Last week, Human Rights Watch presented World Report 2013. The report focused on the human rights situations in more than 90 countries of the world in 2012. Of 665 pages of the report, ten are devoted to Russia. An attempt to find at last something positive about our country on those ten pages will suffer a rapid fiasco.
Human Rights Watch Director for Europe and Central Asia, Hugh Williamson, gave the following assessment: “Last year was the worst one in terms of the situation with human rights in Russia in all of its recent history.”
In his view, “a retreat from the principles of human rights that we have today, poorly fits the role of a responsible leader in the multi-polar world,” Interfax reports.
The authors of the report, according to the section on Russia, decided not to bother themselves much with a careful analysis of what is happening in our country. They took the events that received great attention in the press. The list included May meetings, celebrations of the opposition in Moscow (they even mentioned a visit that police paid to one of the cafes – as evidence of growing repressions).
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The report did not forget the amendments to the law on the meetings (with increased penalties for violations of the rules of public events) and the law about NGOs as “foreign agents.” There was the Pussy Riot case and the termination of the activities of the USAID in Russia as well, of course.
The authors of the report did not ignore even the upcoming Sochi Olympics. Human Rights Watch suddenly decided to pay attention to “misuse of funds connected with the preparation for the Olympic Games in 2014.” It goes about “unfair compensations” to city residents, working days that last too long and prosecution of activists for criticism. Indeed, why not mentioning that in the report? It is strange, though, that Human Rights Watch drew attention to that at the time, when preparations for the Olympics came up to the finish line.
Needless to say that the report did not miss out the laws prohibiting the propaganda of homosexuality in some Russian regions – as an example of violation of the rights of sexual minorities.
The report from Human Rights Watch became one of a series of such reports since the beginning of 2013, in which the actions of the Russian authorities get criticized heavily. The assessments of human rights defenders are very similar to what American politicians, officials and diplomats say, when it comes to Russia and Russian laws.
Although it is worth mentioning that unlike Freedom House, Human Rights Watch (headquartered in the U.S.) stresses out that they do not accept funding from government agencies and exist through private donations. One of the most famous and generous financiers is George Soros, for example. The MacArthur Foundation is among partners.
In general, such reports are generally seen as nothing but pure propaganda. They get forgotten in a day or two after their presentation. Actually, the above-mentioned statement by Hugh Williamson can be perceived as an attempt to attract additional attention to the World Report 2013.
“Perhaps, Mr. Williamson knows better what is happening in our country,” lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, a member of Russia’s Public Chamber said. “I think that we should not be afraid of criticism – he told Pravda.ru. “There are problems, no one denies them. But we have to deal with them ourselves,” he added.