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Russia's Supreme Court Orders Closure Of 'For Human Rights' Group

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Lev Ponomaryov, the leader of For Human Rights, said he will appeal the decision before the European Court of Human Rights. (file photo)

MOSCOW -- Russia's Supreme Court has ordered the closure of a prominent human rights group for "breaking regulations" on multiple occasions, sparking outraged reactions from human rights activists and opponents of the Kremlin.

The court ruled on November 1 that the nongovernmental organization, For Human Rights, must be closed because the group's charter contradicts the country's Civic Code.

The court also cited the reluctance of the group to register as a foreign agent under a 2012 law that has been criticized in the West.

Lev Ponomaryov, the leader of For Human Rights, said he will appeal the decision before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Ponomaryov also said that the court decision would not prevent the organization from carrying out its work.

Tanya Lokshina, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) described the court ruling as a "devastating example" of the Russian courts "servicing the government agenda to stifle critics."

Dmitry Gudkov, one the independent candidates whose exclusion from Moscow's municipal elections in September sparked a wave of protests, said "there is only one person who still has rights" -- referring to President Vladimir Putin.

Ponomaryov's group had received financial support from the Russian government for nearly a decade until 2018.

Ponomaryov has said the Russian government cut off its funding as a result of a political decision linked to his activities to defend activists in two high-profile cases.

In February, the Justice Ministry branded Ponomaryov's group as a foreign agent.

It used a controversial 2012 law that obliges organizations that receive financial support from sources outside of Russia to register as foreign agents.

For Human Rights is one of Russia's oldest and leading human rights organizations. It was established in 1997.

Ponomaryov, 78, is one of Russia's most prominent human rights activists.

With reporting by AFP
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