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A Russian journalist said vandals have ripped a plaque commemorating a victim of Soviet repression from a building in the Siberian city of Barnaul.

Sergei Parkhomenko, who is helping lead a national initiative to commemorate victims of Soviet purges, said the February 25 incident appeared to be the first since the organization known as "Last Address" launched its effort.

The project draws on the vast historical database of Soviet repression compiled by the rights group Memorial.

It invites Russians to pay between 3,500 and 4,000 rubles ($75-85) for a plaque -- either for a relative or somebody who lived in their building.

Parkhomenko said in a post on Facebook that two men told passersby who tried to stop them that "we were told to take it down, so we’re taking it down."

He said it was first incident of outright vandalism against more than 200 plaques that began going up nationwide earlier this month.

Amnesty International said Russia plans to send home three Syrian asylum-seekers who were detained in Daghestan, a plan the group said violates international law.

The British-based rights group said the three men were slated to be flown to Damascus on February 25, even though the United Nations refugee agency asked Moscow specifically not to.

It wasn't immediately clear when the men were detained, but Amnesty said they were flown from Makhachkala, the capital of Daghestan, which borders Chechnya, to Moscow on February 24.

There was no immediate response from Russian authorities to Amnesty's statement.

Amnesty said not a single person had been granted refugee status in 2015 in Russia, but it's unclear how many Syrians in total may have applied for asylum there.

The group said two other Syrian asylum-seekers are also being held.

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