On February 1, 2017, the International Memorial Society filed a lawsuit to the Simonovsky Regional court in Moscow against the REN TV (the Russian federal channel available also in the U.S.). The legal action was triggered by the REN’s report on the awards ceremony at the end of the 17th All-Russian Competition entitled “A Man in the History of Russia in the 20th Century.” This competition is held annually by the “Memorial” Society among high school students. The goal of the competition is to engage young people in independent research on Russian history of the 20th Century, to awaken their interest in the fate of ordinary people in everyday life, including members of their own families, many of whom were sent to the Gulag and/or participated in the Great Patriotic War (World War II), and to understand the “big story” of the country during the Soviet period. The ceremony took place on April 28, 2016 at the Cinema House in Moscow.
REN TV has transmitted several reports accompanied by commentaries bizarrely claiming that organizers allegedly told the school students that the Nazis were introducing “European values” in the Soviet Union (“The Cost of Victory” was one of the themes suggested in 2016 for writing historical essays). As is well known, contrary to the fascism of the Nazis, the fundamental values on which the European Union was organized include respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.
The lawsuit, prepared by the Memorial lawyer Marina Agaltsova, claims that the TV reports presented the absurd accusation against Memorial as a fact in an attempt to discredit Memorial’s reputation.
The Memorial Society had already tried to settle the dispute out of court, by contacting the Public Collegium for Complaints on the Press (this Collegium consists of a number of famous public figures). The TV channel representatives ignored the Collegium’s demand that REN TV retract their statements and remove any reports containing the allegations from their website. The Collegium ruled that the information transmitted by the REN TV was malicious, designed to discredit the Society by disseminating lies.
Now the Memorial Society asks the court to recognize the REN TV statements as untrue and discrediting the business reputation of the organization, to remove them from the REN web site and to pay a fine of 200,000 rubles to the Society as compensation for reputational harm.