Organisations denounce blatant problems of racism in Russia, and its controlled territories

Press release
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Paris – Moscow – Kyev – Geneva. A new form of discrimination, namely the persecution of ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, is taking place in Russia and in the territories de-facto controlled by the Russian government, denounce ADC Memorial, CrimeaSOS and SOVA Center, together with FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) in a report published today. These blatant problems of racism are primarily caused by the military intervention and annexation of Crimea in 2014, declared our organisations to the attention of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

“Representatives of these ethnic groups face serious human rights violations - forced disappearances, torture, illegal detention based on their ethnicity, as well as limitation for speaking and studying their native languages, practicing of religion and culture”

Evhenia Andreyuk, Ukrainian Human Rights defender, vice-coordinator of CrimeaSOS


Practicing Muslims in general suffer from persecution related to unsubstantiated allegations of their connection to religious extremism and radicalism or even terrorist groups. Thus, in addition to Crimean Tatars, persecution affects residents of the North Caucasus and many millions of migrant workers from Central Asian countries. Regular repression against religious organizations and groups paired with ethnic profiling by the police result in multi-layered discrimination.

“Many Caucasians who are Russian citizens suffer from “Caucasus-phobia”: they cannot rent housing, get a decent job, their access to education or social services is hampered. The situation is even harder for non-citizens, who are seen as “foreigners” on the basis of religion, country of origin, and citizenship”

Alexander Verkhovsky, head of the SOVA Center

Although the statistics show the decline in hate murders over the recent years, in comparison with 2002-2012 when their number had reached its peak, human rights defenders warn against the consequences of state-sponsored spreading of fear of migrants and Caucasians used in Russian political rhetoric.

“Propaganda has created an “image of the enemy”, state television stations are regularly intimidating the audience with stories about “the hand of the West” and the conspiracy of neighboring countries against Russia”

Marceau Sivieude, Director of Operations at FIDH

Moreover, the official data portrays an incomplete picture of the scale of hate crimes in Russia since investigators often do not qualify hate crimes as such, but rather as “murder” or “damage to health”.

It is important to emphasize that the measures designed to fight extremism are often inadequate or even violating the right to freedom of expression.

Organisations defending minorities and indigenous people from discrimination were declared "foreign agents" while the representative body of Crimean Tatars was declared an "extremist organization" and thus banned.

In their alternative report prepared for the 93nd UN CERD session scheduled for early August to examine the official report provided to the Committee by the Russian authorities, defenders brought forward the issue of xenophobia against Roma, including discrimination by law enforcement agencies.

"Ethnic discrimination manifests itself in such practices as segregation of Roma children in schools, evictions of Roma settlements in contradiction of international law, anti-Roma campaigns in local media and brutal police behavior”

Stefania Kulaeva, head of ADC Memorial

Finally, the report recommendations call upon the Russian government to end state discrimination against a number of ethnic groups, to amend contradictory anti-extremist legislation violating the freedom of speech, adopt measures in order to render anti-extremist law enforcement practices compliant with the international law and to cease oppression of the civil society.

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