Statement of Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial at the 113th Session of the UN Human Rights Committee March 16, 2015

The annexation of Crimea by Russia and the ensuing military conflict in southeastern Ukraine have shaped Russia’s civic and political climate over the past year. The Russian media is waging a massive military propaganda campaign, хenophobia and hostility toward “Western values” are being cultivated in the public, and demonstrations of nationalism are essentially being encouraged. New laws are being adopted that enable the suppression of critical voices and independent civic organizations. Protests against Russian military aggression are being brutally suppressed, and any protests or expressions of critical opinions meet with a harsh reaction from the authorities.

ADC Memorial would like to invite attention of the Committee to the following specific issues:

1. Double standards in a way of official reaction on the peaceful demonstrations of protest (against falsification of the elections, against the war in Ukraine) and on the pogroms against immigrants organized by the nationalists: while the participants of the democratic demonstrations get heavily persecuted for «mass disorder», the attackers on the migrants shops and cars, who injure people and destroy their property get away without persecution, not charged for hooliganism and not even accused in hate-crimes. Anti-war demonstrations held in March 2014 in many cities of Russia were met by attempts to disrupt them by provocateurs and ended with many of the demonstrators being taken into custody for up to 24 hours, while provocateurs didn’t have any charges. Since 2015 those who have been convicted under administrative law for participating in a protest more than two times in 180 days are being criminally prosecuted, which means that they are being charged twofold for the very same violation.

2. The discrimination of people with double citizenship by obliging them to register and limiting their rights

According to a law adopted in 2014, Russians with dual citizenship or who have been granted permanent residence in another country were required to report this fact to the Federal Migration Service within 60 days. The same requirement applies to parents of children who, by right of birth, have two or more citizenships. Failure to report entails a criminal penalty. At the same time, the new law prohibits those with dual citizenship or who have been granted permanent residence in another country to hold government posts in the security agencies, as well as elected office. It violates the principle of equal rights regardless of whether someone has citizenship in a second country that is enshrined in the Russian constitution.
Having dual citizenship itself causes no harm and poses no threat, so the criminalization of this status has no basis. The law makes it possible to stigmatize those “potentially disloyal” toward Russia and at any moment could be used as the basis for repressive measures against them.

3. Violation of the rights of foreign citizens and stateless persons kept in horrible conditions of detention centers for foreign citizens (while deportation is impossible for stateless)

Detainees of such centers face: torture conditions of detention (no walks, bad food, no use of telephone, complete isolation from information, visits only with approval of inspector and only with close relatives for a brief period etc.); absence of periodic judicial supervision over detention conditions and timeframes; no access to legal assistance, no time limit set for establishing their identities. Detainees of such deportation centers are as well people from Ukraine. Clearly, despite repeated statements by high officials affirming special concern for Russian refugees from Ukraine and claims that simplified procedures have been put in place for them to obtain papers, most refugees have had a hard time dealing with the migration service. Meanwhile, ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine who have not been able to legalize their immigration status in Russia, have been subjected to persecution and expulsion for violating immigration rules. Even those foreign citizens and stateless persons with Russian children, wives, parents, or other family ties who commit some formal violation of immigration law, despite humanitarian considerations and families, can be placed in a pre-expulsion detention center up to two years with no periodic judicial oversight.

4. Discrimination of Roma:

 – Roma refugees from Eastern Ukraine face discrimination in Russia and get no status of the war-victims.

Roma from Ukraine face unhelpful attitudes from local authorities across Russia. One of the main problem for Roma is obtaining documents legalizing their presence in Russia. As a result of the prejudice they face from the local population and local authorities, as well as their low educational level, and a lack of special information and additional measures aimed at the semi-literate, most of the Roma from Ukraine have not followed procedures for obtaining refugee or temporary asylum status that would give them the right to remain in Russia for more than 90 days; their migration cards are expired, they are at constant risk to be detained, fined and deported, with a ban on reentry into Russia up to ten years. Some means of legalization available to adults (work patent) are not available to children, and for most Roma it is not possible to make monthly payments on a work patent. An absolute majority of Roma from Ukraine live in extreme poverty and need assistance obtaining food and daily necessities, clothing, adequate housing.

– Absence of adequate implementation of palliative measures and programs adopted in 2012-1014 by the Russian government.

In September, 2014 the Ministry of Regional Development was abolished. It was responsible for minorities issues and interethnic relations, including implementation of a Comprehensive Plan for the Socioeconomic and Ethno-cultural Development of Roma in Russia. The plan was positioned as a pilot program for 2 years, to be improved and continued over the long-term. Although the Plan met criticism of human rights experts, it was better than nothing. Now it’s absolutely not clear what state body will deal with minorities issues, including structural discrimination of Roma.

5. Repressions against Human Rights defenders and NGOs, attack on all those who specialize on the problems of discrimination (LGBTI, migrants, minorities, women).

This led to the worsening of the situation of vulnerable groups in the Russian Federation.

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