The ombudswoman for the Russian republic of Tatarstan says it is premature to carry out a court order closing down a popular human rights group.
Saria Saburskaya, Tatarstan's human rights commissioner, said on February 10 in Kazan that a ruling by Tatarstan's Supreme Court to close the Agora human rights group had not yet come into effect and it was "too early" to put an end to the group's work.
She said it would be regrettable to shut down Agora, which is very popular among human rights groups due to its work in defending rights activists in court.
Agora lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliyev said the Supreme Court ruling -- which upheld an order by Russia's Justice Ministry -- would be appealed at the Russian Supreme Court.
Human Rights Watch's Russia Program Director Tatyana Lokshina expressed concern over the Supreme Court decision, saying the liquidation of Agora was a "blow to civil society."
Russian Human Rights Commissioner Ella Pamfilova said the decision against Agora was part of an "alarming trend" that could lead to all human rights NGOs to soon "be extinct in Russia."
The Justice Ministry said Agora had violated financial regulations required of NGOs deemed to be "foreign agents" under controversial legislation.