Russia is quickly becoming a closed society, with virtually no independent media, rule of law. In addition there are many restrictions on free speech, assembly, attacks on political opposition and minorities.
In order to confront these challenges, The Free Russia Foundation undertakes advocacy campaigns on behalf of those victimized by the Russian repressive machine. We do so by hosting events on the urgency and depth of the problem. We also create strategies for overcoming the injustice. We do so by conducting training seminars for those who can directly combat prejudice and bigotry. We also ensure political and civil society leaders abroad understand the danger of deteriorating human rights in Russia. We keep leaders informed through regular briefings, meetings with Russian civil leaders, analytical reports and media publications.
The democratic opposition as a political force is barely managing to survive in Russia today. There are a few political movements and individual activists who are resisting the pressure, but they have limited options for long-term strategic thinking. Elections in Russia are not free and fair, and political opponents of the regime have little to no access to official media. Democratic activists have no financial resources, and are under a consistent defamatory attack by the Kremlin. Those supporting defying the regime are often ailed or forced to flee Russia too. To provide assistance, The Free Russia Foundation establishes a lifeline to the political opposition by acting as a support network and resource center. We have kept many of the top opposition leaders up to date on the latest technologies, best campaign practices and provided access to policy makers in the U.S. and Europe. As new leaders and activists emerge, The Free Russia Foundation will offer campaign internships and specialized training. This will create a more viable opportunity to make a difference in local and federal elections or advocacy campaigns.
Rule of Law Project
One of the most repulsive tools in the arsenal of the Russian authorities is the use of the judicial system to crackdown and jail anyone who speaks or acts against Russian policy. Judges routinely pass out unfair sentences on those committed to democratic principles and harass civil society organizations by burning up their time and resources to fight scurrilous charges. This has reached a breaking point with the incarceration of political prisoners such as Ukrainian pilots, parliament member Nadiya Savchenko and several others. The Free Russia Foundation is actively campaigning for their release by generating international media attention and briefing federal agencies, lawmakers and the NGO community. The Free Russia Foundation has successfully partnered with the Ukrainian government and Ukraine’s diaspora to combine efforts and raise the #FreeSavchenko campaign to new levels. We believe a victory for the Putin forces in Ukraine is a defeat for both democratic Russia and Ukraine. In addition it increases the chances of a menacing global threat to other regional nations. The issue of Ukrainian political prisoners and abuses taking place during the military intervention of Ukraine by Russian forces is at the center of The Free Russia Foundation’s efforts. We will continue to devote our resources to combating similar cases of injustice and international criminal acts in Russia and elsewhere.
Minority Rights Project
The decreasing political freedom has also produced the destruction of human rights for any minority living in Russia. The regime has demonized the LGBT Community, promoted prejudices against people with disabilities and silenced ethnic minorities. The harassment of these groups has caused many to leave Russia or face harsh treatment and even physical violence. The regime especially uses the LGBT Community to spread propaganda that the West’s tolerance of LGBT rights is a threat to Russia’s “traditional values” and a bulwark against “so-called tolerance – genderless and infertile.” The Free Russia Foundation believes there can be no freedom in Russia without equal treatment for all Russians. We will work to restore the values that define a tolerant society. The country has been saturated with propaganda against all minorities, so a serious counter-campaign needs to take place or Russia will lose a generation to ignorance and bigotry.