Today (22 March 2017), Olof Palme International Center and SOLIDAR organised an in camera meeting hosted by Jytte Guteland (MEP, Sweden) on the shrinking space for Civil Society and Trade Unions in Russia. Since 2016 several civil society organisations in Russia were branded as ‘foreign agents’ and as a result had to close their operations or find new ways of organising. This is the merely a milestone in the ongoing reductions of civic space over the last 10 years. Sanctions imposed on Russia of late have reduced living standards severely, while the indexation of wages has been frozen resulting in a 30% reduction of income in relation to inflation. Any efforts to stand up against the policies of the government to promote social justice and decent wages are being ‘beaten down’. Civil society and trade union leaders have been and still are prosecuted and thrown in jail. Freedom of speech, both off and online, is severely hampered, while the right to strike is becoming more and more dependent on the willingness of employers, and 70% of the economy is in the hands of the government. To conclude, the European Union has to find alternative ways of supporting social movements that seek change for Russia.
Briefing on Shrinking Space for Civil Society in Russia - Presented at the Carnegie Center on 23 February 2016, by experts from Human Rights Watch and EU-Russia Civil Society Forum
Photo © UN Photo/Milton Grant