Amnesty International locked out of Moscow office
Date: 2016-11-02 16:18
Members of the Russian branch of Amnesty International said Wednesday that authorities locked them out of their Moscow office without warning or explanation, amid fears of widening crackdowns on human rights groups and others.
Sergei Nikitin, director of Amnesty’s Moscow office, said that staff members found a seal on the door to the office, where the locks were changed and power was cut. A note on the seal warned not to enter the property.
The apparent lockout comes at a time when human rights groups in Russia have come under increasing government pressure and, in some cases, harassment. It also follows a strongly worded protest Amnesty issued Tuesday over the incarceration and treatment of a human rights activist.
Nikitin told reporters outside the office that he hoped there was a simple explanation, but noted that his group had always paid its rent and followed Russian law. He planned to take up the matter with Moscow authorities.
A representative of the Moscow city property department, which owns the building, said it would issue a written statement explaining the move.
Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International representative office in Russia, talks to journalists in Moscow, Russia, November 2, 2016.
A Kremlin spokesman told reporters that he was unaware of the incident.
“This is the first time I’m hearing about this. I have absolutely no information of the sort,” Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
On Tuesday, Amnesty International demanded that authorities release of Ildar Dadin, a street protester convicted of participation in “unauthorized” assemblies, and investigate his allegations of torture. Dadin’s letter from prison, in which he described being tortured, was published Tuesday by the Meduza online newspaper, a Russian-language news site based in Riga, Latvia.