World Cup amid 'worst rights cri­sis’

The West Australian - - WORLD -

The World Cup will be staged against a back­drop of the worst hu­man rights cri­sis in Rus­sia since the Soviet era, Hu­man Rights Watch says.

Cit­ing re­pres­sive laws, hu­man rights abuses, cen­sor­ship and anti-gay pro­pa­ganda, the or­gan­i­sa­tion says next month’s soc­cer show­piece masks an ugly at­mos­phere in Rus­sia.

“This is a very dire time for hu­man rights in Rus­sia,” HRW’s Rus­sia pro­gram di­rec­tor Tanya Lok­shina said. “Rus­sia has been trapped in the worst hu­man rights cri­sis since the fall of the Soviet Union. The in­ten­sity of this cri­sis is un­par­al­leled to any­thing in the coun­try’s con­tem­po­rary his­tory.”

Ms Lok­shina urged Aus­tralians trav­el­ling to Rus­sia for the World Cup, which starts on June 14, to scratch be­low the sur­face of the host na­tion.

“In re­cent years Rus­sia has cracked down on ul­tra­na­tion­al­ists and foot­ball hooli­gans in par­tic­u­lar . . . so for Aus­tralian guests, fin­gers-crossed, phys­i­cal se­cu­rity is not go­ing to be a prob­lem,” she said.

Ms Lok­shina said there had been a “stag­ger­ing hu­man rights clampdown” since Vladimir Putin re­gained the Rus­sian pres­i­dency in 2012.

“What we see in Rus­sia to­day as far as free­dom of ex­pres­sion is con­cerned is just dev­as­tat­ing,” she said. “Ev­ery year it is just get­ting worse.”

Dur­ing the World Cup only pub­lic gath­er­ings ap­proved by Rus­sia’s fed­eral se­cu­rity ser­vice are per­mit­ted.

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