Joined United Nations: 24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 26 March 2013
142,500,482 (July 2013 est.)
Dmitriy Anatolyevich Medvedev
Premier since 8 May 2012
President elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a
second term); election last held 4 March 2012
Next scheduled election: March 2018
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
Premier appointed by the president with the approval of the
Duma. Note - no vice president; if the president dies in office,
cannot exercise his powers because of ill health, is impeached, or
resigns, the premier serves as acting president until a new
presidential election is held, which must be within three months.
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Russian 79.8%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 2%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1%, other or unspecified 12.1% (2002 census)
Russian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2% (2006 est.)
note: estimates are of practicing worshipers; Russia has large populations of non-practicing believers and non-believers, a legacy of
over seven decades of Soviet rule
Federation with 46 oblasts (oblastey, singular - oblast), 21 republics (respublik, singular - respublika), 4 autonomous okrugs
(avtonomnykh okrugov, singular - avtonomnyy okrug), 9 krays (krayev, singular - kray), 2 federal cities (goroda, singular - gorod),
and 1 autonomous oblast (avtonomnaya oblast'); Legal system is based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts; has
not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive: President elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 4 March 2012 (next
to be held in March 2018); note - the term length was extended from four to six years in late 2008 and went into effect after the
2012 election; there is no vice president; if the president dies in office, cannot exercise his powers because of ill health, is
impeached, or resigns, the premier serves as acting president until a new presidential election is held, which must be within three
months; premier appointed by the president with the approval of the Duma
Legislative: Bicameral Federal Assembly or Federalnoye Sobraniye consists of the Federation Council or Sovet Federatsii (166
seats; members appointed by the top executive and legislative officials in each of the 83 federal administrative units - oblasts, krays,
republics, autonomous okrugs and oblasts, and the federal cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg; members to serve four-year
terms) and a lower house, the State Duma or Gosudarstvennaya Duma (450 seats; as of 2007, all members elected by proportional
representation from party lists winning at least 7% of the vote; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: State Duma - last held on 4 December 2011 (next to be held in December 2015)
Judicial: Constitutional Court; Supreme Court; Supreme Arbitration Court; judges for all courts are appointed for life by the
Federation Council on the recommendation of the president
Russian, many minority languages
In prehistoric times, the vast steppes of Southern Russia were home to disunited tribes of nomadic pastoralists. In classical antiquity,
the Pontic Steppe was known as Scythia. Remnants of these long-gone steppe civilizations were discovered in the course of the
20th century in such places as Ipatovo, Sintashta, Arkaim, and Pazyryk. In the latter part of the eighth century BC, Greek
merchants brought classical civilization to the trade emporiums in Tanais and Phanagoria. Between the third and sixth centuries AD,
the Bosporan Kingdom, a Hellenistic polity which succeeded the Greek colonies, was overwhelmed by successive waves of
nomadic invasions, led by warlike tribes which would often move on to Europe, as was the case with the Huns and Turkish Avars.
A Turkic people, the Khazars, ruled the lower Volga basin steppes between the Caspian and Black Seas through to the 8th
century. Noted for their laws, tolerance, and cosmopolitanism, the Khazars were the main commercial link between the Baltic and
the Muslim Abbasid empire centered in Baghdad. They were important allies of the Byzantine Empire, and waged a series of
successful wars against the Arab Caliphates. In the 8th century, the Khazars embraced Judaism. The ancestors of the Russians were
the Slavic tribes, whose original home is thought by some scholars to have been the wooded areas of the Pripet Marshes. The Early
East Slavs gradually settled Western Russia in two waves: one moving from Kiev toward present-day Suzdal and Murom and
another from Polotsk toward Novgorod and Rostov. From the 7th century onwards, the East Slavs constituted the bulk of the
population in Western Russia and slowly but peacefully assimilated the native Finno-Ugric tribes, such as the Merya, the
Muromians, and the Meshchera. Scandinavian Norsemen, called "Vikings" in Western Europe and "Varangians" in the East,
combined piracy and trade in their roamings over much of Northern Europe. In the mid-9th century, they began to venture along the
waterways from the eastern Baltic to the Black and Caspian Seas. According to the earliest Russian chronicle, a Varangian named
