Putin’s Worst Political Crackdown Yet?

putin political crackdown

Vladimir Putin, known for stifling civil liberties and appearing in frequent shirtless photo-ops, has unleashed another political crackdown. And according to Human Rights Watch, this one’s Russia’s worst! (Soviet era excluded…)

According to Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director for the organization,

“This has been the worst year for human rights in Russia in recent memory. The Kremlin in 2012 unleashed the worst political crackdown in Russia’s post-Soviet history.”

Go on….

“Measures to intimidate critics and restrict Russia’s vibrant civil society have reached unprecedented levels. Pressure and reprisals against activists and non-governmental organizations need to stop.”

In their report, Human Rights Watch stated Putin had signed a series of laws last year restricting political freedoms. The laws included new powers to limit public assembly, increase fines for protesters, restricted access to the internet and recriminalise libel – all intended to squash public dissent. Apparently Putin got a little spooked by incredibly angry at the anti-government protests in Moscow and other major cities following the December 2011 parliamentary elections and  is now out to make sure they won’t happen again.

The report also highlighted the two-year prison sentences given to two women from Pussy Riot for staging an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral as well as the ban on “homosexual propaganda”. The human rights group also threw in some reports of enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions in the North Caucasus for good measure.

Russia – how do you respond? Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said he had not read the report but that Russia would probably comment later and “show that the human rights situation in Russia is not the worst.” Sounds good Lukashevich, I’m sure you’ll find worse countries – North Korea? Eritrea? So I guess Russia’s response is ‘We’re terrible but we’re not the absolute worst.’ That’ll shut everyone up.

Via: The Toronto Star 

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