Human Rights Violations in Russia

Russia has a sad history of human rights abuses, spanning issues from the 2013 law banning “propaganda of nontraditional relationships” to the imprisonment of Pussy Riot in 2012 for an act of free speech. After researching Pussy Riot, I am aware that they performed in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and chose the location in part because of their outrage in the church leaders’ support of Putin in his election. Members of Pussy Riot were arrested for “hooliganism” as well as for acts of religious hatred. Would their 2-year imprisonment have been enforced as harshly in the Soviet Union, when the government was more anti-religious? How does the political atmosphere affect the state of human rights?

How is Putin able to commit these abuses of human rights and still maintain his high popularity ratings? Does opposition by groups, such as Amnesty International, make any impact in Russia? How does the majority of the Russian population, particularly in cities like Moscow, view the arrests and disappearances of human rights activists?

In the preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, more than 2,000 families were apparently forced to resettle to make room for Olympic venues, and were not given fair compensation. Fair compensations was also reportedly not given to workers who built Olympic venues. In light of these human rights abuses, does it not send a poor message that Western countries which claim to uphold and defend human rights, such as the United States, still attended and competed in the Olympic Games? What can the United States do differently to preserve a firm stance against human rights abuses?