Free Essay

Human Rights Violations in Russia

In: People

Submitted By More4ka
Words 3639
Pages 15
Marina Kumskova
Professor Austin LaGrone
ENG 101
April 15, 2013

Human Rights violation’s in the Russian Federation. There is no single, universally accepted definition of democracy. In fact, there is no universal model of what democracy should be. The emphasis varies in accordance with the history of a country, its culture and the strength of its civil society, and conditions under which democratic institutions were introduced. One consequence is that countries that use the term “democratic” to describe their governing systems can range from Western European nations to China and the former Soviet Union to autocracies in the Middle East and Latin America. Democratic systems can be minimalist democracies in which the citizens mainly do not have the right to vote but enjoy few other freedoms. Other are the democracies that would expand the conception of democracy to full participation in all civic institutions. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “recognition of the dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. Speaking of the Eastern Europe, one can trace the development from minimalist democracy to dictatorships. The most popular example of dictatorship in the Eastern Europe is Belarus. The US Department of State repeatedly criticized the regime enacted by Aleksandr Lukashenko, who has been steadily consolidating his power through authoritarian means. Belarus has been called “ the last remaining dictatorship in the heart of Europe” by the US Secretary of State. The UN Human Rights Council 2007 Report notes that “the situation of human rights in Belarus constantly deteriorated” ( Severin, 2007, p.7 ). Is Belarus the only dictatorship in the Eastern Europe? Russia seems to have changed radically in the last few years. Under its energetic young president Vladimir Putin, Russia’s political system and economy appear finally to have stabilized. The conventional explanation for Vladimir Putin’s popularity is straightforward. In the 1990’s, under post-Soviet Russia’s president Boris Yeltsin, the state seems to have had various problems: the economy shrank, the population suffered. Since 2000, under Putin, “order seems returned, the economy has flourished and the average Russian is living better than ever before” ( McFaul, Stoner-Weiss, 2008, p. 68). People seem to buy it. Nearly third of Russians would like to see him become president for life. Does it seems like the policy of Aleksandr Lukashenko? It is for me. Putin brings the country to authoritarian model by “the right PR company”. Obviously, he just made people to love him by authoritarian control of media. His narrative based almost solely on a spurious correlation between autocracy and growth is wrong. The reemergence of Russian autocracy under Putin, conversely, has coincided with economic growth but did not cause it. There is also very little evidence to suggest that Putin’s autocratic turn over the last several years has led to more effective governance than the fractious democracy of the 1990’s. Citizens do not have a right to choose anymore, they have to live in the system created by the government. The centralization of power in the Russian Federation has had an influence on governance and economic growth; however, these improvements would have been greater if the democracy had survived. Putin was certainly “ people’s choice”, with a support base that was remarkably close to a cross-section of the entire society. “There were even signs of an emerging personality cult” (McAllister, 2003, p. 388). Post-election surveys indicated that Putin’s supporters were remarkably evenly distributed people of different levels of educational achievement with levels of income. As I mentioned before, Putin’s remarkable public support owed by his PR company. One of relatively new ways in which he boosted his popular appeal was by holding “virtual press conferences”. His image was also enhanced by the information that was made available about his private life and childhood. But what was hidden behind this personality? “If there is any casual relationship between authoritarianism and economic growth in Russia, it is negative” (McFaul, Stoner-Weiss, 2208, p. 81). In the last several years, Russia has produced more corruption and less secure property rights. Even with no money circulating through the economy, Putin’s government has done no better and some times even worse job in providing basic public goods and services than Yeltsin’s government did during the deep economic decline of the 1990’s. While following every single move of the person, who has been associated with the realization of the “Russian Dream”, people had no time to realize that their rights are being violated. Russians got many responsibilities and lost most of the rights. The most essential rights that citizens lost, I would like to describe in this research. I could not think about the most horrible human right’s violation that a torture. Torture, the most fundamental assault on a human creature, remains in use in most countries around the world. “Russia serves as an example of why torture is so persistent in the pretrial detention context, which is inherently hedged against the interests of the accused” ( Levina, 2008, 107). The European Court of Human Rights has heard hundreds of cases emanating from Russia concerning “violations of the prohibition of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment enshrined in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights” (Council of Europe, 1963). In 2012 alone, out of the 217 trials delivered by the ECtHR regarding cases from the Russian Federation 102 found violations of Article 3. Russia’s prison population currently stands at 768 000 people, the third biggest rate of penal detention in the world. Prison conditions in Russia are dire. Severe conditions have been described by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture as “cruel, inhuman and degrading” ( Levina, 2008, p. 110). Being the inmate in one of the russian prisons, it is the most horrible thing that could happen. A lot of members of the organization against the government serve time in jail. Believe me, you do not want to see that people with broken noses, arms and legs, covered with bruises all over their bodies. Not that much information about it is spread over the internet, because the Putin’s administration controls very carefully every piece of information that comes out of government facilities. But I have found one, which you will never see on TV. This video done by Innes Robertson called “Russian prisoner abuse”. In this video the inmates are beaten to death or almost to death. The most essential moment is that inmates are not resisting, which means they either got used to it or just understand that resisting will make the situation even worse. Although the presumption of guilt may exist in theory, in practice the system perpetuates the presumption of guilt. “At the root of the problem, according to a report commissioned by Russia’s ex-president Dmitry Medvedev in 2009, is an unspoken dependency of judges on government officials. In cases