Human Rights Watch

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Russia: Assault on Freedom of Expression

Repressive Laws and Policies Restrict Online Speech, Stifle Critical Voices

Tuesday 18 July 2017


(Moscow, July 18, 2017) – Russia has introduced significant restrictions to online speech and invasive surveillance of online activity and prosecutes critics under the guise of fighting extremism, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. 

The 83-page report, "Online and On All Fronts: Russia's Assault on Freedom of Expression," documents Russian authorities' stepped-up measures aimed at bringing the internet under greater state control. Since 2012, Russian authorities have unjustifiably prosecuted dozens of people for criminal offenses on the basis of social media posts, online videos, media articles, and interviews, and shut down or blocked access to hundreds of websites and web pages. Russian authorities have also pushed through parliament a raft of repressive laws regulating internet content and infrastructure. These laws provide the Russian government with a broad range of tools to restrict access to information, carry out unchecked surveillance, and censor information the government designates as "extremist," out of line with "traditional values," or otherwise harmful to the public.

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