IFEX is handing out medals for Outstanding Performance in Defending Free Expression. IFEX members as well as journalists and activists have used the Olympic Games to great advantage, exposing the state of free expression in the country.
Medals for Outstanding Performance in Defending Free Expression go to the IFEX members who produced special reports and resources relating to free expression in Russia around the Olympics. Joining them on the podium are the many international and Russian journalists and activists who got outside of the Sochi bubble and covered the wider stories of human rights violations.
The world’s attention has been on Russia in the lead up to and during the Olympics. It should remain there. IFEX members and supporters will keep a close eye on developments – monitoring, reporting and finding ways to help improve the climate of free expression in Russia.
See below a summary of what some of the IFEX members have done prior to and during the Olympic Games to monitor the challenges to freedom of expression in Russia.
Fans of free expression keep watch
From censorship to protests, how can you keep up with all of the news during the Olympic Games? Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is monitoring the news each day for updates on free expression issues and events taking place in Sochi, and tracking it all in the timeline below. Check back daily for updated coverage. If you are having trouble viewing this timeline, click here.
For more background information, read this piece about free expression in Russia leading up to the Games.
Reporting from the sidelines – or the frontlines?
Will you be one of the thousands of journalists covering the 2014 Winter Olympics this February? There is a lot going on behind the podium in Sochi and reporting on human rights abuses is risky business in Russia. You might want to consult the resources below to help you prepare for the event.
• The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) wants you to be aware of the risks you face when reporting in Russia. Harassment of foreign journalists, surveillance on journalistic activities and blocking of critical content online are only a few examples. Read this list of the 10 things you need to know published by the European Federation of Journalists.
• A special report published by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows how the Russian government has been censoring reporting on the Sochi Olympic Games in the run-up to the event, resulting in reduced coverage of sensitive issues in the country. Click here to learn more, and share the report on social media with your networks.
• Consult the Reporters’ Guide For Covering the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Human Rights Watch’s guide provides an overview of the context and risks for journalists in covering the Olympics and the Paralympics in Sochi. It includes background on the Olympics, human rights abuses related to preparations for the Games, and a factual overview of several laws that may affect reporting.
• Step into the shoes of a Russian journalist. Try IFEX’s interactive experience and decide how far you would go to expose the truth. You may be surprised by the dangers faced by local journalists.
Come on, join the global discussion! #WatchSochi
— Index on Censorship (@IndexCensorship) February 9, 2014
— pencanada (@PENCanada) February 6, 2014
— RSF_Europe (@RSF_Europe) February 6, 2014
Expression against oppression
The following is a collection of compelling images of peaceful protest around the world against the increasingly hostile environment for free expression and human rights in Russia that followed President Vladimir Putin’s re-election in 2012. Many of these photographs were taken at public demonstrations opposing the Kremlin’s controversial legislation against “homosexual propaganda” that was introduced in June 2013. Others capture global moments of protest against the Sochi Olympics over alleged government corruption, human rights abuses and constraints on the media.
The images are striking and, in many cases, inspiring. View them, share them, and help IFEX raise awareness about the escalation of attacks on free expression in Russia.
Your survival guide to speaking out in Russia
Demonstrators, artists, journalists, LGBT people and human rights activists are all at risk of being intimidated, arrested or assaulted when they express themselves. The culture of impunity in Russia forces many into silence. Click here to see the infographic.
On your marks, get set…take action!
Are you an athlete, a journalist, a protester or a spectator attending the Olympic Games? In this human rights guide, Freedom House provides a list of simple actions the public can take to denounce violations of free expression in Russia, even if you are only watching the event from your home town.
Which fact do you find the most interesting on the interactive timeline? Spread the word and share it with your friends on social media using the hashtag #WatchSochi.
During the Games, PEN will be calling for the repeal of the troika of laws that restrict free expression in Russia: the gay ‘propaganda’ law, the blasphemy law and criminal defamation that pose a particular threat to writers, journalists and bloggers. Join Out in the Cold Campaign and send a tweet to the Putin administration, calling for the repeal of these laws. Click here for more details about Pen’s Out in the Cold Campaign and more background information.
Human Rights Watch
Demand accountability from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and sign HRW’s petition asking IOC President Thomas Back to call for the repeal of hate law against LGBTI people.
