Human Rights First reports:
On August 29, 2007, police raided the office of the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Promote Tolerance, the successor to the Russian Chechen Friendship Society, with an order to seize the organization's computers to investigate alleged "computer-related crimes." The police also said that they were carrying out an investigation into the organization's finances. The raid has resulted in further disruption of the legitimate activities of a non-violent independent human rights organization that has now been the target of sustained repression for over two years. It follows in quick succession the further restrictions imposed on the organization's director, Stanislav Dmitrievsky on August 17, 2007.
Human Rights First regards all of these measures as unwarranted official interference in the legitimate activities of a human rights organization. We are concerned that these measures may be indicative of an escalation of repression against non-violent independent non-governmental organizations in the Nizhny Novgorod region of Russia. On August 28, 2007, Almaz Choloyan, of the Nizhny Novgorod Center to Support Migrants, was informed that she was the subject of a criminal investigation and banned from leaving the city. Police and security officers who raided her apartment and the organization's office warned her that she could risk prosecution for "stirring up ethnic hatred" for her activities in support of the rights of vulnerable migrants.
Also on August 28, 2007, at a meeting of the regional counterterrorism committee of the Nizhny Novgorod district, the regional governor announced the creation of a "list of extremists" and the need to "check the activities of all organizations where young people work." Activists in Nizhny Novgorod fear that in the months leading up to the 2008 presidential elections, further measures will be taken to disrupt the activities of independent non-governmental organizations, especially those that are publicly critical of various aspects of government policy.
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