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article imageRussia rights group says refused permission for tribute to Stalin victims

By AFP     Oct 19, 2018 in World

Russia's top rights group on Friday said that for the first time in 11 years, Moscow city authorities had refused permission for an annual ceremony honouring victims of Stalin's terror.

Memorial, the country's oldest rights group, holds a 12-hour ceremony every year on October 29, where hundreds of people read out names of those killed during Stalin-era repressions.

The event is held at a memorial in central Moscow outside the headquarters of the current security service and its Stalin-era predecessors.

The group said Moscow city authorities had refused permission this year for "The Return of Names" ceremony at the memorial on Lubyanka Square.

"Today, October 19, that is 10 days before the ceremony was due to go ahead, permission was withdrawn by the Moscow city hall," the group said in a statement.

Memorial said the city authorities had previously promised that construction work would not prevent the ceremony going ahead.

The ceremony has taken place for the last 11 years, Memorial said.

"This action is outrageous not only because of the Moscow authorities breaking promises that they had many times given and confirmed," it said.

"The officials did not consider it necessary to apologise in any form whatsoever."

Memorial said that an alternative venue was proposed, a Moscow memorial to victims of Soviet-era political repressions unveiled by President Vladimir Putin last year, but that the rights group viewed this as "unacceptable."

Historians estimate about a million people perished in Stalin's Terror or Great Purge in the 1930s.

Memorial, which also speaks out about current human rights violations in Russia, has come under increasing pressure from the authorities in recent years.

In 2016, Russian authorities labelled Memorial a "foreign agent" under a 2012 law that obliges groups deemed to have "political" activities and international funding to submit documents every three months outlining their finances.

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