Staff at Amnesty International’s Moscow office arrived at work this morning to find their office unexpectedly sealed with a notice from municipal authorities warning people not to enter. In response to this development, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, said:
“We do not know what prompted Moscow authorities to prevent our staff from accessing our offices – an unwelcome surprise for which we received no prior warning.
“Given the current climate for civil society work in Russia, there are clearly any number of plausible explanations, but it’s too early to draw any conclusions. We are working to resolve the situation as swiftly as possible and very much hope there is a simple administrative explanation for this setback to our work.
“We are 100 percent confident that we fulfilled all our obligations as tenants.”
The short notice posted on the organization’s central Moscow office – which is rented directly from the city’s municipal authorities – said the building was “property of a city of the Russian Federation” and that nobody could enter without being accompanied by a municipal official. The locks and alarm system had been removed and the electricity supply appeared to have been cut off.