Compliance of the Russian Federation with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination


The second draft

The ‘Memorial’ Human Rights Centre of is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation based in Moscow devoted to investigating and publicising human rights abuses and educating the public about proposed remedies to alleviate human rights problems.

The information obtained by the ‘Memorial’ Human Rights Centre during its field investigations and from the other sources enables us to state that in a number of situations the Russian Federation is egregiously violating its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The Russian Federation is inadequately implementing ICERD, and is not taking the necessary measures envisioned in the Convention, which under current conditions could be implemented. The basic problems remain to be unchanged and as alarming as they were at the beginning of 1998 when the previous report of the ‘Memorial’ Human Rights Centre was issued. In some respects the situation arouses a deeper concern and anxiety than at that period.


General preliminary remarks.

1) The role of government in creating the problems of racial discrimination.

In contemporary Russia the most important are the cases of discrimination, resulting from action or inaction of public authorities, their organs or officials. Racial discrimination in private sector, particularly, in the sphere of housing and employment is not perceived either by public opinion or by academic experts as a significant problem, and actually remains unanalysed.

2) The role of the federative system.

The federative structure of the Russian Federation is a source of a number of problems relating to human rights and observance of the law. Organs of the state power of the constituent units (subjects of the federation) systematically violate the Constitution, federal laws and international obligations of the country; regional authorities create most of the problems, relating to racial discrimination. The federal state power bodies in practice have limited opportunities of influencing the subjects of the federation, and even these opportunities actually are not been used. Regional branches of the federal governmental agencies become subordinate to the regional governments, and the federal authorities do not undertake all necessary measures to make these branches observe the federal legislation. In many cases the federal organs of state power not only neglect violations of the law by the regional authorities, but demonstrate solidarity with such actions as well.

3) Some peculiarities of legislative, administrative and academic approach to ethnic relations in the Russian Federation

A person's belonging to a certain ethnic group (the so-called ‘nationality’ of an individual) has traditionally been perceived as a human being's integral attribute, and not as a private matter, as a matter of official interests. Therefore, it had to be officially noted and registered: in internal passports, in birth certificates, other personal documents. Ethnic affiliation of an individual was not a matter of his or her personal choice; it was recorded in accordance with nationality of the parents with the only exemption for descendants of ethnically mixed couples, who had to choose the nationality of one of the parents. Moreover, ‘nationality’ as a legal notion was present not in the laws, but by-laws only, including internal instructions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The 1993 Constitution of the Russian Federation determines that any person has the right to choose and attribute him/herself to a certain 'nationality' (Article 26). In 1997, the President’s Decree and the Resolution of the Russian Government initiated the issue of the Russian citizen passports in a new form, where there was no ‘nationality’ column. Under the Federal Law ‘On Civil Status Acts’ of 15 November 1997 the column ‘nationality’ was excluded from the personal documents. The laws ‘On the Guarantees of the Rights of Numerically Small Indigenous Peoples’ and ‘On State Policy of the Russian Federation in Respect of the Compatriots Abroad’, adopted in 1999, admitted an individual’s ethnic affiliation as a circumstance creating certain rights.

Thus, the situation with an individual ethnic belonging remains ambiguous in legal sense: the question of whether individual ethnic belonging is a circumstance creating certain rights and duties is still open, passports of the USSR citizen are still valid, and there is the entry of an ethnic belonging of its holder; in a number of regions ‘nationality’ is obligatory registered in some official documents. Wide circles of officials, politicians, academic experts share the opinion, that ethnic belonging of a citizen as a qualitative or essential characteristics of an individual has to be taken into account by official bodies.

Ethnic communities in the former USSR have been traditionally considered as integral social entities able to develop themselves and take part in the social and economic life as separate ‘cells’ of the society, capable of having interests, acquire and exercise rights, etc. This approach is in particular reflected in the ‘Concept of the State Nationalities Policy of the Russian Federation’, adopted by the President’s Decree No. 909 dated 15 June 1996. Besides, there is a widely spread traditional opinion, that republics, autonomous provinces and autonomous districts must be regarded as organisational forms and a kind of ‘property’ of their ‘titular’ ethnic groups, though such a view is not stipulated by the federal legislation. The government is supposed to conduct a ‘nationalities policy’, aimed at ethnic communities as its object, and ‘regulate’ their development and relations between them. Such a ‘social engineering’ approach implies, that the government cannot (at least within a certain region) treat its citizens of different ethnic affiliation equally, that there might be more and less ‘desired’ ethnic groups on a given territory, and that their ‘development’ requires a greater or smaller support.

Thus, the prevailing official approach to ethnicity in the life of the society does not put prevention of a discrimination on the agenda, since ‘regulation’ of ‘relations’ between ethnic groups is regarded as a priority, but outside the human rights context. On the contrary, it creates some ideological prerequisites for direct discrimination, stimulation of discrimination or its justification.

4) System of registration and its derivatives as a basic instrument of discrimination and basic prerequisite for discriminatory practices

The institution of citizens’ registration by the place of residence or stay is one of the major instruments of ethnic discrimination in public sphere and the source of the most acute problems in this area.

In its essence the registration in the Russian Federation is a slightly changed institution of ‘propiska’ or ‘registration’ (temporary registration) used in the USSR. The formal difference between the Russian registration and the Soviet propiska or registration is in the fact, that it was of a permissive character in the USSR. Under the Russian federal law the registration though being obligatory is of a notifying character. The latter results from the constitutional norm which guarantees for everyone, who stays legally in the Russian Federation, the right to move freely and choose the place of residence and stay (Article 27 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation).

The Russian legislation establishes two types of citizens’ registration, namely: registration by a place of residence and registration by a place of stay. The difference between them is following. A citizen may be registered at one and only one place of his (her) residence, while he (she) may be registered by the place of stay (a temporary stay is implied here) without cancelling permanent registration by the place of residence. The 1993 RF Law ‘On the Right of Citizens to Freedom of Movement and Choice of Place of Residence within the Russian Federation’ establishes the both types of registration; the Resolution of the Government No. 713 of 17 July 1995 (with amended by the Resolutions No. 512 of 23 April 1996 and No. 172 of 14 February 1997), Orders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) No. 393 dated 23 October 1995 (the new version introduced by the MIA Order No. 394 of 30 June 1998) determine the respective implementation procedures.

The 1993 law directly pertains to Russian citizens. Under the Constitution of the Russian Federation foreign citizens and stateless persons fall under the national regime, i.e. they exercise the rights and bear responsibilities pari causa with citizens of the Russian Federation with the exemption of the cases stipulated by a federal law or an international treaty. There are neither federal laws, nor international treaties which restrict the freedom of movement or a choice of a residence in the country. The rules, determined by the USSR Law ‘On Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the USSR’ of 24 June 1981 and the related legislative acts, are applied to the citizens of the countries outside the CIS states. Therefore, the procedure of registration of Russian nationals is applicable to the persons from the CIS countries. The procedure for the citizens of the CIS countries was confirmed by Circular letter No. 1/13989 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs ‘On a temporary procedure of the registration and striking off the register by the place of stay or residence within the Russian Federation’, dated 14 August 1996; the procedure for the stateless persons - citizens of the former USSR - was confirmed by the Resolution of the RF Government No. 290 of 12 March 1997.

Registration is not a circumstance that creates rights or duties under the legislation in force, that means that registration or its absence may not constitute either a restriction or precondition for exercise of the rights and freedoms by citizens. Absence of registration constitutes an administrative infringement with no other legal consequences for a person.

In reality the system of registration functions in a different way, creating prerequisites for civil rights violations and contradicting international obligations, the Constitution and Federal Law of the Russian Federation. In practice, registration by a place of residence or stay restricts the right to freedom of movement and choice of place of residence. Registration actually becomes a precondition for exercise of the basic rights and freedoms. The system also requires an active repressive system of police control, and it contributes to human rights violations as well.

Normative acts based on the Law ‘On the Right of the Citizens to Free Movement and Choice of the Place of Residence within the Russian Federation’ (Resolutions of the RF Government and MIA Instructions) introduce restrictions and additional conditions for registration, that are not envisaged by the law, such as restrictions by the size of the residential space per person, including the persons applying for registration; restriction on the term of stay; the requirement of de-registration at the previous place of residence, the requirement of the preliminary military enlistment registration. Many subjects of the federation introduce additional local conditions for registration, and among them: availability of kin ties in the given region, residence registration within the region(different requirements to the people, already registered in the region and to the outsiders), citizenship, status of dwelling (in some places there is a direct prohibition to register and to have the real estate deals attested to by a Notary Public to the persons without a local registration, while incomplete formalities with the real estate result in the refusal to register); special registration levies; social position and profession.

Additional conditions and restrictions, introduced both at the federal and regional levels, are such, that many of those willing to be registered at a new place of residence or stay, do not meet the requirements for certain. Several regional legislative acts introduce directly a permissive form of the registration and establish a procedure of considering applications for the registration. Though several times the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation has confirmed that additional requirements to the registration, which are not established by the federal law, do not conform to the Constitution, they are constantly applied in real life. Besides, other restrictions of the registration are effective - certain complicated procedures which citizens are not able to follow, arbitrary behaviour of the officials, that are not stipulated by the legislative acts, but really supported by the higher local governmental bodies.

In practice, the institution of registration technically becomes a condition for the citizens to enjoy their rights: acceptance of a citizenship and formalities in this connection; employment; marriage registration; participation in elections; medical care; secondary school and higher school education; pensions and allowances. A citizen cannot receive a passport without a registration either when he or she reaches the age of 14 years, or in case of loss or damage, cannot pay taxes, register a vehicle, obtain driver’s licence, etc.

The institution of ‘registration by a place of stay (sojourn)’, practically unknown to the outer world, supposes that the citizens, who come on a visit to a certain place for a short period of time (under the respective federal law the period is over ten days, but for Moscow, the Moscow oblast (province) and many other regions it is three days), are obliged to inform the local authorities, including the militia (police), of their whereabouts. Senseless from the point of view of the control of the population movement, this practice brings about inconveniences for the population and provokes abuse of power. Firstly, the registration procedure, determined by the federal rules, takes much time and energy, while the regional requirements make it still more complicated. Secondly, there is no universal registration procedure in the country, and many comers find them in the situation, when they cannot get a registration through no fault of theirs in due time and the officials refuse to register them, and they fall under the category of law breakers. Thirdly, a registration system by the place of stay may function only on condition of support from a strict police control system (‘search and check’ practices) and severe sanctions for the absence of registration, since there is, in principle, no other motivation but the punishment for a citizen to get a registration.

