Olga Khvostunova

PhD student at Stony Brook University’s Political Science Department

Mar 28, 2024
The Transition Project: Restoration of Basic Freedoms

Article 29 of Russian Constitution says: “Everyone is guaranteed freedom of thought and speech.” Article 31 states: “Russian citizens have the right to assemble peacefully without weapons.” We see what happens for the realization of these rights in today’s Russia. It should not be like this, and it will not be like this.

Under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, Russia has emerged as one of the world’s foremost violators of human rights. Russia’s war in Ukraine has introduced a fresh wave of human rights abuses, such as mass repression of dissenters, violations of citizens’ rights during military conscription, enrollment of convicts in private military companies, extrajudicial executions, and detention in illegal prisons of those who refuse to participate in the war.

Political rights and civil liberties were bestowed upon society “from above.” However, paradoxically, the more these rights are violated, the greater their value becomes. For instance, over the past five years, the number of supporters of fair trial and freedom of speech has doubled. Russian civil society harbors significant potential for activism, particularly in addressing social issues.

What can be done to restore rights and freedoms? We continue to publish chapters of The Transition Project, a step-by-step expert guide to democratic transformation in Russia after the change of power, commissioned by Free Russia Foundation. The preceding chapters are available here and here.

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