Human rights defender
Zara is a human rights defender from the Russian Federation and an ethnic Ingush (an ethnic, religious and linguistic minority from the North Caucasus). She works at a human rights organisation and assists her organisation with investigations into the serious human rights violations that take place in the North Caucasus. Moreover, she has a particular interest in the rights of women and girls (from ethnic minorities) and is working on establishing a platform on this topic.
Human rights situation in the Russian Federation
The human rights situation in the Russian Federation has been steadily deteriorating. Especially human rights defenders that defend the rights of ethnic and religious minorities face a harsh and difficult environment in the country. Moreover, in 2012 Russia introduced a Foreign Agent Law, which requires non-governmental organisations engaging in vaguely defined ‘political activity’ to register themselves as foreign agents if they receive money from abroad. Since its introduction, this law has been arbitrarily used to target human rights organisations and members of the Russian opposition.  At the end of 2020, the Russian Foreign Agent Law was even further strengthened. 
Threats and challenges
Zarina has been intimidated by the police in the past and faces additional pressure for being an ethnic Ingush (women) activist.
 Amnesty International, Russia: A year on, Putin’s ‘foreign agents law’ choking freedom (2013)
 Amnesty International, Russia: New ‘foreign agents’ bill further erodes freedom of expression and association (2020)
 Human Rights Watch, World Report 2021: Russia (2021) and Amnesty International, Russia: New ‘foreign agents’ bill further erodes freedom of expression and association (2020)