The 2014 World Report: Russia from the Human Rights Watch organization highlights the various threats to human rights in Russia by category. Among those addressed are rights of the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression, the treatment of government critics and human rights defenders, the religious extremists of the North Caucasus, and migrant’s rights. However, included among the list of transgressions the Russian government and, at times, its people conducted against Russian and non-Russian citizens in the country are a few positive outcomes. These include the a court’s successful efforts to reject a petition from the Prosecutor’s Office to ban a book calling for an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity that occurred during the two wars in Chechnya. Granted, the existence of such a proposed ban is unsettling, but the court’s decision illustrates that not all of Russia’s government and judicial system are corrupt.
Reading the Human Rights Watch report from 2014 is disconcerting. From the injustices included in the report, it would appear that Putin’s government is starting to revert back to the policies of Stalin, in terms of freedom of expression and its treatment of government opponents. What would cause this to happen? I understand that Gorbachev’s attempts to implement a more open environment for discussing Russia’s problems was not successful in the minds of many. Are the restrictions in place now a response to this? Also, what role does religion play in the government’s policies and in the protest efforts? What is the state of religion in Russia now?