December 2013 Local Group Monthly Action Putin: Stop the crackdown
In January a group of people gathered in St Petersburg to have a snowball fight. The police responded by banning it and dispersing the crowd – calling it an ‘unauthorised gathering’. This may seem a ridiculous one off event but it isn’t.
Over the last two years Russian authorities have passed a series of laws that restrict the basic rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. From excessive fines for “unauthorised” public gatherings to the law further stigmatising the LGBTI community, from the smear campaign against NGO’s – “foreign agents” – to broadened, vague definitions of treason and espionage, from re-criminalising libel, to criminal prosecution for “offending the feelings of believers”, these laws have a chilling effect on civil society and undermine the legitimate role of NGO’s in Russia.
On 7 February 2014, the Winter Olympics will begin in the Russian city of Sochi. In the lead up to the games, Amnesty International will be putting these human rights violations under the spotlight.