ADC “Memorial” and Russian LGBT Network, which submitted a joint alternative report on discrimination against vulnerable groups in the RF as part of the universal periodic review procedure, welcome Russia’s adoption of a number of important recommendations made by UN member states during the 39th Session of the Human Rights Council in September 2018. However, the Russian government’s refusal to adopt other important recommendations to protect human rights and overcome discrimination is cause for deep concern.
In terms of the topics raised by ADC “Memorial” and Russian LGBT Network in their report, Russia accepted recommendations to guarantee the protection of the Roma population from discrimination; protect the linguistic and cultural rights of indigenous peoples and their right to use the territories of their traditional lands, including by harmonizing laws; and integrate migrants, fight statelessness, and document any person in need of legal status. It adopted (or “partially adopted”) many recommendations to improve the situation of women, including Belgium’s especially important recommendation to cancel the list of banned professions and Mexico’s general recommendation to improve laws and eliminate discriminatory provisions preventing women’s full professional realization (which was later achieved by ADC “Memorial” as part of the #AllJobs4AllWomen campaign).
Regarding guarantees of LGBTI rights, Russia adopted recommendations concerning the investigation of torture, disappearances, and other terrible crimes against sexual minorities in Chechnya and prosecution of the guilty parties, as well as general recommendations to observe the rights of LGBTI persons to freedom of expression and association and to prevent violence and discrimination against these people. At the same time, however, Russia unfortunately rejected a recommendation to repeal the law on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships,” which effectively violates the right of LGBTI persons to freedom of expression.
Russia rejected many other of the most important recommendations made by members states during the UPR. Specifically, it declined proposals to stop persecuting NGOs and stigmatizing them as “foreign agents” and to repeal provisions of the law on “undesirable organizations.” It also dismissed recommendations to accede to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons and introduce its provisions into domestic laws and to ratify the Istanbul Convention and criminalize domestic violence.
Of particular concern is Russia’s failure to adopt recommendations connected with acknowledging that the persecution of Muslims in Crimea and Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia is a violation of the right to freedom of conscience and amounts to religious discrimination. The double discrimination of the Crimean Tatar people—both ethnic and religious, which is multiplied by political persecution that also affects Ukrainians—remains an acute human rights problem that the government refuses to acknowledge or overcome.