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Human rights situation in Russia condemned as Obama cancels trip to Moscow

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk away after speaking about their meeting during the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, 17 June 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk away after speaking about their meeting during the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, 17 June 2013.

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Freedom House welcomes President Obama's decision to cancel his trip to Moscow in early September for a bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to the White House statement announcing the cancellation, the "lack of progress" in U.S.-Russia bilateral relations includes the human rights and civil society situation in Russia in the past 12 months. Indeed, it was during this period that the most serious crackdown against civil society and Russia's opposition since the break-up of the Soviet Union has occurred. A series of restrictive laws passed by the Russian Duma are meant to silence dissent against the regime and cripple civil society. In addition, we have seen the prosecution of opposition leaders, including Aleksei Navalny; the disgraceful posthumous conviction of lawyer and whistleblower Sergey Magnitsky; the aggressive campaign against non-governmental organizations; the banning of adoptions of Russian orphans by American citizens; the expulsion of the US Agency for International Development; and the outrageous campaign targeting the LGBT community. Together these actions and policies represent a full-bore and utterly deplorable campaign against human rights and democratic standards engineered by the Putin regime. Enormous differences over Syria and the Snowden case are further reason for canceling the visit.

"I applaud the President's decision to cancel his bilateral meeting with Putin and hope that when he goes to St. Petersburg for the G20 summit that he'll meet with Russian civil society activists," said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. "Obama's decision to cancel his Moscow visit should signal to Putin that there are costs to his bullying, unrestrained drive to silence critics and eliminate serious opposition."

Russia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Not Free in the Freedom of the Press 2012 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2012.

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