Rurik was elected ruler (konung or knyaz) of Novgorod in about 860, before his successors moved south and extended their
authority to Kiev, which had been previously dominated by the Khazars. Thus, the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', emerged in
the 9th century along the Dnieper River valley. A coordinated group of princely states with a common interest in maintaining trade
along the river routes, Kievan Rus' controlled the trade route for furs, wax, and slaves between Scandinavia and the Byzantine
Empire along the Volkhov and Dnieper Rivers. The name "Russia," together with the Finnish Ruotsi and Estonian Rootsi, are found
by some scholars to be related to Roslagen. The etymology of Rus and its derivatives are debated, and other schools of thought
connect the name with Slavic or Iranic roots. By the end of the 10th century, the Norse minority had merged with the Slavic
population, which also absorbed Greek Christian influences in the course of the multiple campaigns to loot Tsargrad, or
Constantinople. One such campaign claimed the life of the foremost Slavic druzhina leader, Svyatoslav I, who was renowned for
having crushed the power of the Khazars on the Volga. While the fortunes of the Byzantine Empire had been ebbing, its culture was
a continuous influence on the development of Russia in its formative centuries. Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated as a state, finally
succumbing to Mongol invaders in the 1230s. During this time a number of regional magnates, in particular Novgorod and Pskov,
fought to inherit the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. After the 13th century, Moscow gradually came to dominate the
former cultural center. By the 18th century, the Grand Duchy of Moscow had become the huge Russian Empire, stretching from
Poland eastward to the Pacific Ocean. Expansion in the western direction sharpened Russia's awareness of its separation from
much of the rest of Europe and shattered the isolation in which the initial stages of expansion had occurred. Successive regimes of
the 19th century responded to such pressures with a combination of halfhearted reform and repression. Russian serfdom was
abolished in 1861, but its abolition was achieved on terms unfavorable to the peasants and served to increase revolutionary
pressures. Between the abolition of serfdom and the beginning of World War I in 1914, the Stolypin reforms, the constitution of
1906 and State Duma introduced notable changes to the economy and politics of Russia, but the tsars were still not willing to
relinquish autocratic rule, or share their power. The Russian Revolution in 1917 was triggered by a combination of economic
breakdown, war weariness, and discontent with the autocratic system of government, and it first brought a coalition of liberals and
moderate socialists to power, but their failed policies led to seizure of power by the Communist Bolsheviks on October 25.
Between 1922 and 1991, the history of Russia is essentially the history of the Soviet Union, effectively an ideologically based
empire which was roughly coterminous with Russia before the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The approach to the building of socialism,
however, varied over different periods in Soviet history, from the mixed economy and diverse society and culture of the 1920s to
the command economy and repressions of the Stalin era to the "era of stagnation" in the 1980s. From its first years, government in
the Soviet Union was based on the one-party rule of the Communists, as the Bolsheviks called themselves, beginning in March
1918. However, by the late 1980s, with the weaknesses of its economic and political structures becoming acute, the Communist
leaders embarked on major reforms, which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The history of the Russian Federation is brief,
dating back only to the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991. Since gaining its independence, Russia was recognized as the legal
successor to the Soviet Union on the international stage. However, Russia has lost its superpower status as it faced serious
challenges in its efforts to forge a new post-Soviet political and economic system. Scrapping the socialist central planning and state
ownership of property of the Soviet era, Russia attempted to build an economy with elements of market capitalism, with often
painful results. Even today Russia shares many continuities of political culture and social structure with its tsarist and Soviet past.
Although Yeltsin came to power on a wave of optimism, he never recovered his popularity after endorsing Yegor Gaidar's "shock
therapy" of ending Soviet-era price controls, drastic cuts in state spending, and an open foreign trade regime in early 1992 (see
Russian economic reform in the 1990s). The reforms immediately devastated the living standards of much of the population. In the
1990s Russia suffered an economic downturn that was, in some ways, more severe than the United States or Germany had
undergone six decades earlier in the Great Depression. Hyperinflation hit the ruble, due to monetary overhang from the days of the
planned economy. Meanwhile, the profusion of small parties and their aversion to coherent alliances left the legislature chaotic.
