Regime critique classified as extremism in Russia

Putin’s Government introduces a new law

, by Åsa Gunvén

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Regime critique classified as extremism in Russia

Quite unnoticed President Vladimir Putin has once again strengthened his grip of power in Russia, exemplifying how democracy and the respect of human rights in Russia are losing ground. Introducing a law that classifies any action, which poses danger to the society as extremism, Putin has managed to bind the hands of journalists and civil society activists that criticize the Russian leader or his government.

The law that is going to enter into force in October will illegalize everything from “slander of state officials” to “humiliation of national merit” resulting in long prison sentences. The vague definition of these offences makes a very subjective interpretation possible and in this way the potential to use this law against any kind of regime critique could be limitless. In this sense the law is very similar to the one that was introduced at the end of last year by Russia’s ally Lukashenka in order to suppress any regime critique before the presidential elections in Belarus. That Putin can get away with branding this law as “countering Extremist Activity” shows that the limitation of liberty and the disrespect of human rights are legitimized as long as it is branded as part of “the war on terrorism”.

The introduction of this law confirms that Russia under Putin is stepping even further back from the respect of human rights and democracy. For example, during the last year Putin had closed down the last independent television channel and limited the rights of NGOs. Clearly the KGB past of Putin is coming more and more to the forefront - but still the worlds leaders are too reluctant to speak up. It makes one wonder what comes first - energy or the respect of human rights and democracy....

And for us as Young European Federalists the respect for Human Rights and basic principles of democracy come first!

The author has based her article on personal experience after visiting St. Petersburg last month and talking to local activists. If you have more questions about this law or her experience in Russia just after the G8 summit don’t hesitate to contact her.

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Source: Flickr

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