where there is even a minute involvement of a government officials a judge will deliberate not on the law, but on whether or not apply the law” ( Levina, 2008, p.108). And those are the words of the government official, the ex-president and the present prime-minister of this country. Sergei Magnitsky, a russian lawyer representing a UK-based investment advisory firm, was held in pretrial detention in several Moscow’s most notorious prisons. "The Magnitsky Case" in particular and the Russian context in general serve as an example of what happens when the presumption of innocence is not entrenched within the institutional structure of the criminal justice system. Mr. Magnitsky died three years ago, when he was 37 years old, in a Russian jail while awaiting trial. “His advocates say that he was jailed for investigating hundreds of millions of dollars possibly stolen from Mr. Browder's firm, and that he was beaten and denied medical care in jail” (Baker, 2013, p.3). Mr. Magnitsky's aunt, in a telephone interview, called the trial of her dead nephew ''mean and cynical'' and said the family needed no court to determine his reputation after death. ''He was a warm person,'' she said. ''He had a family and he had a favorite cat, and he had a big aquarium that his children loved'' (Leonov, 2013). The right to freedom of assembly also remains problematic in Russia, where police frequently disperse public rallies held by civil activists and political opposition. Police use excessive force and arbitrarily detain peaceful protesters. While Moscow authorities generally permitted the meetings on the 31st day of each month that has 31 days, similar demonstrations were rarely allowed in other cities. In October 2010 the European Court of Human Rights, in Alexeev vs. Russia ruling, found Russia guilty in violation of freedom of assembly for denying activists, infringing their right to hold gay pride marches. The opposition was holding a rally on Bolotnaya Ploshchad on May, 2012. A year after, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the right to a fair trial have been restricted by law. Now each protestor is forced to make a personal choice between good and evil and between political parties or civil society institutions. This transition is being effected in two areas. Firstly, the assembly line of repressive laws, the regime's political spin projects, and selective enforcement of the law have almost deprived protestors of the legal possibility of political participation. “The lack of levers of influence on the regime, and the lack of political representation, frustrate the active "angry citizen" even more” (Vedomosti, 2013). He cannot do anything, and not that many solutions are left to him: Leaving the country, reconciling himself to what he considers to be unjust, or protesting illegally. Secondly, the extension of the political category to any activities not linked to state initiatives makes protestors out of those who could not care less about politics but who wanted to do good deeds. “That is, the state, in trying to place public activity under its control, has gone and categorized good deeds as political and therefore subject to licensing” (Vedomosti, 2013). Four years have passed since I left Russia, but I still questioning the parliamentary elections scheduled for December 4, 2011, when the government’s refusal to register new political parties became a popular concept. Russia is coming back to the period of a one party state. In Soviet Union it was the party of communists, nowadays it is the “ United Russia”. The same food, different sauce. Before that elections people had choice. I remember my was still for communists, I was voting for liberal party. Nowadays most of parties are not exist anymore. How are responsible for that? The citizen just had to choose between following the route shown by the government or go to the other side, which will turn your life into hell. North Caucasus has always been the most difficult region in Russia. Probably, I should not even talk about it, because it is too much complicated than anyone could ever imagine. But it is my home. I was born there. In the place covered with the blood of russian soldiers and Chechen hitmen. This region is mostly called the “Home of nationalism, terrorism and separatism in the specific country”. The Caucasus region that the Tsarnaev brothers originally hail from has long been a hotbed of both terrorist activity and repressive government crackdowns. Chechen separatists gained international notoriety with hostage situations at the Moscow Opera House, a grammar school in Beslan that ended with the deaths of hundreds of children, as well as countless smaller-scale attacks in the past decade. “The number of insurgent attacks in the North Caucasus doubled in 2010 compared to 2009” (World Report, 2011). I have been witnessed several terroristic attacks myself, I lost hundreds of people I know during this occasions. Who are guilty? Who are really guilty for taking lives of the most intellectual part of society of the North Caucasus? People keep blaming each other. Chechen people said that was done by the government, Russians keep telling that all the Muslim people from the Caucasus are terrorists. The authorities make the problem of nationalism even more complicated by using torture and abduction-style detentions. According to Human Rights Watch, the security forces have engaged in significant amounts of kidnapping, torture and abuse, including a systematic, religious "virtue campaign" that at times violently targets women and reports of a campaign to frighten away or eliminate human rights activists. As I told hundred times to my caucasian friends (Chechen, Ingush, Balkarian) the government teaches russians to hate them, and that is why they hate russians. This throwing people together will never lead to anything positive. Putin seems to be a superman, who comes to the power in order to save the country, to bring stability, peace and well-being for every citizen in the country. People believed that everybody will live happily ever after. But soon they understood that fairy tails do not exist. But changing his presidency into authoritarian kingship, she makes people to loose many of th freedoms that they had before, such as freedom of assembly, freedom of choice etc. There are thousands of political prisoners in the country right now, who are actually tortured and killed in prisons. Torture endures because of the shortcomings both in the law and in the structure of criminal justice system. Overall, talking about human rights violations in Russia, one can use the word “infinite". Democracy deficits, weak institutions and poor leadership are among the main challenges to the effective realization of human rights. In Russia there is no respect of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of choice etc. “Putin was elected in the clear expectation that he would take matters in hand.” (Leahy, 2000, p. 646) It seems to me that internal social, political, and economic situation changed drastically under Putin's leadership. However, the president can not ignore the expectations of respect for individual rights while achieving his political objectives.

