Foreign human rights activists detained

Five international human rights activists have been detained in Nizhny Novgorod, Russian news agency Interfax reports. According to Ms Svetlana Gannushkina, member of the human rights organisation Memorial, three of those detained are from Spain, one from Britain, and one from Germany. The latter is a representative of Amnesty International.

Mr Ilya Shamazov, representative of the local branch of the opposition coalition, The Other Russia, said the police had detained representatives of the Geneva-based World Organisation Against Torture, Barcelona-based League for Human Rights, and the US organisation Human Rights First. Mr Shamazov said the foreign guests were taken to the police station for checking of documents.

Ms Gannushkina told Interfax that the police also took in Mr Stanislav Dmitrievsky and Ms Oksana Chelysheva, former directors of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society. Ms Chelysheva told news agency that she, Mr Dmitrievsky, and Mr Yuri Staroverov had been called in for questioning.

Ms Chelysheva said police arrived at the offices of the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Promote Tolerance and announced that they were investigating passport violations by the foreign guests. The police then escorted Mr Dmitrievsky and five foreigners to the police station.

The foreign guests had arrived to attend an international seminar in memory of the late journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya, which was to have been held in Nizhny Novgorod on 5 October 2007. Local authorities sabotaged the event through pressure on the organisers, the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Promote Tolerance and the local edition of the independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.

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