Report on Freedom of Expression in Russia

Since Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin in May 2012 the human rights situation in Russia has worsened significantly. The Kremlin’s focus has been on curtailing freedom of expression of human rights defenders, remaining independent media and other regime critics through defamation and legal means.

The negative trend has been marked by a steady stream of repressive legislation and judicial harassment. These new laws impose clearly impermissible restrictions on fundamental human rights.

In this briefing paper, Civil Rights Defenders gives an overview of the state of freedom of expression in Russia, in particular online freedom of expression. It describes how human rights defenders who rendered support to journalists, bloggers and other civil society actors have become the epicentre of the authorities’ unabated crackdown on human rights.

At this critical time human rights defenders experience that international actors are withdrawing support to human rights and independent media in Russia. Based on dozens of interviews with prominent human rights defenders, Civil Rights Defenders concludes that the international community needs to increase the support, to counteract the negative development.

Among our recommendations is that EU governments should continuously call on Russia to repeal or amend all laws and regulations that are incompatible with international human rights standards. They must also call on Russia to unconditionally release all human rights defenders, journalists, regime critics and other persons detained solely for peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

Download the reportPutting the Lid on Freedom of Expression in Russia.