Human rights in Russia have “significantly deteriorated” since President Vladimir Putin launched his war against Ukraine in February last year, alleges a study released on Monday by an expert commissioned by the United Nations’ top human rights organization.
Mariana Katzarova, the Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on Russia’s human rights situation, has chronicled the domestic crackdown that has mostly targeted critics of Putin’s war as well as other opposition voices in Russia.
Her assessment, which was made public on Monday, is distinct from another investigation by UN-backed investigators, which has accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine.
Never before has the council authorized a rights expert to investigate human rights violations in one of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the United Kingdom, China, France, Russia, and the United States.
Human Rights In Russia Have ‘Significantly Deteriorated’: UN Expert
The report quoted OVD-Info data from last month, which showed that more than 20,000 individuals were imprisoned for participating in anti-war protests between February and June of last year. More than 600 criminal complaints were filed against “anti-war activity,” according to the report.
According to the report, more than half of those protestors jailed for “peaceful anti-war activism” were women.
Katzarova stated that she had received “credible reports” of a slew of human rights abuses, including torture, rape and sexual violence allegations, and threats of sexual abuse by law enforcement agents against both men and women. She stated that none of the situations had been properly investigated.
According to the study, the Russian Justice Ministry’s roster of “foreign agents” had 649 organizations and individuals at the end of July, an increase of more than 25% in six months.
More than 100 organizations were designated as “undesirable” at the end of July, which means they could be prohibited.
The UN General Assembly Suspended Russia’s Membership In April ’22
Last April, only six weeks after Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations General Assembly suspended Russia’s membership in the Geneva-based 47-member rights council.
Katzarova’s mandate, which is Bulgarian, was established a year ago, and she began working in May.
Authorities in Russia have refused to assist, saying her team’s submissions will be “automatically disregarded,” according to the report.
The analysis stated that rights in Russia have been on a “steady decline” over the last two decades.
Still, Katzarova discovered that the situation has “significantly deteriorated since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022.”
The study was developed through meetings with over 60 Russian and international human rights organizations and individuals, as well as approximately 100 written contributions, including from rights advocates and eyewitnesses to human rights breaches.
The Meeting Will Take Place On Thursday
The Human Rights Council is scheduled to meet on Thursday to address it.
Since the beginning of the conflict, the Kremlin has stated that the vast majority of Russians support its “special military operation” in Ukraine while also claiming that those who disagree are free to do so.
However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stated that people who wish to criticize the government must do it in accordance with the law.
Putin has stated that he is “not judging” people who “have not behaved like patriots.” Last week, he also stated that one “can disagree” with Russian authorities “and live here, speak out about it — no one is prohibiting it.”
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