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Russian Prosecutors Search Amnesty International Office in Moscow

Russian authorities have searched the Moscow headquarters of international rights organization Amnesty International, the latest in a wave of inspections that activists are calling state harassment.

Amnesty International's Russia director Sergei Nikitin says Russian prosecutors and tax police conducted an unannounced audit of the office on Monday, requesting documents that he says the government already has on file.

The raid comes after prosecutors searched the offices of dozens of non-governmental organizations in Moscow in the last several weeks, including Memorial, one of Russia's oldest human rights groups.

A law signed by President Vladimir Putin last July requires NGOs that receive overseas financial support and engage in "political activity" to register with the Justice Minister as "foreign agents." Critics say the law is designed to intimidate Kremlin opponents.

Last week, Amnesty International, together with New York-based Human Rights Watch and Dublin-based Front Line Defenders, issued a joint statement condemning the inspections.

The statement said Russian prosecutors have publicly stated that it plans to inspect between 30 and 100 NGOs in each of Russia's regions, which could amount to thousands of groups nationwide.

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