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Police raid on Russian human rights group draws condemnation


International human rights experts denounce ‘witch hunt’ against Nobel Prize winner Memorial on Tuesday.

Russian security forces raided the homes of former employees of the Nobel Prize-winning human rights organization Memorial on Tuesday and took some of its members for questioning, the group said.

Founded to document political repression in the Soviet Union, Memorial was officially banned in late 2021 after authorities claimed it supported terrorism and extremism, accusations it called absurd.

Tuesday’s raids were carried out after Russian investigators accused the now-disbanded group of putting the names of World War II Nazi collaborators on its list of historic victims of political terror.

Police seized items and equipment bearing the Memorial logo, the group said, and took some of its associates for questioning.

“Currently, searches of some employees are continuing – lawyers are not allowed to see them,” Memorial wrote on Telegram.

Memorial chairman Yan Rachinsky, who accepted the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the group, also fell victim to a raid on his home, the group said.

The raids were condemned internationally by human rights organizations and by the remnants of Russia’s domestic opposition.

“By raiding the homes of Memorial members, Russian authorities are continuing their witch hunt against human rights defenders and activists,” Amnesty International’s Russian director Natalia Zviagina said in a statement.

Opposition Yabloko party said the raids were a “new step” in Russia’s campaign of political repression.

“What happened is an example of the destructive struggle against dissent in Russia,” it said in a statement.

Since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, President Vladimir Putin has accelerated Russia’s drive to suppress dissent voices, including independent media, non-governmental rights groups and political opponents.

Putin has his own Human Rights Council, a body that critics say has enabled him to pay lip service to civil liberties while ramping up state repression.

Last November, shortly before his annual meeting with the council, he removed 10 of his members and brought in four new ones, including a pro-war blogger correspondent.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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