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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court Shuts Down Chechen Human Rights Organization

The highest court in the Nizhny Novgorod region on Friday ordered the closure of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, a human rights group that has exposed abuses against civilians in Chechnya.

Stanislav Dmitriyevsky, director of the group, denounced the ruling as part of an effort to silence critics of the government's conduct in Chechnya.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement Saturday that the court's decision was a "blatant attempt to silence a strong critic of human rights abuses in Chechnya."

"Russia's actions to quash the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society fly in the face of international standards protecting civil society," Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement.

"The Russian government has moved to systematically eviscerate all checks on its power and civil society is its latest target."

Other rights groups said the decision displayed the government's ability to use new legislation on extremism and nongovernmental organizations -- signed this year by President Vladimir Putin despite opposition at home and abroad -- to rein in civil rights.

Dmitriyevsky said the organization would appeal to the Supreme Court but that a reversal was unlikely. He called the ruling a politically motivated decision and part of "a campaign to prohibit people to talk about what is happening in Chechnya."

His NGO has campaigned against the conflict against separatists in Chechnya and published reports alleging torture, abductions and murder of civilians by federal forces and their pro-Moscow Chechen allies.