RFE/RL: A group of leading rights organizations has urged the United Nations to condemn the deterioration of civil rights in Russia, which has “constructed a legal landscape that is inconsistent” with international standards. In an open letter to the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights House Foundation, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) noted that, while a recent session of the UN Human Rights Council put a spotlight on the “alarming trend” in Russia, the situation has only worsened since.
RFE/RL: A Council of Europe legal advisory body has sharply criticized recent Russian amendments to laws regulating so-called ‘’foreign agents,” saying they constitute “serious violations” of basic human rights and will have a “chilling effect” on political life. Russia’s so-called “foreign agent” legislation was adopted in 2012 and has been modified repeatedly. It requires noncommercial organizations that receive foreign assistance and that the government deems to be engaged in political activity to be registered, to identify themselves as “foreign agents,” and to submit to audits.
Human Rights Watch: Last week, VkusVill, a prominent Russian food market chain, ran an online advertisement entitled “Family Happiness Recipe” that featured, among others, a family that included several lesbian women. In Russia, where discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is written into law, the boldness of VkusVill’s gesture cannot be underestimated. The chain posted the ad with an 18+ age marker to avoid liability under Russia’s “anti-gay propaganda” law, emphasized in the opening paragraph that “not talking about our customers’ real families would be an act of hypocrisy” and described the featured families as “different but equally charming.”
The Moscow Times: A Russian court has banned the distribution of adult cartoon “Happy Tree Friends” and several other animated films within the country, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Thursday. Court-appointed experts determined that “Happy Tree Friends,” which is about three cartoon forest animals that die in graphically violent ways every episode, “contains elements of cruelty” and “is designed in a style common for American animation,” RIA Novosti reported.
The Moscow Times: Russia must prepare for major revenue losses brought by a global push toward renewable energy and subsequent fall in demand for fossil fuels, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov warned in an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday. The rising share of renewables in the global energy market and carbon pricing measures could lead to “radical changes in the global energy balance,” Siluanov said, citing Finance Ministry models.