Human rights violated across former Soviet Union: Amnesty

May 24th, 2012 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 24 (IANS) Human rights violations — including harassment to journalists for exposing abuses — are still widespread across countries of the former Soviet Union, rights group Amnesty International has said.

In Russia, the picture was “mixed”, said the report.

“As elsewhere in the region, human rights defenders and journalists were harassed, intimidated and beaten for exposing abuses,” RIA Novosti quoted the report as saying.

“Anti-government demonstrations were frequently banned and their organisers and participants subjected to short periods of detention or fined. Typically for the region, most mainstream media and TV outlets remained under the strong influence of national and local authorities,” the document read.

The report said internet in Russia “remained relatively uncontrolled by the authorities” and has become a major forum for the exchange of opinion.

Following the December 2011 parliamentary election, Russia was hit by a wave of street protests, triggered by allegations of mass fraud in favour of the ruling United Russia party.

In Russia’s restive North Caucasus region, the security situation “remained volatile and uneven”, the report said.

Armed groups “continued to target law enforcement and other officials, with civilians caught in the crossfire and, on occasion, deliberately attacked”.

Security raids on militant hideouts “were often accompanied by serious human rights violations”, and there were reports of witnesses being “intimidated” and journalists, human rights activists and lawyers being “harassed and killed”, the report said.

The document pointed to cases when police officers tortured detainees in Russia and Ukraine.

It said that in contrast to “the hope and change” brought by popular uprisings across the Arab world, “autocratic regimes in a number of the successor states to the Soviet Union strengthened their grip on power”.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko introduced “draconian restrictions” to defeat his political opponents and critics, and remained the region’s “last executioner”, putting to death two men found guilty of organising a terrorist attack in Minsk in a “flawed” and secretive trial.

Anti-government demonstrations in Azerbaijan were “effectively outlawed”, and Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan “continued to severely restrict the rights to freedom of expression and association”.

Uzbekistan also saw “dozens of reports of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners”.

In Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, there were “unfair trials and cases of harassment for government critics and those who exposed abuses by public officials”, the report added.

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