Strasbourg, 15.10.2013 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on the Russian Federation. ECRI’s Chair, Ms Eva Smith, said that, despite positive developments, there were issues of concern. For example, the residence registration system poses significant problems and ultranationalist, racist and neo-Nazi websites are rife on the Internet.
The Russian Federation has granted citizenship to large numbers of people and statelessness has significantly reduced. Substantial efforts have been made to react firmly to the escalation of racist violence; criminal law now provides that racial hatred or enmity is an aggravating circumstance; law enforcement authorities have targeted the most aggressive ultranationalist groups; and the number and quality of criminal prosecutions for hate crime have increased. Regional ombudsmen have been established in 71 out of 83 constituent entities. A plan is being developed to improve the situation of the Roma.
However, no independent body specialised in combating racism and racial discrimination has been set up. There are indications that the anti-extremism legislation is sometimes over-used and misused, targeting those expressing politically unpopular opinions, human rights activists and members of minority religious communities. Violations of labour regulations and basic rights of migrants occur on a massive scale. Some public figures engage in xenophobic rhetoric and allegations of police misconduct against persons belonging to vulnerable groups continue to be reported.
In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following three require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:
- To find ways to identify those Russian nationals, non-nationals and stateless persons who face obstacles in the residence registration procedure and facilitate their registration;
- To revise the definition of extremism in the Federal Law on Combating Extremist Activity to ensure that it only applies to serious cases where hatred or violence are involved and to specify clearly the criteria to be met when declaring any material extremist;
- To restore the programme on tolerance in Russian society across the country.
The report is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to the Russian Federation in April 2012 [Press Release – 11.05.12] and takes account of developments up to 6 December 2012.
ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.
For more information on ECRI: www.coe.int/ecri
Press contact: Stefano Valenti, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 43 28, firstname.lastname@example.org