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Russian Human Rights Veterans Urge Medvedev To Stop Persecution Of NGOs


Human rights campaigners have urged the Russian leadership to change the atmosphere in which nongovernmental organizations are working in the country.

"We are forced to appeal because of the direct threat to the operation of human rights campaigners and organizations in Russia," says the rights activists' appeal to the Russian president.

The document, which was released in Moscow on Monday (3 August), was signed by the veterans of the human rights community: head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alekseyeva, head of the Civic Assistance committee Svetlana Gannushkina, and leader of the movement For Human Rights Lev Ponomarev.

They said that instances of attacks on civil activists in Russia had become more frequent, that their safety was not guaranteed.

"It is obvious that there are circles which are extremely annoyed with human rights campaigners' commitment to the principle of universality of humanitarian and democratic values, with their unwillingness to hush up flagrant and systematic violations by officials and authorities of the basic human and civil rights and freedoms," the document points out.

The rights campaigners also complained about more frequent searches of the offices of NGOs carried out by law-enforcement bodies. They gave the examples of searches and seizure of office equipment at the Memorial society office in St Petersburg, the human rights centre and Agora human rights organization in Kazan, and at the office of the Samara-based NGO Golos (Voice).

"We can see that today law-enforcement bodies can carry out searches and seizures, under any pretext, brazenly and with impunity, at any NGO, paralysing its work or even condemning it to the complete cessation of operations," the appeal says.

"Unfortunately, over the last six months the practice of persecution of human rights activists has been gathering momentum," the authors of the document said.

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