August 2023 | Record number of treason cases filed
Russia is set to open more treason cases in 2023 than over the past twenty years combined, the independent Russian media outlet Kholod reported on 7 August. Kholod’s calculations were based on media reports, which it says necessarily undercounts ongoing cases as not all are made public, and reports of historical cases compiled by the legal advocacy group Team 29 (which was closed under state pressure in 2021). The overwhelming majority of the 82 current cases are against individuals accused of conspiring to support Ukraine, with the rest suspected of working for China, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Each case carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Civil society organizations argue that suspects charged with espionage are at high risk of torture in custody.
July 2023 | Russia clamps down on trans rights
Russia outlawed both legal and surgical sex changes and gender-affirming care on 25 July. Transgender Russians will now also be banned from adopting children and marriages where at least one partner is transgender will be annulled. The law was sharply criticized by human rights advocates, and many trans Russians say they have no choice but to flee the country.
April 2023 | New laws expand toolbox of repression
Several bills signed into law on 28 April raised the maximum sentence for treason to life in prison, and allowed for depriving naturalized citizens of their citizenship for “discrediting” the armed forces. A decree signed by President Vladimir Putin on 27 April legalized the deportation of residents of illegally occupied Ukrainian territory who decline to take up Russian citizenship. The laws and decree are interpreted as providing the Russian state with more tools to punish and discourage dissent.
March 2023 | Forced deportation of children a war crime, UN says
A report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine published on 15 March found that the hundreds of illegal transfers of children from occupied Ukraine to Russia constituted a war crime. The report also included evidence of other war crimes, including torture, rape, attacks on healthcare facilities, and summary executions. The International Criminal Court had previously issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Children’s Rights Ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova on 24 February for the removal of children from Ukraine.