“Memorial” was a huge civic movement which emerged during perestroika. Its objective was to restore historical memory about the state terror, political repression and civic resistance to totalitarianism in the USSR.
Since the first groups appeared in September 1989, “Memorial” has worked to overcome the legacy of totalitarianism. Through wide-reaching surveys a civic council of the movement was formed, made up of well-known writers, scholars and public figures. In January 1989 a founding congress in Moscow created the All-Union Historical – Enlightenment Human Rights and Humanitarian Society “Memorial”, adopted a charter and elected leaders. Andrei SAKKHAROV became it honorary Head.
“Memorial” was the first independent civic organization which through persistent efforts sought official status. The founding meeting of the All-Ukrainian “Memorial” named in honour of V. Stus took place in March 1989.
After the collapse of the USSR, “Memorial” took on an international form, a commonwealth of dozens of organizations in different regions of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Georgia.. There are also branches of the Society in Germany and Italy.
Since 1991 there has been an International Historical – Enlightenment Human Rights and Humanitarian Society “Memorial”.
Among the present-day areas of “Memorial”’s work are academic research, primarily on the history of political repression in the USSR and the Soviet punitive organs, searching for places where victims were buried, and perpetuating the memory of the victims of totalitarianism, human rights work, legal and social assistance to former political prisoners and those exiled, publishing and other educational work. Of those active in “Memorial” are many former political prisoners of the 1950s – 1980s. Since 1990 the Russian “Memorial” has been headed by Sergei KOVALYOV. The archives of the “Memorial” Society in Moscow has collected one of the world’s largest archival collections of material on the history of dissidence, dissident activities and the human rights movement in the USSR.
The work of “Memorial” has been recognized by the international community (UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe), and the Society has received international awards.
Based on material from “Memorial”, Moscow