The Ukraine conflict has been used as a pretext
The Russian authorities have used events in Ukraine as a pretext for the suppression of independent opinions and movements, says a new report by the Agora International Human Rights Association, “Freedom of Speech as a Casualty, Censorship as a Consequence, of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict.”
“An active purge of the Internet and libraries has begun, while pressure on independent mass media and NGOs hsa increased significantly. The list of State secrets has expanded and the criminal cases involving charges of high treason and espionage have grown,” observes the study’s co-author, lawyer Damir Gainutdinov.
“The continuation of direct acts of violence, committed with impunity against political opponents and domestic activists has been clearly encouraged by the authorities and has led to a wave of new political prisoners and refugees.” All these measures, say the authors, are directly or indirectly linked to the complications arising from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The territorial integrity of the Russian Federation (including Crimea)
Two months after the ‘annexation’ of the Crimea, for example, a new law was added to the Russian Criminal Code. Article 280.1 criminalized calls to action that were “directed towards the violation of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.” The report states: “It was precisely this legal provision which became the main means of exerting pressure on those opposed to the ‘return of the Crimea’ [i.e. its occupation]”.
The report also examines the pressure placed on NGOs and the persecution of dissenters through such ‘movements’ as ‘NOD’ (the National Liberation Movement), ‘Anti-Maidan’ and ‘SERB’, and by means of internet censorship and limits on freedom of expression in the media.
The activities of these above-mentioned ‘movements’ has been reduced to the harassment of the opposition, the LGBT community and figures from the arts who criticize the authorities. Many of the attacks by NOD and SERB reported by Agora occurred at protests over events in Ukraine.
Translated by Nathalie Wilson
The AGORA Report is currently only available in Russian
Published on 9 June 2017