Russian officials searching Human Rights Watch

Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian officials are searching the Moscow offices of Human Rights Watch and the corruption watchdog Transparency International, intensifying the recent wave of pressure on non-governmental organizations.

Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that officials from the prosecutor general's office and tax police were conducting an "unannounced audit" and demanding documents.

Transparency's Russia chief Elena Panfilova said that her organization's office was also being searched.

Russian officials have searched as many as 2,000 non-governmental groups in the past month, according to Pavel Chikov, a member of the presidential human rights council, whose human rights law group is also being searched.

The searches began after President Vladimir Putin gave a speech to the FSB, the KGB's successor agency, in February, urging them to focus on groups receiving foreign funding.

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