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Blocking, Oppressive Laws, Pressure on Tech Companies

(Moscow) – Russian authorities redoubled their efforts in 2021 to repress internet freedoms, Human Rights Watch said today. The government blocked popular censorship circumvention tools, experimented with novel censorship technologies, expanded…
A young man wearing a face mask checks his mobile phone at the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, May 26, 2020.
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Lack of Accountability, Oversight, Data Protection

(Moscow) – Russian authorities are planning to expand the use of CCTV cameras with facial recognition software, despite weighty concerns about the lack of regulation, oversight, and data protection, Human Rights Watch said today. On September 25,…
Police officers walk past a surveillance camera in central Moscow, Russia January 26, 2020.
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End to Institutional Living, Implement Right to Live in the Community

(Brussels) – Serbia’s government should collect and make public the data on Covid-19 infections and deaths inside institutions for people with disabilities, six organizations for people with disabilities and human rights groups said today in a letter…
A room in the Sremčica Home for children and adults with disabilities where 292 persons, including 49 children, with disabilities live. Up to 10 people live in one room. © 2015 Emina Ćerimović for Human Rights Watch
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Authorities Regulate Infrastructure, Block Content

Note: This article features explainers. Click on the highlighted terms to see a short explainer. (Moscow) – Russia has significantly expanded laws and regulations tightening control over internet infrastructure, online content, and the privacy of…
Demonstrators, with a poster on the right reading "internet is our only chance," attend the Free Internet rally in response to a bill making its way through parliament calling for all internet traffic to be routed through servers in Russia— making VPNs (virtual private networks) ineffective, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, March 10, 2019.
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Lack of Information Could Exacerbate Spread of Infection, Deaths

(Moscow) – Russian authorities should publicly release detailed information about the spread of Covid-19 in state institutions for older people and people with disabilities, Human Rights Watch said today. Releasing this information would allow state…
A resident in a nursing home in the village of Sosnovskoye in Omsk region, opens a bag with sweets during a visit of volunteers as part of the "Old Age for Joy" charity project.
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Many Fined Despite Staying Home

(Moscow) – Moscow authorities have wrongly fined hundreds, if not thousands, of people for allegedly breaching self-quarantine based on dubious interpretations of behavior by a “social monitoring” tracking app, Human Rights Watch said today…
A woman in medical gloves holding an iPhone.
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Wider Internet Surveillance

(Moscow) – The Russian government will gain even greater control over freedom of speech and information online when the country’s “sovereign internet” law goes into effect on November 1, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today. …
Protest against the RuNet (Russian Internet) isolation in Moscow on March 10, 2019.
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New Law Needed to Retain Meaningful Human Control Over the Use of Force

(Geneva) – Russia, the United States, and a handful of other nations investing in autonomous weapons are preventing efforts to start negotiations on a new treaty to retain meaningful human control over the use of force, Human Rights Watch said…
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Freedom of Information at Grave Risk

(Moscow) – Russian President Vladimir Putin should not sign a bill that would give the government broad capacity to block access to the internet and to censor content offered by Internet Service Providers. Human Rights Watch…
An illustration depicting a small pointer (for a mouse) chained as it scrolls over a Russian website.
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25 Days in Detention for Social Media Post

  (December 10) Lev Ponomarev filed a court petition to attend the funeral on December 11, 2018  for Ludmila Alexeeva, the champion of Russia’s human rights movement and Ponomarev’s close friend and colleague.    …
Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomarev at an All-Russian convention on the protection of human rights.
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End Institutionalization, Support Independent Living

(Moscow) – Russian orphanages where children with disabilities grow up often transfer them to closed state institutions for adults when they reach 18 without their consent, Human Rights Watch said today. Those who do move into the community often…
A young man does yard work on the grounds of a closed state institution for adults with disabilities.
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FIFA Should Stand Up for Rights One Month Before Kickoff

(Berlin) – The FIFA World Cup starting on June 14, 2018, will take place during the worst human rights crisis in Russia since the Soviet era, Human Rights Watch said today. FIFA should use its leverage with the Russian authorities to address labor…
The Russian and Brazilian football teams play a pre-World Cup international friendly match at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia on March 23, 2018. The FIFA World Cup final will be played at this stadium on July 15 2018. (c) 2018 Ashley Kowalski
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Stop Blocking Telegram Site; Repeal Restrictive Laws

  (Moscow) – Russia’s blocking of the messaging service Telegram is unjustified and has worsened the government’s widespread assault on privacy and freedom of expression online, Human Rights Watch said today. Twenty…
ople release paper planes, symbol of the Telegram messenger, during a rally in protest against court decision to block the messenger.
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Repressive Laws, Charges Against Critics, Impunity for Abuse

(Moscow) – The Russian government escalated its crackdown on the political opposition and peaceful protesters during 2017, in advance of the 2018 elections, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2018. The government also took…
Riot police detain a man during an anti-corruption protest on Tverskaya Street in central Moscow, Russia, June 12, 2017.
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Russians Targeted for Links to Foreign ‘Undesirable’ Groups

(Berlin) – The Russian government has intensified enforcement of the country’s repressive legislation on foreign “undesirable” organizations to intimidate Russian nationals and groups, Human Rights Watch said today. Officials are penalizing Russian…
Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation, Moscow, 2010.
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Repeal Laws Threatening Freedom of Expression Online

  (Moscow) – Two new laws in Russia jeopardize the privacy and security of internet users and aim to further control Russians’ freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today.   The legislation,…
A photo illustration interweaving the Russian flag with the Facebook and Twitter logos taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 22, 2015. Russia's media watchdog has warned that Google, Twitter and Facebook could be blocked if they do not comply with
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An Increase in Prosecutions for Social Media Posts is Silencing Russia’s Citizens

When Ekaterina Vologzheninova posted a satirical cartoon criticizing Russia’s involvement in Ukraine on her social media page, she had no idea what was coming next or that she would end up with a criminal record. After all, she only had four…
Ekaterina Vologzheninova
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Repressive Laws and Policies Restrict Online Speech, Stifle Critical Voices

(Moscow) – Russia has introduced significant restrictions to online speech and invasive surveillance of online activity and prosecutes critics under the guise of fighting extremism, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 83-page…
An illustration depicting a small pointer (for a mouse) chained as it scrolls over a Russian website.
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Sweeping Pre-Election Crackdown

(Moscow) – A court in Chechnya on September 5, 2016, sentenced a local independent journalist to three years in prison on dubious drug possession charges, Human Rights Watch said today. The journalist, Zhalaudi Geriev, worked for the Caucasian Knot…
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Sweeping Repression Against Critics

(Moscow) – Local authorities are trying to silence even the mildest critics in advance of the September 18, 2016 election for the head, or governor, of Chechnya, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 56-page report, “‘Like…
Men carrying a banner reading “Putin and Kadyrov are Russia’s foundation”. Grozny, Chechnya, January 2016.