Putin has imposed 50 new laws to 'strangle democracy and destroy dissent' in five years, NGO warns as he is set to be reelected

The scale of Vladimir Putin's 'authoritarian' rule is today laid bare by research which shows he has imposed 50 laws to 'strangle democracy and crush dissent' in Russia.

Human Rights campaigners have drawn up a dossier, revealed today by Mail Online, which shows how the Kremlin has used the strong arm of the law to stamp out opposition.

They warn next week's presidential election in Russia will be a sham as most genuine political opponents have been either thrown in jail or maneuvered out of the race.

And they say Putin - who started his career as a KGB agent before rising to the top of the Kremlin -  will continue his crack down on freedom when he is voted in again.

Sacha Koulaeva, head of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), said Russia is cracking  down on freedom at home and waging oppressive wars abroad in Syria and Ukraine.

She said: 'The onslaught of anti-democracy laws after represents a mechanism of total control, whether in the spheres of law, human rights, history, education or non-discrimination, let alone Russia's ongoing aggression beyond its borders.'

She also warned that next week's vote in Russia will be a 'Potemkin election' - meaning it has been staged to deceive the population. 

She said: 'While the Russian people will go through a Potemkin election this month, it's painfully clear that democracy is being strangled by Putin.' 

The stark warning comes as Russia-Britain relations have sunk to new post Cold war depths after the poison spy plot.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are both battling for their lives in hospital after being attacked with a deadly nerve agent.

Colonel Skripal was arrested by the Russian authorities for passing military secrets to MI6 but came to Britain in 2010 in a Cold War style spy swap.

The finger of suspicion for the poison attack has been pointed at Moscow - and Theresa May has vowed to do 'what is right' response to whoever is behind the 'appalling and reckless' attack.

The dossier, compiled by FIDH, details how charities and NGOs have been reclassified as 'foreign agents' in a move critics said severely restricted their freedom to operate in the country.

Gay and bisexual Russians faces a fresh wave of discrimination and harassment after a law banning 'propaganda for homosexuality' was passed.

Campaigners said this criminalised people for handing out literature and protesting for gay rights and slapped those found guilty with fines of up to one million roubles - the equivalent of £780,000.

Laws expanding the authority of the FSB  - the Russian security service and successor to the Communist KGB - to give them fresh powers to spy on internet sites and bloggers were also passed.

It also handed the FSB new powers to use weapons to suppress Russians committing any crime - no matter how minor.

Laws banning participation in an unsanctioned rally or protest, further restricting access to 'state secrets', and banning certain US citizens from travelling to Russia w ere also passed.

A law banning people from wearing symbols belonging to certain Ukrainian political parties and groups in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea and war in Eastern Ukraine.

Theresa May yesterday branded the attempt to kill a Russian double agent with a nerve agent an 'appalling and reckless crime'.

The Prime Minister said she would do 'what is right' if it was proven the Kremlin was responsible for the attempt on Col Skripal's life.

She hinted that she would expel the Russian ambassador to the UK from his positing if the case against the Kremlin was proven.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was an 'outrageous crime' and using a nerve agent on British soil was a 'brazen and reckless act' that was 'attempted murder in the most cruel and reckless way'. 

A law banning people from wearing symbols belonging to certain Ukrainian political parties and groups in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea and war in Eastern Ukraine.

Theresa May yesterday branded the attempt to kill a Russian double agent with a nerve agent an 'appalling and reckless crime'.

The Prime Minister said she would do 'what is right' if it was proven the Kremlin was responsible for the attempt on Col Skripal's life.

She hinted that she would expel the Russian ambassador to the UK from his positing if the case against the Kremlin was proven.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was an 'outrageous crime' and using a nerve agent on British soil was a 'brazen and reckless act' that was 'attempted murder in the most cruel and reckless way'. 

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