Under mounting international pressure for reported war crimes, Russia on Friday forced the closure of several prominent human rights groups’ offices, CNN reported.
Driving the news: The Russian Ministry of Justice rescinded the registrations of 15 offices belonging to foreign NGOs and international aid organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
- It’s the latest step Russia has taken to undermine the organizations amid its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
- The groups were “expelled after they were found to be in breach of the current legislation of the Russian Federation,” the ministry said in a statement, per CNN.
- The statement did not specify the alleged violations.
Background: Earlier this week, 93 countries voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council over reported atrocities in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine.
- It was the first time a permanent member of the UN Security Council has been suspended from the body.
What they’re saying: Officials from the expelled organizations condemned the move and vowed to continue their efforts.
- “Amnesty’s closing down in Russia is only the latest in a long list of organizations that have been punished for defending human rights and speaking the truth to the Russian authorities,” Agnès Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International, said in a statement.
- She added: “In a country where scores of activists and dissidents have been imprisoned, killed, or exiled, where independent media has been smeared, blocked, or forced to self-censor, and where civil society organizations have been outlawed or liquidated, you must be doing something right if the Kremlin tries to shut you up. “
State of play: Human Rights Watch has documented several allegations of war crimes that Russian troops committed while occupying regions of Ukraine, including executions, rape and threats of violence against civilians.
- “Forcing us to close our office strengthens our determination to call out Russia’s turn toward authoritarianism,” said Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch’s executive director, in a statement. “We will keep working for the day that the Russian government respects the rights of its people.”
Go Deeper: UN suspends Russia from Human Rights Council