Memorial’s “Winchesters” Returned

7 May

kihot1It appears that some of Medvedev’s liberal posturing is producing concrete results. Or at least someone is getting the signals.  Finally, fi-nal-ly Memorial has gotten its materials back from the St. Petersburg prosecutor.  Twelve computer hard disks, or “Winchesters” as one report calls them, about 1000 business cards belonging to A. D. Margolis (the general director of St. Petersburg Rescue Fund and editor of the St. Petersburg Encyclopedia, and heаd of several Memorial projects), and seven CDs and DVDs were returned to the human rights organization on Thursday.

The return of Memorial’s property followed another ruling in its favor by the Dzerzhinsky court that deemed the December raid by the police as unlawful. The case’s lead investigator Mikhail Kalganov decided to not press the issue further. “Yes, this is our victory,” Memorial’s lawyer Ivan Pavlov told Kommersant. “And we think that in this case the Russian legal system managed itself [well]. The court has shown that it is on the right side.”  It also didn’t hurt, the advocate said, that Russia’s representative to the OSCE spoke out on Memorial’s behalf.  So the question is did the legal system work or did Memorial have an influential patron?  Or better yet, is this another, albeit small, sign of a Medvedevian “thaw” in the forecast?

A thorough inspection of the “Winchesters” will be done on May 13 to make sure the authorities didn’t erase anything or damage any of the files.

Thus ends an almost six month ordeal.  It’s nice to see a happy ending to an incident that generated cries about the return of Stalinism.  As I said in my last post on the Memorial Saga, I expect this victory to get as much press as the initial raid.

Still, despite the positive outcome, Memorial still had to jump through several hoops for a victory that they never should have been forced to fight for in the first place. Which leaves one crucial question unanswered.  Why was Memorial raided exactly?  I guess we’ll never really know.  I don’t expect Chief Investigator Kalganov to shed any light on this any time soon.  For the time being, he’s got some wounds to lick.