Mark Knopfler - Mark Knopfler Scraps Russian Shows
Rocker Mark Knopfler has scrapped two concerts in Russia in protest over the treatment of Moscow human rights activists.
The Dire Straits founder was scheduled to perform two upcoming shows in Russia, but he has been upset by reports suggesting bosses at campaign groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have been targeted by local officials for criticising President Vladimir Putin.
Reports suggest the organisations' offices have been raided by tax investigators as part of a zero-tolerance crackdown.
Announcing his decision to cancel the shows on his official website, the guitarist writes, "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."
His decision comes a year after members of Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot were arrested and later jailed for staging an anti-Putin protest in a Moscow church. Two of the bandmates remain behind bars on hooliganism charges.