A Right, Not a Crime: Violations of the Right to Freedom of Assembly in Russia


The respect for the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association has long been tenuous in Russia. Following President Putin’s inauguration for a third term in May 2012, however, these have come under a sustained assault. Legislative changes have tightened the screws on already restrictive regulations. New and old laws are being more restrictively applied, while the penalties for their transgression and the range of those falling within their scope have increased significantly.

This 2014 Amnesty International report focuses on restrictions in freedom of assembly in Russia, including requirement of prior approval, denial to spontaneous public assemblies, obstruction of single-person pickets, discriminatory application of these restrictions, arrests and ill-treatment of protesters and failure to redress. It argues that the anti-Putin protest on Bolotnaya Square on 6 May 2012 marked a significant turning point. The arrests in the wake of the protest were a pre-cursor to new restrictions on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, while the prosecutions and convictions of peaceful protesters that followed have signaled the Russian authorities’ determination to discourage and stamp out protest.