The international rights group says in its World Report 2017 that the past 12 months have seen many authoritarian rulers further roll back the rule of law by tightening bans on protests and increasing controls over free speech. At the same time, HRW says, 2016 saw the rise of populist leaders in the West who "treat rights as an impediment to their conception of the majority will." In an introduction to the report, HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth cites "dangerous rhetoric" by US President-elect Donald Trump during his successful campaign that Roth says "breached basic principles of dignity and equality." "The rise of Western populists seems to have emboldened several leaders to intensify their flouting of human rights," Roth writes. He says that the Kremlin, for example, "has eagerly defended President Vladimir Putin's rule as no worse than the West's increasingly troubled human rights record." Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the rights group says both sides in the conflict in the east of the country disregard human rights as sporadic fighting continues there despite the 2015 Minsk agreement to create a lasting cease-fire and take steps toward a political settlement. "It's worrying that the Ukrainian government authorities and the Russian-backed separatists in east Ukraine are both kind of doing the same thing in detaining civilians for collaborating with the other side and they hold them in this prolonged arbitrary detention, they deprive them of contact with lawyers, family, there is evidence of torture when people are held in this arbitrary detention as well, and that's both sides," Stroehlein says.