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Human Rights Leader Denied Visa to Russia

kennethroth022008.jpgKenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, has been denied for the first time ever a visa to enter the Russian Federation, according to Kommersant. Roth was preparing to travel to Moscow to present a new 72-page report on Russia entitled “Choking on Bureaucracy: State Curbs on Independent Civil Society Activism.” (we’ll pull some cuts from that paper in a different post). But there is a longer history of course. HRW has been tuning up its criticism of the Kremlin’s abuses with the approach of the elections, and in recent comments the organization has been less hesitant to describe Russia as an authoritarian state. First, they joined the chorus of outrage over the treatment of dying Yukos prisoner Vasily Alexanyan, then there was the annual report which criticized countries which accept Russia’s imitation of democracy, and then HRW intervened to review evidence of claims of torture by 59 defendants on trial for an armed uprising Kabardino-Balkaria, North Caucasus (and even published gruesome photos of the beaten prisoners). There is no small irony in the fact that Roth was prevented by the bureaucracy from entering Russia to present a report on how bureaucracy inhibits civil society work. Way to prove him right, boys.