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OSCE criticizes “atmosphere of fear and intimidation” in Russia – DW – 23.09.2022

Russia has reached the peak of repression and persecution of citizens opposed to the Russian war in Ukraine, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), presented on Thursday, September 22, in Vienna by its author, German lawyer Angelika Nußberger .

The 120-page document notes that over the past ten years, Russia has created “an atmosphere of fear and intimidation” through the use of criminal law, violence against civil society activists and propaganda. The repressions intensified especially and reached their peak after Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. As a concrete example, the report mentions the law on criminal liability for “fakes” about the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

The new laws have forced activists, journalists, lawyers and non-governmental organizations to wind down and even stop their activities or leave the country. The persecution in Russia is taking place “in front of the eyes of the entire public,” and pro-Kremlin propaganda is working at full capacity, the document emphasizes. It also states that “all federal and regional bodies of criminal prosecution gradually came under the direct control of Vladimir Putin.”

The war in Ukraine is taking place against the backdrop of oppression in Russia itself

Two days earlier, Evgenia Kara-Murza, the wife of an opposition politician who in 2015 was allegedly poisoned by FSB officers, and has been under arrest since April 2022. First Vladimir Kara-Murza charged with “disobeying the police”then – the spread of “fakes”, and even later – participation in the activities of an “undesirable organization” because of the conference in support of political prisoners in Russia.

Evgenia Kara-Murza called on Western countries to support the civilian population of the Russian Federation. It is important to remember that “a large-scale invasion of Ukraine is taking place against the backdrop of massive oppression in Russia itself,” she said. At the same time, in Russia, “even the victims of brainwashing are beginning to ask themselves questions, seeing that the war, which was supposedly supposed to last three days, has been going on for more than seven months,” Kara-Murza added.

Since the beginning of the war, the OSCE has resorted to the “Moscow mechanism” three times

The OSCE report on human rights violations in Russia was drawn up after the organization had already for the third time since the beginning of the war resorted to the “Moscow mechanism” – Creation of a group of international experts who assessed Russia’s compliance with international rights and obligations.

The two previous panels were assembled to assess reports of violations of international humanitarian law in connection with the hostilities unleashed by Russia and reports of war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine. The Russian Mission to the OSCE called reports on these topics “unfounded propaganda”, and the delegation from Russia was not present at the last meetings of the organization, as its members appeared on the sanctions lists due to support for the war.

At the same time, the authorities of the self-proclaimed “DPR” and “LPR” interfered with the work of OSCE experts – in April, several members of the mission detained in the occupied territory of Ukraine, referring to the fact that their mandate expired, which Russia had previously refused to renew. Later, the authorities of the so-called “LPR” accused the two detained members of the mission of “treason” and sentenced them to 13 years in prison.

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