The Associated Press reports:
Russian authorities have intensified pressure on civil society and the independent media and are turning a blind eye to the growing number of hate crimes targeting foreigners, immigrants and sexual minorities, an international rights group said in a report released Wednesday.
Amnesty International's criticism is the latest in a growing chorus from human rights groups and Western nations about Russian society under President Vladimir Putin.
In its 2007 global report, Amnesty said Russian authorities "deliberately fomented fear to erode human rights," restricting freedom of expression.
"The authoritarian drift in Russia has been devastating for journalists and human rights defenders," the report said, noting the assassination of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya and new laws clamping down on rights organizations.
Authorities have also ignored the abduction of civilians in war-wracked Chechnya, which it called a "forgotten" conflict, the London-based organization said.
The chairwoman of Russia's government-appointed human rights council said that authorities should consider the report, but disagreed with some aspects, including on rights abuses in Chechnya.
"I respect their viewpoint and unbiased work, but the situation in Chechnya has improved dramatically," said Ella Pamfilova, the council's chairwoman.
Russian civil and non-governmental groups are "left vulnerable" to new government regulations and Russia's leaders are failing to confront "racism, xenophobia and ideologies that promote hate crimes," the Amnesty report said.