Human rights experts – on the annual report of the US Department of State
MOSCOW – Russian human rights activists interviewed by the Russian service of the Voice of America agree with the assessment given by the US Department of State regarding the state of affairs with human rights in the Russian Federation.
We will remind, in the annual report on the situation with human rights around the world, published on Wednesday on the website of the US Department of State, in relation to Russia it is said that the situation in this area continues to deteriorate there. The document notes that, as in previous years, an atmosphere of impunity persists in the country – the government does not take adequate measures to bring to justice officials who commit crimes and abuse power..
In 2018, violations of civil rights were noted in almost all areas of the Russian state.
Director of the Sakharov Center Sergey Lukashevsky in an interview with the Voice of America, noted that in the most basic areas of human rights, either there is no improvement (if we take, for example, torture), or there are clear signs of deterioration. In his opinion, the latter especially concerns the pressure on political and civic activists..
“The case of Oyub Titiev, the criminal cases that have been opened against the activists of Open Russia, and much more, show that, although the repression remains targeted, nevertheless, it is getting tougher,” he explained. – True, there has been a relative decline in criminal cases under Article 282 for inciting hatred, which was actually used to intimidate the population in general and pressure civil society. But the 205th article – “justification of terrorism” is still widely used for the same purposes “.
In general, it cannot be said that the general direction of the repressive policy of the Russian authorities has changed, stated Sergei Lukashevsky.
“There were also negative events in the area of freedom of speech,” he added. “This is the New Times’s business, and the sale of media outlets, of course, to owners more loyal to the authorities, which, accordingly, led to adjustments in the information policy of the publications”.
The human rights activist made a special emphasis on violations in the field of freedom of conscience and religion: “Here, undoubtedly, the monstrous decision regarding the recognition of the extremist organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has a negative effect. It turned into the arrests of dozens of people. They are accused of involvement in an extremist community for their religious activities in their communities. This is one of the points where it happened, perhaps not as noticeable as with civil and political activists, but in reality a clear deterioration of the situation. “.
This completely outrageous decision of the authorities will provide an influx of political prisoners in the coming years, summed up the director of the Sakharov Center..
In turn, the co-chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MGH) Valery Borshchev noted primarily the persecution of non-profit public organizations, primarily human rights organizations. In his opinion, they are seriously limited in their activities by the laws adopted recently in Russia..
“Of course, there is also a restriction on freedom of assembly and rallies,” he stressed. – Nevertheless, people still take to the streets, protest. Because, indeed, repression in the country is intensifying everywhere. The cases of “New Greatness” and “Networks” confirm this well. It can be seen that the authorities have targeted youth associations. All this causes serious concern in the society “.
Valery Borshchev is particularly concerned about the human rights situation in Chechnya, where he singled out the case of Oyub Titiev: “I was present at the hearing of his trial. In my opinion, the lawyers have convincingly proved to the highest degree that there was no crime at all, but there was an outright planting of (material evidence) by the police officers. However, I think everyone, including Oyub himself, understands perfectly well that the verdict will still be guilty. There are no illusions here “.
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MHG co-chairman called the process a landmark.
“It is possible that Memorial in Chechnya will cease its activities for some time. This was precisely one of the goals of this criminal case. Nevertheless, I believe that human rights defenders will still find a way to act there. We have contacts with them. But, of course, this arbitrariness will further weaken the ability to protect human rights in the republic, ”concluded Valery Borshchev.
The verdict against Oyub Titiev is expected on Monday, March 18.