Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Mark Knopfler scraps Russian gigs

Mark Knopfler has called off two shows in Russia

Mark Knopfler has cancelled two shows in Russia in protest over what he says is a crackdown on human rights groups in the country.

The former Dire Straits frontman is scrapping the June gigs in Moscow and St Petersburg following raids on the Russian offices of groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, according to a post on his website.

The guitarist's message said: "Given the crackdown by Russian authorities on groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, I have regretfully decided to cancel my upcoming concerts in Moscow and St Petersburg in June. I have always loved playing in Russia and have great affection for the country and the people. I hope the current climate will change soon."

Russian authorities raided hundreds of non-governmental organisations last month to make sure they comply with a law requiring many of them to register as "foreign agents". The government says the law is designed to curb foreign meddling, but critics say it is intended to stifle dissent.

The star had planned to play in Moscow on June 7 and in St Petersburg a day later.

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