Mark Knopfler Protests Human Rights In Russia By Canceling Gigs There

Mark Knopfler will not be playing in Russia following his cancellation of upcoming gigs in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The former Dire Straits frontman has nixed his Russian shows based on his disagreement with the Russian government's recent crackdowns on human rights groups in the country, which have included raids on Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Russian civil rights group Memorial.

The organizations, he says, have suffered government repression in order to silence their criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Knopfler explained his stance on his website: "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. 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."

Knopfler is one of many celebrities (including Paul McCartney and Madonna) who have decried the government's decision to jail members of the Russian band Pussy Riot after their protest performance in a cathedral last August.

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