One of the targets, set for the militia functioning, is ‘to control the fulfilment of the requirements of the 'passport (registration) regime’, the measures include checking up the personal documents of the people and the places, where the unregistered persons might live. No doubt, a stimulus for such checks up is bribery and screwing money out of the detained persons. Regional authorities set up arbitrary sanctions for the violation of the registration regime; in practice an enforcing officer decides how much to charge, he or she is actually not obliged to give a receipt when the penalty is paid, and that provokes bribery and extortion. There is also a widely spread practice to confiscate a passport as a pledge for the payment of a penalty, and passports are often lost at militia (police) stations.

The institution of a registration is conductive to ethnic discrimination of three types.

Hereafter the information and comments on the Russian Federation’s compliance with ICERD are set according to Articles 1-7 of the Convention.

Article 1, par. 1

‘In this Convention, the term ‘racial discrimination’ shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.’

It must be noted that ‘racial discrimination’ in the sense of Article 1, par. 1 of ICERD is understood as direct discrimination, that is, the result of making distinctions on the basis of race, ethnicity, or origin. However, for Russia, what is more significant are actual or potential situations of deliberate exclusion or restriction really aimed at persons who belong to racial (or ethnic) minorities, but a discrimination that is practised on the basis of other distinctions - as a rule, related to the present and former places of residence, kin ties in certain regions, etc., in combination with a propaganda campaign, initiated by the local authorities, are applied by the officials selectively, by the criterion of personal ethnic affiliation, to whom these restrictions or preferences may be applied. ‘Deliberate indirect discrimination’ of this kind, practised in certain instances by governmental agencies, create the very problems that ICERD was designed to resolve. In this instance we leave without consideration the problems of so-called ‘structural inequality or disadvantage,’ or unintentional institutional discrimination.

Article 1, par. 2

‘This Convention shall not apply to distinctions, exclusions, restrictions or preferences made by a State Party to this Convention between citizens and non-citizens.’

According to Article 62, par. 3 of the RF Constitution, foreign citizens and persons without nationality in the Russian Federation enjoy rights and bear responsibilities on an equal basis with the citizens of the Russian Federation, except for cases established by federal law or an international treaty. Meanwhile in some respects (the right to free travel and free choice of place of residence, employment) there have not been adopted any respective federal laws, and restrictions of the rights to freedoms of aliens, who legally stay and reside within the country (first of all those resident of the CIS states who have the right to arrive in the Russian Federation without visas and to stay and reside without time limits), are being established contrary to the Constitution by the Decrees of the President, Resolutions of the Government and by acts of the regional authorities. This uncertainty creates in practice a premise for discriminatory behaviour of government officials, who restrict the rights of certain people on the basis of their ethnic belonging.

Article 1, par. 3

‘Nothing in this Convention may be interpreted as affecting in any way the legal provisions of States Parties concerning nationality, citizenship or naturalization, provided that such provisions do not discriminate against any particular nationality.’

Significant problems have been created by the arbitrary refusal of the executive agencies of government, contrary to the RF Law ‘On Citizenship of the Russian Federation’ of 26 November 1991, to recognise Russian citizenship for several categories of USSR former citizens, who differ ethnically from the majority of the RF population (see below the part devoted to Article5, par. ‘d’ iii). This is being done in contradiction to the national legislation, and thus, reservation of Article 1, par. 3 is not applicable in this situation.

Several laws and other federal acts in the Russian Federation establish specific individual statuses, different from the status of citizens of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens and stateless persons. These are - ‘compatriots abroad’ and ‘citizens of the former USSR’ (citizens of the USSR with no proof of their belonging to one of the independent states in place of the former USSR). In the acceptance and exercise of the rights, resulting from these statuses the Law directly suggests (in respect of the ‘compatriots abroad’) and the real practice allows (in respect of the ‘citizens of the former USSR’) differentiation on ethnic criteria.

Article 1, par. 4

‘Special measures taken for the sole purpose of securing adequate advancement of certain racial or ethnic groups or individuals requiring such protection as may be necessary in order to ensure such groups or individuals equal enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms shall not be deemed racial discrimination, provided, however, that such measures do not, as a consequence, lead to the maintenance of separate rights for different racial groups and that they shall not be continued after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved.’

In the political and academic discourse of Russia, the terms literally translated as ‘numerically small indigenous peoples’ (which is close to the concept of aboriginal populations; the definition is given by the respective federal law, see the part relating to Article 2, par. 2) and ‘small ethnic communities’ (a concept not clearly defined either in law or in theoretic debates) are used to describe categories of persons who require special protective measures. Though present in the Constitution, there is no definition of the notion ‘national minorities’ in the federal legislation. Specific compensation measures are discussed in respect of repressed peoples, i.e. ethnic groups that were deported in the 1930s and 1940s: in 1991 an appropriate federal law and legislative acts on separate ethnic groups were adopted, certain measures were taken to give a compensation to the victims of deportations and their descendants. There is no discussion of the issue of the protective measures in respect of the categories of the population, who have become victims of the racial discrimination under other circumstances (forced migrants, certain national minorities).

Article 2, par. 1

‘States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races, and, to this end:’

In a number of cases a direct mass and systematic discrimination carried out by state bodies or officials takes place. Of a greatest concern for us is a fact that illegal discriminative actions often take place in the form of co-ordinated repressive campaigns targeted at certain ethnic or racial groups. Federal and regional authorities, municipal bodies, as well as their officials take part in these campaigns, sometimes supported by some public associations and mass media. One has to mention the campaign against migrants from the Caucasian region, initiated by the Moscow and Moscow regional authorities in August 1999; the campaign against Chechens, that has been practically in full swing since March 1999, and was initiated by the federal government, the authorities of the city of Moscow, Moscow oblast (province), Stavropol krai (territory), the Republic of North Ossetia - Alania, Daghestan, Kabardin-Balkarian Republic and other regions, as well the campaign against the Meskhetian Turks, residing in the Krasnodar krai. Different structures and persons use simultaneously variable limitations that restrict the rights of the persons, belonging to the discriminated groups. This is the reason, why peculiarities of the discriminating campaigns against separate groups and general problems will be described separately; though general problems concern many categories of the population, they may be traced in separate campaigns as well.

Article 2, par. 1(a)

‘Each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to en sure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act in conformity with this obligation;’

Discriminatory activities of the law-enforcement agencies and officers

It manifests itself in discriminatory behaviour of these bodies’ officers, particularly the police (militia), has become a common practice in most RF subjects and has the most extreme forms in large cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg) and in some southern regions (the Krasnodar and Stavropol krais, Rostov oblast). It manifests itself in

In the course of check-ups and detentions, such persons are often treated in a manner humiliating to their human and ethnic dignity.

This practice is directly caused by the system of the registration by the place of residence and stay, that was described in the Section ‘General Preliminary Remarks’, item 4. The disproportionate attention paid to the minorities and discriminatory behaviour towards them is often provoked by the idea that the natives of the Caucasian region are crime-prone; this idea is circulated on the initiative of the regional authorities and heads of the bodies under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Direct discrimination against Meskhetian Turks (Meskhetians) in the Krasnodar krai

Meskhetian Turks, or Meskhetians are a Turkish-speaking Muslim ethnic group deported in 1944 from Southern Georgia to Central Asia; about 290,000 Meskhetians live within the borders of the former USSR. From 1989-90, after ethnic clashes, about 90,000 Meskhetians were forced to leave Uzbekistan. About 60,000 of them sought refuge in the Russian Federation (at that time, one of the Union republics), and of these, more than 13,000 fled to the Krasnodar krai and about 400-700 arrived in the Kabardin-Balkarian Republic (KBR).

The regional authorities of the Krasnodar krai and KBR refused to grant to the Turks ‘propiska’, or registration by place of residence (actually, residence permission) and, respectively, deprived them of the basic civil, political and social rights. Dwellings, which they had purchased after coming to the Krasnodar krai in 1989-90, haven’t been officially approved because of special ban. As a result Meskhetians, like other persons who do not have residence registration, are not officially recognised as Russian citizens contrary to the Russian Citizenship Law of 1991. Neither the law itself nor the respective by-laws equate permanent residence with residence registration while the Meskhetians permanently and legally resided on the Russian territory at the dissolution of the Soviet Union and did not decline Russian citizenship afterwards. They are not allowed to be employed on a permanent basis. They actually cannot receive or restore (in case of loss or damage) personal documents (like passports or drivers licenses). Their marriages are not being officially registered and recognised. The Meskhetians are completely deprived of any access to the system of social security and public medical service. They are not allowed to get education higher than of the secondary level.

The situation in the Krasnodar krai is different from that in the KBR as the Meskhetians in the Krasnodar krai in 1992 were formally selected by the regional authorities as a distinct category, subjected to special discriminatory normative acts and policies. On 24 April 1996, the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnodar krai adopted the Resolution No.291-P, according to which adult Meskhetians were obliged to pass every three months through a special registration procedure and to receive residence certificates paying for them (under item 2. of the Decree) a fee amounting to the officially established minimal wages (83, 400 roubles (RUR), or approximately 15 USD at that time which is a substantial sum for the Meskhetians). Those certificates allowed Meskhetians to re-register their vehicles for the corresponding period and to be employed on a short-term basis (for not more than 2 months). From June 1997 according to the instructions, given by the regional Department of Internal Affairs, the local authorities started to register Meskhetians as persons coming for a short stay from the countries of CIS (though they permanently reside in the Krasnodar krai for 9 years) for the term of 45 days and to levy a revenue for one registration at an amount of 188,000 RUR, or app. 33 USD per person (188 RUR since January 1998). The vehicles are to be re-registered for the corresponding period. In September 1998, the Krasnodar krai Administration tried to introduce a new, also specific and selective, but less burdensome order of registration for the Turks, but later gave this attempt up. Only in January 2000 the term of temporary registration was extended by the special governor's decree to 8 months.

