Amnesty International has accused Russia of silencing journalists and human right activists trying to cover anti-war protests in the country.
“We can see that the Russian authorities are hellbent not only on preventing and severely penalizing any protest, however peaceful, but also on minimizing any public awareness of it,” Natalia Prilutskaya, Amnesty International’s Russia Researcher, said in a press release on Wednesday.
The human rights organization has been criticizing Russia for increasingly restricting the rights of the media and activists since President Vladimir Putin took office in 2000.
However, “reprisals against public watchdogs and media workers escalated further after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine” that Russia launched at the end of February.
Besides increasing police violence against journalists and independent observers, legal restrictions “prevent journalists and other media workers [from] informing the public about the protests,” Prilutskaya said.
Briefly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the country adopted a new controversial law which stipulates severe penalties for media organizations and individuals for “disseminating false information about the Russian Armed Forces.”
The wording allows the law to basically be applied to all coverage that does not reflect the official Kremlin stance of the war in Ukraine, which Moscow officially continues to refer to as a “special military operation.”