Event Date: November 16, 2018 - 10:00am to 12:00pm Location: FSS 5028, 120 University Private
Today, Russia is more repressive than it has ever been in the post-Soviet era.
Kremlin made sure that the political arena has no real contenders, and works to prevent anyone from successfully proposing alternatives to its policies -whether on domestic issues or abroad – like crises in Ukraine and Crimea, or Syria.
The state has tightened control over free expression, assembly, and speech, aiming to silence independent voices. The authorities crack down on critical media, viciously harass political activists and peaceful protesters, engage in smear campaigns against independent groups, increasingly use their power to ban foreign organizations as “undesirable,” and penalize Russian nationals and organizations for supposed involvement with them. Critics of the government are attacked by nationalists and pro-Kremlin thugs fired up by government propaganda or acting in collusion with security officials. They are also smeared, threatened and prosecuted as extremists.
The number of fabricated criminal cases on charges of espionage and high treason is also on the rise. Some of the accused are politically active, and others simply make the mistake of sending text messages or posting online content later deemed political or sensitive. And they are all targeted by the security services in order to spread fear. And when such cases are moved to trial, the trials are not legal proceedings about justice but rather are show trials with pre-cooked verdicts meant to spread fear. Under these dire circumstances, Russian human rights lawyers work to protect what remains of the rule of law in the country. By taking on the toughest cases and making progress, they show the cracks beneath the surface, limit the damage, and save lives.
Ivan Pavlov is a human rights lawyer and activist in Russia, defending those wrongly accused by security services of disclosing state secrets, high treason, and espionage. He is also well known for his tireless efforts to ensure public access to government information and to provide guidance to activists threatened by the state. Pavlov has persevered against overwhelming odds, including intrusive government surveillance, harassment by security officials, and work-related threats if violence. He has taken on numerous high-profile cases, saving many clients from long jail sentences and political repression.
Tanya Lokshina is the associate director for Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division, based in Moscow. Having joined Human Rights Watch in January 2008, Lokshina authored several reports on egregious abuses in Russia’s turbulent North Caucasus region and co-authored a report on violations of international humanitarian law during the 2008 armed conflict in Georgia. Her recent publications include a range of materials on Russia’s vicious crackdown on critics of the government and on violations of international humanitarian law during the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.