Mark Knopfler cancels Russian gigs over "crackdown"

Guitarist Mark Knopfler has canceled 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 Friday.

Russian authorities raided hundreds of non-governmental organizations 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.

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

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