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Peter. U.S. targets Russians for rights violations; Sanctions strain relations before high-level visits by American officials. The International Herald Tribune. April 13, 2013. p: 3. Print.

The Obama administration imposed sanctions on about two dozen Russians for human rights violations under a new law that has soured relations with Moscow, but it avoided targeting many high-level figures in Putin’s government. The administration identified 18 Russians on an unclassified list of those who will be barred from traveling to the United States and have their assets here frozen. All but two of them are tied to the death of a lawyer, Sergei L. Magnitsky, who was investigating official corruption only to be arrested and die in custody, an official said. Another smaller group is included on a classified list, two officials said.

This article tell the story of Mr. Magnitsky, who has dead in russian prison. Magnitsky is the example of the violation of human rights, and torturing people on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Human Rights Watch. World Report 2012: Russia. Human Rights Watch, 2011. Web. March, 3, 2013.

The announcement in September that Vladimir Putin would run for president in 2012 led most analysts to believe that his election is a foregone conclusion, and cast a shadow over the prospect of much needed political reform. It concludes the most important problems of Russia. There are chapters about the violation of assembly right, the situation with elections, health issues and property expropriation..

The article gives the most famous cases of human rights violation in the country, opens the theme of the North Caucasus, and gives an idea about what is going on in the country nowadays.

Leahy, Anne. Putin’s Russia. International Journal, Vol. 55, No. 4, 2000:646. Print.

The narrative of Putin’s presidency links him to boris Yeltsin. He restored the mechanisms of governance, he allows Russia to maintain the credibility it wants. He as already spoken of intended reforms in economic and financial sectors. Overall, the personality of Vladimir Putin shows in a very attractive way in this article.

Putin presented as the inventor of democratic reform with his ability to enforce respect for rights and freedoms and to uphold the rule of law. Putin is presented as a powerful “good” for Russia, but it is still some concerns about human rights limitations.

Loenov, Leonid. Security concerns unite Russia, United States. The Prague Post. April 24, 2013. Web. May 14, 2013.

Russian-U.S. relations may be at their chilliest levels since the Cold War, but the terrorist attacks in Boston could bring about a thaw in an area rarely regarded as common ground for the two countries: counterterrorism. This was the subject of a rare direct phone call between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin April 20 after it was revealed the two suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were of Chechen background.

Article shows that even if the relationships between government and citizens are very problematic in the North Caucasus, the government takes care about their citizens on international level.

Levina, Polina. Links between Criminal Justice Procedure and Torture: Laerning from Russia. New Criminal Law Review: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2008:107. Print.

Article demonstrates three obstacles that impede the eradication of torture and ill-treatment. There are the inadequate criminalization of torture, rules of procedures that simultaneously create incentive to torture and perpetuate impunity and inaction of courts when faced with allegations of torture.

