Human Rights in Russia: Amnesty International can return to Moscow office "in the near future"

14:11 Nov. 4, 2016

Amnesty International can return to Moscow office "in the near future"

Representatives of human rights organizations gather in Rome to demand a halt to the massacres in Syria and respect for humanitarian corridors (Getty Images)

Russian authorities changed their mind after Putin familiarized himself with the matter

Human rights group Amnesty International can return to their Moscow office it was evicted from this week, a Kremlin human rights adviser said on Thursday after discussing the matter with President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reports.

Amnesty staff had turned up at their office in central Moscow on Wednesday morning to find the locks had been changed and the power cut off. The Moscow city government, from which Amnesty leases the premises, said it was owed rent, but the group said payments were up to date.

Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Russian Human Rights Council which formally reports to the Kremlin, told Reuters he had met Putin and discussed the matter.

"The lease has been restored completely. They (Amnesty) will be able to return to the office in the near future. Putin was informed of this," Fedotov said.

Soon after that meeting took place, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Europe director, told Reuters that the group had been contacted by Vladimir Yefimov, head of the Moscow city property department, who said there may have been a mix-up.

According to Dalhuisen, Yefimov invited Amnesty for a meeting on Monday as friday is a public holiday in Russia.

"I would say this was promising and we look forward to the meeting and resolving this issue," Dalhuisen said.

Amnesty has been a vocal critic of Russia over its bombing campaign in Syria and had said it believed the eviction might be part of an official crackdown on civil society groups.

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