During 1993, Yeltsin's rift with the parliamentary leadership led to the September–October 1993 constitutional crisis. The crisis
climaxed on 3 October, when Yeltsin chose a radical solution to settle his dispute with parliament: he called up tanks to shell the
Russian White House, blasting out his opponents. As Yeltsin was taking the unconstitutional step of dissolving the legislature, Russia
came close to a serious civil conflict. Yeltsin was then free to impose the current Russian constitution with strong presidential
powers, which was approved by referendum in December 1993. The cohesion of the Russian Federation was also threatened when
the republic of Chechnya attempted to break away, leading to the First and Second Chechen Wars. Economic reforms also
consolidated a semi-criminal oligarchy with roots in the old Soviet system. Advised by Western governments, the World Bank, and
the International Monetary Fund, Russia embarked on the largest and fastest privatization that the world had ever seen in order to
reform the fully nationalized Soviet economy. By mid-decade, retail, trade, services, and small industry was in private hands. Most
big enterprises were acquired by their old managers, engendering a new rich (Russian tycoons) in league with criminal mafias or
Western investors. That being said, there were corporate raiders such as Andrei Volgin engaged in hostile takeovers of corrupt
corporations by the mid-1990s. By the mid-1990s Russia had a system of multiparty electoral politics. But it was harder to establish
a representative government because of two structural problems—the struggle between president and parliament and the anarchic
party system. Meanwhile, the central government had lost control of the localities, bureaucracy, and economic fiefdoms; tax
revenues had collapsed. Still in deep depression by the mid-1990s, Russia's economy was hit further by the financial crash of 1998.
After the 1998 financial crisis, Yeltsin was at the end of his political career. Just hours before the first day of 2000, Yeltsin made a
surprise announcement of his resignation, leaving the government in the hands of the little-known Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a
former KGB official and head of the KGB's post-Soviet successor agency FSB. In 2000, the new acting president defeated his
opponents in the presidential election on 26 March, and won a landslide 4 years later. International observers were alarmed by late
2004 moves to further tighten the presidency's control over parliament, civil society, and regional officeholders. Nevertheless,
reversion to a socialist command economy seemed almost impossible, meeting widespread relief in the West. Russia ended 2006
with its eighth straight year of growth, averaging 6.7% annually since the financial crisis of 1998. Although high oil prices and a
relatively cheap ruble initially drove this growth, since 2003 consumer demand and, more recently, investment have played a
significant role. Russia is well ahead of most other resource-rich countries in its economic development, with a long tradition of
education, science, and industry. In 2008 Dmitri Medvedev, a former Gazprom chairman and Putin's head of staff, was elected new
President of Russia. However, Putin would take back Presidency 2012.
Source: Wikipedia: History of Russia
Russia has undergone significant changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, moving from a globally-isolated, centrally-planned
economy to a more market-based and globally-integrated economy. Economic reforms in the 1990s privatized most industry, with
notable exceptions in the energy and defense-related sectors. The protection of property rights is still weak and the private sector
remains subject to heavy state interference. In 2011, Russia became the world's leading oil producer, surpassing Saudi Arabia;
Russia is the second-largest producer of natural gas; Russia holds the world's largest natural gas reserves, the second-largest coal
reserves, and the eighth-largest crude oil reserves. Russia is also a top exporter of metals such as steel and primary aluminum.
Russia's reliance on commodity exports makes it vulnerable to boom and bust cycles that follow the volatile swings in global prices.
The government since 2007 has embarked on an ambitious program to reduce this dependency and build up the country's high
technology sectors, but with few visible results so far. The economy had averaged 7% growth in the decade following the 1998
Russian financial crisis, resulting in a doubling of real disposable incomes and the emergence of a middle class. The Russian
economy, however, was one of the hardest hit by the 2008-09 global economic crisis as oil prices plummeted and the foreign
credits that Russian banks and firms relied on dried up. According to the World Bank the government's anti-crisis package in
2008-09 amounted to roughly 6.7% of GDP. The economic decline bottomed out in mid-2009 and the economy began to grow
again in the third quarter of 2009. High oil prices buoyed Russian growth in 2011-12 and helped Russia reduce the budget deficit
inherited from 2008-09. Russia has reduced unemployment to a record low and has lowered inflation below double digit rates.
