On Wednesday, December 19, the Russian Duma will debate a proposed law that would prohibit public discussion or so-called propaganda of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their rights. This law is an affront to fundamental human rights enshrined in Russia’s constitution and international commitments. Freedom House calls on the Russian Duma to reject it outright.
Before autocratic regimes fully grasped the democratic nature of the internet, netizens basked in the sunshine of global intercommunication. But in a backlash against digitally driven uprisings, such as those of the Arab Spring, tyrants are now maneuvering to bring users’ online and mobile activities under the shadow of outdated and arbitrary legal restrictions. One sign of this crackdown is the alarming number of digital activists behind bars around the world.
Freedom House strongly supports the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, passed on Dec. 6 by a vote of 92-4, which places a visa ban on corrupt Russian officials and prevents them from accessing U.S. banking systems. The House version of the bill was passed on November 16th. Freedom House president David Kramer worked closely with House and Senate sponsors on both sides of the aisle on the language of the Magnitsky Bill and encouraged Congress to pass it as a condition of normalizing trade relations with Russia.
A majority of Americans see democracy in the U.S. as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey released by The Democracy Project, a joint initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
As President Barack Obama enters his second term, relations with Russia present him with a set of thorny problems. This package of materials includes policy proposals, a summary of Russian legal restrictions on NGOs, a chronology of repressive actions under Vladimir Putin since 2000, and graphs illustrating Russia's score declines in Freedom House's annual reports.
“Promise and Reversal: The Post-Soviet Landscape Twenty Years On,” marks the 20th anniversary of the failed Soviet coup of August 19, 1991. The retrospective essay examines the changes in the political rights and civil liberties in the former Soviet Union over the last two decades, as well as includes graphs and rankings that illustrate the region's performance in the annual Freedom House publications Freedom in the World and Freedom of the Press. The report concludes that there is a serious and disturbing failure to embrace democratic institutions in most of the post-Soviet region.
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