Groups call for Russia to act over Politkovskaya

Other News Materials 7 October 2007 08:22 (UTC +04:00)

( Reuters ) - Russian police briefly detained five foreign citizens who had planned to attend a human rights forum on Saturday to commemorate the first anniversary of the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Organisers of the forum in Nizhny Novgorod, a city 400 km ( 250 miles) east of Moscow, said they were forced to cancel a series of meetings after police seized computers from their office and authorities blocked access to their bank account.

Neil Hicks, a British director of New York-based Human Rights First, told Reuters he was detained for four hours along with a German and three Spaniards and fined 3,000 roubles ( 59 pounds) for a violation of his visa status, a charge he denies.

"We think is it interference in the activities of human rights organisations," he said. "It is unfortunate and shows the problems with basic freedoms are very severe in Russia."

Another of the detained represented Amnesty International, an event organiser said.

Police in Nizhny Novgorod were not available for comment.

Politkovskaya was shot dead in her apartment building in a contract-style shooting on October 7 last year.

Separately, a group of prominent activists called for Russia to bring to justice those who instigated the murder of Politkovskaya, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin.

The group Reach All Women in War (RAW in WAR), whose supporters include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, made the call in a letter to the Times.