Let’s call on Putin to protect freedom of expression
The situation in Russia
In January this year a group of people gathered in St Petersburg to have a snowball fight. The police responded by banning it and dispersing the crowd – calling it an “unauthorised gathering”. This may seem ridiculous one off event but it isn’t. The space for freedom of assembly, association and expression is rapidly shrinking in Russia.
The systematic undermining and violation of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association have been the hallmark of Vladimir Putin’s human rights record during the first year of his third mandate as Russian president, Amnesty International said in a report published recently.
The new laws
Since Vladimir Putin returned to office as Russia’s President he has introduced laws that:
- severely limit freedom of assembly
- stigmatise the LGBTI community
- criminalise insulting the feelings of believers
- broaden the definitions of treason and espionage so that human rights activism could potentially be criminalised
Putin also brought in provisions that force NGOs who engage in “political activity” and receive foreign funding to register as “foreign agents” – highly derogative term in Russia contributing to the smear campaign against NGOs and human rights activists.
All of these laws have been introduced to crack-down on political opposition and civil society activists.
“These recent legal initiatives have the declared aim of ensuring public order and the protection of the rights of citizens. Their effect has been the opposite: prominent government critics, opposition voices, watchdogs and ordinary individuals demonstrating on a wide range of issues have all seen their rights restricted over the course of the last year” – John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International
Supporting Amnesty International
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How you can help
“Civic engagement is precious social capital and it is in Russia’s interest to invest in it. The current government is stifling it, however, through a wide range of violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. These need, urgently, to be reversed.” – John Dalhuisen
Sign the petition below and call on President Putin to end the attack on civil society.