Russia 2012 - 2018: 50 anti-democracy laws entered into force within last presidential mandate

Press release
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Since re-election in 2012, Russian president has overseen the creation of 50 new laws designed to strangle opposition voices and raise the level of fear and self-control in the society, according to new research by FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights). Their fields of application and thematics vary just as much as the harshness of sentences. Presented in chronological order, a table summarizes the fifty laws and their consequences in the lives of Russian citizens.

The new laws and regulations, introduced during Putin’s most recent term in office, range from increased surveillance and censorship powers, to laws banning “questioning the integrity of the Russian nation” - effectively banning criticism of Russia’s presence in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea - broad laws on “extremism” that grant authorities powers to crack down on political and religious freedom, to imposing certain views on Russian history through forbidding to think differently.

A specific and complex branch of laws have also been constructed through these lasts years to make it more difficult for NGOs and human rights organisations to run and communicate on their activities, to access the information, to receive international funding, severely hindering their ability to operate independently, and as a matter of fact, for the smaller ones, to survive.

The impressive table which reflects three years of thorough monitoring, is presented in chronological order.

“An onslaught of anti-democracy laws after Putin’s re-election, represents a terrific time-machine of a total control, often disguised but merciless measures against free and critical expression, should it concern rule of law, human rights, impunity or history, education or non-discrimination sphere, leave alone Russia’s on-going aggressions beyond its borders. While the Russian people will go through a Potemkin election this month, it’s painfully clear that democracy is being strangled by Putin.”

Sacha Koulaeva, Head of FIDH’s Eastern Europe/Central Asia Desk

The table doesn’t only list the laws: it explains the kickback each of them represents fundamental freedoms of Russian citizens, cutting little bit more every days the free exchanges with the outside world. It also provides some, far from exhaustive, examples, of the legal abuses it provokes in the every day life of citizens.

New era requires new methods for those who have to fill the legitimity gap while the Iron curtain is no longer there and Internet breaks the borders through. Not only the present but also the past gets filtered and controlled. Everything is good to take, there are no little or big details: a poet charged with extremism for a poem on Ukraine, notion of “undesirable” organisations which seems to pump-up from the Harry Potter evil references, ban to negatively mention any deeds of Red Army during the Second World II or ban on evening/ overnight assemblies designed to prevent EuroMaidan kind of meetings, but also criminal charges for more than three participating in the protest actions.

A requirement for messaging services to host all data within Russia, and decrypt users’ information on demand go with a special list of those who have a double nationality, those who can’t travel abroad, newly defined State treason or attempts to access classified information (for instance Russian military losses in the conflicts) .

FIDH warns: Putin regime’s increasing aggression and authoritarianism at home is a precondition of its foreign aggressive policy.

“In Syria, Ukraine and Crimea, Putin’s Russia acts with total impunity. But what happens inside Russia, doesn’t make the main lines in Western media, yet it is not less dramatic: we are assisting to the total crack-down on civil society and free expression. Without critical voices inside, chances that Russia ever changes its attitude abroad are slim.”

Sacha Koulaeva

The first round of Russia’s presidential election takes place on Sunday 18 March.
The full breakdown of Russia’s 50 anti-democracy laws is available to download here

Sacha Koulaeva is available for comment (English, French, Russian).

For more information, contact Padraig Reidy +44 (0) 7947242476 /

Audrey Couprie / +33 6 48 05 91 57

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