Moscow authorities without warning or explanation sealed the only Russian office of Amnesty International
The Moscow authorities have sealed off the only Russian office of the international human rights organization Amnesty International, changed the room locks and cut electricity, announced on Wednesday, November 2, Reuters, the representative of Amnesty International in Russia, Aleksandr Artemyev and confirmed on his page in Facebook another employee of the organization, Ivan Kondratenko.
According to Artemyev, these actions are taken without official notice of the organization. “This morning we found that the Amnesty office in Moscow is sealed, locks are broken (and newly inserted), it says that you need to contact the Department of city property of Moscow with a letter to take things,” – said Ivan Kondratenko.
“All of our computers, papers, personal belongings – all were there, behind closed doors. Apparently came early in the morning – batteries for computers just stopped beeping, the electricity is off. No emails, notifications, even calls – nothing”, – he added.
“Amnesty rented an office here for over twenty years. We pay the bills, all neatly twenty years – it was the first and so far only the Amnesty office in Russia”, – said the representative of human rights organization.
In a press release on the website of the organization says that the office was sealed about 10 o’clock in the morning and through the keyhole visible “some wires”.
On paper that is pasted on the office door, it says: “Object is property of the Russian Federation the city of Moscow. No representative of the owner in the face of the Department of municipal property of Moscow do not open!” Trying to find out what happened on the phone representative of the owner of the Central administrative district and the Department of garkusheva Moscow produced no results.
“No guesses, you do not want to believe that all this can be related to our human rights activities. Perhaps Mosgorkomstat decided to review relations with us, but in this case this is not done in a civilized way”, – said the Director of the human rights center Sergey Nikitin “to the New newspaper”. In comments to BBC Russian service Nikitin said that the organization leases office directly from Mosgorkomstat.
Amnesty International is one of the most famous and influential international human rights organizations that works to protect human rights around the world.
Human rights groups funded from abroad, the last few years are under pressure, a number of them entered in the register of noncommercial organizations performing functions of “foreign agents”. As mentioned in the statement of Amnesty International, during the year of application of the law “on foreign agents” more than a thousand NGOs “have been tested and dozens of them have received warning”, “some of the most prominent human rights associations were fined, and some were closed.”
“The purpose of the law “on foreign agents” – to stigmatize and discredit NGOs engaged in human rights, election monitoring and other work related to the criticism of the authorities. This law provides an excellent pretext for fining and closing critical of the government organizations and to cut them from often vital sources of financing,” said Sergey Nikitin.
He emphasized that the law “on foreign agents” “violates national and international commitments of Russia to guarantee the right to freedom of Association, Assembly and expression” and “should be cancelled immediately”.