Russian court disbands prominent Sakharov Centre

A Moscow court has ruled to dissolve the Sakharov Centre, one of the oldest human rights organisations and museums in Russia named after famed nuclear scientist and dissident Andrey Sakharov, Kommersant reports.

The court ordered the centre’s legal entity status to be terminated. Sakharov Centre head Sergey Lukashevsky told Novaya-Europe that the organisation will appeal the ruling.

“We were ready [for the dissolution]. We primarily tried to not let the liquidation affect what we (as a team rather than the organisation now) can do. But you can never be fully ready morally speaking,” he said. “Sakharov and an aggressive war are totally opposing things. And this is possibly much more painful than the disbanding of a legal entity, albeit one with a long and important history.”

In January, Sakharov Centre chief Lukashevsky was fined three million rubles (€29,400) on 10 counts of violating “foreign agent” laws.

The Sakharov Centre was founded in 1996 to preserve the memory of prominent physicist, human rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrey Sakharov as well as protect human rights in Russia. The museum and cultural centre provided a space for open expression and was repeatedly attacked and vandalised for it. The centre was recognised as an “foreign agent” NPO in 2014. In late December 2022, the Sakharov Centre was fined five million rubles (€49,200) on related charges. The centre was evicted from its Moscow premises shortly before that.

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