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Human Rights in Russia: How do we evaluate the record? Dr. Jonathan Weiler Global Studies, UNC Chapel Hill.

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Presentation on theme: "Human Rights in Russia: How do we evaluate the record? Dr. Jonathan Weiler Global Studies, UNC Chapel Hill."— Presentation transcript:

1 Human Rights in Russia: How do we evaluate the record? Dr. Jonathan Weiler Global Studies, UNC Chapel Hill

2 Russia’s Contested Democracy in the 1990s 1993 Referendum on ‘Shock Therapy’ 1993 ‘Bloody October’ 1993 Constitutional Referendum 1993, 1995 Parliamentary Elections 1996 Presidential Elections

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4 Human Rights Problems in the 1990s -Prison conditions -Violence against women -Mistreatment of “dark-skinned” migrants -Hazing in the Armed Forces -Chechnya

5 Key Human Rights Organizations Memorial Soldiers’ Mothers Glasnost Foundation Human Rights Ombudsman – Sergei Kovalov Moscow Helsinki Group Thousands of others

6 What do we mean by human rights? First Generation Rights – civil and political rights -Electoralism Second Generation Rights – economic and social rights Inter-personal violence?

7 Economic Collapse, Economy contracted by as much as forty percent - Tens of millions thrown into poverty - Mass privatization – “loans for shares” - Endemic corruption - Decline in life expectancy - Rosefielde: “three million excess deaths”

8 The Oligarchs Boris Berezovsky Mikhail Friedman Vladimir Gusinsky Mikhail Khodorkovsky Vladimir Potanin Alexander Smolensky Vladimir Vinogradov

9 Illiberal Democracy competitive elections pervasive violation of rights Breakdown of rule of law Endemic corruption Zakaria 1997: we like Liberal Democracy because we like Liberalism and “democracy is flourishing; constitutional liberalism is not.”

10 The Putin Era

11 Decline of Political Competition Parliament Controlled by United Russia Putin faces no serious challengers – wins ~80% of the vote in 2000, 2004 Essentially names his successor – Dmitri Medvedev Abolishes direct elections for governors

12 Terrorism in Russia Apartment Building Bombings, 1999 Nord-Ost Theater, 2002 Beslan School Massacre, 2004 Suicide Bombings "We'll follow terrorists everywhere….Should we catch them in a sh*t-house, we'll kill them in a sh*t-house.“ "We allowed corruption to undermine our judicial and law enforcement system. We showed ourselves to be weak. And the weak get beaten."

13 Crackdown on Media, Civil Society End of Independent Television New laws limiting independent organizations Arrests of potential opposition figures – Khodorkovsky, Nemtsov

14 Murder of Journalists Yeltsin Era – 67 murdered ( ) Putin/Medvedev era – 98 murdered ( ) Dmitry Kholodov, Anna Politkovskaya According to Committee to Protect Journalists, only Algeria and post-invasion Iraq were deadlier for journalists

15 Russia’s Economic Revival Real Income doubled Poverty cut in half Inflation stable (was 2000% in 1992)

16 According to Freedom House… There is only one region in the world where political rights and civil liberties have been in continuous decline since the wide swath of territory made up of countries of the former Soviet Union, with the exception of the Baltic states.

17 Key Question Is Illiberal Democracy better than authoritarianism if people are materially better off in the latter?


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