At some enterprises Turks cannot get their wages until they bring certificates of temporary registration. In 1997, dozens of Turks, who had been temporary employees, were dismissed from several enterprises in Krymsk and Abinsk raions (districts), The same firm didn’t rent arable lands to Turkish lessees for 1997 and 1998. The Meskhetians are regularly checked and fined by police and even by the traffic police for the lack of registration. Massive checks of the ‘passport regime’ including searches of dwellings are also take place periodically. There are a few cases of detentions and short-term (up to 9 days) imprisonment of the Turks living in Krymsk raion. Officials at the regional as well as at the raion level admit, that these policies are aimed at stimulating Turkish migration out of the Krasnodar krai.

Since May 1998 the Krasnodar regional administration tries to give start to the Meskhetian emigration to Turkey. Those Turks, who declare their willingness to emigrate, are being allowed to sell their dwellings to the local authorities (which receive funds for that from the Federal Migration Service and later resell the houses) and to obtain Soviet foreign passports. These passports are being issued with significant violations of the law, their term of validity is 1 year (instead of 5 years, envisaged by the law), to get them Turks have to yield their internal passports and other personal documents. Thus, everything is being done to prevent these persons to return back to Russia. 21 Meskhetian households in July 1998, and 20 in January 1999 left the Krasnodar territory for Turkey. There are no agreements between Turkey and Russia on the matter of Meskhetian resettlement and adaptation in Turkey. The Turks entered Turkey with tourist vouchers, and when the latter expire (in one month) they virtually become illegal immigrants.

The 1999-2000 anti-Chechen campaign

Situation around Chechnia was consistently deteriorating from March 1999 and was aggravated by the warfare in Daghestan in July and August and in Chechnia starting from September 1999. This development was accompanied by different actions of a discriminatory and repressive character against the Chechens (and partly against Ingushes) living outside the republic, adopted and initiated by the official authorities. These actions may be summarised as follows:

1) Deportation. On 18-20 June 1999 the authorities of the Stavropol krai presumably with the help of the Cossack units deported 62 Chechen peasant families from the area near the boundary with Chechnia to the Chechen Republic. Later the homes with the remaining property of Chechens were burnt. The regional authorities virtually approved the deportation, and the Prosecutor Office of the Kurskaya raion of the Stavropol krai refused to open the criminal case, expressing doubts on the very fact of violent eviction.

2) Arbitrary passport and identity checks, forcible entrance into premises, searches, detentions and beatings. Such actions took place in different regions: the Chechens suffered to a greater degree in June and July 1999 in the Stavropol krai, in the period from August till December 1999 in the city of Moscow, Moscow oblast, Volgograd and Nizhny Novgorod oblasts, in March 1999 in the Tomsk oblast (Southern Siberia). In the period from September till December 1999 in the Tomsk oblast the Chechen males - refugees from Chechnia, were put into ‘reception and distribution centres’ (prisons for administrative arrests) without any explanations for as long as ten days, and without any explanations were then released. By the order dated 29 October1999 issued by N.M. Mamontov, temporary holding the office of the Head of the Stavropol regional Department of Internal Affairs, the police authorities in the krai were obliged to supervise the persons, who have come from Chechnia since 1992, to control their actual whereabouts and behaviour, and to demand from them to come to the police stations, nearest to their residence or stay, twice a week. In reality this control was mostly targeted at the Chechens, and less at the other national minorities (Meskhetian Turks, Nogais).

Actually all Chechens living in Moscow (including higher school students, post graduate students and doctoral candidates at higher educational and academic institutes) were obliged not only to apply for re-registration, but to leave in the Service of Criminal Militia (criminal police units) their finger- and palmprints, specimen of the handwriting and photographs.

3) Fabricated criminal accusations. In July-November 1999, a number of Chechen and a few Ingushes were detained and charged under article 222 (illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation or carrying of weapons, armaments, explosives and explosive devices) and 228 (illegal manufacturing, acquisition, storage, dispatching or sale of drugs and psychotropic substances) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. In the mid-September the Chechnia President’s Representative in the Russian Federation informed about 150 Chechens, who were arrested under this pretext in the previous month, while the figures, given by the Moscow-based Chechen public associations, exceeded 500 persons. The Memorial Human Rights Centre and the ‘Civil Assistance’ Committee made up their own list, where there were 51 names by the 5 December. The arrested, their relatives and acquaintances, who were the witnesses to the arrests, state the drugs and ammunition were intentionally planted on the accused either in the process of their detention, or in the process of a personal search in the street or at home, or at the police stations by the police officers. There are enough evidences to suspect mass fabrication of these accusations. The same practice has been restarted in Moscow and the Moscow oblast in March 2000.

There are several circumstances testifying to the mass fabrication of the accusations:

a) The available information enables to speak of the targeted mass campaign: before July and between November and March there were no complaints of drugs and ammunition having been intentionally planted on the Chechens.

b) Special attention attracts the fact, that in some operations officers from the departments for combat against organised crime (RUOP) took part, while almost all the individuals brought to the trial were accused for the first time and were not repeated offenders or participants of the organised criminal groups.

c) The motivation of the alleged crimes is also doubtful: in most cases the accused are the people of a stable social status, with a permanent income, who haven't not observed either as having criminal ties or in drug abuse.

d) There are contradictions both in the accusations and circumstances of the detention: in some cases drugs were found on them, when the persons voluntary came to the militia station having been summoned there, or after their detention during the second or third, but not the first personal search.

e) Threats of ‘planting drugs’ on the detained or those checked up in the streets were widely spread in the second half of 1999; many police officers and representatives of the procurator’s offices do not deny the fact of the mass falsification of the accusations in private talks with representatives of human rights organisations.

Since February- March 2000 fabrication of criminal accusations against Chechens, as well as Azeris, Tadjiks and Armenians restarted in Moscow, the Moscow and Tver province and some other regions. The human rights organisations, including the Memorial, possess information about several dozens of people (concrete estimates are varying) who are arrested under allegedly fabricated accusations upon Articles 222 and 228 of the Criminal Code. As a rule, most of the arrested are found guilty in the courts.

4) Dismissals. In Autumn 1999, there were several cases of Chechens being fired from their jobs in schools and health care institutions in Moscow. In two cases the dismissal was motivated by the Order No. 567 ‘On Strengthening Security in Schools’ dated 21 September 1999 issued by the Education Committee of Moscow.

5) Violation of the right to the freedom of movement and choice of the place of residence. In a number of regions (Moscow city, Moscow oblast, the Stavropol krai) the local authorities refuse to register the Chechens by the place of residence, and in some periods - by the place of stay. Within 1999 the officials of the Stavropol krai, Republics of North Ossetia - Alania, Kabardin-Balkarian Republic several times prohibited entry of ethnic Chechens to their territories. (For details see the section, relating to the Article 5 ‘d’ i).

6) Refusals in drawing up and issuing personal documents. On the basis of Circular No. 15/4-3612 dated 21 September 1999, issued by the Department of Visas and Registration of the Moscow Head Department of Internal Affairs with a reference to an identified Circular of the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, drawing up and issue of foreign passports to the citizens of the Russian Federation, who have a registration by the place of residence in Chechnia or who had come from Chechnia, was suspended, as well as the documentation with the internal passports of the RF citizens, who had come from Chechnia. Foreign passports are often not issued to the citizens of another ethnic affiliation who have come from Chechnia, and not only the Chechens; however, several officers from the Department of Visas and Registration in private directly spoke to the staff members of the Moscow human rights organisations -’Memorial’ and ‘Civil Assistance’ - of the order not ‘to draw up and issue passports to Chechens’.

Campaign against migrants from the Caucasian region
in Moscow city and Moscow oblast in the second half of 1999

This campaign is closely connected with the campaign against the Chechens. It started in August 1999, when the warfare in Daghestan began and was drastically intensified after two apartment bombings in Moscow on 9 and 13 September. The Moscow city and regional authorities imposed new restrictions upon newcomers to Moscow and undertook a series of repressive measures against suspected migrants from the Caucasus. These measures were justified under a pretext of fighting terrorism and preventing new explosions and were overtly supported by the federal government. In fact, certain elements of the state of emergency were introduced in grave violation of the existing legislation. Repressive actions were explicitly targeted at the people belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups mainly non-Russians from the Caucasus. The campaign included two main elements:

1) Mandatory re-registration and refusals in registration by a place of stay.

The obligatory re-registration of all ‘newcomers’, i.e. those who didn’t have a permanent registration by a place of residence in Moscow, was carried out after 13 September 1999. An obviously unrealistic date of 21 September was officially designated as the deadline for re-registration. In accordance with the official data, around 105 000 people applied for re-registration by 26 September, and more than 20 000 of them were refused. Actually, ‘newcomers’ were registered selectively, with almost all Russians receiving registration, while many Azeris, Armenians, Georgians and others arriving from the South Caucasian states and Russian Northern Caucasus were refused. Almost all Chechens got negative responses, even if they had a complete set of documents required for registration. Those who were refused received written orders to leave the city.

2) Arbitrary passport and identity checks, detentions and beatings.

During check-ups on the streets and in dwellings the police personnel detained and brought to police stations persons of the ‘Caucasian’ origin, first of all Chechens, Daghestanis, and Azeris. In accordance with some mass-media publications, around 20 000 persons were detained by the mid-September. Among the detainees were persons permanently residing in Moscow and registered by the place of residence, refugees from Azerbaijan and Abkhazia, permanently residing in Moscow, people who lived or temporarily worked in Moscow being registered by place of stay. During the detention police officers usually annulled the registration certificates. In some cases during the checks in private apartments passports were withdrawn from the detainees. Some of the checked persons were detained for a long term (more than two days), and many of them were not allowed to inform their relatives or friends. Some cases when the police staff forced their way into dwellings without any sanction of a public procurator and against the will of the people who lived there, were also reported to the human rights organisations. Primarily, the apartments where Chechens and Daghestanis lived were subjected to such checks. In a number of cases, persons who lived there were detained and given written orders to leave Moscow and their apartments were sealed up. Quite often the detainees were beaten at the police stations. In course of checks and detains police officers humiliate person and ethnic dignity of Chechens, Azeris and other persons originating from the Caucasus. According to unofficial admittance of some police officers, including those working with the parole service and passport and visa departments, they were given verbal orders based on a directive of the Chief of the Head Department of Internal Affairs of Moscow to detain and not to re-register Caucasians, and primarily Chechens.

