Parliamentary Elections in Russia

Sunday’s parliamentary elections to the Russian Duma are held in a more repressive climate than ever, since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Freedom of Expression, Association and Assembly as well as the right to a fair trial, right to physical integrity and other basic rights are stifled.

The space for the civil society has shrunk dramatically since the last Duma elections in December 2011, when independent observers reported widespread fraud. Human Rights Defenders and other dissidents are subjected to repressive legislation, propaganda and persecuted in other ways.

Over 140 Russian NGOs have been labeled “foreign agents” according to one of many laws used to repress the civil society. In July criminal charges were for the first time brought under the foreign agent law against Valentina Cherevatenko, head of the human rights organisation “Women of Don”, who risks two years imprisonment. This summer “the failure to report a crime” became a criminal offense, potentially pushing ordinary citizens to take part in repressions. Human rights violations against minority groups are widespread, among them LGBT-people who have been targeted by the infamous laws forbidding “homosexual propaganda”.

In the North Caucasus impunity for grave human rights abuses such as enforced disappearance and torture persists, while notably in Chechnya expression of dissident on all levels of society is punished. Since the last Duma election Russia has also illegally occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, whose inhabitants are encouraged to take part in the Russian elections.

Read our 2016 report on restricted freedom of expression in Russia: Putting the Lid on Freedom of Expression.

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