2008 09/11

Цыганы - самыя прыгнечаныя ў Расеі …The Romani people are still the most humiliated ethnic minority in the Russian federation, said the CE Commission against Racism and Intolerance members, while presenting their report on Russian interethnic relations in Moscow.

‘Both Gypsies and Caucasians have 20 times more chances to be stopped by the police in the street than the Slavs, being suspected of some unlawful act.’ – said the Commission vice-head Michael Head, during a round table discussion, attended by a number of representatives of the Council of Europe, Russian human rights experts, and the Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.

‘There is a very strong anti-Romani public opinion in the society.’ – says Galina Kozhevnikova, vice-head of the Information and Analytical Center Sova. Still, according to the representatives of the Moscow Human Rights Office, it is not the Romani minority but migrant workers coming from Central Asia and the Caucasus – Uzbeks, Kirghizs, Tajiks and Azerbaijanis – that are the main target of racists in Russia.

Moscow is the most dangerous place for foreigners, Moscow region occupying the second position in the list.

However, according to a survey by the Sova center, there has been a considerable progress in Moscow lately. Thanks to the efficient police activities, ‘the wave of violence has been reduced by nearly 50%’ as compared to the statistics of 2007, which is not the case in Saint-Petersburg.

Galina Kozhevnikova agreed with the generalizations by the Office, admitting that Central Asians are still the main target of neo-Nazi in Russia. According to her, they constitute over a third of the registered victims – the cases when national hatred was proven by court. ‘As for statistics, 72 persons have been killed and some 300 people have been injured since the beginning of the year’, said Sova’s vice-head.

Meanwhile, Kozhevnikova said that the data may well be incomplete, since ‘there have been some cases when racists disguised their violence as domestic crime’. Assault of foreigners is sometimes treated as justifiable self-defense from ‘aggressive visitors’. Such cases are becoming a commonplace matter in today’s Russia.

‘We have registered a new challenge, a new wave, especially in Moscow, and mainly because many racists are already persecuted by law’, says the human rights expert.

At the same time, CE representatives admit that Russia has made some progress in counteracting xenophobia. In particular, it has improved its anti-extremist and ant-racist legislation, which resulted in numerous criminal lawsuits against racists and extremists. Still, they point to the fact that Russia’s criminal legislation is not always used in due form and scale.

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