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Russia is a country where thousands are detained at peaceful demonstrations and even single-person picketers are thrown behind bars — all in the name of public safety and even public health.  In this country however, there is one…
Men carrying a banner reading “Putin and Kadyrov are Russia’s foundation”. Grozny, Chechnya, January 2016.
News
Russian authorities have assigned “state system” status to the country’s uniform biometric database (UBS). The system aims to confirm identity in online banking and primarily consisted of bank clients’ facial images and voice samples. The new status (…
A young man wearing a face mask checks his mobile phone at the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, May 26, 2020.
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
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.
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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.
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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

Soviet Dissident, Physicist Was Early Inspiration for Human Rights Watch

Yuri Orlov, renowned human rights activist and distinguished physicist, died on September 27, at the age of 96. He was a major inspiration for us when we founded Helsinki Watch, which eventually grew to be Human Rights Watch. Orlov was the founder of…
The Russian flag flies on a courthouse building in St. Petersburg, Russia, March 15 2020.
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The Supreme Court in Karelia on Wednesday overturned and vastly increased the sentence in the child sexual abuse case against Yuri Dmitriyev, a researcher and rights advocate who exposed mass graves of political prisoners executed during the Stalin…
Historian Yuri Dmitriev, who was on trial on charges of involving his adopted daughter in child pornography, of illegally possessing components of a firearm, and of depravity involving a minor, speaks with people after a hearing outside a court building in Petrozavodsk, Russia. April 5, 2018.
News

It appears that the city authorities have used Covid-19 as a pretext to deny permission for protests over a constitutional referendum.

A mother pleads with police, “Where are you taking him, he didn’t do anything!” and then addresses the crowd - “my son is a minor, he didn’t do anything!” Journalists run around, shouting “Let him go, he’s a journalist,” and then clapping when they…
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At the peak of the Covid-19 infections, on April 30, the Serbian government published data that 574 people living in residential care institutions, including those for people with disabilities, had been infected with the virus. More recent numbers…
A room in the Veternik Institution for children and adults with disabilities where 540 persons, including children with disabilities live. Up to eight people live in one room. © 2015 Emina Ćerimović for Human Rights Watch
News
On May 29, Russian state media reported that the authorities are considering introducing an app that migrant workers would have to download when they enter the country, once the borders re-open after the COVID-19 lockdown. Little is known about the…
Shadows of people detained by Russian police, suspected of violating immigration rules during an action seen on containers at a street market in Moscow, Russia, August 7, 2013. © AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
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As the call to prayer rolls over of Magas, the capital of Ingushetia, Russia’s smallest North Caucasus republic, hundreds of men busily unroll plastic mats, turning the central square into an open-air prayer ground. “Allahu Akbar!” The…
Men praying at the protest rally in Magas, Ingushetia
News

Superficial reforms leave religious minorities behind—and that's dangerous

After generating some positive press earlier this summer by lifting the ban on women driving, Saudi Arabia is once more the target of reproach. In August, the country’s notorious terrorism court sought the death penalty against Israa al…
201808middleeast_saudi_un_binsalman
News
Many of those who follow news from Russia have been counting down the days this summer with a sinking feeling. Now , autumn is here, bringing even closer the very real possibility that Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainian filmmaker on hunger strike in a Russian…
Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov gestures from a defendants' box as he attends a court hearing in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, July 21, 2015.
News
As children across Serbia enjoy their summer break, for some children the next school year can’t start soon enough. It may be their first chance to get an education. The Serbian government formally pledged in June that all children with…
Marina  [pseudonym], a 4-year-old girl with developmental disabilities who spent ten months of her life in an institution, with her foster sister. © 2015 Jasenko Rasol for Human Rights Watch
News

The London summit this week could kick-start the revival of the stalled reform process in the region – but won’t if human rights and the rule of law stay off the agenda

  Western Balkan and European Union leaders meet in London this week for a summit that could be a chance to revive stalled reforms and focus attention on critical issues. Unfortunately, there is every chance it will turn out to be full of hot…
Migrants are seen in front of a dorm destroyed during Bosnian 1992-1995 war, in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina May 11, 2018.
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