Purge in Nizhny Novgorod

On 29 August 2007, police raided the office of the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Promote Tolerance, the successor to the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), with an order to seize the organisation’s computers to investigate alleged “computer related crimes.” The police also said that they were carrying out an investigation into the organisation’s finances.

A day earlier, the governor of the Nizhny Novogorod region, Mr Valery Shantsev, held a speech at the regular meeting of the regional anti-terror committee and called on establishing lists of extremists and checking activities of all organisations where young people work. He stressed that this was essential before the coming elections.

On 30 August 2007, the offices of the Nizhny Novgorod edition of Novaya Gazeta was raided under an order from the the First Deputy Head of Nizhny Novgorod region’s Interior Ministry department, Maj.-Gen. Viktor Tsyganov. The same official had signed the order to raid the offices of the RCFS a day earlier.

Mr Zakhar Prilepin, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta in Nizhny Novgorod, said the police had confiscated all computers, thus stopping the newspaper’s operations. Mr Prilepin linked today’s raid to the newspaper’s strong criticism of the activities of Nizhny Novgorod’s regional leadership. The two raids are a “purge operation” aimed at silencing dissent, he said.

At present, local law-enforcement officials are searching the offices of the Nizhny Novgorod Association of Human Rights, which is headed by Sergey Shimvolos. In all three cases, the police demanded to see software licenses. When Mr Prilepin did not have the documents in hand, the police proceeded to confiscate all of Novaya Gazeta’s computers..

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