The war in Ukraine continues to aggravate the human rights situation in Russia, with more cuts to the fundamental rights of its citizens, who are persecuted if they show any type of opinion different from that of the government and have no one to turn to to defend them, with justice and the free press shackled.
The United Nations rapporteur designated to monitor the situation in Ukraine, Mariana Katzarova, pointed out this Monday that the severity and number of sentences for political reasons have continued to increase in recent months and that no one can dare to deviate from the official discourse, under the risk of be arbitrarily detained, tortured and then punished with several years in prison.
The human rights situation "has deteriorated significantly" in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the expert's first report underlined on Monday. "The situation was already in constant deterioration over the last two decades, partly due to the two wars in Chechnya that ended in 2009," says rapporteur Katzarova. The expert highlighted Moscow's attempts to "hinder" her work and regretted not having had access to Russia.
Katzarova offered in a presentation she made before the UN Human Rights Council, figures that reflect how the situation is worsening in Russia, where until last July 649 organizations and individuals have been considered "foreign agents" (supposedly serving foreign interests). outdoors), an increase of 134 in the last half year.
Katzarova demanded the release of all arbitrarily detained political opponents, including Alexei Navalny, as well as dissidents Vladimir Kara-Mourza and Ilya Yashin.
In less publicized cases than those of well-known opponents, at least 185 people were accused of having violated a new law on the dissemination of information harmful to the Russian armed forces, including university student Dimitri Ivanov for creating an anti-war channel on the platform Telegram messaging service and for this he received more than eight years in prison.
It also described how women, particularly those working as rights defenders, activists or journalists, have "experienced gender-specific violence, humiliation and intimidation". "The persistent use of torture and ill-treatment, including sexual and gender-based violence, endangers the lives of detainees," she added.
The UN rapporteur also denounced that "an increasingly homophobic society is being created, where non-heterosexual people can be falsely accused of criminal activity by public agents."
Katzarova's estimates indicate that at least 1,000 journalists were forced into exile in 2022 alone and that about 4,900 websites were closed every week.
According to data contained in the report that the rapporteur has presented to the Human Rights Council -based on an independent monitoring project called Roskomsvoboda-, in the first six months of the war against Ukraine the possibility of publishing information about the conflict on 7,000 websites.
Likewise, publications were removed from more than 190,000 Internet pages. "The vacuum left by censorship and the suppression of independent media has been replaced by state disinformation and pro-war propaganda," he denounced.
Katzarova's report also addresses the situation in the military service, in which reservists have been denied the right to conscientious objection and which has allowed many men to be mobilized "by deception, the use of force or taking advantage of their vulnerability".
Those who have refused to fight have been sent to "mobilized" detention centers in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. There they have been threatened with execution and violence if they did not return to the battle front.
Regarding the mercenaries, the rapporteur mentions that the Wagner Group managed to recruit some 40,000 prisoners.
Katzarova, to whom the Government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied any collaboration in her investigations, asked the Russian authorities to release all political detainees, to repeal the law on foreign agents, to stop using anti-terrorist laws against peaceful dissidents and allow the independent Russian press to work in the country again.