Category Archives: Press Releases

Honoring Journalists Murdered in Russia: Estemirova And Klebnikov

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

This week, we remember Russian human rights defender and Novaya Gazeta journalist Natalya Estemirova and Forbes journalist and editor, Paul Klebnikov, an American citizen.

Ms. Estemirova, renowned for her writing and activism on human rights abuses in Chechnya, was kidnapped and killed on July 15, 2009. Mr. Klebnikov was murdered on July 9, 2004, likely in retaliation for reporting on official corruption and graft. Neither the killers nor those who ordered these crimes have been brought to justice, and the United States remains troubled by the ongoing pattern of intimidation and violence against those who express dissent across Russia, including independent journalists, members of the political opposition, and civil society.

We honor the memories of Ms. Estemirova and Mr. Klebnikov by calling for an end to the impunity for human rights abuses in Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia and by reiterating U.S. support for brave journalists and human rights defenders in Russia and around the world.

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Eroding Press Freedom In Russia

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The Russian government continues to stifle press freedom and media independence. We condemn the selective targeting of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VOA) under Russia’s law on “foreign agent” media outlets. RFE/RL and VOA remain the only media outlets designated under this law, which exacerbates long-standing restrictions on their distribution in Russia. Moreover, on July 3 the State Duma took another step toward approving legislation that would extend the “foreign agent” designation from media outlets to individual persons taking part in the creation of materials for media outlets. This bill could provide the Russian government a new tool to target independent journalists and bloggers in retaliation for their work.

The United States again calls on the Russian government to uphold its commitments under the Helsinki Final Act and its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights to respect the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, in Russia.

Ukraine’s New Law On National Security

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The United States welcomes Ukraine’s new Law on National Security, adopted by the Rada June 21 and signed by President Poroshenko July 5. The law is consistent with Western principles and provides a framework for increasing the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ NATO interoperability. Full implementation of the law, including the establishment of a Rada oversight committee for the security sector and a new law on the Security Service of Ukraine, will further deepen Ukraine’s Western integration. The United States stands ready to continue supporting Ukraine’s defense and security sector reforms to bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity.

Russia: Travel Advisory Remains Level 3 Reconsider Travel

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The Department of State renewed its Travel Advisory for Russia on June 15, 2018. The Department continues to advise travelers to reconsider travel to Russia. This replaces the previous Travel Advisory was issued on January 10, 2018.

The full text of the new Travel Advisory is as follows:

Russia – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel to Russia due to terrorism and harassment. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to:

  • The north Caucasus, including Chechnya and Mount Elbrus, due to civil unrest and terrorism.
  • Crimea due to foreign occupation and abuses by occupying authorities.

Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Russia. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Bomb threats against public venues are common.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup games will be held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Sochi, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, and Saransk, Russia, from June 14 to July 15, 2018. Large-scale international events such as the World Cup present an attractive target for terrorists. Although security for the World Cup will be extensive, terrorists may seek to attack event locations such as stadiums and Fan Fest viewing areas, tourist sites, transportation hubs, and other public venues. Travelers should expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around the World Cup venues. Full information about the World Cup games for U.S. citizen visitors is available on our Travel.state.gov website.

U.S. citizens are often victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion by law-enforcement and other officials. U.S. consular assistance to detained individuals is often unreasonably delayed by Russian officials. Russia also enforces special restrictions on dual U.S.-Russian nationals. Due to the Russian government-imposed reduction on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, the U.S. government has reduced ability to provide services to U.S. citizens.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Russia:

  • Travelers should expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around the World Cup venues and Fan Fest viewing areas.
  • Avoid demonstrations.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on news information.
  • Stay alert in locations frequented by Westerners.
  • Have travel documents up to date and easily accessible.
  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Reports for Russia.
  • S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations and a plan to contact family to let them know you are safe. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

North Caucasus (including Chechnya and Mount Elbrus)

Civil unrest and terrorist attacks continue throughout the North Caucasus region including in Chechnya, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Stavropol, Karachayevo-Cherkessiya, and Kabardino-Balkariya. Local gangs have kidnapped U.S. citizens and other foreigners for ransom. There have been credible reports of arrest, torture, and extrajudicial killing of gay men in Chechnya allegedly conducted by Chechen regional authorities.

Do not attempt to climb Mount Elbrus, as travelers must pass close to volatile and insecure areas of the North Caucasus region.

The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens traveling in the North Caucasus region, including Mount Elbrus, as U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to the region.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Crimea

There is extensive Russian Federation military presence in Crimea. The Russian Federation is likely to take further military actions in Crimea as part of its occupation of this part of Ukraine. The international community, including the United States and Ukraine, does not recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea. There are continuing abuses against foreigners and the local population by the occupation authorities in Crimea, particularly against those who are seen as challenging their authority on the peninsula.

The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens traveling in Crimea as U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to Crimea.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

On The Occasion Of Russia Day In The Russian Federation

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

On behalf of The President of the United States and the American people, I congratulate the Russian Federation and the people of Russia on the occasion of “Russia Day.” On this day, we honor the citizens of the Russian Federation and their aspirations for the democratic principles of universal freedom, civil liberties, and the rule of law.

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