Russia's new president is trying to show the world a more liberal face, but the body count of murdered human rights activists keeps rising. Being a political critic in Russia is getting more dangerous by the day, and now one prominent human rights organization in Chechnya has decided to close its office.
Yet another Russian human rights activist has been silenced in yet another brutal attack. This week unknown gunmen shot anti-corruption activist Albert Pchelintsev in the mouth with rubber bullets, in front of his apartment in the Moscow suburb of Khimki. The 38 year old was seriously wounded in the lower face and jaw but survived the attack.
In May, Amnesty International released a study, "Rule without Law: Human Rights Violations in the Northern Caucasus," which said that freedom of the press and freedom of opinion were restricted in the region. Minorities, such as the gay and lesbian community, were oppressed and ethnic minorities were being harassed by right-wing extremists. And rather than being independent, the justice system -- which was perilous and untrustworthy anyway -- was simply an adjunct of state power. Arbitrary killings, torture and "disappearances" were everday occurrences.