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HQ Of Human Rights Center In Moscow Raided - Lawyers

MOSCOW. April 10 (Interfax) - Unidentified individuals stormed on Wednesday night into the headquarters of a human rights center in Moscow and tried to seize it, the press center of the legal team for Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev said on Thursday.

Helping write complaints to the European Court of Human Rights based in Strasbourg, France, is one of the areas of activity of the International Defense Assistance Center, located in the center of Moscow and set up by lawyer Karinna Moskalenko

The For Human Rights organization, headed by Lev Ponomaryov, has its headquarters in the same building and was damaged during the raid, the press center said in a report posted on its website.

"The attack began around 11 p.m. At that time there remained only one member of the Center's staff in Office No. 22, lawyer Svetlana Davydova. The raiders (Lev Ponomaryov says there were about twenty of them) burst into the office, having broken down the metal door, which had been shut. They told Svetlana Davydova to leave the (office), but the lawyer refused to satisfy that demand, fearing for the Center's archive," the report said.

"The people who had burst inside broke the stairs leading to the second floor (the Center had a separate entrance). They also boarded up the other door through which it was possible to come down to the ground floor and blocked it with sacks of cement. Two of the raiders stayed in the barricaded office. 'Svetlana Davydova was with them as a hostage, as it were,' Karinna Moskalenko says angrily," the press center said.

"According to eyewitnesses, police took about two hours to get to the site of the incident and reacted extremely half-heartedly to what was happening. The two remaining nighttime visitors left the site in a police vehicle. It was promised that a detective would come to (the office) but he never came. Karinna Moskalenko is sure that the case would fade into oblivion," the report said.

"To get rid of our complaints, the authorities will tell us this was a regular attempt at forcible seizure. But I don't believe in this theory. It was an intimidation action. Our experts on litigation in the European Court work in the (office), and we yet to find out whether some of the documents have disappeared," the report quoted Moskalenko as saying.