Russia Must Reverse Recent Legislation Putting Human Rights Activists and Political Opponents at Risk

Press Release
November 2, 2012

Russia Must Reverse Recent Legislation Putting Human Rights Activists and Political Opponents at Risk

Human Rights Organization Calls on President Putin to Scrap Proposed Law on High Treason

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @spksingh

(Washington, D.C.) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign into law a new bill on high treason after Russia’s Parliament approved it on Wednesday, October 31.

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's director for Europe and Central Asia said:

“President Putin must scrap this law, which will have a chilling effect on society and put human rights activists and others who work for non-governmental organizations at grave risk.

“The measure’s definition of high treason is overly broad and we fear the law could be implemented arbitrarily, placing harsh new restrictions on a wide range of activities by international organizations and their representatives, as well as Russian human rights defenders and civil society activists cooperating with them. If passed, it will once again force Russian civil society into isolation – this time behind a legal curtain.

“What is especially troubling is that the law would be prone to extended interpretation, given that Russian law does not have a narrow definition for what constitutes ‘national security’.

“We urge President Putin to reverse the recent trend of new legislation putting human rights activism and political opposition at risk – including laws re-criminalizing defamation, obliging NGOs receiving overseas funding to register as 'foreign agents' and toughening legislation and raising fines concerning peaceful assembly and protest.”

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.