A Russian court has ordered the closure of the country’s oldest human rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, in a relentless crackdown on voices critical of the Kremlin.
The NGO was established in 1976 by Soviet dissidents and has produced regular reports on human rights abuses across the country.
A judge reportedly took less than 20 minutes to rule in favor of a Justice Ministry motion to dissolve the group, which was one of the last independent human rights organizations in Russia.
The ministry accused the NGO of violating its legal registration in Moscow by working on human rights cases outside the Russian capital.
The organization called the charges “minute and absurd”, saying the court’s decision was a blow to the human rights movement, not only in Russia but also around the world.
Since its invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago, the Kremlin has cracked down on rights groups, independent media and opposition activists who show the slightest sign of dissent.
The forced closure of the Moscow Helsinki Group comes just 13 months after the same Moscow court shut down another veteran human rights organization, the Memorial Human Rights Center, also at the request of the ministry.