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Mark Knopfler Cancels Russia Shows Over Rights Groups 'Crackdown'

British musician Mark Knopfler

British musician Mark Knopfler

British rock star and founder of the band Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler, says he has canceled two concerts in Russia due to what he called a crackdown on human rights groups.

Russian prosecutors and tax officials searched the offices of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Memorial, Russia's oldest rights group, and other such organizations last month in what Kremlin critics said were raids aimed at stifling criticism of President Vladimir Putin.

Last year, Knopfler joined other celebrities including the U.S. pop singer Madonna, in criticizing Russia for the jailing of three members of the band Pussy Riot for their protest performance at a Moscow cathedral.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Itar-Tass