The topic of the UN Forum on Minority Issues that took place in Geneva on 24025 November, 2015, was the protection of minorities in criminal justice system. In the joint statement ADC Memorial and Center for Civil Liberties noted numerous violations of the rights of monorities by Russian authorities in this regard, mentioning criminal cased fabricated against Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians, indigenous people, as well as discrimination of minorities in criminal justice procedures and in places of detention.
Joint statement of ADC Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties on violations of the rights of minorities by the Russian authorities
ADC Memorial Brussels and the Center for Civil Liberties (Kyiv) consider necessary to attract attention of the UN Forum on Minority Issues to systematic violations of the rights of representatives of ethnic and religious minorities by the Russian Federation, meaning ethnic profiling during police operations, opening criminal cases based on artificial allegations, pressure upon detainees and people under investigation, discrimination in the places of detention.
Although some discriminated groups don’t identify themselves as belonging to the Russian Federation (Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians from the Crimea) they are persecuted by the Russian authorities, which make possible to consider violations of their rights together with the other cases related to the violations of the rights of minorities in Russia.
The most concerning are numerous cases of persecution of the Crimean Tatars, in particular some serious criminal cases opened in the Crimea against Crimean Tatars activists. This is either so called “the case of 26 of February 2014” that includes accusations of a number of the demonstration’s participants protesting against annexation of the Crimea to the Russian Federation; or “the case of the 3rd of May 2014” when participants of a peaceful meeting of Crimean Tatars were subjected to questioning, searches and criminal persecution (5 people were arrested); or persecution of the leaders of independent body of self-government of Crimean Tatars, including the Head of Medzhlis Rifat Chubarov and the Deputy of Ukrainian Parliament Mustafa Dzhemilev who is not allowed to entry the Crimea. The son of Mustafa Dzhemilev released by the Ukrainian Court, later was illegally sentenced to 3,5 years of detention by the Russian Court, while there is a ruling of the European Court on his release.
A criminal case was opened against employees worked for ATR TV channel that broadcasted on Crimean Tatars language; the investigators gravely violates the rights of journalists. Thus, a lawyer was not allowed to present during the search of the apartment of Lilia Budzhurova; the court considering an appeal of the lawyer declared the actions of the law enforcement agents as legal.
Citizens of Ukraine in Russia often appeared to be accused in the framework of politically motivated criminal cases. The Crimean activist Alexander Kostenko was kidnapped from Ukraine, tortured in Russia and sentenced to more than 3 year detention by the fabricated case; Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko who were by force declared as Russian citizens, as well as witnesses of this case Gennady Afanasyev and Alexey Chirniy were sentenced in Russia by Military Court to longer detention (20, 10, 7 years); the evidences of Afanasyev and Chirniy that became the ground of accusations were given under tortures. The witness Afanasyev later denied them; now he is being repressed in the place of detention. During the court hearings on the case of Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko there are a lot of procedure violations; her advocates are at risk of criminal persecution for twitter translation of the questioning of a key witness for the prosecution.
Ukrainians living in Russia often are persecuted just for cultural and educative activity, for popularization of Ukrainian language, literature and art. A criminal case was fabricated against Natalya Romanenko, the leader of a Ukrainian chorus in Khabarovsk (Far East region of Russia); in Moscow in October 2015 a criminal case on extremism was opened against Natalya Sharina, director of the Ukrainian Library.
ADC Memorial is also concerned with the lack of access to justice for representatives of minorities from the North Caucasus. Human Rights defenders find that either in local courts, or in the other regions of Russia the courts demonstrate prejudices towards them they are sentenced to long time of detention, without access to appealing of cruel and unjust sentences, often the conditions in detentions are inhuman.
Access to justice is also difficult for Roma minority; the police used to conduct ethnic profiled operation named “Gypsies” and “Tabor” (which refers to the way of life of Roma only), prejudices and discrimination against Roma from law enforcement agencies and courts leads to accusatory trend without opportunity to appeal.
Last years criminal persecution is often practiced against representatives of indigenous peoples of North, Siberia and Far East, who oppose extractive companies destroying the places of traditional land tenure. Criminal cases were opened against representatives of Khanty people Sergey Kechimov and Ivan Sardakov who tried to defend the territory of deer-raising in Surgut and Nizhnevartovsk districts of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Department of Russia.
ADC Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties urge the Russian Federation to stop politically motivated persecutions of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians, to guarantee the rights of minorities providing non-discrimination in access to justice, to follow international standards in all judicial procedures and in conditions of detention.