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Amnesty International criticizes human rights situation in Russia

The organization also mentioned restrictions on rights to freedom of expression, non-profit organizations, penalties against human rights activists, violations in the North Caucasus

LONDON, February 22. /TASS/. Non-governmental organization Amnesty International once again criticized the human rights situation in Russia. The published annual report with an analysis of the human rights situation in 159 countries, Amnesty International talked about the amendments to the anti-extremism legislation of the Russian Federation, which according to the organization contradicts the international law. The organization also mentioned restrictions on rights to freedom of expression, non-profit organizations, penalties against human rights activists, violations in the North Caucasus.

Yarovaya package criticism

Regarding the anti-terrorism package of bills known as the "Yarovaya package", Amnesty International said the view that these amendments "were largely inconsistent with Russia’s international human rights obligations, as they banned any form of missionary activity outside of specially designated religious institutions, obliged providers of information technology to store records of all conversations for six months and metadata for three years." In addition, the organization mentioned increase of the maximum punishment for extremism from 4 to 8 years in prison, as well as penalty for encouraging people to take part in mass disturbances from five to 10 years in prison.

The package of anti-terrorist laws obliges communications operators from July 1, 2018 to store for three years the data on the receipt, transmission, delivery and processing of voice information and text messages, images, audio and video materials.

Operators are obliged to keep "the heaviest" content - images, audio and video data - for six months. They are also be required to supply this information at the request of special services.

British human rights activists claimed that "anti-extremism legislation continued to be used excessively in violation of the right to freedom of expression." Referring to SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, the organization said, "90% of all convictions under anti-extremism legislation were for statements and reposts on social media websites."

Referring to the situation in Russian prisons, the non-governmental organization noted, ‘torture and other ill-treatment continued to be widespread and systematic during initial detention and in prison colonies", giving as an example the story of activist Ildar Dadin convicted of repeated violations of the regulations for the conduct of public meetings.

Non-profit organizations and foreign agents

Amnesty International has also talked about nonprofit organizations. The organization noted, "NGOs continued to face administrative fines for failing to comply with legislation on "foreign agents"," noting that during the year, dozens of independent NGOs receiving foreign funding were added to the list of "foreign agents".

The law on NGOs listed as foreign agents took effect on November 21, 2012. In the first place the law controls the activity of organizations that involved in political activities and receive cash and other assets from foreign sources. Major fines have been effective since November 14, 2012 for violating the law on the foreign agent status.

North Caucasus

The North Caucasus traditionally was given a special mention in the section on Russia, traditionally, where, according to human rights defenders, "serious human rights violations, including enforced disappearances and alleged extrajudicial executions committed in the course of security operations continued to be reported."

Amnesty International also accused the Chechen leadership in putting pressure on the judiciary. "The Chechen leadership continued to exercise direct pressure on the judiciary. On 5 May, Ramzan Kadyrov called a meeting of all judges and forced four of them to resign. There was no response from the federal authorities," the report said.

Operation in Syria

Experts from Amnesty International also mentioned Russia’s operation in Syria, accusing Moscow of carrying out "indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects in Syria, including civilian residential areas, medical facilities and aid convoys, causing thousands of civilian deaths and injuries."

Last year, the media often reported on air strikes, which the Russian aviation supposedly carried out on various objects of Syrian civilian infrastructure. Russian Defense Ministry refuted all such claims, recommending foreign media outlets that value their reputation not to succumb to news provocations from organizations that call themselves human rights organizations.