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PayPal blocks donations for report on Russian actions in Ukraine

Opposition activist Ilya Yashin speaks to the media during a presentation of the report about Russian military presence in Ukraine that murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was working on shortly before his death, in Moscow, 12 May 2015
Opposition activist Ilya Yashin speaks to the media during a presentation of the report about Russian military presence in Ukraine that murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was working on shortly before his death, in Moscow, 12 May 2015

REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

This statement was originally published on freedomhouse.org on 14 May 2015.

In response to PayPal's decision to block donations to produce print copies of an investigative report on Russian military involvement in Ukraine, Freedom House issued the following statement:

"One of the Russian government's most effective tactics for stifling criticism of President Putin and the government's human rights abuses is to accuse critics of conducting 'political activities' and claiming them to be improper or illegal," said Susan Corke, director of Eurasia Programs. "It is disturbing, to say the least, that PayPal has supported those tactics by denying individuals the right to help pay for publishing 'Putin. War,' the work of murdered opposition figure Boris Nemtsov. PayPal should immediately lift this ban, to help, rather than hinder, press freedom in Russia."

Background:

The "Putin. War" report was published online on May 12, 2015. The bulk of the research and writing was done by Nemtsov, who was murdered in February 2015. His colleagues, including journalists, economists, and activists, completed the independent report in his stead. On May 14, 2015, PayPal blocked incoming donations for print publication, asserting, "PayPal does not allow its system to be used to collect donations for the activities of political parties or for political goals in Russia."

Russia is rated Not Free in "Freedom in the World 2015", Not Free in "Freedom of the Press 2015", Partly Free in "Freedom on the Net 2014", and received a democracy score of 6.29 on a scale of 1-7, with 7 being the worst possible score, in "Nations in Transit 2014".

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