Russian neo-totalitarianism and its consequences for Ukraine. The briefing for journalists

31August 2022
The Centre for Civil Liberties (CLS) and the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre (UCMC)
invite journalists to a briefing to discuss threats posed to Ukraine by the authoritarian
Russian regime. This is, in fact, a new system of socio-political relations that is rapidly moving towards totalitarianism. And this nation considers the destruction of Ukrainian statehood as a principal existential task for itself.


Experts, human rights activists, and representatives of civil society organisations will present their vision of the main problems and challenges facing Ukraine as a result of the Russian Federation’s movement towards neo-totalitarianism.


Date: 31 August 2022.
Time: 3 pm Kyiv time.
Venue: Ukraine Crisis Media Centre 2 Khreshchatyk St., Kyiv, Ukraine.

Questions for discussion:

– What does the transformation of Russia into a neo-totalitarian state mean?
– What threats does such a transformation pose to its neighbours, primarily to Ukraine?
– What is happening to human rights in Russia and the occupied territories of Ukraine?
– What can the international community do to reduce the risks of Russian neo-



– Mykhailo Savva, Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor, member of the Expert Council of the Centre for Civil Liberties, moderator of the briefing
– Ilya Novikov, lawyer
– Oleksandr Pavlichenko, executive director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
– Volodymyr Ohryzko, head of the Centre for Russian Studies, Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Ukraine in 2007-2009
– Ilya Ponomarev, former member of the Russian State Duma, founder of the February Morning information channel


Accreditation for media: Anna Trushova, [email protected]

Registration via the link:
Working languages: Ukrainian and English (interpretation will be provided).
The event will be broadcast on the web resources of the Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre, the Centre for Civil Liberties and the UHHRU Facebook page. We have also made provision for feedback to the speakers and moderator of the event on the resources of the UCMC and CCL.


Background information.

The Russian political regime has changed markedly under the rule of Vladimir Putin. It started as a primitive democracy at the turn of the century, then grew increasingly authoritarian, and is now rapidly moving towards neo-totalitarianism. Member of the Expert Council of the Centre for Civil Liberties, Doctor of Political Sciences and moderator of the briefing Mykhailo
Savva studies the dynamics of the Russian political regime and predicts its behaviour.
Four years ago, Savva offered the following forecast during the International Conference “Russia in
the Research of the Centre for Russian Studies: Main Results and Prospects in 2018”: “When analysing some features making Vladimir Putіп’s regime an authoritarian one, we can ascertain a
strong drift towards neo-totalitarianism. The drift covers such features as the restrictions on human rights; extension of state control to non-political spheres – economy, culture, religion, private life;
tolerance of ideological currents loyal to the regime; the possibility of changes within this regime.
There are no insurmountable obstacles to the transformation of the regime into a neo-totalitarian one. Since this would entail significant costs for the Russian elite, this scenario is unlikely. But such
a transformation cannot be ruled out, and it can happen very fast, in a leap. It will contribute to improving the regime stability for a while, as well as increase its aggressiveness towards both the
population of the Russian Federation and the international community. The improved stability in this case will be created by the fact that the figure of the leader will no longer be of fundamental
importance, and it will be possible to transfer power without great risks to stability. The nations bordering the Russian Federation are potential targets of aggression caused by internal political
reasons, namely the need for the ruling group in the Russian Federation to preserve the Putin regime. The probability of such aggression in the format of a “peace enforcement operation”, tested in Georgia in 2008, will be especially high until 2024”.
Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine was the result of the drift towards neo-totalitarianism and at the same time accelerated this process. A system of openly repressive and politically motivated legislation is taking shape in the Russian Federation. Here one should mention the laws passed this March which prohibit the dissemination of “knowingly false information about actions of the Armed Forces and government bodies” and actions aimed at “discrediting the Armed Forces”.
As of now, 85 criminal cases have been launched in the Russian Federation under the Criminal Code article dealing with the dissemination of “knowingly false information about actions of the
Armed Forces and government bodies”. Twenty-seven defendants are in pre-trial detention. In the conditions of modern Russia, this means that these people will receive custodial sentences. Seven
sentences have been passed under this article, in one case a person has been sentenced to 7 years in prison, while the remaining six defendants have been sentenced to a fine or got suspended sentences of imprisonment. In 24 cases, criminal proceedings have been launched
against people staying outside the Russian Federation.


The UHHRU participates in the event by the generous support of the American people through USAID Ukraine in the framework of the Human Rights in Action Program implemented by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience, and advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity. USAID has partnered with Ukraine since 1992, providing more than $3 billion in assistance. USAID’s current strategic priorities include strengthening democracy and good governance, promoting economic development and energy security, improving health care systems, and mitigating the effects of the conflict in the east. For additional information about USAID in Ukraine, please call USAID’s Development Outreach and Communications Office at: +38 (044) 521-5753. You may also visit our website: or our Facebook page at

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