Russia’s human rights record continued to deteriorate, with the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly consistently restricted, in law and practice. Those attempting to exercise these rights faced reprisals, ranging from harassment to police ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest, heavy fines and in some cases criminal prosecution and imprisonment. Human rights defenders and NGOs were targeted via the laws on “foreign agents” and “undesirable organisations”. Hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted for their faith. Other vulnerable minorities also faced discrimination and persecution. Counter-terrorism provisions were widely used to target dissent across the country and in Crimea. Torture remained pervasive, as did impunity for its perpetrators. Violence against women remained widespread and inadequately addressed. A draft law on domestic violence tabled at the parliament provoked heated opposition from conservative groups and threats against its proponents. Refugees were forcibly returned to destinations where they were at risk of torture.
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