One of the most typical events took place in the State Management Academy (Moscow) on 5 November 1999. Eight people, allegedly officers of the criminal investigation department, entered the building. They checked up the students’ IDs, and the students, ethnically originating from the Caucasus, were gathered in the canteen, and their documents were taken from them. At 13 a.m. 15 militia officers, wearing the uniform, have joined, they were armed with automatic rifles. Having gathered thus 25 young men, 3 girls and the father of one of the students, they convoyed them to the militia station No. 44. There several people were beaten up, they were searched, their fingerprints were taken, their photographs in three foreshortening were taken.


Discriminatory norms of the federal law on compatriots abroad

The Russian Federation Law ‘On the State Policy of the Russian Federation in Respect to the Compatriots Abroad’ of 24 May 1999 introduces a special legal status of ‘compatriots abroad’, applied both to the Russian citizens and certain categories of foreign citizens and stateless persons. The law guarantees support of the Russian Federation to ‘compatriots’ in enjoyment of certain rights as well as certain privileges in maintaining relations with the Russian Federation, on entering the Russian Federation and in exercise of their rights at the territory of the Russian Federation. Article 1 of the Law introduces a restriction on ethnic ground: the descendants of Russian citizens, citizens of the former USSR, as well as emigrants from the Russian Empire/the USSR/the Russian Federation, relating to ‘the titular nations of foreign states’ may not claim the compatriot status, Article 2 defining ‘titular nation’ as an ethnic category or ‘a part of the population of a state, whose nationality defines the title of a state’. The status of ‘compatriots abroad’ is not connected either with the citizenship or the naturalisation procedure; it is directly related to the matter of exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms, though in its essence as it is formulated in the law, it does not allow to qualify 'compatriots' as ‘certain racial and ethnic groups or individuals requiring such protection as may be necessary in order to ensure such groups and individuals equal enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms’, and it does not justify the introduced exemption on ethnic ground. Thus, proviso to pars. 3 and 4 of Article 1 of ICERD re not applicable to the compatriots law, and the law has to be considered as a discriminatory one in the essence of the Convention.

Article 2, par. 1 (b)

‘Each State Party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organisations;’

Obstruction by the para-military groups in The Republic of North Ossetia - Alania
to the return of Ingush refugees to Prigorodnyi raion of RNO-A,
and connivance of the RNO-A authorities to these actions

Since the armed clashes between Ingushs and Ossetians within Prigorodnyi raion of North Ossetia that took place in October-November 1992, the issue of Ingush forced migrants still remains unresolved. The authorities of the Republic of North Ossetia - Alania have not provided conditions required for more than 40,000 Ingush forced migrants’ return to the places of their former residence and in fact opposed the return of those who tried to do so at their own risk, alleging they were unable to guarantee their safety. The RNO-A authorities directly connived at mass-scale actions aimed at blocking the roads to prevent forced migrants’ return to their homes. In a few settlements, where Ingushs had stayed or to which they later returned, unbearable conditions, namely artificial unemployment and blockade, are being created for them. They are also regularly threatened and terrorised by arsons or firing. As a result, many Ingush families were forced to leave the territory of Prigorodnyi raion twice.

According to the official data, more than 9,000 Ingushs have returned back to the Prigorodnyi raion. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority actually reside in the settlement Mayskoye, which is situated at the borderland with Ingushetia and really remains under control of the Ingush administration. The people there are still deprived of permanent dwelling and employment. The general official figures, which concern the returned Ingushs, also include more than 1000 persons, who have official residence registration in the settlement of Kartsa, but actually do not reside there. The real process of return concerns only the settlements of Chermen and Dachnoye, but there the Ingushs live under the conditions of blockade and without any stable guarantees of security.


Connivance of the regional authorities of the Stavropol krai to the discriminatory actions against Darghin and Chechen minorities committed by the local self-governmental bodies and managers of agricultural enterprises

Officials of the Stavropol krai do not take any measures to improve the state of the Darghin and Chechen minorities in the eastern and northern parts of the region. Persons who belong to these minorities are mainly occupied in sheep-herding and live in scattered, small huts which are separated from each other by long distances. After the onset of the economic crisis in Russia, sheep-herding became an unprofitable business in the region, and heads of the large agricultural enterprises (formerly state-owned and actually controlled and administered by the local authorities) are trying to eliminate it. In order to reduce expense for social infrastructure they are making efforts to eliminate shepherds’ huts in various ways (turning off the electricity, cutting off fuel deliveries), and thus force the shepherds to return to Daghestan or Chechnia. One of the ways to place pressure on them is to close boarding schools for children, and stop bussing the children to these schools. Closing boarding schools has been underway since 1994 at the initiative of local officials. Study in boarding schools or regular bussing to the schools was the only means for the children of shepherds to obtain an education, and at the present time more than 50 percent of these children are thus deprived of access to schools.

Official support to the Cossack movement

In 1991-97 the bulk, and in 1998-99 a significant part of incidents involving violence and harassment against minorities was carried out by the organised groups which identified themselves as ‘Cossacks’. They are advocating the revival of the specific militarised corporation that existed before 1917, and are demanding special and group rights for the members of their movement. In the Krasnodar and Stavropol krais, Cossacks are pressing upon the regional authorities to restrict the rights of the persons of Caucasian origin or to deport them. Cossack units (both separately and together with police) conduct identity checks at private dwellings and in the streets and markets, search private apartments and motor vehicles and detain people. These actions are often accompanied by threats and violence against persons belonging to minorities. Despite the extremist and nationalist sentiments of many leaders and rank-and-file members of Cossack units and their extremist activities, federal and regional authorities have provided various kinds of support to them. Moreover, the government authorities have been trying to officialise the Cossack organisations by delegating to them some official functions and competence.

Presidential Decree No.835, ‘On the Governmental Register of Cossack Communities in the Russian Federation’ of 9 August 1995, approved the official list of Cossack organisations which have obtained a semi-official status. By the Presidential Decree No.67 of 20 January 1996, the Chief Directorate of Cossack Troops was created in the Administration of the President, that is, under the President of the Russian Federation. By the Presidential Decrees No.563 and No.564 of 16 April 1996 and No.667 of 8 June 1996, members of the Cossack communities were granted several privileges. A number of regional Cossack units were legalised by the Presidential Decrees No.95 - 97 of 12 February 1997, No.611 - 613 of 17 June 1997 and some others. The President’s representative in the State Duma of the RF in the spring and summer of 1997 supported the passage of a Law on Cossacks which would legalise the self-organised paramilitary formations of the Cossacks (the Law was adopted by the State Duma in June 1997, but rejected by the Council of the Federation, the upper house, and finally declined by the State Duma in October 2000). Cossack organisations in a number of regions receive direct and indirect financial support from government agencies. Ministry of Internal Affairs Directive No.1/2899 of 28 June 1994, ‘On the Participation of the Cossacks in Maintaining Public Order’ and a Joint Directive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Chief Directorate of the Cossack Troops under the RF President dated 5 January 1997, No.1/127 ‘On the Interaction of Members of Cossack Communities, Included in the State Registry of Cossack Communities in the RF, With Ministry of Internal Affairs Structures’, served as the formal basis for employing members of the Cossack organisations as an auxilliary police force. In a number of regions, Cossack organisations have been granted the right to conduct joint operations with law-enforcement agencies also on the basis of regional governmental regulations (e.g. see the Resolutions of the Chief of Administration of the Krasnodar krai No.220 ‘On Extreme Measures to Combat Crime’ of 19 April 1994.).

The mostly significant case is the entry of the All-Kuban Cossack Army (AKCA) under the title of the Kuban Cossack Army Society to the State Register by the RF President’s Decree No. 448 from 24 April 1998. Earlier AKCA was known as the most radical nationalistic organisation, directly responsible for a series of violent actions on ethnic ground in the Krasnodar krai and the one that has been demanding from the local authorities to aggravate the discrimination against national minorities.

Article 2, par. 1 (c)

‘Each State Party shall take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists;’

In all the situations enumerated above in the section related to pars. 1(a) and 1(b) of Article 2 of ICERD, the federal governmental agencies do not take the necessary measures to review all laws or regulations, which may cause racial discrimination or make it permanent. Although the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation in a number of cases qualified as unconstitutional the restrictions upon registration by a place of residence and place of sojourn, established by the Government Resolution No.713 of 17 July 1995 and by the respective regional regulations, this did not changed in the existing practice. The Presidential Administration, the RF Government, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the RF Ministry of Justice do not take measures to abolish regional regulations establishing practices described in the sections related to pars. 1(a) and 1(b) of Article 2. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Federal Migration Service do not take steps to make their territorial branches observe the provisions of federal law rather than regional acts contradicting the Constitution and federal legislation. Federal agencies have not taken the initiative to abolish the institution of ‘registration by place of stay (sojourn)’ provoking discriminatory practices of the law-enforcement agencies.

Federal agencies have only taken partial measures to resolve the problem of former citizens of the USSR not recognised in contravention of the RF citizenship law, but these measures only stressed the racially discriminatory nature of the non-recognition of citizenship. The problem was partially resolved by the President Decree No.2007 of 24 October 1994, “On Some Matters of Implementation of the Law of the Russian Federation ‘On Citizenship of the Russian Federation.’” On the basis of this act, under Article 13, par. 1 of the Law on citizenship, former citizens of the Soviet-period Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) could be recognised as citizens if they had returned to Russia before the citizenship law went into effect (i.e. before 6 February1992) but did not have proof of citizenship in the form of official recognition (that is, in practice, a resident permit at the moment the citizenship law went into force). Although the citizenship law includes the conception of acquiring citizenship in the form of recognition or in the form of registration (a simplified form of naturalisation) for all citizens of the former USSR regardless of their ethnic affiliation, the Decree resolved a certain implementation issue which various groups of former Soviet citizens had in common for former residents of Russia only, the overwhelming majority of whom were ethnic Russians, and left outside of the purview significant groups of persons who were mainly non-Slavic by origin.

