Today, Russia is more repressive than it has ever been in the post-Soviet era. The state has tightened control over free expression, assembly, and speech, aiming to silence independent critics, including online. The authorities crack down on critical media, viciously harass political activists and peaceful protesters, engage in smear campaigns against independent groups, increasingly use their power to ban foreign organizations as “undesirable,” and penalize Russian nationals and organizations for supposed involvement with them. Chechen authorities are waging their war on human rights defenders, resorting to such tactics as fabrication of criminal cases, attacks on property and threats of retaliation against family members. With Moscow’s tacit blessing, local security officials forcibly disappear and torture those deemed undesirable, including gay or bi-sexual men, suspected jihadists, presumed drug users and critics of the government.
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