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Moscow Offices of Human Rights Watch Searched

Russian authorities searched the Moscow offices of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch on Wednesday, the latest in a wave of inspections targeting non-governmental organizations.

Officials from the Russian Prosecutor General's Office and the tax control service also searched the offices in the Russian capital of Transparency International, the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog.

Russian media reported Wednesday that prosecutors in the Russian republic of Tartarstan had searched the offices of Agora, a local human rights group.

On Monday, Russian prosecutors and tax police conducted an unannounced audit of the Moscow offices of Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group. Last week, officials in Moscow searched offices belonging to Memorial, one of Russia's oldest human rights groups.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday called the wave of inspections of NGOs in Russia "worrisome since the seem to be aimed at further undermining civil society activities in the country."

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.
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