Russia joined the World Trade Organization in 2012, which will reduce trade barriers in Russia for foreign goods and services and
help open foreign markets to Russian goods and services. At the same time, Russia has sought to cement economic ties with
countries in the former Soviet space through a Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, and, in the next several years, through
the creation of a new Russia-led economic bloc called the Eurasian Economic Union. Russia has had difficulty attracting foreign
direct investment and has experienced large capital outflows in the past several years, leading to official programs to improve
Russia's international rankings for its investment climate. Russia's adoption of a new oil-price-based fiscal rule in 2012 and a more
flexible exchange rate policy have improved its ability to deal with external shocks, including volatile oil prices. Russia's long-term
challenges also include a shrinking workforce, rampant corruption, and underinvestment in infrastructure.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Russia)
The 1993 constitution declares Russia a democratic, federative, law-based state with a republican form of government. State power
is divided among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Diversity of ideologies and religions is sanctioned, and a state or
compulsory ideology may not be adopted. The right to a multiparty political system is upheld. The content of laws must be made
public before they take effect, and they must be formulated in accordance with international law and principles. Russian is
proclaimed the state language, although the republics of the federation are allowed to establish their own state languages for use
Russia's president determines the basic direction of Russia's domestic and foreign policy and represents the Russian state within the
country and in foreign affairs. The president appoints and recalls Russia's ambassadors upon consultation with the legislature,
accepts the credentials and letters of recall of foreign representatives, conducts international talks, and signs international treaties. A
special provision allowed Yeltsin to complete the term prescribed to end in June 1996 and to exercise the powers of the new
constitution, although he had been elected under a different constitutional order.
The two chambers of the Federal Assembly possess different powers and responsibilities, with the State Duma the more powerful.
The Federation Council, as its name and composition implies, deals primarily with issues of concern to the subnational jurisdictions,
such as adjustments to internal borders and decrees of the president establishing martial law or states of emergency. As the upper
chamber, it also has responsibilities in confirming and removing the procurator general and confirming justices of the Constitutional
Court, the Supreme Court, and the Superior Court of Arbitration, upon the recommendation of the president. The Federation
Council also is entrusted with the final decision if the State Duma recommends removing the president from office. The constitution
also directs that the Federation Council examine bills passed by the lower chamber dealing with budgetary, tax, and other fiscal
measures, as well as issues dealing with war and peace and with treaty ratification.
Russian voters headed to the presidential election on March 2, 2008, but the outcome was not a surprise: A hand-picked successor
to President Vladimir Putin, named Dmitry Medvedev won in a landslide, after hardly even bothering to campaign. With preliminary
results showing he would likely win March 2, 2008 presidential election by a landslide, Dmitry Medvedev vowed to work closely
with the man who tapped him for the job, President Vladimir Putin. The 2012 Russian presidential election was held on 4 March
2012. There were five officially-registered candidates: four representatives of registered parties and one independent. The election
was for a new, extended term of six years. At the United Russia Congress in Moscow on 24 September 2011, Russian president
Dmitry Medvedev proposed that his predecessor, Vladimir Putin stand for the Presidency in 2012; an offer which Putin accepted.
Putin immediately offered Medvedev to stand on the United Russia ticket in the parliamentary elections in December and becoming
Prime Minister of Russia at the end of his presidential term. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin received 63.64% of the vote with
almost 100% of the votes counted. With this election, Putin secured a record third term in the Kremlin newly extended to six years
according to the new Constitution with Putin eligible for yet another term..The next presidential election will be in 2018
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Russia
Russia remains concerned about the smuggling of poppy derivatives from Afghanistan through Central Asian countries; China and
Russia have demarcated the once disputed islands at the Amur and Ussuri confluence and in the Argun River in accordance with the
2004 Agreement, ending their centuries-long border disputes; the sovereignty dispute over the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri,
Shikotan, and the Habomai group, known in Japan as the "Northern Territories" and in Russia as the "Southern Kurils," occupied by
the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia, and claimed by Japan, remains the primary sticking point to signing a peace
treaty formally ending World War II hostilities; Russia's military support and subsequent recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
independence in 2008 continue to sour relations with Georgia; Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia ratified Caspian seabed
delimitation treaties based on equidistance, while Iran continues to insist on a one-fifth slice of the sea; Norway and Russia signed a
comprehensive maritime boundary agreement in 2010; various groups in Finland advocate restoration of Karelia (Kareliya) and
other areas ceded to the Soviet Union following World War II but the Finnish Government asserts no territorial demands; Russia
and Estonia signed a technical border agreement in May 2005, but Russia recalled its signature in June 2005 after the Estonian
parliament added to its domestic ratification act a historical preamble referencing the Soviet occupation and Estonia's pre-war
