The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Russia

By Vexen Crabtree 2019


#equality #freedom #human_rights #politics #russia #syria #tolerance

Russian Federation

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Land Area16 376 870km21
Population142.7m (2011)2
Life Expectancy70.26yrs (2017)3
GNI$23 286 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesRU, RUS, 6435
Internet, .su6
CurrencyRuble (RUB)7

Russia is generally poor at ensuring human rights and freedom compared to the rest of the world. Russia does better than average in fighting anti-semitic opinions9, opposing gender inequality10 and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights11. But unfortunately Russia gets most other things wrong. It does worse than average in eliminating modern slavery12, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms13, LGBT equality14, fighting corruption15 and in supporting press freedom16. And finally, it falls into the bottom 20 in commentary from Human Rights Watch17 and in its Global Peace Index rating18. Russia was one of the 10 countries that did not sign the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 194819. It actively abuses international law in order to cover for its own human rights abuses, and for those of its allies. By late 2017, it had cast 11 vetoes to block the UN Security Council from addressing Syrian government war crimes. In 2017, the rate of punishments for (supposedly) violating laws on public gatherings was five times greater than the year before: as protests against corruption and other issues continued "officialsharassed and intimidated protesters" including beating them20. News law on "foreign funding" have meant that several human rights and environmental groups have had to close from 201220.

1. Politics and Freedom

#antisemitism #burundi #corruption #eritrea #france #freedom #human_development #human_rights #indonesia #mass_media #peace #politics #Russia #slavery

In 2017, the rate of punishments for (supposedly) violating laws on public gatherings was five times greater than the year before, as protests against corruption continued - "Officials harassed and intimidated protesters"20.

[In 2017] Putin´s efforts to repress opposition to his lengthening rule met little resistance from foreign governments. [...] From spring 2017 onward, authorities systematically interfered with the presidential campaign of a leading opposition politician, Alexei Navalny. [...]

[By last 2017] Russia cast no less than 11 vetoes to block any attempt by the UN Security Council to address Syrian government war crimes. Russia also threatened to withdraw from a key European oversight body on human rights if it maintained sanctions for the occupation of Crimea [and] it aimed to silence Crimean Tatars and other critics in occupied Crimea, including through criminal prosecution.. [...]

Parliament decriminalized acts of domestic violence not involving serious bodily harm. The government continued to support “separatists” in eastern Ukraine, who committed abuses in areas under their control.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)21

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)9
Pos.Lower is better
World Avg36.8
Corruption (2012-2016)15
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score15
2New Zealand90.6
World Avg43.05
Global Peace Index (2012)18
Pos.Lower is better18
2New Zealand1.24
150Central African Rep.2.87
151N. Korea2.93
153Congo, DR3.07
World Avg2.02

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)17
Pos.Higher is better
109Central African Rep.-8
110Myanmar (Burma)-9
World Avg-1.9
Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)11
Pos.Higher is better
3Costa Rica23
World Avg15.1
Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)13
Pos.Lower is better
1Hong Kong1
3New Zealand3
World Avg79.7

Press Freedom (2013)16
Pos.Lower is better16
150Myanmar (Burma)4471
World Avg3249

In December 2016, a court in Tyumen sentenced Alexey Kungurov, a journalist and blogger, to two-and-a-half years in prison for “publicly justifying terrorism.” The charges had stemmed from his blog post criticizing Russia´s actions in Syria.

In May [2017], a court convicted video blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky for inciting hatred and insulting the feelings of religious believers, and handed down a three-and-ahalf-year suspended sentence [reduced to two years and three months on appeal]. The charges stemmed from a prank video mocking the Russian Orthodox Church, which Sokolovsky shared on social media.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)20

Slavery (2018)12
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims12
World Avg0.65

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory22. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends23. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life24. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves25.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery26. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity27. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.28. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi12, Eritrea12, Indonesia29) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery30.

