(Moscow) – The Russian government’s crackdown on public debate and independent groups took a more sinister turn in 2015, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2016. The authorities used existing and new laws to harass dozens of independent groups, in some cases effectively forcing them to shut down. The government took aggressive actions against its critics and moved to further curtail free expression, including online.
“The government portrays human rights defenders as traitors paid by foreign masters to promote an anti-Russian agenda,” said Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch. “The Kremlin is encouraging an atmosphere of anti-Western hysteria, witch hunts, and intimidation to silence critics.”