Home > Centre for the Study of Human Rights > Events > 2015 > Human Rights in Russia: citizens and the state from Perestroika to Putin

Human Rights in Russia: citizens and the state from Perestroika to Putin

  • 6 May 2015
  • Speaker: Dr Mary McAuley 
  • Chair: Professor Margot Light
  • #LSERussia

How does human rights activism function in Russia? Since 1991, when the Russian Federation became an independent state, hundreds of organisations have emerged, championing different causes, with varying strategies and successes. The response of the authorities has varied from being supportive or indifferent, to openly hostile. Public support has been lukewarm.

In Human Rights in Russia: Citizens and the State from Perestroika to Putin  published by IB Tauris in April 2015, Mary McAuley analyses the development of human rights activism in Russia – from the emergence of the new organisations in 1991 to the recent political attacks on the community, and its response.

While the book focuses on the new ‘human rights community’ in post-Soviet Russia, it also illuminates larger issues of politics and society in a post-communist state, and a changing global environment. Both past and present play their part – the legacy of 70 years’ of Soviet rule, and of a more distant Russian past, the size and multi-ethnic composition of this huge country, the impact of moving to a market economy, attempts to introduce democracy, the significance of western aid and expertise, as well as Russia’s place in the international sphere.

Based on archival research and practical experience working in the Russian human rights community, Mary McAuley provides a clear and comprehensive analysis of the progress made by human rights organisations in Russia – and the challenges which will confront them in the future.

Mary McAuley has been engaged with the Russian human rights community for the past 20 years as a grant maker, consultant and analyst. She is the author of several books on Russian politics, including Russia’s Politics of Uncertainty and Soviet Politics 1917–1991, and, more recently, of Children in Custody: Anglo-Russian Perspectives. She taught politics at the universities of Oxford and Essex, before becoming the head of the Ford Foundation’s office in Moscow, with particular responsibility for human rights and legal reform.

Margot Light (chair) is Emeritus Professor and Director of the Human Rights Programme in the Commonwealth of Independent States, based in the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE.  


Cover of Human Rights in Russia by Mary McAuley