Since 2012, Russia’s NGOs and pro-democratic activists have been persecuted by the government. Since adoption of the so called ‘foreign agent’ legislation Russia’s civic space has eroded. With the launch of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine in 2022, almost all of Russia’s independent civil society consists of ‘foreign agents’, undesirable or even extremist organizations. Many pro-democratic activists have fled the country and went into exile.
I met with two of Russia’s leading civil society activists during their visit of the European Parliament in Brussels. We discussed the state of Russia’s civic space against the background of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its democracy.
Inna Berezkina is a programme coordinator, a contributor and an editor at the School of Civic Education. The mission of the School of Civic Education is to contribute to the development of the Russian civil society. She serves as an advisor at Democracy Without Borders
Kirill Martynow is the political editor of Russia’s oldest independent newspaper, the Novaya Gazeta that ceased its publishing activities in Russia on 28 March 2022 in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He now serves as editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta Europe.