borders under the 1920 Treaty of Tartu; Russia contends that the preamble allows Estonia to make territorial claims on Russia in the
future, while Estonian officials deny that the preamble has any legal impact on the treaty text; Russia demands better treatment of the
Russian-speaking population in Estonia and Latvia; Lithuania and Russia committed to demarcating their boundary in 2006 in
accordance with the land and maritime treaty ratified by Russia in May 2003 and by Lithuania in 1999; Lithuania operates a
simplified transit regime for Russian nationals traveling from the Kaliningrad coastal exclave into Russia, while still conforming, as an
EU member state with an EU external border, where strict Schengen border rules apply; preparations for the demarcation
delimitation of land boundary with Ukraine have commenced; the dispute over the boundary between Russia and Ukraine through
the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov remains unresolved despite a December 2003 framework agreement and on-going expert-level
discussions; Kazakhstan and Russia boundary delimitation was ratified on November 2005 and field demarcation should commence
in 2007; Russian Duma has not yet ratified 1990 Bering Sea Maritime Boundary Agreement with the US; Denmark (Greenland)
and Norway have made submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental shelf (CLCS) and Russia is collecting
additional data to augment its 2001 CLCS submission
IDPs: 8,500-28,450 (displacement from Chechnya and North Ossetia-Alania) (2011)
Limited cultivation of illicit cannabis and opium poppy and producer of methamphetamine, mostly for domestic consumption;
government has active illicit crop eradication program; used as transshipment point for Asian opiates, cannabis, and Latin
American cocaine bound for growing domestic markets, to a lesser extent Western and Central Europe, and occasionally to the
US; major source of heroin precursor chemicals; corruption and organized crime are key concerns; major consumer of opiates
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Russia
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power highly concentrated in a president and a prime minister, a weak
multiparty political system dominated by the ruling United Russia party, and a bicameral legislature (Federal Assembly). The Federal
Assembly consists of a lower house (State Duma) and an upper house (Federation Council). Security forces generally reported to civilian
authorities; however, in some areas of the Northern Caucasus, there were serious problems with civilian control of security forces.
The most significant human rights problems during the year involved:
1. Violations of Democratic Processes: Parliamentary elections were held in December; domestic and international observers described
these elections as marked by government interference, manipulation, electoral irregularities, and restrictions on the ability of opposition
parties to organize, register candidates for public office, access the media, or conduct political campaigns.
2. Administration of Justice and Rule of Law: Individuals who threatened powerful state or business interests were subjected to political
prosecution, as well as to harsh conditions of detention. The conditions of prisons constituted a major violation of the human rights of
many prisoners, who were subjected to poor medical care, lack of basic human needs, and abuse by prison officials. These conditions at
times resulted in death. The government did not take adequate steps to prosecute or punish most officials who committed abuses,
resulting in a climate of impunity. Rule of law was particularly deficient in the North Caucasus, where the conflict between the
government and insurgents, Islamist militants, and criminal forces led to numerous human rights abuses by security forces and
insurgents, who reportedly engaged in killing, torture, physical abuse, and politically motivated abductions. In addition the government of
Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya continued to violate fundamental freedoms, engage in collective retribution against families of suspected
militants, and foster an overall atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
3. Freedom of Expression: While there was free expression on the Internet and in some print and electronic media, self-censorship and
the government’s ownership of and pressure on some print and most broadcast media outlets limited political discourse. Some journalists
and activists who publicly criticized or challenged the government or well-connected business interests were subject to physical attack,
harassment, increased scrutiny from government regulatory agencies, politically motivated prosecutions, and other forms of pressure.
Attacks on and killings of journalists and activists occurred, and a number of high-profile cases from previous years remained unsolved.
During the December Duma elections, Web sites that published reports of electoral fraud were disabled by distributed denial of service
Other problems observed during the year included physical abuse of conscripts by military officers; restrictions on the right to free
assembly; widespread corruption at all levels of government and law enforcement; violence against women and children; trafficking in
persons; xenophobic attacks and hate crimes; societal discrimination, harassment, and attacks on religious and ethnic minorities and
immigrants; societal and official intimidation of civil society and labor activists; discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender (LGBT) persons; limitations on the rights of workers.
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1 March 2013
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
11 February–1 March 2013
Item 4 of the agenda
Consideration of reports, comments and information submitted by States parties under article 9 of the Convention
Concluding observations on the twentieth to twenty second periodic reports of the Russian Federation
2. The Committee welcomes the timely submission of the combined twentieth to twenty-second periodic reports, which is in conformity
with the reporting guidelines. The Committee also appreciates the inclusion of a section on the measures taken to implement each of the
previous concluding observations of the Committee.
