Foundation Inostrannyi Agent – Human Rights Initiative for the former USSR

A country of contradictions

Russia is a country of contradictions. While encompassing one-sixth of the globe and in possession of a major part of the earth’s wealth, the country entered the twenty-first century with an ever-growing political, economic and social disbalance. Step by step all the political liberties gained during the post-Soviet period are stifled, the façade of economic wealth is based purely on the uncertain income from the sale of oil and gas and the extreme wealth of only a very small portion of the population cannot hide the extreme poverty in which a large portion of the nation is forced to live. With Vladimir Putin now serving his third term in office as President, and no end to his authoritarian rule in sight, the country is bubbling with discontent, aggression, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and destructive centrifugal tendencies. There are more and more indications that the country is gradually yet rapidly moving towards the abyss.

As the famous Nobel Prize Winner and dissident Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov said in his 1975 Nobel Prize speech, “Peace, progress, human rights – these three goals are indissolubly linked: it is impossible to achieve one of them if the others are ignored.” In Russia anno 2013, human rights are trampled upon, progress is only available to a part of the population and peace is continuously threatened by purposely-stimulated internal and external tensions.

The situation in Russia and its future is not an “internal affair”, as many Russian politicians want us to believe. Whatever happens in Russia will have a major impact on the stability of the surrounding countries, that - like Russia - are still struggling with the after-effects of a long and destructive period of totalitarian Soviet rule. It will also have a decisive impact on peace and security around the world. Concern for Russia’s future automatically implies concern for the future of the world as a whole.

We believe in a Russia free from political repression, with a strong civil society, an independent judiciary and a government that serves the needs of the population rather than focusing on its own personal mercantile interests. We believe that strengthening civil society in Russia benefits not only the Russian population, but also security and democracy in the rest of the world.

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