The federal government did not take measures to restore the rights of citizens of the former USSR violated because these people had not been granted permanent residence registration after as well as before the abolition of the Soviet period regulations which had restricted these rights.

Federal governmental bodies have taken no measures to overcome the consequences of the ethnically selective approach conducted by some regional migration services with respect to applicants for the status of refugee or forced migrant, and to restore the rights of the persons who had not been allowed to apply for a legal status. In some cases the local migration services denied access to the procedures of determining the refugee or forced migrant status for ethnically distinct categories of migrants. Later on the authorities do not take measures to reinstate the rights of these categories and to let them legalise themselves.

According to the RF Laws ‘On Refugees’ and ‘On Forced Migrants’ the status of refugee or forced migrant have to be granted to a person who applied for the status to a territorial branch of the Federal Migration Service and whose real condition satisfies the definition of the status of a refugee/forced migrant irrespective of his/her possibilities to settle on this territory without additional assistance. In fact, local normative acts (in Moscow and Moscow oblast, the Krasnodar krai) condition granting the status by availability of registration by a place of sojourn, kin ties within the respective territory or other additional circumstances. These restrictions become a ground for abuses and unmotivated refusals in granting the status.

The following groups of refugees or forced migrants were overtly affected by ethnically disproportional approach: refugees from Tadjikistan, who fled the country during the civil war from 1992 to 1995; refugees from Abkhazia during the war from 1992 to 1993; migrants from Chechnia since1994. There are respectively small numbers of the Tadjiks among the officially recognised refugees from Tadjikistan, the Chechens among the officially recognised forced migrants from Chechnia, the Georgians among the officially recognised refugees and forced migrants from Abkhazia. The share of these ethnic groups is much higher among those who got access to the procedure of determining the status, than among those who got such a status. It is important, that most of the forced migrants from these regions, who had not got a status of refugee or forced migrant, could not get registration by a place of residence, and hence they could not exercise the basic rights and freedoms.

Ethnic preferences were mostly obvious in the case of refugees from Abkhazia (an autonomous region of Georgia, the zone of armed conflict since 1992, which is not under control of the Georgia government). According to some estimates, there are approximately 60,000 refugees from Abkhazia in Russia, the most of them are ethnic Georgians. By 1997, 21,000 migrants from Abkhazia were granted the official status, and of them only 4,000 were Georgians, while among the persons of another ethnic origin the share of those who were granted the status and registration by a place of residence was much higher.

Refugees from Abkhazia have found themselves in the most vulnerable position in the Krasnodar krai. In the autumn of 1992, as a result of fighting in Abkhazia, at least 30,000 people were forced to fled this republic directly to the Krasnodar krai; later up to 5,000 persons were also evacuated from Sukhumi, the administrative centre of Abkhazia in October 1993. Russia was for them the country of the first refuge. While most ethnic Russians and Abkhazians obtained the status of forced migrants, the majority of Armenians and virtually all ethnic Georgians were refused this status. At the present time, according to various estimates, there are between 12,000 to 15,000 ethnic Georgians in the Krasnodar krai who were forced to flee Abkhazia, of these, up to 11,000 who went to Sochi (the Black Sea coast area). In accordance with the data of the local migration service, by the beginning of 1998 around 2,000 forced migrants from Abkhazia were granted the respective official status, and among them were only 121 ethnic Georgians and 598 Armenians, and by the end of 2000 no one from these groups was granted the status. Formally, these persons were denied the forced migrant or refugee status under the pretext that they didn’t have any close relatives within the region, since availability of kin ties on the territory of the Krasnodar krai had been put forward by the local legislation as one of the conditions for acquiring the status. Actually, there was a selective approach, based on ethnic criteria, since most of the Georgian and Armenian refugees who had relatives in the Krasnodar krai, have been refused the status. As a result, most of the refugees from Abkhazia have been also denied registration by places of residence, and consequently, all fundamental civil and social rights. These people are not being given the opportunity to obtain legal status not only in the Krasnodar krai but in other major cities and regional centres, although they are not able to return to the places of their former residence.

Article 2, par. 2

‘States Parties shall, when the circumstances so warrant, take, in the social, economic, cultural and other fields, special and concrete measures to ensure the adequate development and protection of certain racial groups or individuals belonging to them, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. These measures shall in no case en tail as a con sequence the maintenance of unequal or separate rights for different racial groups after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved.’

The federal authorities have not taken any measures to redress the violated rights and to improve the situation with those categories of the population, who had become the victims of racial discrimination and mass infringement of the human rights: citizens of the former USSR, who have not been acknowledged the citizens of the Russian Federation contradictory to the legislation in force, refugees and forced migrants from several regions of the former USSR; refugees from ‘the Third World’ countries.

Article 69 of the Constitution of Russian Federation guarantees the rights of numerically small indigenous peoples, Article 71, par. ‘c’ puts ‘regulation and protection of the rights of national minorities’ under the competence of the federation, and Article 72, par. ‘b’ imposes jointly on the federation and its subjects (constituent units) the obligations to ‘protection of national minorities’, and par. ‘m’ - to ‘defence of the traditional habitats and traditional way of life of small ethnic communities’. On the basis of Article 69 there was adopted the Federal Law ‘On the Guarantees of the Rights of Numerically Small Indigenous Peoples’ of 30 April 1999, which envisaged some privileges in the fields of employment, land possession, exploitation of natural resources, taxation, local self-government for the persons, belonging to aboriginal peoples and carrying out traditional economic activities, as well as the right of the federal subjects to adopt additional protective measures in favour of these persons. In some subjects of RF (Buryatia, Yakutia-Sakha, the Tyumen oblast, Khabarovsk krai) local normative acts have been produced which admit special rights of the aboriginal groups to using and disposing of land and natural resources.

There were, and still there are, no plans to elaborate the law on small ethnic communities. The State Duma have suspended the work on the draft law on national minorities as far back as in 1997.

Article 3.

‘State Parties particularly condemn racial segregation and apartheid and undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in territories under their jurisdiction.’

The deliberate actions against the Chechens, and partly against the Ingushes, in 1999, described above, that took place outside Chechnia, primarily in Moscow city and Moscow oblast, the Stavropol krai, the Republic of North Ossetia - Alania, actions against Meskhetian Turks in the Krasnodar krai such as: arbitrary detentions and arrests, refusals to register by a place of residence or stay, threats to oust the people from the places of their residence, preventing the people from crossing the administrative border of a subject of the federation, fabrications of criminal cases against Chechens and Ingushes, dismissals and refusals to employ, refusals to admit to colleges and universities, refusals to draw up personal documents, including foreign passports, non-recognition of the Russian citizenship of Meskhetian Turks - fall within the definition of ‘the crime of apartheid’, ‘similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination’ and ‘systematic oppression’ under Article 2 of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid’ of 30 November 1973, in particular, clause (a) ‘denial of the liberty of person’; clause (a) subclause (ii) ‘infliction of serious bodily or mental harm, infringement of freedom or dignity, subjection to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’, clause (a) subclause (iii) ‘arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups, clause (c) ‘measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country..., in particular by denying ... basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work..., the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence’. In the above mentioned situations the federal authorities have not taken measures to stop the policy of a racial segregation and apartheid, conducted by the authorities in Moscow city and Moscow oblast, the Krasnodar and Stavropol krais, the Kabardin-Balkarian Republic, Republic of North Ossetia - Alania, moreover, they demonstrated solidarity with the actions of the local authorities.

Article 4.

‘States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organisations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination and, to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention, inter alia:’

Though the principles of Article 4 of ICERD are declared in the laws of the Russian Federation, in adequate fact the government of Russia does not take measures to eradicate and prevent activities mentioned in Article 4, and, moreover, directly supports, finances, and integrates into the state structure paramilitary formations which identify themselves as Cossacks, while these formations are as a rule demonstrate hostility towards many non-Russian ethnic groups and commit racially motivated violent actions.

Article 4 (a)

‘Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin, and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof;’

Article 13, par.5 of the RF Constitution prohibits creation and activities of the public associations, whose aims and actions are targeted, among the rest, at ‘exciting social, racial, national and religious hostility’; Article 29 which proclaims freedom of thought and speech, also contains a prohibition on ‘propaganda or agitation inciting social, racial, national or religious hatred and enmity’.

Article 282 of the Criminal Code envisages criminal liability for ‘actions aimed at inciting national, racial or religious enmity, humiliation of national dignity, and also the propaganda of exceptionalism, superiority or inferiority of citizens on the basis of their religion, or national or other affiliation’. Such actions as incitement to discrimination and providing any aid for racist activity is not formulated and is not defined by Russian criminal law as a criminal offence.

Article 282 in practice is applicable only to a limited degree due to the lack of political will of the Procurator Offices and to a broad and unclear formulation of the objective side of the criminal offence. Police units do not persecute the people, distributing extremist literature, and the Procurator Offices, as a rule, refuse to start criminal proceedings on the facts of printed matter distribution, as well as in connection with appeals to violate ethnic equality of citizens or to ethnic violence made in public. As a rule, those few persons who had been sentenced to a short-term or conditional imprisonment were released either under an amnesty or because the punishment had been covered by the duration of the pre-trial custody.

At the same time, a number of human rights organisations, including Memorial, point out that the possibility for expanded interpretations of Article 282 under certain circumstances can create prerequisites for restrictions on freedom of speech and other abuse. In some Russian regions (Krasnodar, KBR, Bashkortostan) human rights or ethnic minority activists were threaten by the local officials with criminal prosecution under Article 282.

When the law-enforcement agencies take action against extremist group, they demonstrate reluctance to employ the respective articles of the Criminal Code, which concern hate speech and discrimination. As a rule, in these rare cases the legal proceeding are initiated under some different articles, for instance, 'vandalism' or 'bodily injury'. The investigators usually refrain from acknowledging the organised character of the hate crimes and their link with the extremist groups activities, for instance Article 239 of the Criminal Code ('Foundation of an association encroaching on citizens' personality and rights') are not being actually used. Article 63, para. 'e', which acknowledges the motive of ethnic, racial or religious hate or enmity as an aggravating circumstance for the qualification of a crime, is not being actually used as well.

