On the raid on the International Memorial’s office

15.10.2021

The events of October 14, 2021

A public screening of the “Mr. Jones” film (Poland, 2019, directed by Agnieszka Holland) should have taken place on October 14 (yesterday) at the office of the International Memorial (Moscow, Karetny lane, build. 5/10). The event was organized jointly with the Polish Cultural Center in Moscow as part of the “The Environment of Documentary” festival. The screening was coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation by the Polish Cultural Center (notification of September 27, 2021, signed by the Deputy Director of the First European Directorate A. Shabanov).

The event began at 7 PM. A group of some 30 attackers equipped with video cameras burst into the premises at around 7:20 PM, they entered the stage, shouted offensive slogans, and provoked employees and visitors.

The staff called the police and the police arrived at around 8 PM. Most of the attackers left before it. The law enforcement officers (of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal National Guard Troops Service) didn’t act properly. For some reason, they announced that an “unauthorized event” (which was not true) was being held, and did not exercise due eagerness to find and detain those who were trying to disrupt the screening. The employees and participants were forbidden to leave the premises, the attempts to leave the office were harshly suppressed by law enforcement officers, in some cases with physical force. All the employees and the audience were required to fill out an explanation form, including detailed personal data and information about possible criminal records. The entrance door of the building was blocked with handcuffs from the outside. All the people in the office of the International Memorial were detained without any reason; the police officers did not provide any explanations of the reasons for the detention. Most of the officers refused to introduce themselves. Until midnight, the lawyer who had a warrant was not allowed to enter the office. At about midnight, the law enforcement officers demanded to seize the office’s video surveillance system, so the surveillance cameras were turned off and the premises were left unprotected.

Only after 1 AM of October 15, the office of the International Memorial was unblocked.

A video record of all the events is available. The statements to the police were filed on behalf of the staff, further actions are being discussed.

We are grateful to all the people who supported us, to lawyers and attorneys, to the media for prompt coverage, to those who called the police, and who came to the office.

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