Raids against Russian group Memorial part of intimidation campaign -EU

A man walks inside an office of the human rights group Memorial in Moscow
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union on Thursday denounced Russian police raids against the Nobel Prize-winning human rights group Memorial, describing them as part of an intimidation and harassment campaign.

Russian security forces raided the homes of former employees of Memorial on Tuesday and took some of them in for questioning, the group said.

Founded to document political repression in the Soviet Union, Memorial was officially banned in late 2021 after the authorities claimed it supported terrorism and extremism, charges the group called absurd.

"The recent actions by the Russian authorities constitute yet another step in the ongoing intimidation and persecution of independent and critical voices in the Russian society," the spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Peter Stano, said in a statement in Brussels.

Memorial's work in Russia has been invaluable in defence of human rights and against "attempts to manipulate the historical memory of political repression in Russia in the 20th century", he added.

"The EU calls upon the Russian authorities to stop the unfounded prosecution and police harassment of Memorial and its staff – and to respect the rule of law," Stano said.

Tuesday's raids were carried out after Russian investigators accused the now dissolved group of allegedly including the names of World War Two-era Nazi collaborators on their historical list of victims of political terror.

The raids were condemned by rights groups internationally as well as what remains of Russia's domestic opposition.

Since invading Ukraine in February 2022, President Vladimir Putin has accelerated Russia's drive to suppress dissenting voices, including independent media, non-governmental rights groups and political opponents.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Bill Berkrot)