The St. Petersburg offices of the prominent human rights group Memorial were raided on Thursday by Russian security forces. (Memorial in Grozny is a WITNESS partner.) According to Human Rights Watch:
“In the morning of December 4, 2008, seven masked men, armed with batons, broke into the office of the Memorial Research and Information Center in St. Petersburg, cutting the phone lines and barring the three staff members present from leaving the office. The men, who had a warrant signed by the Prosecutor’s Office, included police, special forces and members of the investigative committee of the Prosecutor’s Office. They conducted a search of the office that lasted more than seven hours and seized the organization’s computer hard drives and other materials, including 20 years of archives on Soviet repression and gulags.”
This is the worst incursion from security forces the group has faced yet, according to Memorial member Alexander Cherkasov. According to another story, the raid is payback for the group’s showing of a film on Alexander Litvinenko, the former spy allegedly poisoned by the FSB in 2006.
Photos and video are available here: http://www.newsru.com/russia/05dec2008/memor.html