- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched an “unprecedented” attack against political dissidence that includes harassment and intimidation, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Wednesday.

The group, based in New York, said in its report that the former KGB officer has used his government officers to engage in a “nationwide campaign” against civil society groups and those who oppose his politics, NBC reported.

Public relations-wise, the timing of the report’s release was unfortunate. It came out the same day that Alexei Navalny, an outspoken critic of Mr. Putin’s government, asked that a court toss what he called were fabricated charges aimed at silencing him.

The report also follows the publication last week of a U.S. State Department document that lists a range of human rights abuses that have taken place of late in Russia. One item on the list, NBC reported: Mr. Putin’s government issues fines to those who take part in political meetings that aren’t sanctioned by the government.

Human Rights Watch said Mr. Putin attempts to portray critics as “clandestine enemies” and jails those who defy his politics. He has also overseen the passage of several laws that restrict citizens’ rights, including one that could lead to charges of treason against human rights advocates.

“The laws and government actions described in this report violate Russia’s international legal obligations to protect freedom of association, expression and assembly, and threaten the viability of Russia’s vibrant civil society,” the Human Rights Watch report stated, as cited by NBC.



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