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Russia cracks down on extra rights teams, raids activists

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TALLINN, Estonia — Russian authorities have cracked down on extra human rights teams, ordering one to close down and raiding the houses of advocates from one other — the most recent steps in a clampdown that has intensified to unprecedented ranges for the reason that Kremlin despatched troops into Ukraine.

Police on Friday on searched the houses of three legal professionals with a rights group that advocates towards torture and gives authorized support, Crew Towards Torture.

The group mentioned in a web based assertion that the raids in Nizhny Novgorod, a big metropolis in western Russia, got here as a part of a legal probe launched earlier. No different particulars got out of considerations for security of the folks the group helps, the assertion mentioned.

On Thursday, a court docket in Moscow ordered the shutdown of the Sova Middle, a distinguished non-governmental group that displays racism and xenophobia in Russia, in addition to implementation of anti-extremism legal guidelines.

The authorities accused the group of violating its authorized registration in Moscow by collaborating in occasions exterior the Russian capital.

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Earlier this 12 months, Russia’s oldest rights group — the Moscow Helsinki Group — was shut down over the identical violation.

In a press release following the court docket listening to, Sova Middle rejected the accusations and vowed to attraction the ruling, persevering with its work within the meantime.

The transfer towards the group prompted criticism within the West.

German authorities spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann mentioned Russia’s home crackdown appeared to have been stepped up in parallel with the assault on Ukraine.

“This closure provides to a tragic checklist of necessary non-governmental organizations shut down by the Russian authorities, together with Memorial and the Moscow Helsinki Group,” Hoffmann mentioned.

“It’s a proven fact that there isn’t a freedom of opinion anymore in Russia,” she advised reporters in Berlin.

Hoffmann additionally accused the Kremlin of “consistently in search of new excuses to increase” the imprisonment of opposition chief Alexei Navalny, who’s going through a brand new trial in coming weeks on the fees of extremism and but yet another legal probe, this time on terrorism expenses.

The politician, who’s already serving a nine-year jail time period, mentioned he may very well be a life sentence, if charged and convicted of terrorism.

Navalny, 46, was arrested in January 2021 upon returning to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from nerve-agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.

He initially obtained a 2½-year jail sentence for a parole violation. Final 12 months, he was sentenced to a nine-year time period for fraud and contempt of court docket. He’s presently serving time at a maximum-security jail 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Moscow.

Hoffmann known as on Russia to make sure Navalny receives crucial medical remedy denied him “regardless of the plain worsening of his well being” — one thing his allies have reported just lately.

Requested whether or not Germany would once more give Navalny shelter if he have been in a position to return to Germany, she mentioned: “I strongly assume so.”


Jordans reported from Berlin.

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