Head of government Vladimir Putin
Death penalty abolitionist in practice
Population 140.9 million
Life expectancy 66.2 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 18/14 per 1,000
Adult literacy 99.5 per cent
Human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists were threatened and physically attacked; some were killed. A climate of impunity for these crimes prevailed, with police failing to investigate effectively. Human rights abuses were increasingly reported in the North Caucasus. In a number of cases, criminal suspects were allegedly subjected to torture and other ill-treatment to extract confessions. The Russian authorities failed to investigate fully human rights violations carried out by the armed forces in the August 2008 conflict with Georgia. Concerns continued about the failure to uphold fair trial standards. Government officials spoke out against racism, but racist attacks still took place on a regular basis. In November the Constitutional Court decided in favour of fully abolishing the death penalty.
The government voiced its intention to fight corruption. In December, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the reform of the Interior Ministry as a response to the public's anger about police abuses. The Russian Federation's human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in February. Concerns were raised about the recent murders of journalists, the independence of the judiciary, extremism and hate crimes as well as the situation in the North Caucasus.
Insecurity in the North Caucasus
Unlawful killings, extrajudicial executions, excessive use of force, enforced disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment in custody, and arbitrary detention continued to be reported in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. Armed groups killed government officials, and suicide bombers killed law enforcement officials and civilians. Victims of human rights abuses feared reprisals if they sought redress.
In April the Russian government announced an end to the Counter-Terrorism Operation, but reports of serious human rights violations, in particular enforced disappearances, continued. A complete list of those who have disappeared since 1999 had still not been compiled. The investigation of mass graves by the authorities was ineffective, lacking systematic procedures and adequate forensic facilities. Families of internally displaced people faced eviction from temporary accommodation without adequate alternative housing or compensation. There were reports that properties belonging to families of alleged members of armed groups were destroyed.
The Russian authorities failed to conduct effective investigations into violations established by the European Court of Human Rights. Those submitting cases to the Court faced intimidation and harassment.