ICC NOTE: According to a law passed by Russia’s Duma (parliament) in 2012, non-governmental organizations who receive foreign funding to operate in country were to be listed as foreign agents. This provided the government the ability to restrict their activities based on any range of reasons from national security threats to raising criticism against Russian leadership. Amnesty International, a well known and respected NGO, found themselves locked out of their Moscow offices with no apparent reason on November 2. Amnesty International is yet another victim of Russia’s new initiative to eliminate foreign influences whether human rights NGOs or religious minorities that do not adhere to the Russian Orthodox Church or to the Kremlin.
11/2/2016 Russia (Radio Free Europe) – Moscow authorities have sealed off the offices of rights watchdog Amnesty International without explanation, preventing staff from getting inside.
Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International in Russia, told RFE/RL outside the sealed premises that he and his colleagues were unable to enter on November 2. He said the door had been forced open overnight and the locks changed.
Nikitin said the group had rented the premises from the Moscow State Property Department for more than 20 years and had always paid on time.
An official seal on the office door gave no explanation, telling staff simply to contact the owner and leaving a phone number.