Despite a number of important achievements in combating discrimination, such as the adoption of anti-discrimination legislation, legal recognition of the rights of Crimean Tatars, plans to improve the situation of the Roma population, the situation of many ethnic groups remains difficult in Ukraine. Especially difficult is the situation of minorities affected by the military conflict in the Donbass region and Crimean Tatars, who were forced to leave Crimea following its annexation by Russia in 2014. The problem of counteraction against aggressive racists and nationalists and prevention of hate crimes also continues to be important in Ukraine. These issues were covered in the alternative report on Ukraine’s implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which was prepared by ADC “Memorial” and the Kharkiv Human Rights Group for the 90th session of the UN CERD in August 2016.
ADC “Memorial” and Kharkiv Human Rights Group closely monitor violations of the rights of vulnerable minorities, victims of the military conflict in the east of Ukraine (Donbass), which affected the lives of all people living in this region. The evidence of human rights violations have been collected in the 2014-2016 on special trips whose main purpose was to study the situation of the Roma population. As a result of that a significant portion of the alternative report is devoted to the violations of the rights of local Roma population in the zone of military conflict. The report urges all parties involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as the international community, to pay particular attention to the situation of Roma people, to prevent violence and discrimination against members of this vulnerable group, to provide for the legalization of internally displaced persons and refugees, as well as people who have returned home. In addition to that, the Ukrainian authorities should implement the planned special measures for the integration of Roma people (as was outlined in the adopted “Strategy for protection of the Roma ethnic minority and its integration into Ukrainian society for the period up to 2020”), while also taking into account the recent developments in Ukraine and paying particular attention to the situation of Roma displaced persons.
Among the victims of armed conflict in the east of Ukraine there are also other minorities, who found themselves on the territories of self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR), whose leaders, while calling themselves “anti-fascists”, in fact promote xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-Roma and anti-Ukrainian ideology.
In order to escape from the political unrest and discrimination, majority of Meskhetian Turks, who had lived in Ukraine, have also left the country.
In Crimea, which had been annexed by Russia, both the rhetoric and the actual practices of the authorities are profoundly anti-Ukrainian, anti-Western. Crimean Tatars living there also face hatred, intimidation and repression on a daily basis. Following the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine has adopted a set of laws, which provide specific guarantees for Crimean Tatar people in the Ukrainian state, including restoration of the rights of those who had suffered from ethnically motivated deportation in the Soviet period. But Crimean Tatars, who stayed in the annexed Crimea, currently cannot take advantage of these laws. Since most of the educational institutions, cultural facilities and political entities of Crimean Tatars are located in Crimea itself, these can not be supported by the Ukrainian state now. It is clear that the assistance declared by the new Ukrainian laws should be aimed at least at those Crimean Tatars who live in other parts of Ukraine.
In addition to reporting on the situation of ethnic minorities, the alternative report also analyzes other common problems, including hate speech, hate crimes, the impact of the far-right discourse on the political life of modern Ukraine. Unfortunately, there are reported cases of racially motivated attacks and acts of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust memorials in Ukraine, as well as the cases of using nationalist rhetoric against members of ethnic minorities by the representatives of public authorities and various political parties. Authors of the report recommend to adopt changes into existing legislation in order to improve the combat against discrimination, in particular to prepare a new version of the law “On ethnic minorities in Ukraine”, to clarify corpus delicti (constituent elements of the offence) covered by Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine as well as to extend the application of anti-discrimination regulations to foreign citizens and stateless persons.