2. Gender Equality

#gender #misogyny #politics #Russia #women

Gender Inequality (2015)10
Pos.Lower is better10
50Saudi Arabia0.26
World Avg0.36

Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

Year Women Can Vote31
Pos.Lower is better
1New Zealand1893
World Avg1930

Russia is on the way towards ending gender inequality but women are still in an unfavourable position much of the time.

Despite persistently high rates of domestic violence, in February [2017] the Russian government enacted a law decriminalizing acts of domestic violence that do not cause serious harm leading to hospital treatment, or which aren´t reported more than once a year. The law leaves domestic violence victims more vulnerable to escalation of abuse. Moscow´s mayor denied activists authorization to protest the law. A comprehensive domestic violence law has been stalled in parliament since 2014.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)20


3. LGBT Equality and Tolerance

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #Russia #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality (2017)14
Pos.Higher is better
119Ivory Coast1
124Sierra Leone-3
World Avg12.6

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence32. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws33. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries32. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

Authorities continued to enforce discriminatory policies and laws against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)20

Human Rights Watch reports that in 2017 in Chechnya, "local authorities carried out a large-scale anti-gay purge, rounding up and torturing dozens of men because of their presumed homosexuality" and despite multiple complaints and letters of concern from multiple developed countries, Russian authorities have not conducted an effective investigation20.

4. Russia Overall National and Social Development

#human_development #Russia

Social & Moral
Development Index
Pos.Higher is better
104St Lucia51.0
105St Vincent & Grenadines50.9
World Avg53.8

The Social and Moral Development Index concentrates on moral issues and human rights, violence, public health, equality, tolerance, freedom and effectiveness in climate change mitigation and environmentalism, and on some technological issues. A country scores higher for achieving well in those areas, and for sustaining that achievement in the long term. Those countries towards the top of this index can truly said to be setting good examples and leading humankind onwards into a bright, humane, and free future. See: What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life.

5. Russia and Syria

Between April and August, Russia conducted at least 13,000 air strikes. While the number of civilian casualties appeared to decrease, partially as a result of local ceasefires, monitoring groups reported hundreds of civilian deaths each month, including from unlawful aerial attacks. Syrian and Russian forces carried out unlawful attacks, including airstrikes on schools and hospitals, and airdropped cluster munitions and incendiary weapons in populated areas.

Russian ground forces became more active in Syria. Russia also played a role in negotiating local ceasefires and evacuations and participated in the evacuation of fighters and civilians from opposition-controlled areas. [...]

Russia continued to protect Syria from repercussions for violating the laws of war. At the United Nations Security Council, Russia, along with China, vetoed a February 2017 resolution proposing sanctions on those responsible for chemical attacks. Russia was also the only member to veto an April 2017 resolution condemning a chemical attack in northern Syria and calling for an international investigation.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)20

6. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#denmark #russia

Freedom of religion and belief is protected in law and in the constitution, however, Article 282 of the Criminal Code bans "Inciting religious hatred" which is sometimes over-used, or misused for political purposes35. The Russian Orthodox Church has ran a long-term and officially supported campaign to restrict other religious groups, especially since the religious liberalisation of Russia in 199036: "Since July 2016, when the “Yarovaya Law” entered into force, authorities fined over 100 religious activists, mainly evangelist Christians" for various minor oversights and The Jehovah's Witnesses were outlawed in 201720.

Persecution of Salafi Muslims continued in Dagestan despite an official statement that "non-traditional" forms of Islam would no longer receive special attention from the police20.

Freedom of Thought: The International Humanist and Ethical Union produced a report in 2012 entitled "Freedom of Thought" (2012)35, in which they document bias and prejudice at the national level that is based on religion, belief and/or lack of belief. Their entry for Russia states:

The constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of religion or belief; however, Article 282 of the Criminal Code bans "Inciting religious hatred", for which maximum penalty is 3 years in prison. Most often fines are levied, at a maximum of 200,000 Rubles (US$6,500).

Cases of Discrimination

  • On Jan. 18, 2008, Aleksander Sdvizhkov, the editor of the White-Russian magazine Zgoda, was sentenced to three years in a labor camp for reprinting the Danish Muhammad cartoons.

