meeting of Syktyvkar head-office of Memorial it was decided that in addition to historical research the organization would provide assistance to the population in the field of human rights. It was also decided to analyze the human rights situation in the Republic. This is what Komi Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Memorial started to work on.

Already in the first year of the organization’s life, volunteers managed to provide legal and consultative assistance to more than 50 people. Within 19 years of its operation, the lawyers and volunteers of KHRC Memorial provided consultative and legal aid to more than 6000 individuals.

Human rights comission member, Nikolai Didyuk, during an official inspection.

In 1999, Memorial monitored voters’ rights violations during the Russian State Duma elections.

In 2001, it started to investigate the instances of xenophobia and extreme nationalism in the Komi Republic.

In 2002, the members of Memorial were monitoring detention facilities.

In 2003, the Comission carried out an inspection of regional psychiatric facilities.

In January 2004, the members of the Comission joined a newly created Council operating under the aegis of the Director of the regional branch of the Penitentiary Service of the Russian Ministry of Justice in the Komi Republic. The Council started the process of establishing a permanent monitoring system for all penitentiary facilities in the Republic.

Pavel Andreev, CEO of “7+7”

KHRC Memorial initiated the creation of internet-journal “7×7”, which united activists, human rights advocates, lawyers, and the members of civil society organizations, who began to write their blogs from different cities and towns of the Komi Republic for creating an informational field and for raising awareness about social activism.

Footage recorded on a camera worn by a prison guard.

In 2011-2012, the organization achieved a number of impressive results:

Upon the Comission’s initiative a coupon system for registering inmates’ complaints was introduced in prisons.

The most infamous prisons in the Komi Republic, IK-35 and LPBU-48, were closed down due to a great number of violations discovered by the members of the Comission.

Video recorders were introduced in Komi penitentiary system facilities. Now, the prison guards who are in direct contact with inmates are obliged to wear cameras on them.

Under the legal pressure of Memorial lawyers the special detention center of the regional office of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Komi Republic was wholly renovated. In addition, under the decision of the Supreme Court of the Komi Republic the conditions of inmates’ transportation in train carriages (vagonzaki) were changed across the whole country (it was forbidden to use large detention cells for transporting more than 12 people).

Attempted obstruction of the organization’s board meeting.

On January 19, 2012, the Director of regional office of the Federal Security Service in the Komi Republic, Aleksandr Kalashnikov, ranked human rights committees Golos and Memorial among “extremist organizations” whose activity was “inspired from abroad and was aimed at the change of Russian political regime.”

On May 18, 2013, the members of national-patriotic organization “Rubezh Severa” attempted to thwart an open general meeting of Memorial in Syktyvkar.

On June 6, 2013, the activists of the above-mentioned organization marked the apartments of local human rights defenders with labels “A foreign agent is living here.”

On February 12, 2014, unidentified persons set on fire the front door of the chair of Memorial’s board, Igor Sazhin.

Signing the documents.

In 2015, the organization was recognized as a foreign agent for the photograph of an inscription “Putin – thief.”

On July 2015, KHRC Memorial was officially included into the list of non-profit organizations, carrying out the function of a foreign agent.

The human rights defenders decided that it would be better to close the organization than to bear a stigma of “a foreign agent.” They had to do this after they failed to contest judicially the inclusion of their NGO into the “foreign agents list.”