ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION CONSIDERS REPORT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION CONSIDERS REPORT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
15 February 2013

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today completed its consideration of the twentieth to twenty-second periodic report of the Russian Federation on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. 

Presenting the report, Yury Osintsev, Secretary of State and Deputy Minister for Regional Development of the Russian Federation, said that a lot of work had been done by the Russian Federation to improve federal and regional legislation tackling racial discrimination, and noted that a mechanism had been set up to monitor the progress made in tackling discrimination issues.  A national ethnic strategy had been drafted to preserve and develop the diversity of ethnic minorities, to promote equality of rights irrespective of race, and to facilitate the social and cultural integration of migrants and of the Roma people.  The Russian Federation remained committed to countering terrorism and extremism in accordance with international commitments undertaken by the country, and also worked to counter the use of hate language and speech in the mass media.  Initiatives were taken to raise awareness of human rights among members of law enforcement agencies and other monitoring bodies.  Special attention was paid to the development and protection of small indigenous peoples, while inter-religious dialogue and cooperation were also actively promoted throughout the country.
  
During the discussion, the Committee noted the high quality of the report which the delegation had submitted and welcomed the participation of non-governmental organization representatives in the preparation of the report.  The issues raised by the Experts included the absence of court reviews of discrimination cases, the lack of a clear definition of discrimination in the national legislation, the limited implementation of the laws concerning extremist behaviour in the case of extremist groups, and the lack of information on ethnic minorities.  Concerns were expressed about racism directed at African immigrants and about reports of discrimination against ethnic minorities by law enforcement personnel.  Questions were asked about the right to education of members of minority groups and of undocumented persons, efforts to protect the rights of Roma people and ethnic minorities, the allocation of subsidies to the communities of indigenous peoples, and the classification of non-governmental organizations receiving funding from abroad as foreign agents.

In concluding remarks, Anastasia Crickley, Country Rapporteur for the Russian Federation, noted the impressive array of initiatives taken by the Russian Federation but expressed concern at the lack of concrete outcomes of those initiatives and also at the lack of a clear and comprehensive definition of racial discrimination, the discrimination experienced by Roma people, and the situation of migrants and stateless persons.

Mr. Osintsev thanked the Committee Experts for their questions and stressed the progress that the Russian Federation had made in dealing with issues of racial discrimination

The delegation of the Russian Federation included representatives from the Ministry for Regional Development, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Telecommunications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Migration Service, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Justice, and the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office at Geneva.  

The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, 18 February, when it will hold an informal meeting with non-governmental organizations.  At 3 p.m., it will begin its consideration of the combined fifth to seventh periodic report of Kyrgyzstan (CERD/C/KGZ/5-7).   

Report

The combined twentieth to twenty-second periodic report of the Russian Federation can be read here (CERD/C/RUS/20-22).   

Presentation of the Report

YURY OSINTSEV, Secretary of State and Deputy Minister for Regional Development of the Russian Federation, said that the Russian Federation valued the expert assistance and advice of the Committee, which would help to identify existing problems and find ways of resolving them.  A great deal of work had been done by the Russian Federation since the last report to improve federal and regional legislation tackling racial discrimination.  The Russian Federation upheld its commitment to implementing the international instruments for the protection of human rights to which it had adhered.  T Russian Federation took a consistent line countering all forms of discrimination and extremist behaviour and practices which promoted xenophobia and related intolerance.  Russian authorities continued to cooperate with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who had recently visited the Russian Federation, and they also contributed to the budget of the Office of the High Commissioner.  An expert mechanism had been set up to monitor the progress made in tackling discrimination issues.  In recent years there had been an increase in the number of fora in which representatives of the civil society participated.  Regional structures were also in place in all 83 entities of the Russian Federation.  With the direct participation of the Presidential Council, a national ethnic strategy had been drafted up until 2025.  Its aims were to preserve and develop the diversity of ethnic minorities, to ensure equality of rights and freedom irrespective of race, and to promote the successful social and cultural adaptation and integration of migrants.  Those aims were fully in keeping with international law and with the recommendations of the Committee.  

The Russian Federation remained committed to countering terrorism and extremism in accordance with international commitments undertaken by the country.  To counter extremism, inter-departmental collaboration was encouraged, and representatives of law enforcement bodies and from the Ministries of Culture and Education liaised to resolve problems of discrimination.  The majority of extremist crimes were committed by young persons under the age of 25 years.  Countering the activities of such groups incited by ethnic, religious and cultural hatred or enmity was the priority of government bodies.  Since the beginning of 2013 the actions of several extremist organizations had been prohibited.  Moreover, to counter the use of hate language and speech in the mass media, the Federal Service monitored regularly media legislation and identified media promoting ethnic or religious hatred.  It had received 400 complaints about statements on the internet and in the media and had recently issued a number of warnings to the media concerned.  At the same time, the Federal Agency provided support for media projects which aimed to help the population overcome intolerance and discrimination.  In 2012, for example, State support of more than $ 2 million had been given to such projects.  

