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Privacy, Political Targeting Concerns; Lack of Regulation, Data Protection, Oversight

(Moscow) – Russian authorities continue expanding their use of facial recognition technology across the country, with no regulation, oversight, or data protection and against the backdrop of misidentification reports, Human Rights Watch said today.…
A surveillance camera operates in Red square near the Kremlin in Moscow.
News

Crimean Tatar Leader Arrested on Bogus Criminal Charges

In today’s Crimea, to be a member of the Crimean Tatar community is to be a target for the authorities. In the early hours of September 4, Russia’s security services raided the house of Nariman Dzhelyal, a deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatar…
Nariman Dzhelyal in Crimea in 2019. 
News

“Foreign Agents” Law Leads to Criminal Penalty

Correction: This text has been corrected to reflect the location of the 2019 police raid. (Moscow) – A court in Sochi, Russia, has convicted a prominent human rights defender on criminal charges related to the country’s “foreign agents” law,…
Semyon Simonov
Video
(Washington, DC, June 30, 2021) – The Cuban government is committing systematic human rights abuses against independent artists and journalists, Human Rights Watch said today as it released a video on the abuses. In recent months, Cuban authorities…
News

While most eyes were on Geneva, the Duma intensified its crackdown on dissent.

At his post-summit news conference on Wednesday President Putin defended Russia’s repressive laws that punish dissent.  With most eyes on Geneva, the Duma made one of those laws a lot harsher. It amended the criminal code to open the…
Anastasia Shevchenko and Mikhail Iosilevich. Both have been prosecuted under Russia’s law on “undesirable” foreign organizations. 
News

Rescind Bills; Repeal Abusive ‘Undesirables’ Law; Reform Extremism Laws

(Moscow) – A group of Russian lawmakers introduced three bills on May 4, 2021 that would add new dangerous tools to the already significant arsenal of legislative weapons for the country’s crackdown on dissenting voices, Human Rights Watch said today…
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin addresses the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s Parliament, in Moscow, Russia. July 22, 2020.
News
April was a terrible month for freedom of expression in Russia. In early April, the authorities struck at Roman Anin, editor-in-chief of iStories (Important Stories), a new outlet specializing in investigative journalism. The Russian Federal…
Editors of the student magazine DOXA Natalya Tyshkevich, left, and Alla Gutnikova wait at the Basmanny District Court, in Moscow, Russia.
News

Less Police Violence, But Intimidation, Advanced Roundups

(Moscow) – Russian police detained more than 1,600 people countrywide who were taking part in protests on April 21, 2021, against the treatment of the jailed and critically ill opposition figure Alexey Navalny, Human Rights Watch said today. Police…
A woman argues with a police officer during a protest in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Ulan-Ude, Russia, April 21, 2021.
News

End Unfounded Persecution, Lawsuit Against Kremlin’s Critics

Update 6/9/2021: On June 9, the Moscow City Court ruled in favor of a request by the prosecutor’s office to classify all three groups - the Anti-Corruption Foundation, the Foundation for Protection of Citizens Rights, and Navalny’s headquarters…
Police officers outside the Moscow City Court building. February 02, 2021. Russia, Moscow.
News
The Kremlin undoubtedly hopes that by packing Alexei Navalny off to prison, it will keep him out of sight, out of mind. Yet Navalny’s many social-media-savvy followers make that unlikely. A growing movement of people discontented with corruption,…
Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny takes part in a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, February 29, 2020.
News

Authorities Restrict Traffic to Twitter for Refusal to Censor Content Online

Today, Russian authorities claimed they slowed down access to Twitter in Russia in response to the social media site’s failure to take down allegedly illegal content. Russian authorities have listed Twitter as a “threat” and have said they might…
A mobile phone user turns on Twitter application on his smartphone in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
News

Fines, Smear Campaigns, Potential Blocking for Noncompliance

(Moscow) – Russian authorities are escalating pressure on social media companies, forcing them to censor online content deemed illegal by the government, Human Rights Watch said today. Social media platforms have received warnings and face fines and…
A man wearing a face mask to protect against Covid-19 uses his smartphone among Moscow City skyscrapers in Moscow, Russia, January 11, 2021.
News

Detention of Editor-in-Chief Highlights the Attacks on Journalism

Today, a court in Moscow sentenced Sergei Smirnov, editor-in-chief of the independent “Mediazona” news outlet, to 25 days in detention for “repeated violation” of the public assemblies’ rules. His offense? Retweeting a humorous tweet about Smirnov’…
The Editor-in-Chief of Mediazona, Sergey Smirnov, in front of Pskov Regional Court, after the trial of Russian journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva, Pskov, Russia, July 6 2020.
News

Foreign Minister Should Raise Issue of Attacks on Civil Society

Foreign Minister Ann Linde’s trip to Moscow this week, the first one during Sweden’s chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), comes as Russia is in the midst of a severe human rights crisis. Last month’s arrest…
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, meets with Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde in Moscow, February 2, 2021.
News

A Story of Two Lawyers Highlights a Bigger Problem with Russia’s Justice System

Attacks, detention and prosecution of lawyers - including while performing their professional duties - is not unusual in Russia, but what happened ahead of the January 23 protests  takes this harassment to a new level. I spoke with two lawyers…
Mikhail Benyash and Mansur Gilmanov
News

Mass Arbitrary Detentions, Police Brutality, Criminal Prosecutions

(Moscow) – On January 23, 2021, police detained more than 3,700 people across Russia at nationwide protests against the arrest of political opposition figure Alexey Navalny and against state corruption, Human Rights Watch said today. It was the…
Police officers clash with people during a protest against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow.