Mark Knopfler Cancels Shows in Russia

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Mark Knopfler canceled two concerts in Russia on Thursday to protest what he sees as the government’s harassment of human rights groups there, the BBC reported.

Mr. Knopfler, the former Dire Straits frontman, said he was calling off his performances planned for June in Moscow and St. Petersburg because Russian authorities had searched the offices of several organizations, among them Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. He called the searches a “crackdown.”

“I hope the current climate will change soon,” he wrote on his Web site. He added, “I have always loved playing in Russia and have great affection for the country and the people.”

Human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations have complained recently about unwarranted searches by prosecutors, the justice ministry and tax officials. But Russian officials say the searches are routine and legal. Pavel Chikov, a member of the country’s presidential Human Rights Council, said about 2,000 organizations have been inspected and searched in the last month.

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