OSCE representatives on tolerance and non-discrimination meet Russian human rights activists

On October 15, 2014 ADC “Memorial”, Information and analytical center “Sova”, LGBT initiative “Vykhod” (“Way Out”) took part in a meeting in Moscow with three OSCE Chairperson’s Personal Representatives on combatting discrimination and promoting tolerance as part the latter’s two-day official visit to Russia.

OSCE Chairperson’s Personal Representatives visit organization’s member states on an annual basis in order to analyze the existing problems, to define positive examples and practices and to prepare recommendations for governments on issues of tolerance and non-discrimination. OSCE delegation to Russia included rabbi Andrew Baker (USA), representative on fighting against anti-Semitism, Talip Küçukcan (Turkey), representative on fighting against intolerance aimed at Muslims, and Alexey Avtonomov (Russia), representative on fighting against racism, xenophobia and discrimination, as well as intolerance and discrimination of Christians and people belonging to other religious persuasions. On the first day of their visit to Russia OSCE representatives met representatives of Russian civil society, who briefly described their vision of the current situation. On the second day of the visit OSCE delegation visited state bodies of authority, including Russian Ministry of education, Federal Migration Service (FMS), Ministry of Interior and other.

Representative of ADC “Memorial” asked OSCE officials to take notice of some particular problems when preparing recommendations to the Russian governmental bodies. These included:

– growth of xenophobia in Russian society and legitimization of violent crimes against vulnerable minorities, including Roma people, immigrants, LGBT persons, which is de facto supported by the state through adoption of new laws (tougher regulations and laws concerning migration, the law banning “propaganda of homosexuality), as well as through the absence of qualification of crimes based on hate motives in case of crimes against persons from vulnerable groups (i.e., anti-immigrant attacks are often qualified as mere “hooliganism”);

– practice of ethnic profiling (for example, police raids and special operations named in a characteristic way – “Roma”, “Migrant”, “Roma settlement”);

– violation of the right for access to education and the right to life with their families in case of immigrant children (dealing with this problem should involve extension of the period of legal stay in Russia for immigrant children from 90 days to 1 or 3 years and coordination of activities of the Russian Ministry of education and FMS);

– problem of segregation in education for Roma children;

– discrimination of women in Northern Caucasus: verbal attacks, mob rule, “courts of honor”, which are de facto supported by local authorities as “popular traditions”;

– the problem of detention in Centers for detention of foreign nationals for indefinite periods of time, lack of proper juridical control over periods of detention there, lack of regulations concerning provision of obligatory legal assistance to inmates of these centers and persons subjected to administrative extradition from Russia;

– repressions against Crimean Tatars;

– repressions against NGOs involved in dealing with the issues of discrimination;

– risk of disappearance of the topic of defense of smaller and indigenous peoples from the state agenda following disbanding of the Russian Ministry of regional development.

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