6 of President Vladimir Putin’s Most Oppressive Laws

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NOTE: This blog post has been updated in several places for clarity.

The Olympics are right around the corner. But while Shaun White practices his Double McTwist 1260 and Ashley Wagner works on nailing a pearl spin, President Vladimir Putin is perfecting the art of repression.

Since he was inaugurated as President of the Russian Federation, Putin has orchestrated a number of changes in Russian law effectively criminalizing any criticism of him and Russian security forces. The new Draconian laws are having a terrible impact.

With Sochi fast approaching, here are 6 of Putin’s most oppressive laws. But unlike White and Wagner’s routines, we’re not looking forward to seeing these at the Olympics:

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Rock Out For Human Rights with The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons, Ms. Lauryn Hill and More

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Good news! Amnesty’s iconic Human Rights Concert series will be returning on February 5 with a Bringing Human Rights Home concert at the Barclays Center.

The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Tegan and Sara, The Fray, Cold War Kids, Colbie CaillatCake and more will be there with us, showing a new generation of activists how to stand up for justice at home and abroad.

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15 Human Rights Success Stories of 2013

By Natalie Butz, Communications Specialist at Amnesty International USA

It’s rare Amnesty activists get a moment to stop and take a breath. But with the start of a new year comes the opportunity to take stock of the progress we’ve made and the successes we helped accomplish in 2013. There’s still much to be done, but we hope the list below will help inspire all of us in the year to come:

Yorm Bopha was 29 when she was arrested on September 4, 2012 on spurious charges. She is a prominent activist from the Boeung Kak Lake community who is facing up to five years' imprisonment if found guilty at her trial. She is a prisoner of conscience (Photo Credit: Jenny Holligan).

Yorm Bopha was 29 when she was arrested on September 4, 2012 on spurious charges. She is a prominent activist from the Boeung Kak Lake community who is facing up to five years’ imprisonment if found guilty at her trial. She is a prisoner of conscience (Photo Credit: Jenny Holligan).

1. In 52 years, Amnesty International activists have helped free tens of thousands of Prisoners of Conscience around the world. In 2013, we continued that trend. Human rights activists freed this year included Yorm Bopha in Cambodia, Kartam Joga in India, Filipino poet Ericson Acosta, Yemeni journalist Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’ and Iranian human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh.

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Russia’s Most Prominent Political Prisoner Freed After Ten Years Behind Bars

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was charged with embezzlement and tax evasion. He spent 10 years in prison until his unexpected pardon by Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo Credit by Sean Gallup/Getty Images).

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was charged with embezzlement and tax evasion. He spent 10 years in prison until his unexpected pardon by Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo Credit by Sean Gallup/Getty Images).

By Ludmila Gordon, Amnesty USA Russia Country Specialist, Eurasia Cogroup Co-Chair

Amnesty International is happy to share the great news of the release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia’s most prominent political prisoner who spent over 10 years behind bars.

On December 19, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly announced at the annual news conference that he decided to pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky after he received a petition from Khodorkovsky asking to be pardoned due to family reasons. Shortly after, Khodorkovsky was released from a prison colony in the Karelia region of northwestern Russia and immediately flown to Germany.

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VICTORY!: Russian Prisoner of Conscience Freed As Write For Rights 2013 Reaches 1.4 Million Actions!

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By Louisa Anderson, Amnesty International Global Campaigner

Fantastic news came today as our global letter-writing campaign, Write for Rights, drew to a close: Vladimir Akimenkov, one of the Bolotnaya 3 prisoners of conscience, has been freed!

This fantastic outcome will be celebrated throughout the 83 countries that have taken part in our campaign. Over the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands of Amnesty supporters have taken action for Vladimir and others at risk of human rights abuses.

So far we have counted an incredible 1.4 million messages voicing support for human rights!

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HAPPENING NOW: Journalists Being Murdered in Honduras

A man lights a candle during a vigil in memory of over 20 journalists killed in Honduras in the last three years (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).

A man lights a candle during a vigil in memory of over 30 journalists killed in Honduras in the last three years (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).

“This killing is not just a crime against a an individual but also against the society as a whole. Every country should enjoy a free press in which journalists and media owners are allowed to exercise independence in collecting and reporting news without fearing for violent reprisals.”

Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Last month, I posted a blog entry asking if the November 25 elections in Honduras would be a victory for human rights. Unfortunately, my question was violently answered on December 7, when two unidentified gunmen murdered journalist Juan Carlos Argeñal. In addition to owning a local television station, Argeñal was a correspondent for Radio Globo and Globo TV.

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Sentenced to a Psychiatric Hospital For a Peaceful Protest

Mikhail Kosenko stands in a defendant cage in a court in Moscow (Photo Credit: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images).

Mikhail Kosenko stands in a defendant cage in a court in Moscow (Photo Credit: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog originally appeared in the Huffington Post

Mikhail Kosenko was there last year when tens of thousands gathered in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square in protest of Vladimir Putin’s re-election. Video evidence indicates that he was protesting peacefully, yet he was arrested days later by the Russian authorities and charged with taking part in a riot and using violence against police officers.

Although many are being prosecuted for their involvement that day, Kosenko has been sent by the courts to a psychiatric hospital, where treatment is being forced upon him. The prosecution asserts that he is a threat to himself and others, yet there is no evidence of this.

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THIS EXISTS: Country Where A Teenager Was Arrested For Ordering T-Shirts

Angolan riot policemen stand in front of hundreds of demonstrators protesting against the killings of two young opposition activists in Luanda (Photo Credit: Estelle Maussion/AFP/Getty Images).

Angolan riot policemen stand in front of hundreds of demonstrators protesting against the killings of two young opposition activists in Luanda (Photo Credit: Estelle Maussion/AFP/Getty Images).

The rights to freedom of assembly and expression are guaranteed in the Angolan Constitution. Nevertheless, the Angolan government has become increasingly oppressive against peaceful protesters, journalists, and opposition politicians.

A new generation of young Angolans have come together to speak out against the regime and call for political change. A wave of protests that began in early 2011 continues to thrive in the face of government restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression.

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Our Call to the Next Honduran President

Supporters of Honduran presidential candidate for the LIBRE party, Xiomara Castro hold flags and a sign reading "We demand justice. Nobody stops the people” (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).

Supporters of Honduran presidential candidate for the LIBRE party, Xiomara Castro hold flags and a sign reading “We demand justice. Nobody stops the people” (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).

By Stacy Suh, Member Women’s Rights Coordination Group

As I write, the outcome of the November 24 presidential elections in Honduras is still being contested. There were eight candidates to the presidency, out of which two have been expressing concerns on the official results provided by the Electoral Tribunal and respective complains have been filed. Regardless of the eventual outcome of these legal challenges, Amnesty International is still calling upon the next president to commit to protecting human rights, as outlined in an open letter to all candidates.

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