Russia: OSCE denounces a climate of “fear and intimidation” (report)

Russia: OSCE denounces a climate of «fear and intimidation» (report)


The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is alarmed, in a report Thursday, by the intensification of repression in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, in the purpose of silencing or fleeing opponents. 

“Repression has gradually intensified since 2012 and culminated in laws passed after the start of the war,” according to this document of more than 120 pages, which evokes “a climate of fear and intimidation”. 

The dissemination of “false information” on the Russian armed forces is now punishable by 15 years jail.

This legal arsenal has the effect of pushing NGOs, activists, human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists “to reduce or abandon their activities, or even to leave their country”, is it written in the report consulted by AFP, which must be presented during the day to the Permanent Council of the OSCE.

Especially since “the persecution is taking place in broad daylight” and the propaganda is in full swing. 

Under the direct control of President Vladimir Putin, the authorities have “the ultimate goal of creating a monolithic society”, where all opponents are doomed to disappear from the public scene, adds the document, evoking “a growing isolation” of the Russian society.

Present this week in Vienna, the headquarters of the OSCE, Evgenia Kara-Mourza, wife of political prisoner Vladimir Kara-Mourza, wants to be “the voice” of these opponents reduced to silence.< /p>

“It is very important to remember that this large-scale invasion of Ukraine is taking place against a backdrop of mass repression in Russia,” she said in an interview with reporters, as more than 1,300 protesters protesting against the partial mobilization were arrested on Wednesday.

She says she observes a realization: “Even those victims of brainwashing begin to ask questions, when they see that a war supposed to last three days has lasted for more than seven months” and that the sanctions are starting to weigh.

Her husband, a fierce critic of the Kremlin and the Russian offensive in Ukraine, has been detained since April 2022 pending trial. The 41-year-old former journalist is one of the last major opponents living in Russia.

The report is the third released by the OSCE since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, in the framework of the so-called “Moscow mechanism”. 

It was drafted in August by a single rapporteur appointed by 38 of the 57 Member States, Angelika Nussberger, professor at the University of Cologne . Russia did not respond to the request to organize an on-site visit. 

The first two reports had pointed to “manifest violations of rights” by Russian troops in Ukraine, which could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The OSCE, established in 1975, at the height of the Cold War, to foster East-West dialogue, led a similar initiative in 2018 to examine the crimes in Chechnya against LGBT+ people or again in 2020, following the fraudulent elections and the repression in Belarus.