World Cup amid 'worst rights crisis’
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.