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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MOST Testifies at U.S. Rights Hearing

Igor Malashenko, first deputy chairman of Media-MOST, testified in Washington that the raid on his media holding company was an attempt by the government to intimidate the press.

"[The raid] speaks volumes about the kind of new Kremlin policies we can expect not only toward Russian media, but also toward any businesses in Russia," Malashenko said Tuesday in English at a hearing held by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The commission, better known as the Helsinki Commission, was set up by the U.S. Congress in 1976 to encourage compliance with the Helsinki Accords.

"There is an alarming trend here as the Russian Press Ministry is being transformed into a weird combination of an Orwellian Ministry of Truth and [a] private media company," he said, according to the commission, which issued transcripts of the hearing.

Tuesday's hearing - titled "The Putin Path: Are Human Rights in Retreat?" - also devoted attention to the case of Radio Liberty journalist Andrei Babitsky.

Babitsky, who also was invited to testify, remains under investigation on charges of "participating in an armed formation" and was unable to attend. The commission said he sent a statement in which he recounted some of the atrocities he witnessed while reporting from Chechnya, including the burning alive of two young Chechen men wrapped in barbed wire.

In his testimony, Malashenko said the attacks on Media-MOST and other news organizations were "intended to intimidate publishers and journalists and to make them to self-censor themselves."

The Prosecutor General's Office, whose agents participated in the May 11 raid on Media-MOST, said the action was not political and based on evidence that thecompany was eavesdropping on senior government officials.