  • On June 13, 2010, two Russian gallerists, Jury Samadurov and Andrei Jerefeyev, were given large fines for organizing an exhibition called "Prohibited Art" at the Sakharov Center, which included portrayals of Jesus as Mickey Mouse and as Lenin.

  • On August 17, 2012, three members of Pussy Riot, a feminist group that spreads its freethinking message through punk rock and performance art, were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" and sentenced to two years hard labor. Their offense was to shoot a music video called "Punk Prayer: Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!" at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

"Freedom of Thought" by IHEU (2012)35

The Russian Orthodox Church's Campaign Against Other Religions

In October 1990, the Supreme Soviet abandoned the official Soviet ideology of scientific atheism and passed [the Law on Freedom of Religions,] guaranteeing freedom of conscience and legal status for all religious communities. [...] Even the often persecuted Jehovah's Witnesses were welcomed. [...] But as the new groups´ audience and membership grew rapidly and began to provide competitive alternatives to the Russian Orthodox Church, support for allowing virtually all groups to register began to wane.

In 1997... Russian parliament passed the complex law On Freedom of Conscience and Associations by a vote of 358 to 6. Contradicting the Russian constitution, which states that all religions are equal under the law, this bill established two categories of religious institutions: traditional organizations and nontraditional groups. The traditional organizations received full legal privileges and tax exemptions. The nontraditional groups, which included Catholic, Baptist, and sectarian Russian Orthodox groups operating separately from the Russian Orthodox Church, were denied full privileges and were required to undergo an annual registration. Along with being cumbersome and time consuming, this registration procedure proved highly restrictive, with many regional authorities within Russia passing even harsher legislation against the “new” sects.

When a 1999 amendment to the 1997 law required all groups to reregister or be dissolved, the Ministry of Justice dissolved approximately 980 groups by May 2002. [...]

Many have commented that the Russian Orthodox Church was a driving force behind the more restrictive legislation passed in 1997, but they often fail to notice that the church was effectively promoting tighter restrictions even before the formal legislation was passed.

"The Price of Freedom Denied" by Brian J. Grim and Roger Finke (2011)37

Since July 2016, "when the “Yarovaya Law” entered into force, authorities fined over 100 religious activists, mainly evangelist Christians" for various minor oversights and The Jehovah's Witnesses were outlawed in 2017 after suffering many years of harassments20.

Current edition: 2019 Jan 01
Parent page: Russia (Russian Federation)

All #tags used on this page - click for more:

#antisemitism #burundi #corruption #denmark #equality #eritrea #france #freedom #gender #homosexuality #human_development #human_rights #indonesia #intolerance #mass_media #misogyny #peace #politics #Russia #sexuality #slavery #syria #tolerance #women

Social Media

References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

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(2014) ADL Global 100, Executive Summary. Accessed on on 2017 Jan 02. The numbers given are of those who state that racist stereotyped statements about Jews are true; they have to agree to 6 or more of the 11 statements to be counted. An example statements is "Jews are hated because of the way they behave". The data was collected from 53,100 interviews across 101 countries plus the West Bank and Gaza. The global average is 26%.

Casely-Hayford, Gus
(2012) The Lost Kingdoms of Africa. Published by Bantram Press. A hardback book.

Crabtree, Vexen
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Donnelly, Jack
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The Fraser Institute
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Grim & Finke. Dr Grim is senior researcher in religion and world affairs at the Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C, USA. Finke is Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the Pennsylvania State University.
(2011) The Price of Freedom Denied. Subtitled: "Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century". Amazon Kindle digital edition. Published by Cambridge University Press, UK. An e-book.

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  33. Donnelly (2013). Chapter 16 "Nondiscrimination for All: The Case of Sexual Minorities" p289. According to a 1992 ruling of the Human Rights Committee, which declared that 'it is undisputed that adult consensual sexual activity in private is covered by the concept of privacy' when discussing Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. See Human Rights Committee, Communication 488/1992, paragraph 8.2.^
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