A decree signed today by President Vladimir Putin making deaths of Russian forces “in peacetime” a state secret is yet another attack on freedom of expression in the country, Amnesty International said.
The new decree, which bans all information about losses of Russian troops “during special operations” in peacetime, comes amid longstanding accusations that President Putin has sent military assistance to separatists in eastern Ukraine.
“Not only is this decree a blatant attack on freedom of expression, it also has sinister undertones that will intensify speculation President Putin has something to hide – specifically losses incurred by Russia’s military in Ukraine,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.
The Kremlin has consistently denied sending troops and weapons to help separatist forces across the border.
“The move also increases fears for the safety of Russian media workers and civil society activists who have already faced harassment for trying to independently cover the conflict in Ukraine.”