A seminar dedicated to the problems of the Roma families took place in Pskov on November 24th and 25th, 2011. Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” has been advocating for the rights of the Roma in the Northwestern region of Russia for many years, and the seminar in Pskov was another component of the organisation’s plan to draw attention to the problems that many Roma families face. One of the main goals of the seminar was to introduce the representatives of the Roma community to the workers of administrative and social services, as well as improve the relations and communication between them. Additionally, it was necessary to understand which problems the Roma consider to be the most important today. Lastly, human rights activists and the experts, who were invited to the seminar, wanted to share their own views on the situation and how it could be improved.

On the first day, over 20 representatives of the Roma community from the city and region participated in the seminar. The main topic of discussion was the question of education and the resulting problem of unemployment. Roma students, Hariton Simon and Ivan Kozlov, told about the hardships they faced after graduating from school and applying to universities. The lawyer of ADC “Memorial”, Inessa Sakhno, told the participants of the seminar about the main provisions of the 120th Federal Law, as well as about opportunities to get social support for the Roma families. In the psychologist’s presentation, a question was raised regarding the discrimination of the Roma children in schools, and the right behavior of parents in such situations.

 On the second day of the seminar, the Ombudsman in the Pskov region, representatives of Child Protection Services, Commission on Juvenile Affairs, Department of Education and Social Protection Committee discussed the problems Roma families face in the region. The presentation of a psychologist and professor of Saint Petersburg State University, I.S. Berdyshev, brought up problems related to the violence against the children at home and in school. At the end of the meeting, employees of social services and representatives of the Roma community exchanged contact information and agreed to cooperate more fully in the future. ADC “Memorial,” for its part, will support the established networks and continue to organise new meetings.

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