B. Positive aspects
4.The Committee notes the efforts taken by the State party since the review of its last report in August 2008 to strengthen its legal
framework, with the aim of enhancing the protection of human rights and giving effect to the provisions of the Convention, such as:
(a) The adoption of Federal Law No.182-FZ on 12 November 2012 which introduced amendments to the 2002 Federal Law on
Citizenship of the Russian Federation aimed at simplifying the process of acquiring citizenship for certain categories of pers
ons, such as former Soviet citizens; and
(b) The entry into force of the Federal Law No.3 -FZ on Police on 1 March 2012 as part of ongoing efforts to reform the law
enforcement system, which stipulates, inter alia, that the police shall “protect the rights, freedoms and legal interests of a person and a
citizen regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, language and origin” (art.7).
C. Issues of concern and recommendations
Absence of comprehensive legislation on racial discrimination
7. While noting that article 19 of the Constitution provides that the State shall guarantee the rights and freedoms of individuals regardless
of sex, race, ethnic background, language, or origin, the Committee reiterates its previous concern that the State party has yet to adopt
comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation containing a clear definition of racial discrimination (CERD/C/RUS/CO/19, paras.9 and 11).
Moreover, while noting the existence of equality guarantees in a number of federal and regional legislative acts, the Committee is
concerned that such legislation covers only limited spheres of life, and may apply to citizens only (arts.1, 2 and 6).
The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (CERD/C/RUS/CO/19, paras.9 and 11) that the State party adopt comprehensive
anti-discrimination legislation containing a clear definition of direct and indirect forms of racial discrimination that covers all fields of law
and public life, in accordance with article 1, paragraph 1 of the Convention.
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Here We Go Again: Falling for the Russian Trap
Feb 21 2013 - 10:49am
Nearing the end of his second term, George W. Bush sought to salvage Russian-American relations with a visit to Sochi in April 2008,
but then a few months later, Russia’s invasion of Georgia brought the bilateral relationship to its lowest point in twenty years. President
Obama came to office intent on repairing the relationship and working together with Moscow on a range of global issues. At the start of
his second term, however, despite four years of the reset policy, Obama, too, faces a very strained relationship with Russia.
True, the United States has made its mistakes. But the current state of Russian-American relations stems mostly from the Kremlin’s
creation of imitation democracy and its attempts to exploit the West and anti-Americanism for political survival. The Kremlin’s imitation
game has complicated American and Western policies toward Russia and forced the West to pretend, just as the Russian elite does. The
“Let’s Pretend” game allowed both sides to ignore core differences and to find tactical compromises on a host of issues ranging from
the war on terror to nuclear safety. This concerted imitation has also had strategic consequences, however. It has facilitated the survival
of Russia’s personalized-power system and discredited liberal ideals in the eyes of Russian society. It has also created a powerful pro-
Russia Western lobby that is facilitating the export of Russia’s corruption to developed countries.
Despite numerous U.S. attempts to avoid irritating the Kremlin, relations between Moscow and Washington always seem to end up either
in mutual suspicion or in full-blown crisis. That is what happened under the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations, and that is
what happened after Barack Obama’s first term in office. Each period of disappointment and rupture in relations, which has always been
preceded by a period of optimism, has been followed by another campaign by both Moscow and Washington to revive relations. Who is
behind these campaigns? For a quarter of a century, it has been the same consolidated cohort of experts in both capitals, most of whom
have serious and established reputations and vast stores of experience. (There are a few new additions to the cohort, but they walk in
lockstep with the old hands.) After every new crisis, these experts implore politicians on both sides to “think big.” Each time, “big
thinking” on the Western side includes encouragement to avoid issues that would antagonize the Kremlin. Thus U.S. administrations
looked the other way as the Kremlin created a corrupt, authoritarian regime.
Like the movie Groundhog Day, this is happening all over again. We are falling for the same Kremlin trap. The demise of the reset policy
has begotten another campaign to forge yet another new era in Russian-American relations, this time under the banner of “strategic
cooperation.” Those advocating this approach present nothing new but simply repeat the same old warnings against ignoring Russia and
downgrading relations. Proponents of this approach address only Washington and Western policymakers; for some reason, they never
seem to prod Putin and his circle, even though Putin’s actions and behavior have made the development of relations and cooperation
increasingly difficult. None of these “strategists” maintains that Russia deserves to be treated differently because it could become an
engine of social and economic progress; rather, they believe Russia cannot be ignored because it could act as a spoiler, causing massive
problems for the West.
