Russian human rights group ordered to close down

A Russian court has ordered a prominent human rights organization to shut down as President Vladimir Putin's administration steps up the pressure on such groups.

A court in Moscow handed down a ruling on Wednesday that ordered the closure of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

The organization was founded in 1976 and is said to be the country's oldest human rights group. Its founding members include the physicist Andrei Sakharov, who won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Moscow Helsinki Group worked to raise awareness of human rights violations despite pressure from the Putin administration.

In December last year, Russia's justice ministry filed a suit with the court to disband the group.

The group's co-chairman, Valery Borshchev, told NHK that the court had ordered the group to dissolve in line with the ministry's claim that it had conducted activities outside Moscow in violation of regulations.

Borshchev criticized the court, saying it had simply followed the administration's order. The group plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Russian human rights groups are increasingly under pressure. Memorial, which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, was ordered by the Supreme Court to disband in 2021.