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Rights group bangs drum against Putin

July 2, 2013 at 11:36 AM

MOSCOW, July 2 (UPI) -- The raid in Moscow of the offices of a human rights organization was an "outrageous" act of repression, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

The rights organization reported the Moscow office of the Movement for Human Rights was raided last week by Russian authorities. Human Rights Watch said Russian authorities injured seven staff members during a raid conducted because of an expired lease agreement.

The group's Europe and Central Asia Director Hugh Williamson continued his criticism over a Russian law targeting civic organizations like the Movement for Human Rights.

"This outrageous move against the Movement for Human Rights is a part of the unprecedented crackdown by the Kremlin on its critics," he said in a Tuesday statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin backed legislation last year requiring civic organizations to register as foreign agents if they receive funding from abroad. Williamson has been an outspoken critic of Putin's administration since the offices of Human Rights Watch were targeted as a result of the controversial law.

Putin defended the move as part of a transparency initiative. His government has faced growing criticism for its repressive policies.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Moscow police arrested four people Tuesday during marches in support of more rights for members of the gay community in Russia.

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