Human Rights Watch have said:
The Kremlin in 2012 unleashed the worst political crackdown in Russia’s post-Soviet history, Human Rights Watch said today in itsWorld Report 2013. The authorities introduced a series of restrictive laws, harassed and intimidated activists, and interfered in the work of nongovernmental organizations, crushing hopes for reform following the winter 2011 mass protests.
“This has been the worst year for human rights in Russia in recent memory,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Russia’s civil society is standing strong but with the space around it shrinking rapidly, it needs support now more than ever.”
In its 665-page report, Human Rights Watch assessed progress on human rights during the past year in more than 90 countries, including an analysis of the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The willingness of new governments to respect rights will determine whether the Arab Spring gives birth to genuine democracy or simply spawns authoritarianism in new clothes, Human Rights Watch said.
In Russia, since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency in May, a parliament dominated by members of the pro-Putin United Russia party has adopted a series of laws that imposed dramatic new restrictions on civil society. A June law introduced limits on public assembliesand raised relevant financial sanctions to the level of criminal fines, re-criminalized libel, and imposed new restrictions on internet content.
Russia isn’t going to turn back into the USSR, but it is clear that the path it is on is one of authoritarianism and towards totalitarian. It may not have the reach the old USSR had, but its veto on the UN Security Council means it helps makes the world a worse place.