By assessing the domestic conditions that color Russia’s relationship with the European Convention on Human Rights, this article has highlighted the areas that are most susceptible to external influence and those may prove more intractable. Taking a comparative view of the influence of international mechanisms, this article has shed light on the impact they have on Russia’s human rights politics.

McAllister, Ian. White, Stephen. Putin and his Supporters, Europe-Asian Studies, Vol. 55, No. 3, May, 2003:388. Print.

Putin was certainly “ the people choice”/ The article opens the meaning of the Putin phenomenon. How secure was Vladimir Putin in his reforms? The population continued to fall. But economic growth recovered strongly, and the new administration began to assert Russian national interests more vigorously in its dealing with international community.

This article represents the story of Putin’s existence as a main person in the country. It shows the way he becomes so popular among people with different economic or social status. Above all, it reasserted the power of the central government within Russia itself.

McFaul, Michael. Stoner-Weiss, Kathryn. The Myth of the Authoritarian Model: How Putin’s Crackdown Holds Russia Back. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 87, No. 1. Jan. - Feb., 2008:81. Print.

The process of democratization started before Russian independence. Mikhail Gorbachev introduced some important reforms. Putin’s rollback of democracy started with independent media outlets. Putin also made real progress in weaking the autonomy of the parliament. Russia is presented as “managed” or “sovereign” democracy. Putin built autocracy in the country. He might bring useful reforms to the country, but human rights are not considered at all.

The conventional narrative of Putin’s personality is wrong. Putin’s centralization of power has had an influence on governance and economic growth at all, the effects have been negative.

Severin, Adrian. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, January, 2006:7. Print.

As the Rapporteur mentioned in his report , his presentation at the 2nd Session of the Human Rights Council was received with much criticism. Belarus led the attack on his mandate, calling it politicized, biased, and nothing more than Cold-War propaganda. Numerous States supported Belarus in its refusal to recognize Mr Severin’s mandate.

Belarus is officially the only one dictatorship in the heart of Europe. It refuses every advise from Human rights organization, which led this country to be a subject of many sanctions. Many expert keep the opinion, that this politic comes from close relationship with Russia.

Robertson, Innes. Russian Prisoner Abuse. Youtube. Nov. 26, 2010. Web. May 11, 2013.

The video shows the situation in the prison in Russia. The relationship between the inmates and the correctional officers are obvious in this video.

This video introduces the horrible, inhumane situation in the russian prison. The prisoners are being beaten to death, while the are not resisting.

United States Department of State. 2008 Human Rights Report: Belarus. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, February 25, 2009. Web. April 15, 2013.

Since his election in 1994 as president, Alexander Lukashenko has consolidated his power over all institutions and undermined the rule of law through authoritarian means, manipulated elections, and arbitrary decrees. Subsequent presidential elections have not been free or fair, and the 28 September, parliamentary election failed to meet international standards. The government's human rights record remained very poor as government authorities continued to commit frequent serious abuses.

Belarus represents the example of dictatorship. The government further restricted civil liberties, including freedoms of press, speech, assembly, association and religion. Belarus is a subject to US sanctions for undermining democratic process and constituting an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. It shows the theoretical Russia’s future, if the authoritarian policy of Putin would remain happening.

Vedomosti. Russian editorial notes narrowing opportunities for expressing political protest. BBC Worldwide Monitoring, May 10, 2013. Web. May 12, 2013.

The article shows the changes in the Russian human rights. In a year, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the right to a fair trial (see also the second editorial article) have been restricted by law.

The article represents the situation of opposition in the Russian Federation. People are have mostly to choices to leave the country or to follow the rules. Criticizing of the russian government is the main point of this article.

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...change. These states need to abolish it on the grounds that it carries a dangerous risk of punishing the innocent, is unethical and barbaric, and is an ineffective deterrent of crime versus the alternative of life in prison without parole. Capital punishment is the most ­irreparable crime governments perpetrate without consequence, and it must be abolished. “We’re only ­human, we all make mistakes,” is a commonly used phrase, but it is tried and true. Humans, as a species, are famous for their mistakes. However, in the case of the death penalty, error becomes too dangerous a risk. The innocent lives that have been taken with the approval of our own government should be enough to abolish capital punishment. According to Amnesty International, “The death penalty legitimizes an irreversible act of violence by the state and will inevitably claim innocent victims.” If there is any chance that error is possible (which ­there always is), the drastic measure of capital ­punishment should not be taken. Also, it is too final, meaning it does not allow opportunity for th accused to be proven innocent, a violation of the Fifth Amendment which guarantees due process of law. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ­argued against the death penalty: “In brief, the Court found that the best available evidence indicates that, on the one hand, innocent people are sentenced to death with materially greater frequency than was......

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