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Russia court shuts down Chechen rights NGO on heels of Politkovskaya murder

[JURIST] A Russian court has shut down the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (ORCD) [advocacy website], a Chechen human rights group that has been exposing abuses against civilians in Chechnya and providing assistance to victims of violence. The decision follows the February conviction of group co-founder Stanislav Dmitriyevsky [JURIST report], who was charged with “inciting racial hatred.” Dmitriyevsky was convicted after articles that he authored were published in the organization’s newspaper, using anti-war statements from Chechen separatists. A new and controversial Russian NGO law passed [JURIST report] earlier this year makes it illegal for NGOs to be headed by persons with criminal records. Prosecutors used this law to persuade the court to shut down the group for its failure to distance itself from Dmitriyevsky, adding several administrative violations to its case. MosNews has more.

The shutdown came just three days after thousands attended the funeral of Anna Politkovskaya [BBC obituary], a Russian journalist who was a vocal critic of the Chechen conflict and wrote investigative pieces for Novaya Gazeta [media website, in Russian]. Politkovskaya was shot on October 7 in what most believe to have been a contract killing. She was in the process of publishing an expose, titled “We declare you a terrorist”, which was published posthumously [JURIST news report] in Novaya Gazeta on October 12. The piece alleged that torture is a tactic frequently used to obtain false confessions to capture innocent people and pass them off as terrorists, creating an appearance of positive news from the war. The international Committee to Protect Journalists [advocacy website] said in a statement [text] Friday that "The closure of Pravo-Zashchita [the online newpaper published by ORCD] w[ill] further limit independent information from Chechnya. The Russian people need this information more than ever, now that Anna Politkovskaya’s voice has been silenced by her terrible murder.”

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