Cossacks Raid Russian Human Rights Organization For Illegal News

In the last 20 years, six times the Interfax-AVN news agency has been accused of violations by the Russian authorities and twice the media house was closed.

A group of Cossacks has been looking into Interfax-AVN, but the recent raids suggest a different direction they are taking: to exact revenge on one of Russia’s most respected human rights organizations.

According to the lawyer who represents some of the families of the victims of Stalin’s Gulag system, Nikolai Levchikh, an art and furniture store in St. Petersburg was raided, where their laptops, hard drives, as well as documents related to the organization were apparently found.

There is no doubt about the role of those Cossacks in this case, although the general public is still not quite sure who they are. They have been looking into what happened to the works of the artist Dmitry Popovich. However, since the spy Anna Chapman was detained in New York, they are going into spy games.

But it is the description of the raids on the Pskov courthouse that got the attention of experts, and is perhaps symptomatic of the decades of animosity between the Russian authorities and the group which has investigated human rights violations since the Soviet era.

“We can’t feel normal about this,” says Vera Ivanova, head of Pskov Nashi, an organization linked to the far-right movement on Facebook, “The authorities have repeatedly tried to topple them. Now they are spending time searching the office.” Ivanova works directly for Maria Gurova, president of the Russian Helsinki Committee.

Gurova is also a former member of the Pskov branch of the Association of Far-Right Society, a far-right movement which supports President Vladimir Putin. At its meetings, a conference is often attended by members of the National Guard or Emergencies Ministry.

A final note about the Russian Helsinki Committee: Putin is known for his close relations with the groups within Russia’s so-called parallel state system, its supporters within the media, and the Civil Justice Ministry, the entity that underwrites its activities. It is believed that some of these elements directly financed Putin’s transition to power.

Now those links are starting to overshadow the group’s work.

Read the full story at The Moscow Times


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