The limits of restrictions on freedom of speech consistent with the constitutional norms are contained in the RF Law ‘On Mass Media’ adopted on 27 December 1991 (with subsequent amendments). For violation of the existing regulations offenders are subject to civil, administrative and criminal liability.

The Law ‘On Mass Media’, Article 4, prohibits ‘abuse of the freedom of speech’, i.e. propaganda of violence, incitement of enmity and similar things. Article 16 prescribes the mechanism for making sanctions against a periodical, which violates the requirements of Article4. In practice, the use of real and effective sanctions against violators of the law turns out to be impossible. Such measures as suspending the publication or confiscation of the circulation, or administrative penalty for hate speech are not envisaged by the legislation. Issue of a periodical against the will of its founder can be stopped only by a court decision. The ‘registering agency' can commence a lawsuit only after repeated violation by the periodical of Article 4 of the Law 'On Mass Media' within 12 months, after at least two written warnings has been made. As a rule, the periodical charged in this way then contests each of these warnings in court; consequently, until a decision is made on these disputes the suit on closing the periodical cannot be restarted. But even in the cases when court proceedings begin, the founders as a rule re-register their periodical, and the suit cannot be considered because of the absence of the defendant.

But even in those rare situations when the case finally comes to court, the civil procedure in Russia gives respondents unlimited opportunities to drag out the review of the suit, by refusing to appear in court, or making frivolous petitions demanding new evidence, etc.

As a rule, the official agencies, which are in charge of supervision and registration of the periodicals, demonstrate reluctance to employ the existing mechanisms for combat hate speech.

Therefore, the existing legislation as well as the juridical and administrative practice in RF remain imperfect and cannot be regarded as an obstacle against dissemination of racist ideas and against instigation towards ethnic and racial hostility.

Article 4 (b)

‘Each State Party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organisations;’

Article13 of the RF Constitution which ensures ideological diversity, multi-party system and equality of all civic associations before the law, prohibits ‘creation and activity of civic associations whose purposes or actions are aimed at violent change of the foundations of the constitutional order and violation of the integrity of the Russian Federation, undermining of the security of the state, creation of armed formations, incitement of social, racial, national and religious enmity’. The analogous formulation is contained in Article 16 of the Federal Law ‘On Civic Associations’ of 17 May 1995.

Participation in a racist organisation, prohibited by the law, is not a criminal offence as such under the Russian criminal legislation. Under Article 208 of the Criminal Code, citizens of the RF can be prosecuted for participating in an ‘illegal armed formation’. However, the concept of ‘illegal armed formation’ appears extremely non-functional, and the definition for ‘illegal paramilitary formation’ is not contained in the Russian law.

There are hundreds of active extremist nationalist groups and organisations in the Russian Federation which preach ethnic superiority and xenophobia, especially towards Jews and people who ethnically originate from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Aggressive propaganda of racist and extreme nationalist kind is typical for such organisations as Russian National Unity (RNU) led by Alexander Barkashov, the National-Bolshevik Party headed by Eduard Limonov, the Russian Party headed by Vladimir Miloserdov etc. Some of these groups (e.g., Russian National Unity) set up paramilitary units which exist legally. Usually, they are officially registered as ‘security agencies’. In accordance with the available information, members of these organisations took part in some acts of violence against ethnic minorities.

Extreme nationalist organisations produce and disseminate racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Caucasian materials. Some mass media, especially regional newspapers, publish materials blaming certain ethnic groups, mainly natives of the Caucasus, for deterioration of criminal and economic situation and demanding to restrict their rights.

Weakness of the existing legislation and lack of political will of the authorities make it very difficult to put an end to the activities of extremist groups.

In 1997 the RF Ministry of Justice refused registration to the party Russian National Unity and several other similar associations. Several regional Departments of Justice issued analogous refusals. Nevertheless, many organisations of the extremist kind possess official registration, and many others operate de facto without registration. Article 41-45 of the Law ‘On Civic Associations’ regulates the activity of civic organisations for violating the law of the Russian Federation, including suspending activity of an association and disbanding it. Both suspending a group and disbanding it can be conducted only by a judicial procedure after several repeated written warnings, ‘if these warnings were not contested in court through the established legal procedure or not declared unsubstantiated under the law by court’. Article 23 of the same law states that if a group’s charter violates the Constitution and the provisions of Article 16 of the Law ‘On Civic Associations’ that correspond the respective constitutional norm, there are possible grounds for the governmental organ to refuse to register officially this organisation as a civic organisation. Many years of practice have shown that no civic association has tried to include in its charter forms of activity prohibited by the RF Constitution and federal laws which of course did not prevent such groups from engaging in such activity anyway.

Federal and regional authorities take certain measures against extremists organisations, however, those actions remain sporadic, inconsistent, sometimes they are of an arbitrary character, and contradict the law, anyway they seldom reach the target, they have been aimed at. One has to note that in 1997 in Moscow and Saint Petersburg the regional legislative assemblies introduced administrative liability for distribution of Nazi logos and symbols (in practice the norm remains inapplicable); in November 1998 the Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov declared that he would not let the RNU Congress be held, though the Mayor was not entitled to ban public meetings; and the RNU Congress did not take place. The General Procurator’s Office together with the Federal Security Service has distributed methodological guidelines and recommendations on investigation of the cases of hate speech; although there is no information of how those instructions are applied in practice. The only positive example, worth mentioning in the field of the restriction of the activities of an organisation, advertising ethnic hostility and restrictions of human rights on ethnic ground, is the 25 November 1999 decision of the Central Electoral Committee of RF to refuse registration of the list of candidates of the electoral bloc ‘Spas’ (that was formed on the basis of RNU) which was to participate in the elections to the RF State Duma, because of incompatibility of the declared and actual activities of the organisation, and to start a detailed investigation of its activities by the RF Ministry of Justice. This decision was later confirmed by the Supreme Court. There is no information on the results of this investigation.

Article 4 (c)


‘Shall not permit public authorities or public institutions, national or local, to promote or incite racial discrimination.’

The most radical nationalist rhetoric aimed at ethnic minorities, especially non-Slavs, Jews, Roma/Jypsies and peoples of ‘Caucasian’ origin (Armenians and Turks) is used by the authorities of the Krasnodar krai, and, in particular, its Governor for 1996-2000 Nikolai Kondratenko and some other regional officials. In October 2000, the formal head of the major pro-governmental political party 'Yedinstvo' Sergei Shoigu publicly and clearly expressed his regret on Kondratenko's refusal to be balloted for the second term as a Krasnodar governor and his desire to leave the politics. Anti-Semitic rhetoric was overtly used by Alexander Mikhailov, the newly elected head of the regional executive in the Kursk oblast in November 2000. Alexander Ignatov, the Director General of the Information-Analytical Agency under the RF Presidency Management Department expressed the views on the 'world-wide Jewish conspiracy' in his article published in one of the major national papers 'Nezavisimaya Gazeta' (7 September 2000). All these incidents were not responded and overtly condemned either by the federal executive or legislative bodies.

Article 5 (a)

‘In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in Article 2 of this Convention, States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights:
(a) The right to equal treatment before the tribunals and all other organs administering justice;’

In several cases there are grounds to state that the Krasnodar krai courts were biased in relation to the Meskhetian Turks, who had filed the claims against the local police in connection with their refusal to register Turks by the place of residence, the unlawful decisions passed were not in favour of the plaintiffs and ignored the requirements of the law. There are also grounds to lay the blame on the partiality of Moscow courts, where the decisions, accusing the Chechens in the fabricated crimes, have been passed (see the section pertaining to Article 2, clause 1 ‘a’).

Article 5 (b)

‘The right to security of person and protection by the State against violence or bodily harm, whether inflicted by government officials or by any individual group or institution;’

Problems of security of the population in Chechen Republic and neighbouring territories

The situation in the Chechen Republic till September 1999 was, in fact, beyond control of the RF federal authorities. For a variety of reasons, the local authorities have been proving unable to combat crime effectively, moreover, there are significant reasons to suppose that many criminal groups functioned with the connivance or even direct support of the Chechen official authorities. In this situation, when the official bodies could not secure any real protection against criminals, it was provided either though family ties typical for traditional Chechen society, or contracts among members of the armed units. Non-Chechens (mostly Russians, Armenians, Nogais, Meskhetian Turks) do not have such ties and contacts, and therefore criminal violence was and is largely directed against them, especially Russians. Besides, activities (kidnapping, armed robbery, drugs traffic etc.) of the armed groups in Chechnia presented a real threat to life and security of the neighbouring territories (Ingushetia, the Republic of North Ossetia - Alania, the Stavropol krai, Daghestan). After the military operation of the federal armed forces started in Chechnia in September 1999, there is no independent information on the situation at the territories under the control of the Russian federal troops. By the witness of the persons, who had to flee from the territory of Chechnia, the Russian federal troops severely and systematically infringe the norms of humanitarian law and often use violence against civilians on discriminatory basis.

Violence and threats of violence by the law enforcement officers

In the course of searches, passport checks and detentions the persons of Caucasian and Central-Asian origin undergo insults including insulting their national dignity, threats, extortion and beatings. Chechens, Ingushs, Azerbaijanis, Tajiks are the most frequent victims of such treatment in Moscow city and Moscow region; Armenians, Georgians, Meskhetian Turks, Kurds - in the Krasnodar krai; Chechens, Armenians, Dargins, Nogais - in the Stavropol krai. In some cases there is forcible argument to suppose that some Tajiks and Azeris, being detained and delivered to detention centres of Moscow, were killed there. (See also comments to Article 2, par.1 ‘a’,’b’).

Refusal of the law enforcement agencies to give equal protection to persons subjected to violence by extremist groups

1. Most of acts of violence against persons, belonging to ethnic minorities, in the Southern regions of RF (the Krasnodar and Stavropol krais, Rostov and Volgograd oblasts) are committed by members of organisations that refer to themselves as Cossacks. The law enforcement bodies either refrained from penalising the guilty parties under the procedures envisaged by the law, or brought to account only separate individuals. The most serious violent incidents took place from 1992 to 1997. Later on small-scale incidents, mainly in connection with the participation of the Cossack units in passport checks and streets patrolling, have been noted.

