In recent years in Russia, a number of repressive laws have been adopted or tightened up that have severely restricted demonstrations by the opposition. In particular, the laws concerned freedom of expression and the right of assembly and association. People in Need supports civil society, helps the politically persecuted and also provides international support for Russian civil society.
Another important development was the campaign against non-government organisations. As a result of adoption of the Foreign Agents Act in 2012, a number of the organisations have been subjected to a special regime which has led either to bureaucratic obstacles or even to the abolishment of an organisation and a fine or, in the worst cases, the imprisonment of their representatives.
The situation with political prisoners in Russia is alarming. At the end of March 2017, there were 109 persons classified as political prisoners and another 26 persons are currently being prosecuted. At the same time, in 2016 in connection with the arrest of the Russian activist Ildar Dadin, information came to light again about the conditions in Russian prisons and the torture and cruelty to which the Russian prisoners are frequently subjected.
Violations of human rights have often occurred in connection with the Russian annexation of Crimea and the continuing conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The activities of People in Need in Russia
- Civil society support – In the Russian Federation we concentrate mainly on the support of independent journalists and civil society representatives whether from non-government organisations or informal initiatives and active individuals. We regularly organise educational programmes in areas such as investigative journalism, video-activism or the use of new media. We select participants primarily from the Russian regions.
- Direct aid for the politically persecuted - People in Need organises rehabilitation stays for human rights activists and independent journalists who have been targeted long term by security forces and are psychologically and physically exhausted or whose state of health has deteriorated as a result of their stay in prison. We also provide direct aid to the politically persecuted, in justified instances we contribute towards legal services, medical expenses and we provide material support to the families of those in prison.
- International support - In the Czech Republic and other countries of European Union, People in Need organises a range of screenings, debates and public events that draw attention to cases of human rights violations in Russia. We are also one of the cofounders of the Euro-Russian Civil Society Forum – a platform that help bring together non-government organisations from Russia and the European Union.