Russia has actually imposed martial law with restrictions placed on basic constitutional rights, while the coronavirus restrictions and increased police control were used by the authorities to prepare for the «special operation.», says the international human rights group Agora in its report devoted to the first month of the war. The report was authored by attorney-at-law Pavel Chikov and head of Net Freedoms Damir Gainutdinov.
«Despite the «special military operation» that was formally declared, basic constitutional rights and freedoms such as those related to assembly, speech, movement, and private property were extremely limited in Russia in just one month,» the report says. «The coronavirus restrictions and increased police control were used by the authorities to prepare for the «special operation».»
Pavel Chikov writes on his Telegram that the authors focused on the background story, the international reaction to the conflict, anti-war protests, evidence of military censorship, the attack on the media, the blocking of social media and the rights of military servicemen.
The report also describes the beginning of the preparation campaign for the invasion of Ukraine. «The preparation campaign kicked off with a series of Russia's Security Council meetings in November 2020. Shortly thereafter, the media law was amended to allow individuals to be recognized as foreign agents.»
The same year, technical preparations began for isolating Runet. «In fact, the neutralization of the political and information space during the previous year was part of the preparation effort to prepare for the military phase. However, it was only after the invasion of Ukraine that the logic and the implications of the overwhelming pressure exerted by the government on the political opposition and the media in 2021 became clear: it served the purpose of neutralizing the groups with the highest protest potential.»
The report also describes the «key» role of Belarus in the military and tactical preparation for the special operation.