2. The police did not try to prevent mass assaults to the shops owned by the persons of Caucasian (Azeri, Armenian and Chechen) origin, pogroms and arsons committed by a crowd of aggressive youth in the town of Udomlya (the Tver oblast, the Central Russia) on 9 and 10 May 1998. The local and regional authorities interpreted this incident as a ‘spontaneous interethnic conflict’, deputies of the town council supported the hooligans overtly. None of those, who participated in the pogrom was officially prosecuted.

3. In April and May 1998 assaults against the people with a dark skin became more frequent, allegedly, on the part of a neo-Nazi organisations. Actually, the police did not take measures to investigate the cases. Only one skinhead leader Semen Tokmakov was accused in May 1998 of beating a US Moscow Embassy guard officer and sentenced to a short-term imprisonment. Tokmakov was released in 1999 in the court building, since his per-trial custody covered the sentence.

4. On 7 May 1998, one young retailer of Azeri origin was killed at the ‘Luzhniki’ market in Moscow, probably, by the members of an neo-Nazi group. The murder was witnessed by the police, but the policemen didn’t try to interfere. Later a spontaneous demonstration of Azerbaijanians, who protested against racist violence, was forcibly dispersed and many people were severely beaten.

5. On 17 September 2000, an unidentified group of approximately 15 youngsters wearing black uniform attacked the Jewish Sunday school in Ryazan. They damaged the furniture in the lobby, broke telephones and destroyed the exhibition of children pictures. The local police incited a criminal case under Article 213 of the Criminal Code ('vandalism') and shortly determined 4 persons who had taken part in the attack, but did not detain them. Neither federal nor regional officials reacted adequately and condemned the violent act; the local media predominantly commented on the incident as a 'Jewish provocation'.

6. On 22 September 2000, approximately 100 neo-Nazis, supposedly skinheads beat up by-passers and passenger of 'non-Slavic appearance' inside and near the 'Vladykino' underground station in Moscow. The police detachment came late after the skinheads had dissolved.


Article 5 (c)

‘Political rights, in particular the right to participate in elections - to vote and to stand for election-on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, to take part in the Government as well as in the conduct of public affairs at any level and to have equal access to public service;’

In the republics within the Russian Federation, just as in other subjects (components) of the federation, there are regimes with clearly articulated authoritarian tendencies, under which the selection and appointment of top officials are the privilege of a small group of people at the apex of the executive system. These same people control the elections, including the system for nominating candidates and guaranteeing candidates access to the mass media. Since the ruling elite in the republics are used as a basis for their own legitimacy the ideas of ‘national (ethnic) statehood’ and ‘republic sovereignty,’ people are selected on the basis of loyalty to the guiding ideas and personally to the highest leaders. Moreover, the principles still persist of selecting people on the basis of whether they are relatives or originate from the same area. That leads to a drastic reduction in opportunities for people who are not members of the ‘titular’ nationalities, so that they are barred from taking prestigious or responsible positions. For example, ethnic Adygeis make up around than 20% of the population of the Republic of Adygeia, but totally make up more than 70% of the members of the republican parliament and government. In the Republic of Bashkortostan, ethnic Bashkirs make up 22% of the population, but about half of the members of parliament and a majority of the member of government.

Article 5 (d)(i)

‘Other civil rights, in particular:
(i) The right to freedom of movement and residence within the border of the State;’

Discrimination related to the restrictions of freedom of movement

The following are the main discriminative restrictions of freedom of movement:

1) Ban on crossing the administrative border of a subject of federation for persons of a certain ethnic origin and compulsory ousting back those of them who try to enter the territory of a given region. Starting from March 1999, this restriction was periodically imposed by the Stavropol krai authorities on the Chechens willing to cross the krai’s administrative border from the Chechen Republic, the Republic of North Ossetia – Alania and the Kabardin-Balkarian Republic; from August 1999 the authorities of the Republic of North Ossetia - Alania and the Kabardin-Balkarian Republic prohibited entry to all Chechens, irrespective of the region of their permanent registration by place of residence. The prohibition was maintained by the overall checks of the motor and railway vehicles and of personal documents; the Chechens were identified either by the ‘nationality’ line, if they held the old-type Soviet passports, or by their personal names and physical appearance.

2) Refusals to register by a place of stay. In the first half of 1999, several Chechens were refused registration by their places of stay in Moscow. Personnel of the passport offices openly explained their refusal by referring to the applicants’ ethnic affiliation. As was mentioned above, after the apartment bombings in Moscow on 9 and 13 September 1999 during the compulsory re-registration of all ‘newcomers’ around 20 000 people were refused; many of them obtained written orders to leave Moscow. Later on, refusals to register the Chechens and Ingushes became massive, though not total. Police officers check up the premises where Chechens are registered, and if they do not find the registered Chechens there, they cancel registration (see the section pertaining to the Article 2, clause 1 ‘a’).

Discrimination based on restrictions of the right to free choice of residence

1) Direct restriction overtly based on the norms of certain legislative acts on registration of persons of a certain ethnic origin by the place of residence. This is the case with the Meskhetian Turks in the Krasnodar krai (see the section pertaining to Article 2, par. 1 ‘a’).

2) Advantages granted to certain ethnic groups to be registered by the place of residence on the basis of the regional legislative acts, at the same time restricting the registration for another groups. Authorities of some North Caucasian regions make privileges in granting the right to permanent residence at the territory of these republics to ‘newcomers’ belonging to the so-called titular nationalities (i.e. nationalities mentioned in the name of the region), while seriously limiting this right for the persons of other ethnic origins. The normative acts adopted by the authorities of these regions the privileged category is defined as ‘compatriots’, and in practice their identification is entirely based on ethnic criteria.

a) Article 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of Adygeia gives the right to return to the ‘historical homeland’ to representatives of the Adyg diaspora, natives of Adygeia and their descendants, and emigrants from Adygeia regardless of their ethnic origin. In practice, the right to permanent residence in the Republic for persons that arrive from the outside is granted mainly to Adygs.

b) In the Kabardin-Balkarian Republic, the limitations on the right to permanent residence, introduced by the Parliament Resolution ‘On Some Measures Aimed at Regulating Migration in the Kabardin-Balkarian Republic’ No.17-P-P of 5 May 1994 and by the additional Resolution No.61-P-P of 27 June 1995, do not extend to the compatriots’ which are regarded as persons belonging to the ‘titular’ nationalities.

c) The Law ‘On Migration’ of the Republic of North Ossetia - Alania of 11 October 1996 introduces the concept of ‘compatriots’ and gives this category of persons a number of privileges.

3) Systematic refusals to register by the place of residence persons belonging to certain ethnic groups. Officials who do this, exercise their discretional power without formal violation of the existing federal norms. The following groups are the victims of such mass refusals:

  1. Chechens in Moscow city and the Moscow oblast, the Stavropol krai, starting from August 1999 (earlier refusals were seldom and sporadic);
  2. the Georgian refugees from Abkhazia in Moscow and the Krasnodar krai;
  3. Kurds - Yesids in Kniaginino raion of Nizhny Novgorod oblast;
  4. the Nogais - forced migrants from Chechnia - since the beginning of 1999 in the Stavropol krai.

e) the Meskhetian Turks - forced migrants from Chechnia in the Stavropol krai (in Budionovsk, Kirovsk and Kursk raions).

4) Disproportional systematic refusals to register ethnic minorities in the regions, based on the regional restrictive legislative norms (Krasnodar and Stavropol krais).

In 1996 and 1997, according to the official figures available, total of 49,551 persons applied to the Commissions on Migration Control in 32 municipal units of the Krasnodar krai. Of those applicants, 37,872, or 76.4%, received positive decisions. Among Russians (38,110 persons, or 76.9%) 81.1% received positive answers, among Armenians (3,876, or 7.9%) - 41.0%. The share of positive decisions among East Slavic peoples (Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians) was 80.8%, among natives of the South Caucasus (Abkhazians, Azerbaijanians, Armenians and Georgians) - 43.4%, among persons belonging to peoples of the South and North Caucasus or those who came from the former USSR (including Kurds and Turks, but not Greeks) - 45.0%, and among the rest - 70.4%. Answers from separate municipal units also contain information on how many people were sent to the Regional Migration Commission and how many people received final rejection at the city and raion level. In 1996-97 in Belorechensk the following applicants to the Commission on Migration Control were rejected: Russians - 5.2%, Armenians - 45.2%, in Anapa - 21.8% and 50.7%, respectively, in Armavir - 5.0% and 41.0%, in Pavlovsky raion - 5.9% and 29.3%, in Kutshevsky raion - 1.7% and 23.4%.

In 1996, in the city of Zheleznovodsk of the Stavropol krai 23 % of the applicants for a registration received negative answers: 16.7 % of the Russian applicants received negative answers; 29.2 % of the Greeks, 21.9 % of the Ukrainians, 53.6 % of the Georgians; 78.3 % of the Armenians. In 1997, an average percentage of the refusals was 23.1: 16.6 % of the Russians; 31.6 % of the Greeks; 37.5 % of the Ukrainians; 84 % of the Armenians; 88.1 % of the Georgians. From 1994 till 1997 the Registration Committee in the Predgorny raion has considered 6,959 applications for the registration, 5,297 applications were satisfied; an average percentage of the refusals was 23.9: 14 % of the Russians; 42.8 % of the Greeks; 47.5 % of the Armenians; 56.4 % of other nationalities. An average percentage of the refusals in Shpakovsky raion in 1996 was 34.7 percent of all the applicants: but 27.8 % of the Russians, 2/3 of the Armenians and 2/3 of the Georgians; in 1997, in the same region an average percentage of the refusals was 17: 8.3 % of the Russians, 34.8 % of the Armenians, and 2/3 of the Ukrainians. From 1996 till 1997 in Sovetsk raion an average percentage of the refusals was 7.4: 6.3 % of the Russians, 5.6 % of the Ukrainians, 16.7 % of the Georgians, 18 % of the Armenians, 20.5 % of the Gypsies, 40 % of the Chechens. The same period and the same information from Kirovsk raion: an average percentage of the refusals was 3.8: 0.8 % of the Russians, 15 % of the Georgians, 25 % of the Turks, 25.4 % of the Armenians. It is a common knowledge, that there were no changes in the work of those structures in the Krasnodar and Stavropol krais for the last two years.