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Russia: Confronting the circle of injustice threats and pressure faced by lawyers in the North Caucasus
21 March 2013
Human rights are under severe threat in the North Caucasus, a region in the Russian Federation comprising six republics – Chechnya,
Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and North Ossetia – as well as Stavropol Krai (Region)1. The day-to-
day lives of many people in the North Caucasus, as well as the wider political, economic and social context in this region of the Russian
Federation, are very much defined by the threat which armed groups pose to security and the response from the Russian authorities.
With regularly reported attacks against law enforcement officials, members of local administrations, prominent figures and members of
the general public, the Russian authorities are faced with the need, and in fact have an obligation, to ensure that the local population can
enjoy security. However, any efforts to combat the threat posed by armed groups, and in particular to identify and bring to justice those
responsible for any alleged crimes, must observe the rule of law and fully respect human rights.
For years, Amnesty International has been receiving regular reports of human rights violations in the North Caucasus committed by
members of law enforcement agencies in the context of the fight against armed groups. The organization has researched and
documented numerous cases of human rights violations in the region, which include torture and other ill-treatment, as well as enforced
disappearances and extrajudicial executions.2 Such violations are frequently characterised also by the lack of adequate response on the
part of the Russian authorities. More often than not in such cases, the alleged violationsare not investigated promptly, thoroughly,
effectively, independently and impartially as required by international law.3 Other institutions too, have expressed concerns about the
authorities’ failure to investigate and the problem of impunity in the region. In relation to the cases of a number of “human rights
activists, lawyers and journalists”, the PACE expressed “its bewilderment and anguish at the fact that to date none of these cases has
been elucidated by the investigating system” and insisted that the authorities “bring to trial in accordance with the law all culprits of
human rights violations, including members of the security forces, and to clear up the many crimes which have gone unpunished”.4
Often, the very incidence of specific violations is denied by the authorities, even though Amnesty International, as well as other
organizations, have been able to extensively document such incidents. While investigators face significant obstacles to effectively
investigating such incidents – including the secrecy surrounding security operations in the region, and the difficulty finding independent
witnesses because of the danger such witnesses face – Amnesty International has also documented many investigations that have lacked
the requisite independence and impartiality, particularly when carried out, as most investigations are, by local officials who often are
institutionally or personally linked to those implicated in the incidents themselves.5 On many occasions, the investigators claim they ar
e unable to identify the perpetrators, and suspend or close the relevant criminal case. There are also occasions when the involvement of
law enforcement officials in a particular incident is not in doubt, but the allegation that their actions amounted to a human rights viola
tion is brushed aside as unfounded. However, in many cases it is difficult not to conclude that the investigation lacked the will to make
the necessary inquiries, consider all available evidence impartially, and bring criminal charges against suspected perpetrators.
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Russia: New Pressure on Civil Society
Government Inspects Dozens of Groups With Foreign Funding in NGO Crackdown
March 24, 2013
(Moscow) – A wave of inspections of nongovernmental organizations in Russia is intensifying pressure on civil society since the
adoption of a series of restrictive laws in 2012. Teams of officials from a variety of government agencies have inspected at least 30
groups in the past two weeks in Moscow, and many more in at least 13 other regions of Russia.
The inspections appear to target groups that accept foreign funding and that engage in advocacy work, and are part of a broader
crackdown on civil society that began in 2012, the organizations said. The Russian prosecutor’s office has stated publicly that it plans to
inspect between 30 and 100 nongovernmental organizations in each of Russia’s regions, which could amount to thousands of groups
throughout the country. According to media reports, the prosecutor’s office in St. Petersburg alone plans to inspect about 100 groups.
“The scale of the inspections is unprecedented and only serves to reinforce the menacing atmosphere for civil society,” said Hugh
Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Russian authorities should end, rather than intensify, the
crackdown that’s been under way for the past year.”
On March 21, 2013, five officials from the prosecutor’s office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, and the Tax
Inspectorate arrived without warning at Memorial society, one of Russia’s most prominent nongovernmental groups, to conduct an
A television crew from NTV, a pro-Kremlin station, arrived with the inspectors to film the proceedings. It is not clear how NTV learned
about the inspection since most government inspections in the current wave are unannounced.
Nevertheless, later that day, the station aired a news report alleging that Memorial may be in violation of the “foreign agents” law. In
recent years, NTV has broadcast numerous shows seeking to portray Russia’s political opposition as foreign-sponsored.
“The foreign agents law was, from the start, aimed at demonizing advocacy groups in Russia,” Williamson said. “It’s distressing, but
sadly unsurprising, that NTV is part of the effort to discredit independent voices.”
