The Russian Federation has a highly centralized, authoritarian political system dominated by President Vladimir Putin. The bicameral Federal Assembly consists of a directly elected lower house (State Duma) and an appointed upper house (Federation Council), both of which lack independence from the executive. The 2018 presidential election and the September 2021 parliamentary elections were marked by accusations of government interference and manipulation of the electoral process, including the exclusion of meaningful opposition candidates.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, Federal Security Service, Investigative Committee, Office of the Prosecutor General, and National Guard are responsible for law enforcement. The Federal Security Service is responsible for state security, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism, as well as for fighting organized crime and corruption. The national police force, under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, is responsible for combating all crime. The National Guard assists the Federal Security Service’s Border Guard Service in securing borders, administers gun control, combats terrorism and organized crime, protects public order, and guards important state facilities. The National Guard also participates in armed defense of the country’s territory in coordination with Ministry of Defense forces. Except in rare cases, security forces generally report to civilian authorities. National-level civilian authorities maintained, at best, limited control over security forces in the Republic of Chechnya, which are accountable only to the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. There were reports that members of Russia’s security forces committed numerous human rights abuses.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and Russia’s armed forces committed numerous war crimes and other atrocities and abuses. There were credible reports of summary execution, torture, rape, indiscriminate attacks, and attacks deliberately targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure by Russia’s forces in Ukraine, all of which constitute war crimes. The Russian government engaged in the forced deportation of civilians from Ukraine to Russia, often following a harsh and abusive “filtration” process, and there were numerous reports of forced deportations and adoptions of children from Ukraine. Russia’s occupation and purported annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula continued to affect significantly and negatively the human rights situation there. Authorities also conducted politically motivated arrests, detentions, and trials of Ukrainian citizens in Russia, many of whom claimed to have been tortured (see also Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Ukraine).
Outside of human rights abuses committed by Russia in relation to its invasion of Ukraine, significant human rights issues included credible reports of: extrajudicial killings, including of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons in Chechnya by local government authorities; enforced disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities; pervasive torture by government law enforcement officers that sometimes resulted in death and occasionally involved sexual violence or punitive psychiatric incarceration; harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons; arbitrary arrest and detention; political and religious prisoners and detainees; transnational repression against individuals located outside the country; severe arbitrary interference with privacy; providing support to an armed group that recruited or used child soldiers; severe suppression of free expression and media, including violence against journalists and the use of “anti-extremism” and other laws to prosecute peaceful dissent and members of religious minority groups; severe restrictions on internet freedom; severe suppression of the freedom of peaceful assembly and the freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws on “foreign agents” and “undesirable foreign organizations”; severe restrictions of religious freedom; refoulement of refugees; inability of citizens to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; severe limits on participation in the political process, including restrictions on opposition candidates’ ability to seek public office and conduct political campaigns, and on the ability of civil society to monitor election processes; widespread corruption at all levels and in all branches of government; serious government restrictions on, including closure and harassment of, domestic and international human rights organizations; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence and violence against women; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting members of ethnic and religious minority groups; trafficking in persons; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting persons with disabilities; and the worst forms of child labor.
The government failed to take adequate steps to identify, investigate, prosecute, or punish most officials who committed abuses and engaged in corruption, resulting in a climate of impunity.
For Further Reference
Full U.S. Department of State Human Rights Country Report
U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Country Report
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Annual Report Chapter on Russia
U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative
Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
Human Rights Watch World Report Country Chapter
Amnesty International Annual Report Country Chapter
Freedom House Freedom in the World Country Report