Stanislav Dmitrievsky in court in February 2006 (ITAR-TASS)
January 24, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Amnesty International says it is "deeply distressed" at a decision by Russia's highest court to uphold a lower-court ruling closing down the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society.
Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Program director at the international rights watchdog said the January 23 Supreme Court decision was a "double blow" -- to freedom of expression and to civil society.
He said the decision sent a "chilling signal" that other NGOs could face the same fate.
The Nizhny Novgorod-based group which monitored the human rights situation in Chechnya was closed down in October on extremism charges. Its executive director, Stanislav Dmitrievsky, was convicted earlier on charges of inciting ethnic hatred for publishing articles by Chechen separatist leaders.
After the Supreme Court announced its decision, Dmitrievsky told Amnesty International the group would take its case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The aftermath of a December 2002 Chechen resistance attack on the main government building in Grozny (epa)
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