RUSSIA: 2018 World Cup Football

Riot police officers arrest an LGBT activist during an “illegal” gay pride rally in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 2013. © Corbis

The human rights situation in Russia is abysmal. Since 2012, numerous new laws further suppress the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Journalists, human rights activists, lawyers, gays and artists are thwarted in many ways to prevent them from voicing any criticism. The ‘law on foreign agents’ paralyzes civil society. Ahead of the World Cup, there is a risk of increased repression of the right to freedom of expression.

In the run-up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014, the repression was steadily intensified. Yevgeny Vitishko, for example, was arrested in Sochi on 3 Februari 2014. This environmental activist was trying to prove that rare trees were chopped to make way for sporting facilities. He supposedly used swear words while standing at a bus stop, which resulted in a three year prison sentence. He is still in jail.

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