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Human Rights Group Says Moscow Office Sealed

  • VOA News

A Russian national flag is seen atop of the Grand Kremlin Palace an hour before Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the Federal Assembly in the Kremlin in Moscow, Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Russian national flag is seen atop of the Grand Kremlin Palace an hour before Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the Federal Assembly in the Kremlin in Moscow, Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Amnesty International says staff of its Moscow branch arrived at work Wednesday morning to find their office sealed with a notice from municipal authorities warning people not to enter.

The international rights group said the locks on the doors of its office in the Russian capital had been changed and that no explanation had been given.

"We do not know what prompted Moscow authorities to prevent our staff from accessing our offices — an unwelcome surprise for which we received no prior warning," Amnesty International Europe Director John Dalhuisen said in a statement. “Given the current climate for civil society work in Russia, there are clearly any number of plausible explanations, but it’s too early to draw any conclusions."

Dalhuisen said he hoped there was "a simple administrative explanation for this setback to our work" and that the group had "fulfilled all our obligations as tenants.” Amnesty International rents its Moscow office from the city authorities, whom the group says it has been unable to reach to resolve the situation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he knew nothing about the closure of Amnesty International's Moscow office.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International called on Russian authorities to investigate allegations made by Ildar Dadin, a jailed anti-Kremlin protester, that he had been beaten and tortured in prison. The group demanded that Dadin be immediately and unconditionally released.

Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service said in a statement Wednesday that a "commission of independent doctors" had physically examined Dadin at the northwestern Russian prison where he is incarcerated and found no evidence he had been beaten or "signs of previous injuries," Russia's Tass state news agency reported.

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