Activist's Computers Seized in Police Raid

Investigators seized computer servers of rights activist Stanislav Dmitriyevsky on Thursday -- the latest in a series of searches and criminal investigations against the longtime critic of human rights abuses in Chechnya.

Dmitriyevsky said police officers also seized his cell phone during the two-hour search at his office in Nizhny Novgorod.

He said prosecutors told him that the search was connected to an investigation into purported extremism involving opposition coalition The Other Russia, which has organized the Dissenters' Marches against President Vladimir Putin.

But Dmitriyevsky said officials were likely looking for copies of a forthcoming book about political prisoners that his organization, the Nizhny Novgorod Fund for Tolerance, was involved in publishing. Prosecutors told him that the servers could be returned in a few weeks.

The regional prosecutor's office could not immediately be reached for comment.

Extremism laws have been expanded in recent years, and activists have warned that they could be used as a political tool against opposition groups.

Investigators also searched the apartments of several activists with The Other Russia, including two who are connected with Dmitriyevsky's fund.

Dmitriyevsky's previous organization, the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, was ordered to close by the Supreme Court last year for purportedly promoting extremism. He was also convicted in 2006 of extremist activity for publishing articles petitioning the Chechen government to end the conflict and given a two-year suspended sentence.

Prosecutors later opened a new investigation into Dmitryevsky's organization on suspicion that it used pirated computer software.