Article 5 (d) (iii)

(iii) The right to nationality;

Non-recognition of Russian citizenship in contravention of the federal law for some categories of the former USSR citizens

The problem of non-recognition of citizenship does not fit the exception contained in Article 1, par. 3 of ICERD, because in this case it is not a matter of the requirements of national legislation which concerns nationality, citizenship, or naturalisation, but of selective implementation of these provisions towards different ethnic groups.

It refers to several groups of citizens of the former USSR clearly distinguishable on ethnic ground. They arrived at the territory of Russia, mainly involuntarily, before the collapse of the Soviet Union but have not received registration permits known in Russian as ‘propiska’ (now registration by a place of residence) because of arbitrary refusals of regional authorities. As a result, they have not been officially recognised as citizens of the Russian Federation. According to Article 13, part 1, of the 1991 RF Law ‘On Citizenship of the Russian Federation’, ‘all citizens of the former USSR permanently residing on the territory of the Russian Federation on the day the present law took effect, are deemed citizens of the Russian Federation unless within one year from this date they declare their unwillingness to belong to the citizenship of the Russian Federation’. Neither the RF Law ‘On Citizenship of the Russian Federation’, nor the regulations which determine the procedure for obtaining and registering Russian citizenship (Decrees of the RF President No.386 of 10 April 1991 and No.2299 of 27 December 1993, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs Order No. 330 of 30 June 1994) equate ‘permanent residence’ with the presence of ‘propiska’ or ‘registration by place of residence’. According to the civil and administrative legislation, the place of permanent residence is the place of actual residence, that is, where a person permanently or primarily resides. Nevertheless, government agencies, primarily the Ministry of Internal Affairs, de facto equate ‘permanent residence’ with ‘the presence of registration at the place of residence’. Moreover, granting such registration, contrary to the federal law, virtually turns out to be a matter of official discretion.

The situation is a vicious circle: the absence of propiska (residence permit, or residence registration) is the basis for non-recognition of Russian citizenship, and non-recognition of citizenship is used as a pretext to refuse registration by place of residence (essentially permission to reside in a given place), upon which is predicated the opportunity to enjoy the majority of rights and liberties.

The following groups are affected by this arbitrary non-recognition of citizenship:

  1. Meskhetian Turks (Meskhetians) who were forced to migrate from Uzbekistan in 1989-90 to the Krasnodar krai and the Kabardin-Balkarian Republic (more than 10 000 people);
  2. some of the Kurds from Armenia and Azerbaijan who sought refuge in Krasnodar krai, Republic of Adygeia and Nizhny Novgorod oblast in 1988-90 (2 000 – 4 000 people);
  3. some of the Armenians who fled Azerbaijan in 1988-90 to Moscow, Moscow oblast, Krasnodar and Stavropol krais and Rostov oblast (exact number unknown, dozens of thousands);
  4. some of the Ossetian refugees who fled Georgia in 1990-91 to the Republic of North Ossetia - Alania in RF (exact number unknown).

Discriminative restrictions in registration by the place of residence (see the section concerning Article 5 ‘d’) influence the opportunities to obtain Russian citizenship by the way of registration (a simplified procedure for the citizens of the former USSR), since in practice access to this procedure requires registration by a place of residence.

Article 5 (d) (iv)

(iv) ‘The right to marriage and choice of spouse;’

Marriages of persons who have no local registration by place of residence or stay, in contravention of the law, are not registered officially within the respective region. Recall that persons who belong to ethnic minorities encounter refusals in registration more often than the others.

Article 5 (e) (i),(ii),(iii),(iv),(v)

(e)’Economic, social and cultural rights, in particular:
(i) The rights to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work, to protection against unemployment, to equal pay for equal work, to just and favourable remuneration;
(ii) The right to form and join trade unions;
(iii) The right to housing;
(iv) The right to public health, medical care, social security and social services;
(v) The right to education and training;

The enumerated rights are available to citizens of the Russian Federation who have registration by a place of residence. Since in a number of instances (see the section on Article 2, par 1 (a)) refusal to register a person’s residence is discriminatory on the basis of ethnicity, the same can be said about the restriction of the above-enumerated rights.

The rights to work usually depends on presence of registration by place of residence. In Moscow and the Moscow oblast, the Krasnodar and Stavropol krais, the Republic of Adygeia, Kabardin-Balkarian Republic, the Volgograd and Nizhny Novgorod oblasts the regional registration regulations overtly prohibit hiring persons within registration by a place of residence within the given region, and establish administrative responsibility of the managers of enterprises, offices and organisations irrespective of their form of property for employing citizens without residence registration. In many other regions bans on employment caused by the lack of registration are being made simply by an administrative custom. Moreover, the people having no local registration are not registered by the local labour exchanges as unemployed.

This practice contravenes Article 16 of the Labour Code which forbids restrictions of the labour rights of citizens based on circumstances (including place of residence) unrelated to their professional qualities.

According to the ‘Basis of Legislation of the Russian Federation on Health Protection’ of 22 July 1993 and to the RF Law ‘On Medical Insurance of Citizens in the Russian Federation’ of 28 June 1991, medical aid must be provided to everyone free of charge. In practice, there are examples of aid being refused to sick persons without a local registration and respectively without regional medical insurance.

The right of children to go to school is also often put in relation to availability of registration of their parents in contravention with the law. In Moscow the district Education Departments tightly monitor and do not let the schools directors admit children whose parents have no registration. It is also impossible to enter a higher school without a registration by a place of residence.

Article 5 (f)

‘The right of access to any place or service intended for use by the general public, such as transport, hotels, restaurants, cafes, theatres and parks.’

From September 1999 till February 2000 the Chechens are not admitted to hotels either in Moscow city or the Moscow oblast.

Article 6

‘States Parties shall assure to everyone within their jurisdiction effective protection and remedies, through the competent national tribunals and other State institutions, against any acts of racial discrimination which violate his human rights and fundamental freedoms contrary to this Convention, as well as the right to seek from such tribunals just and adequate reparation or satisfaction for any damage suffered as a result of such discrimination.’

Neither federal nor regional authorities view the issue of preventing discrimination as a priority. The philosophy of ‘nationalities policy’ rests on the concept of ‘regulation of interethnic relations’, i.e. the main reference point is administrative expediency. Seen as the main object of ‘nationalities policy’ are ethnic and social groups, and as the target of this policy is determined as regulation of the relations between groups for the purpose of conflict prevention.

The equal rights provision of Article 19, par. 2 of the Constitution is reproduced in several branches of the legislation (Civil, Civil-Procedural and Labour Codes, the Laws ‘On Citizenship of the Russian Federation’, ‘On Forced Migrants’, ‘On Refugees’, ‘On the Basic Principles of Civil Service of the Russian Federation’, etc.), but only as general declarations.

The Criminal Code contains Article 136 ‘Violation of citizens’ equality’ which envisages criminal liability for ‘violation of citizens’ equality on the basis of gender, race, nationality, language, origins, property and official statuses, place of residence, attitude to religion, convictions, and membership in public associations which inflicted damage on citizens’ rights and lawful interests’. The norm has been actually not used in practice, there are no trials under Article 136 which have led to a court sentence.

There is no special anti-discriminatory legislation in the country, nor acts that contain any definition of direct or indirect discrimination and a list of measures which could be taken under court order to redress the violated rights of citizens. Theoretically, civil rights can be protected by court (Arts. 11 of the Civil Code), in particular by the ways of recognition of a right, restoration of a violated right, recognition of an act issued by a state body or by local self-government as contradicting the law etc. The law protects non-material wealth including personal dignity, right to free move, habeas corpus (Article 150 of the Civil Code). RF citizens may use the 1993 RF Law ‘On Lawsuits Against Actions and Decisions Violating Citizens’ Rights’ and complain to court against actions of officials and bodies of power, and, in theory, can get their rights restored in cases of individual discrimination. But actually this mechanism for preventing or stopping discrimination is hardly ever used, particularly, because of the lack of anti-discriminatory legislation.

There is no special anti-discriminatory programs or programs in the field of providing equal opportunities in the country. The administrative justice institutions as well as special labour and employment conciliatory bodies that could be remedies against discriminatory practices are non-existent in Russia. The drafting and adoption of anti-discriminatory law was not planned by the RF State Duma of the 2nd convocation (1996-99) and there is no evidence that it will be on the agenda of the Duma of 3-rd convocation (2000-2003).

There are no special agencies, either at the federal level, nor at the level of the subjects of the federation which can address the problems of preventing discrimination. The Ministry of Nationalities and Federative Relations does not address the matters of discrimination at all, nor do analogous local offices at the level of the subjects of the federation.

Article 7

‘States Parties undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups, as well as to propagating the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and this Convention.’

The need for such measures are declared at various levels, but up to now no substantive steps have been taken.

There are special courses of studies in the Academy of State Service under the President of RF (which retrains state officials) that contain basic principles of nationalities policy. But in the framework of these coursed the questions of non-discriminatory policy and cultivation of tolerance are scarcely taught upon. There is no other educational institution that gives this kind of special professional education.

Since 1997 the secondary school curricular includes an obligatory ‘national (i.e. ethnic) and regional component’; as a rule, the program of teaching history, geography and population of the region comprises the information of the basic ethnic groups in the population, however, teaching the basic civil rights issues, including the non-admission (prohibition) of the discrimination and racial intolerance, remains optional, and only several schools teach these issues at the initiative of their schoolmasters.

In December 1999, the RF Government adopted an interdepartmental programme on development on tolerance and prevention of extremism and envisaged 25 million roubles (appr. 900,000 USD) budget support. There are no signs so far that the programme and the plan of action are implemented and adequately funded, moreover, most of the respective federal and regional governmental bodies remain ignorant of these documents.

It must be noted that broadcasting of the nation-wide (federal) as well as the regional television companies in general does not reflect multi-racial and multi-ethnic nature of the Russian society, though the republican TV companies have broadcasting programmes in languages of the ‘titular nationalities’ of the respective republics, and the companies of some other regions (the Samara, Tyumen, Orenburg oblasts) broadcast for a limited time (as a rule, a few hours a week) in the languages of the largest national minorities.

The ‘Memorial’ Human Rights Centre
possesses a detailed information
of the described violations
and it may be submitted
to all the interested parties.