The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brenda Bowser Soder 202-370-3323,

Russian Raids Target Human Rights Groups

Human Rights First Criticizes Troubling Pattern of Harassment


Police and tax auditors today raided the offices of two human rights organizations in Kazan, the capital city of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, disrupting their work. The raids targeted the Kazan Human Rights Center and the AGORA Interregional Human Rights Association.

"These types of raids are part of a pattern of bureaucratic and legal harassment of independent human rights organizations in Russia," said Neil Hicks, International Policy Advisor at Human Rights First. "We are very concerned by this continuing official interference in the legitimate work of nonviolent human rights defenders in Russia. Official harassment can be added to threats, physical violence and baseless prosecutions forming part of an extremely hostile environment in which Russian human rights defenders must function."

"The Russian and international human rights community is still mourning the killing of human rights activist Natalya Estemirova in Chechnya, so it is even more disheartening to learn about new acts of repression against human rights defenders in another part of Russia," added Hicks.

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.