The Olympic Charter promotes “a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity,” but the IOC has yet to take action against the various repressive developments in Russian free speech and human rights legislation since President Vladimir Putin’s re-election in 2012. Help HRW ask the IOC to take action!
Be sure to check this page regularly for more Sochi-related news and actions from IFEX members!
7 February 2014, Russia. Interior Ministry members detain LGBT rights activists attempting to hold a protest rally in Red Square near the Kremlin in Moscow shortly before Vladimir Putin opened the Sochi Winter Olympics. Media reported that 10 protesters were detained in Moscow and four in St. Petersburg.REUTERS/Yevgeny Feldman
7 February 2014, United Kingdom. A LGBT rights protest was held in London as part of Global Speakout for Russia, which was taking place in more than 30 cities around the world.REUTERS/Paul Hackett
5 February 2014, Paraguay. LGBT rights supporters protest outside the Russian embassy in Asuncion. The placards, featuring Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola, read “Advertisers, it’s time to raise your voice.REUTERS/Jorge Adorno
2 Februrary 2014, Brazil. Demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro release balloons printed with messages directed against Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and anti-gay laws.REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
27 January 2014, Belgium. An activist shows a photo of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin depicted with devil horns, as protesters gather outside the European Commission in Brussels.AP Photo/Yves Logghe
27 January 2014, Belgium. A peaceful demonstration outside the European Commission in Brussels.AP Photo/Yves Logghe
18 January 2014, Russia. Security personnel restrain a protester during the Olympic torch relay in the city of Voronezh.AP Photo/Andrei Nasonov
12 December 2013, Germany. Protestors call on the Russian authorities to lift anti-LGBT laws outside the Russian embassy in Berlin.REUTERS/Thomas Peter
12 October 2013, Russia. LGBT rights activists kiss as they are taken away by police officers during a protest in St. Petersburg.REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk
6 October 2013, Sweden. People sing the Russian national anthem while raising rainbow flags in solidarity with the Russian LGBT community at the Stockholm Olympic Stadium.REUTERS/Erik Martensson/TT News
5 October 2013, Greece. LGBT rights activists protest on the steps of the Acropolis museum in Athens while the Olympic flame makes its way through the city.AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis
25 September 2013, Russia. Police arrest an LGBT rights activist during a protest outside the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games Organising Committee office in Moscow.AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev
23 August 2013, Spain. Demonstrators call for the Winter 2014 Olympic Games to be taken away from Sochi during a protest in front of the Russian embassy in Madrid.AP Photo/Paul White
10 August 2013, United Kingdom. During a protest in London, activists stage a performance where LGBT people are apprehended by actors wearing masks of Russian President Vladimir Putin.AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
4 August 2013, Canada. Vancouver Gay Pride Parade participants hold signs protesting Vladimir Putin’s stance on LGBT rights in Russia.Flickr/[Rikki]/Julius Reque/http://bit.ly/1a7345Y
3 August 2013, United Kingdom. Participants in Brighton, England’s Gay Pride Parade hold signs calling for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics.Flickr/Bear Clause/http://bit.ly/19uLBUr
2 August 2013, Russia. Kirill Kalugin, an LGBT rights activist, poses for press during a one-man protest in St. Petersburg with a banner that reads, “This is propagating tolerance.” Kalugin was later apprehended by a group of Russian paratroopers.REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk
31 July 2013, United States. LGBT rights activist Ken Kidd demonstrates in front of the Russian consulate in New York.AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
29 June 2013, Russia. A protestor flashes the peace sign during a gay pride event in St. Petersburg that ended when dozens of LGBT rights activists and supporters were attacked. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk
29 June 2013, Russia. Riot police detain Russian LGBT rights activists Maxim Lysak and Jury Gavrikov during a rally in St. Petersburg.AP Photo/Dimitry Lovetsky
1 May 2013, Russia. LGBT rights activists take part in a rally in St. Petersburg.AP Photo/Dimitry Lovetsky
1 May 2013, Russia. Activists in St. Petersburg march in support of LGBT rights.REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk
6 April 2013, Russia. During a rally in Moscow, a demonstrator holds an anti-corruption poster showing Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev overlayed with the Olympic rings in barbed wire.AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev
1 March 2013, France. Activists with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) stand outside of the Russian embassy in Paris in front of banners featuring blood-covered brass knuckles in the design of the Olympic rings.AP Photo/Michel Euler