Agora reports on increase of censorship in Russia following conflict with Ukraine

posted 15 Jun 2017, 03:33 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 Jun 2017, 03:35 ]
9 June 2017


Russian authorities have used events in Ukraine as a pretext for the suppression of independent opinions and movements, according to a new report by the Agora International Human Rights Association on “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 heightened significantly, the list of state secrets widened and the number of criminal cases involving high treason and espionage increased. The ongoing practice of direct acts of violence being committed with impunity toward political opponents and domestic activists, clearly encouraged by the authorities, has given rise to a wave of new political prisoners and refugees,” observes the study’s co-author, lawyer Damir Gainutdinov. According to the authors, all these measures are directly or indirectly linked with the complications of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Two months after the ‘annexation’ of the Crimea, a new article (280.1) was introduced into the Russian Criminal Code criminalizing calls to action “directed toward the violation of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.” The report states: “It was precisely this legal provision which became the main means to put pressure on those opposed to the ‘return of the Crimea.’

The report also focusses on the pressure placed on NGOs, the persecution of dissenters, through for example ‘movements’ such as ‘NOD’ (the National Liberation Movement), ‘Anti-Maidan’ and ‘SERB’, internet censorship and limiting freedom of expression in the media.

The report points out that the activity of these ‘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 instigated by NOD and SERB, reported by Agora, occured at protests over events in Ukraine.

Translated by Nathalie Wilson

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