Rights in Russia

2011 marked the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the birth of the new Russia. In May of that year, international portrait photographer Platon traveled there to document a lasting and essential element of the country's post-communist history: the flourishing of civil society. With origins in the dissident movement and then the glasnost era, Russia’s civil society consists of a vast array of human rights organizations, independent journalists, social activists, lawyers, and artists. While extremely diverse, these actors are undeniably united by their determination to protect the gains of openness.

Despite this commitment, many still do their work at considerable peril. Investigative journalism and human rights work, in particular, continually prove to be deadly professions. Often, the government tries to discredit, marginalize, intimidate and sometimes silence the most critical voices.

This portfolio captures these colleagues and “children of Sakharov”- the famous nuclear scientist and informal leader of the Soviet dissent movement. At this 20-year mark, it celebrates this amazing gathering of individuals and their achievement- the creation of a civil society that is transforming Russia.