Western NGOs, new pressure targets

Local NGOs and independent Russian media, after foreign organizations… The knot on human rights defenders and freedom of expression defenders in Moscow continues to tighten. As tensions between the Kremlin and the West have steadily risen since Moscow launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, Russia announced on Friday (April 8th) that it was closing the offices of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Two NGOs, the first in the United Kingdom and the second in the United States, “excluded from the official register of foreign non-governmental organizations”.

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Short but harsh official statement: Without further details, these would violate Russian legislation, according to a press release from the Russian Ministry of Justice. De facto, this means their closure. “We are being punished for defending human rights and telling the truth to the Russian authorities”Agnès Callamard, Amnesty’s general secretary, regretted it. “If they believe they can end our work to document and disclose human rights violations by closing our office in Moscow, they are very wrong.”he warned.

“We’ll start from scratch! »

Among the currently excluded NGOs are the American foundation Carnegie for international peace, but also the German foundations Friedrich-Naumann and Friedrich-Eber for freedom. In total, the 15 organizations, most of which have been in Moscow since the collapse of the USSR and have been there for at least three decades, find themselves virtually excluded from Russia overnight. “HRW has existed since Soviet times when it was a closed totalitarian state. Back then, we found ways to document human rights violations. And we will do that in the future.”Promised in a press release Rachel Denber, deputy director of HRW’s Europe and Central Asia division.

Pretty much the same reaction, word for word, as the Russian NGO Monument. “If the worst happens, we’ll start from scratch! »proclaimed loudly and clearly the main Russian human rights NGO. Last December, the Supreme Court decided to shut it down for violating the law. “Foreign Agents”A classification in force since 2012, reminiscent of the Soviet years “enemies of the people” and imposing innumerable Kafkaesque formalities.

When the Memorial was founded in 1989 by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov and other dissidents, it had a limited effect, rather than the aura it acquired, among the Russian public. But beyond his multiple programs to perpetuate the memory of the Soviet repressions, he remained a moral authority. His removal from office last year marked the beginning of a new wave of repression against all voices critical of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

“The natural and necessary purification of society”

If the President has not expressed himself personally in these various cases, he has openly supported the judicial assault in recent weeks. “Our enemies have been saying for centuries: Russia is invincible; it can only be destroyed from within”The president said at a press conference last December.

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Since the beginning of its military intervention in Ukraine, it has fiercely attacked what it calls itself. “fifth column” It shakes the foundations of the Russian regime. In his televised address to the West on Wednesday, March 16 (the term was quoted twenty-six times in half an hour), he made a verbal attack, filled with anger and resentment. “national traitors” supporting the West before moving forward “the natural and necessary purification of society”.

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An entire region is in economic turmoil.

Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 45.1% in 2022, Due to the Russian-led war, according to the latest World Bank estimates released on Sunday, April 10.

Russia’s GDP is expected to increase meanwhile, it will shrink by 11.2% according to the World Bank estimates.

The whole region is experiencing the economic consequences of the conflict in Ukraine: The agency expects a 4.1% contraction in GDP for emerging and developing countries in Europe and Central Asia. Eastern Europe alone is expected to experience a 30.7% recession.

The authors of the report state that Moldova may be one of the countries most affected by the conflict. not only because of its geographic proximity to where the war took place, but also because of the inherent vulnerabilities as a small economy closely linked to the two countries, Ukraine and Russia.

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