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A U.N. human rights expert said at least 295 people in Russia were charged and convicted last year for spreading fake news or undermining the prestige of the armed forces.

In Russia, all statements against the war or in support of peace with Ukraine are prohibited, says a report by Bulgarian Mariana Katsarova, who is the UN Special Rapporteur on the state of human rights in Russia since 2022. It presented its conclusions in Geneva today.

Katsarova pointed out, among other cases, Kremlin critic Ilya Yashin, who was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in December 2022 for undermining the prestige of the Russian armed forces. "The human rights situation in the Russian Federation has significantly deteriorated since the start of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022," Katsarova said. She said the situation had steadily deteriorated over the past two decades, partly due to the legacy of the two wars in Chechnya that ended in 2009.

Katsarova said she had not been allowed to enter Russia and Russian authorities had not cooperated. However, it has established contacts with 60 Russian and international human rights organizations and has received nearly 100 reports from victims and human rights defenders.

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Her report, presented today, states that human rights in Russia have been restricted for years. Among other things, she mentions laws restricting freedom of expression and assembly, as well as laws targeting LGBTQ+ people.

Katsarova said 2000 journalists have been killed in the country since 43, including those who worked in the North Caucasus, citing information from the New York-based Commission to Protect Journalists.

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"The Russian Federation has long been one of the last places in the world in the murder of journalists and is nine places from the bottom of the 2021 ranking of the World Impunity Index," Katsarova's report said.

Since last year, at least 38 charges have been filed against journalists in Russia, she added. The charges relate to controversial laws that restrict freedom of the press. She added that Russia also uses various tactics to control creative expression and to deter the expression of political dissent by cultural figures.


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