posted 17 Dec 2013, 12:08 by Rights in Russia
updated 17 Dec 2013, 12:18
13 December 2013
Republished with thanks to: Amnesty International
On 12 December Russia will mark the 20th anniversary of the country’s constitution following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Constitution proclaims the rule of law and guarantees fundamental human rights to Russian people. The responsibility to safeguard these constitutional rights falls to the President of the Russian Federation.
However, Vladimir Putin’s current presidency has led an onslaught against civil and political rights and other freedoms in Russia. This amounts to an erosion of the Constitution itself, as Amnesty International
’s analysis below sets out:
The Russian Constitution:
Recently adopted legislation violating the
Russian Constitution and its effect:
1. All people shall be equal before the law and court.
2. The State shall guarantee the equality of rights and freedoms of man and
citizen, regardless of sex, race, nationality, language, origin, property and
official status, place of residence, religion, convictions, membership of
public associations, and also of other circumstances. All forms of
limitations of human rights on social, racial, national, linguistic or
religious grounds shall be banned.
A law targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transsexual or intersex (LGBTI) individuals came into force on 30 June 2013.
It imposes extortionate fines on those accused of engaging in “propaganda of
non-traditional sexual relations”. The law further increases the
discrimination and harassment against LGBTI people and effectively denies
young people the right to sex education. It has served as a legal basis for
denying the LGBTI community’s right to hold any public events.
Russia: New laws an affront to basic human rights
Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of conscience, the freedom of
religion, including the right to profess individually or together with other
any religion or to profess no religion at all, to freely choose, possess and
disseminate religious and other views and act according to them.
1. Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of ideas and speech.
A new law criminalizing blasphemy came into
effect on 1 July 2013.
It envisages heavy fines and up to three years of imprisonment for public
actions that may be deemed as disrespectful or insulting to the religious
beliefs of others.
This law was proposed in the aftermath of the 2012 trial and conviction of
three members of the all-female Russian punk group Pussy Riot for “hooliganism
on grounds of religious hatred” after they sang a protest song in Moscow’s
main Orthodox cathedral. It has paved the way for criminal prosecution for
criticism of religious leaders or commentary on religious doctrine and tenets
of faith in a way that is clearly inconsistent with the freedom of
Amnesty International believes the trial of Pussy Riot members was
politically motivated. The organization considers the imprisoned activists to
be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful expression of
Russian court jails Pussy Riot for two years
Russia: New laws an affront to basic human rights
1. Everyone shall have the right to association, including the right to
create trade unions for the protection of his or her interests. The freedom
of activity of public association shall be guaranteed.
The Federal Law “On Introducing Changes to
Certain Pieces of Legislation of the Russian Federation as Regards Regulation
of Activities of Non-Commercial Organizations Performing the Functions of
Foreign Agents” came into effect on 21 November 2012.
This so-called “foreign agents law” imposes a legal obligation on Russian
non-governmental organizations which receive foreign aid in any form and
engage in what the law loosely defines as “political activities” to register
as “organizations performing the functions of foreign agents”. In Russian,
the expression “foreign agents” is akin to spying, and is yet another step in
the on-going smear campaign against human rights and other independent civil
The law introduced hefty fines and other severe administrative penalties for
the violation of the above legal requirement; its repeated violation
envisages criminal prosecution, including imprisonment, for NGO leaders.
Russian Federation: Freedom of association at imminent risk
Citizens of the Russian Federation shall have the right to assemble
peacefully, without weapons, hold rallies, meetings and demonstrations,
marches and pickets.
A law which came into effect on 8 June 2012 hiked up fines 150-fold
for protesters taking part in unsanctioned rallies. Organizers of public
meetings face hefty fines if participants cause disorder or damage.
Russia: Putin urged to reject law restricting the right to peaceful assembly
Hundreds of people were detained following mass protests in May 2012 in
Bolotnaya Square in Moscow over contested parliamentary and presidential
elections in 2011 and 2012. Twelve people are on trial and several others are
still awaiting trial or appeal hearing in this case. Amnesty International
considers 10 of them to be prisoners of conscience arrested for their right
to express their views, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.
Anatomy of Injustice: The Bolotnaya Square trial
Mikhail Kosenko, one of the 10 prisoners of conscience from the
Bolotnaya case, was sentenced to forcible incarceration in a psychiatric unit
in a move smacking of the worst excesses of the Soviet era.