Since Vladimir Putin returned to office as President of the Russian Federation in March 2012, the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly have been under increasing attack, despite being guaranteed by the Russian Constitution and international human rights treaties to which Russia is party.
Being out and loud and proud in Russia can land you in prison
On June 30th, Russia passed a law banning "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" which they say could morally corrupt children. In late June, a lawful LGBTI gathering in St. Petersburg was broken up by police following a complaint that it violated a ban on "propaganda of homosexuality;" activists were assaulted by anti-gay protestors and police and detailed despite being the victims of violence.
It's getting harder and harder to protest in Russia
The right to freedom of assembly has been restricted by complicated approval procedures which make it difficult to organize events. Many protests have been arbitrarily banned or dispersed. Defamation was re-criminalized on June 30th, and new laws on treason and blasphemy were passed. What does this mean? It means that singing a protest song in a cathedral can lead to two years in prison--exactly what happened to Pussy Riot.
And it's more difficult than ever to operate an NGO
New restrictions on freedom of association mean that organizations receiving foreign funding must describe themselves as "foreign agents" if they are considered to be involved in undefined "political activities"--a requirement which is inconsistent with international human rights standards. Officials have conducted inspections of NGO offices, resulting in hefty fines, the suspension of the activities of at least one NGO, and possible closure of others.
Send a message to President Vladimir Putin asking him to stop attacks on civil society and ensure the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association for all.
I call on you to repeal laws that:
- re-criminalize libel (laws often used to target opponents)
- restrict public protests
- broaden the legal definition of “treason” and espionage
- oblige NGOs to register as foreign agents
- make “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” an offence
- criminalize insulting the religious feelings of believers.
We believe that these laws are inconsistent with Russia’s international obligations and its own Constitution and must be repealed. We call on you to uphold the freedom of expression, association and assembly in Russia.