Also on, March 21, the prosecutor’s office inspected the offices of at least four other human rights organizations, all in St. Petersburg.
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Pavel Astakhov met with CE Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks
October 22, 2012, 20:00
Russia’s Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Pavel Astakhov met with Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils
A wide range of issues was discussed during the meeting, particularly cases of children being taken away from Russian parents living in
Finland and Norway, trans-border family disputes, violation of rights of Russian children adopted abroad, the enactment of the law On
Protecting Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development, and others.
The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner asked in detail about the system for protecting children’s rights in Russia. Pavel
Astakhov explained that each Russian region has its own Human Rights Commissioner and each federal district has created a
coordination council of Commissioners. At the same time, the federal Commissioner personally performs inspections in Russia’s regions;
to date, 82 regions have been inspected.
Nils Muiznieks said that the work of the Council of Europe also involves visits to EU nations to identify the most problematic aspects of
defending human rights. As for children’s rights, issues pertaining to the effect of the crisis on children and problems for refugees’ and
migrants’ children are particularly relevant in the European Union at this time.
The two sides agreed to continue cooperating in the future. Mr Muiznieks announced his intention to revisit Russia on a longer trip to
study the nation’s problems in protecting human rights in detail.
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Meeting with Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin
December 6, 2012, 19:30 Sochi
The meeting, which was held ahead of International Human Rights Day, addressed current issues related to defending citizens’ rights
Vladimir Lukin spoke about the new concept to reform the penal system, problems pertaining to the army, particularly providing housing
for officers and ensuring safe use of weapon disposal sites. The meeting also addressed freedom of conscience, especially in relation to
In addition, Vladimir Putin touched on a terrible recent crime: the killing of a journalist in Kabardino-Balkaria. The President expressed
certainty that the law enforcement agencies will do everything possible to find and punish the criminals involved.
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TRANSLATED FROM RUSSIAN BY GOOGLE TRANSLATE
- March 26, 2013 -
"Memorial" asked the prosecutor to request verification of the grounds for the prosecution
The Human Rights Center "Memorial" asked the prosecutor of Moscow with an official inquiry, which asked for clarification on the
basis of what information is held about breaking the law prosecutor's check.
Checking the Human Rights Center "Memorial" began on Tuesday, March 26. Representatives involved in the verification of the Moscow
prosecutor's office, the Ministry of Justice of Russia and the Federal Tax Service. Earlier, similar to the first of the prosecutor at the
International Memorial and the Moscow Memorial.
Checking the "Memorial", according to a letter from the prosecutor's office in Moscow March 21, 2013, is for "the execution of the
current legislation public, religious organizations and other non-profit organizations."
According to Article 21 of the Law on the Judiciary, law enforcement check is conducted on the basis of the prosecution authorities
received information about violations of the law. But is in the "Memorial" with validation prosecutors Dmitry Chernomorets and Maxim
Dudarev refused to explain what information about the violation of "Memorial" Russian law has prosecutors.
In this regard, "Memorial" appealed to the Moscow prosecutor's office with a written request, which asked for clarification:
1. What information (source, time and content) was the factual basis test.
2. What is the possibility of breaking the law (the name of the legal norm, and item number of the article) was the basis for verification.
March 26 request "Memorial" was officially sent to the Moscow prosecutor's office.
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Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
President since 7 May 2012
Current situation: Russia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for various
purposes; it remains a significant source of women trafficked to over 50 countries for commercial sexual exploitation; Russia is also
a transit and destination country for men and women trafficked from Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and North Korea to Central and
Western Europe and the Middle East for purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation; internal trafficking remains a problem in
Russia with women trafficked from rural areas to urban centers for commercial sexual exploitation, and men trafficked internally and
from Central Asia for forced labor in the construction and agricultural industries; debt bondage is common among trafficking victims,
and child sex tourism remains a concern
Tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Russia is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List for a fifth consecutive year for its continued failure to
show evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking, particularly in the area of victim protection and assistance (2008)
Igor Ivanovich Shuvalov
First Deputy Premier since 12 May 2008
Dmitry Kozak, Aleksandr Khloponin*, Dmitriy Rogozin**, Vladislav Surkov+,
Arkadiy Dvorkovich++ and Olga Golodets++
Deputy Premiers since 14 October 2008, 19 January 2010* and 23 December 2011**, 27 December 2011+
and 21 May 2012++ (respectively)