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Russian rights activists commemorate victims of political persecution

[JURIST] Russian human rights activists held vigil in Lubyanka Square, former KBG headquarters and current location of the Federal Security Service, in Moscow on Monday to commemorate victims of political persecution during the Soviet Era and to protest current prosecution of Russians on political grounds. International human rights group Memorial [advocacy website] told Interfax on Sunday that there are currently about 900,000 "victims of political reprisals" and said that Russian officials have not done enough to help these victims [Interfax report]. A round-table discussion on alleged political prisoners was held in conjunction with the rally to discuss new Russian laws that may infringe on certain freedoms.

Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] has been criticized for infringing on freedoms throughout his term in office. Earlier this month, a Russian court shut down the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society [JURIST report], a Chechen human rights group that has been exposing abuses against civilians in Chechnya and providing assistance to victims of violence. The group was shut down in accordance with a new and controversial Russian NGO law passed [JURIST report] earlier this year that makes it illegal for NGOs to be headed by persons with criminal records. According to the Worldwide Index of Freedom [press release], a report measuring protection of press freedom, issued last week by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) [advocacy website], Russia fell nine places this year to rank 147th. AP has more. MosNews has local coverage.

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