30 August 2013
Putin: Protect Freedom of Expression

Riot police walk in line during the "March of Millions" protest rally, held by opposition supporters, near the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, © REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk 

In January this year 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 ridiculous one off event but it isn’t. The space for freedom of assembly, association and expression is rapidly shrinking in Russia.

Since Vladimir Putin returned to office as Russia’s President he has introduced laws that:

  • severely limit freedom of assembly
  • stigmatise the LGBTI community
  • criminalise insulting the feelings of believers
  • broaden the definitions of treason and espionage so that human rights activism could potentially be criminalised

Putin also brought in provisions that force NGOs who engage in “political activity” and receive foreign funding to register as “foreign agents” - highly derogative term in Russia contributing to the smear campaign against NGOs and human rights activists.  

All of these laws have been introduced to crack-down on political opposition and civil society activists. These provisions must be repealed as they are in violation of Russia’s own Constitution and its international human rights obligations.

Sign the petition below and call on President Putin to end the attack on civil society. Your signature could be that “last drop” that could tip the scales and lead to positive changes to human rights in Russia.


Dear President Putin,

Over the last two years, Russian authorities have passed a series of laws that restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The laws suppress creativity and development of civil society and undermine the legitimate role of human rights NGO’s in Russia.
I call on you to repeal laws that:

•    re-criminalise libel
•    restrict public protests
•    broaden the legal definition of “treason” and espionage
•    oblige NGO’s to register as foreign agents    
•    make “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” an offence
•    criminalise insulting the religious feelings of believers

We believe that these laws are inconsistent with Russia’s international obligations and its own Constitution and must be repealed. We call on you to uphold the freedom of expression, association and assembly in Russia.

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