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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Kremlin Arrests Activists to Honor Politkovskaya's Memory

Helsingin Sanomat reports:

Officials in Russia detained a group of Russian and foreign human rights activists who were to have taken part in a seminar during the weekend commemorating the death of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered a year ago. Five of those who were detained were released on Saturday evening, but the seminar, which was to have been held in Nishni Novgorod, had to be cancelled. The arrests were reported on Saturday by the news agency Interfax, and international human rights organisations. One of those questioned was Oksana Chelysheva, who was in Helsinki last week to discuss the difficulties facing civic organisations in Russia today. The organiser of the seminar was the Foundation for the Support of Tolerance, which was set up to continue the activities of the Russia-Chechnya Friendship Society, which was banned by officials earlier. The foreigners who were questioned included representatives of Amnesty International, the Spanish Human rights League, and the US organisation Human Rights First. The four foreigners - three Spaniards, one British subject, and a German - denied claims of visa violations. The organisers told reporters that the police had confiscated computers belonging to the foundation, closed the foundation's bank account, and cancelled the hotel reservations of the seminar guests.

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