Human Rights Watch commentary:
Russian Activists Provide Antidote Against Government
By Boris Dittrich
“Could you please give me your phone? We don’t allow cell phones in our office.”
Stupefied, I handed over my phone. This wasn’t some confidential high-level ministerial meeting – I was visiting a grass-roots human rights organization in St. Petersburg.
“We need to take this precaution,” my host explained. “The government could be listening in through your device.”
In Russia, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are going through a hard time. President Vladimir Putin recently signed a new law making it possible to ban the activities of international and foreign organizations the government deems “undesirable” because they supposedly undermine “state security,” “national defense,” or the “constitutional order.” Russian citizens collaborating with these groups can be severely sanctioned.
This measure comes on top of another draconian law that labels Russian NGOs as “foreign agents” if they receive foreign…
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