Russian NGO gets Moscow office space

Sept. 5, 2013 at 12:12 PM
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MOSCOW, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- A civic organization was given the use of an office in Moscow nearly two months after its leader said he was abused by security forces, city officials said.

State news agency RIA Novosti reported For Human Rights will be able to use an office in Moscow for the next 49 years free of charge. It cited city administrators who said Moscow authorities donated the office to the rights group.

For Human Rights Director Lev Ponomaryov said he was roughed up when security forces raided his offices in July. His group was evicted in an overnight raid ostensibly because of an expired lease.

Russian President Vladimir Putin enacted a controversial law that designates NGOs as "foreign agents" if they receive funding from a foreign government. Moscow offices of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were raided this year.

Ponomaryov had warned the community of non-governmental organizations in Russia may cease to exist under Putin's leadership.

Putin defended the measure as part of an anti-corruption and transparency campaign. Ponomaryov said Putin's administration was trying to get rid of its opponents.

Billionaire Russian politician Mikhail Prokhorov said in June he'd pay a year's worth of rent for Ponomaryov's organization. Prokhorov, leader of the Civil Platform party, took third by running as an independent candidate for president in 2011.

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