Testing democratic standards in Russia: the case of freedom of expression during Putin’s era. A comparative analysis of national and international laws regulating freedom of expression in Russia and their application in the context of media

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Milanese, Maria Rosa
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The master’s thesis explores the essential meaning of freedom of expression in the context of contemporary constitutional democracy and how this concept has been incorporated into Russian constitutional law. The thesis is mainly divided into three main sections. Firstly, through a brief analysis of the context in which liberalization took place after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and especially after Russia's accession to the Council of Europe (CoE), which allowed the protection of rights that were previously not granted. Greater attention will be given to the restriction of political opinions that are not in line with those of the Russian government. In addition, as a demonstration of this challenge, two phenomena will be considered with factual data and examples. Whereas the first one is purely of a political nature and deals with providing some examples of free speech oppression during 2018 Russian election campaign, the second one has a legal dimension and deals with the 2020 Constitutional Amendments and their implications for freedom of speech. A second chapter will explore the Russian legal framework in detail by examining international and national norms regulating, protecting and restricting freedom of expression. A final third chapter will address a significant issue at the core of freedom of expression and information, which unfortunately is one of the most notorious examples of its suppression in Russia, namely media and internet restrictions. This thesis’s primary purpose is to understand why despite Russia's membership in the CoE and the various international norms that protect, regulate and limit - in exceptional cases - this right, freedom of expression is not simultaneously accepted or respected. The main assumption is that the reasons why the norms on freedom of speech and freedom of the media are not fully adopted or respected by the Russian state are surely rooted in its domestic context and thus in a set of factors such as regime, legislation but also traditions and values that make this country quite different from the rest of Europe. Key words: freedom of expression, press freedom, media freedom, liberal democracy, Russia.
Second semester University: University of Tartu
freedom of expression, freedom of the press, media, democracy, Russia, freedom of speech