Russian authorities have developed a "sophisticated system of restrictions and severe reprisals to crush public protests", according to the human rights group Amnesty International.
Its latest report has found things have worsened since President Vladimir Putin’s return to power in 2012, and the media is not the only target. Citizens and organisations are also repressed.
Natalia Prilutskaya, a researcher at Amnesty International Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said the situation has continued to deteriorate since the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny in 2020.
"Navalny was seen by the Kremlin as a dangerous individual for them," she said.
"[He] could potentially lead discontent, and potentially lead a protest that would challenge the government’s policies and practices, and the laws, hence the interest in him being isolated, essentially," she explained.
Since Russia's war in Ukraine, controlling information has been essential for its regime. Amnesty International said the exclusion of independent media and human rights observers meant the government could almost fully control the narrative.
Over the past several years, authorities have set up a legislative system that restricts freedom of expression in Russia. The NGO added, that these days police are increasingly making more demands.
"If the international community stays silent, it reinforces the repression," Ms Prilutskaya said. "It makes it possible to crystalise that sort of ‘consensus’ in the society on which Putin and his government are always boasting so much."
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