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Prominent rights group finds Moscow office bolted up by authorities

The office of Amnesty International is sealed by Moscow city authorities in Moscow, Russia, Nov. 2, 2016. 

AP

MOSCOW -- The Moscow office of human rights group Amnesty International has been officially sealed up overnight by Russian authorities.

Sergey Nikitin, the head of Amnesty International in Russia, says when employees “arrived at our office this morning, they found that the door was broken and there were new locks.”  Photographs on Wednesday showed the door sealed up with an official notice from Moscow city authorities.

Nikitin said International Amnesty has rented the office from the Moscow city government for over 20 years.

Human rights organizations in Russia have complained of official pressure in recent years, including the intimidation of their staff and controversial legislation regulating the operation of non-governmental organizations.

While officials have not explained their closure of the office, it came a day after the human rights group publicly supported a Russian political prisoner who claims he has been tortured in custody.

Ildar Dadin, a Russian opposition activist said in a letter to his wife that he has faced “torture, beatings and rape” at the hands of guards at Prison Number Seven in northern Russia.

Amnesty International said Dadin’s allegations fitted with other reports of abuse in Russian prisons. “We are urging Russian authorities to end the pattern of impunity for torture and other ill-treatment and investigate Ildar Dadin’s appalling allegations,” said Nikitin on Tuesday, the day before his office was shuttered.