In 2012 the President of Russian Federation had endorsed a number of initiatives taken for the integration of migrants in Russian society and had actively encouraged constructive interaction between migrants and Russian society.  A federal law had recently been adopted to simplify the procedure of obtaining Russian citizenship for citizens of the former Soviet Union.  In 2012 63,000 persons returned to the Russian Federation and there was a specific programme which facilitated their return to the country.  Problems of displaced persons from Chechnya were also being dealt with.   The integration of Russian Roma persons was also being paid special attention, taking into account the cultures, traditions and nomadic lifestyle of Roma and ensuring that the Roma population fully enjoyed its rights.

The Russian Federation continued to raise awareness of human rights among members of law enforcement agencies and other monitoring bodies.  Complaints of human rights violations were taken seriously and were thoroughly investigated.

The Russian Federation was the largest polyethnic country in the world and the cultural and linguistic diversity of its peoples, which was a source of pride for its citizens and part of world heritage, was protected in the Constitution.  The largest groups in the Russian Federation were Russians, Tartars and Ukrainians, and 86 per cent of the population considered Russian as their mother tongue.  The Russian Federation was consistent in its approach to ensuring and protecting the rights and freedoms of its citizens regardless of cultural, ethnic or religious background.  Discrimination was punished in accordance with the law and other existing disciplinary procedures.  Those laws operated together with the protection of human rights in other areas such as education and the right to use one’s mother language.  In Russian law anti-discrimination standards existed practically in all aspects of the legislation and anti-discrimination laws were constantly modified taking into account new realities.       

More than 60,000 public and 40,000 not-for-profit organizations were operative in the Russian Federation.  Around 26,000 religious associations and 12,000 small indigenous communities had been registered.  The Russian Federation paid special attention to the development and protection of small indigenous peoples, who were recognized as an ethnic community not exceeding 50,000 members, and helped them to preserve their traditional lifestyle and activities.  Some of those communities residing in Siberia lived in extreme climatic conditions and needed extra assistance.  Russian State policy focused on ensuring the sustainable development of small indigenous communities in line with the United Nations Declaration for Indigenous Peoples.  More specifically, the right of small indigenous peoples of the North to have adequate access to fishing and hunting and to be able to exercise traditional economic activities was recognized.  Through the implementation of a specific plan, the Russian Federation hoped to increase the overall birth rate, to reduce infant mortality, and to improve the living conditions of the small indigenous peoples of the North by 2020.  Subsidies of 240 million rubles at the national level, in addition to local subsidies, had been allocated to areas where indigenous peoples lived.  Indigenous peoples had a high level of education and access to higher education by all of them was guaranteed.  Assistance was provided to the families of indigenous peoples on a regular basis and financial assistance was offered to graduate students.  Much of the support was provided at the regional level.  For example, housing problems were resolved through subsidies provided to facilitate the purchase of houses or apartments.  The State ensured the informed participation of representatives of indigenous peoples in processes involving decisions relating to their communities.  Certain regions had an ombudsperson for the rights of indigenous peoples. 

The Russian Federation as a secular State supported the activities of different religious organizations and actively promoted inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.  The Russian Federation recognized that ignorance and poor education were at the source of discrimination and xenophobia, which was why it strove to counter anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Christianophobia primarily through education.  The Russian Federation was firmly opposed to religious intolerance and promoted peace accord among different religions and nationalities and inter-religious cooperation.  

Questions by Experts

ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, Country Rapporteur for the Russian Federation, welcomed the extensive materials the Committee had received from the Russian delegation and welcomed the participation of Russian non-governmental organization representatives.  She said that the particularities of the geographical location and historical development of the Russian Federation were important and needed to be taken into account.  She had noted the objectives of creating inter-ethnic peace and harmony in the Russian Federation as set out in the report submitted and was pleased to see a number of positive developments which had occurred since the last review.  Those included increased government efforts to counter hate expression and speech, although she also pointed out with concern that the level of hate speech in the country had not actually decreased. 

She noted the entry into force of the law on the police force which prohibited the wrongful treatment and punishment of ethnic minority persons and requested more information on the implementation of that provision in practice.  The lack of legislation at the federal level remained an issue and she noted the absence of court reviews of discrimination cases including vulnerable individuals such as women and stateless persons.  The Committee believed that the lack of a clear and comprehensive definition of discrimination in national legislation was a major challenge.  Was there a mechanism of systematic data collection other than the census mentioned in the report? 

Ms. Crickley also requested information on the outcomes of the investigation of complaints concerning human rights violations.  What was the relationship between the local ombudspersons and the National Commission for Human Rights and how was national legislation implemented at the local and regional level?  She expressed concern about the apparent non-implementation of the laws concerning extremist behaviour in the case of Neo-Nazi and skinhead groups.  More information was needed on awareness-raising initiatives targeting young persons and on preventative measures taken with regard to young persons’ groups.  Did young persons prone to extremist behaviour have opportunities to explore alternative ways of behaving?

The Country Rapporteur for the Russian Federation said that the report lacked information on ethnic minorities in regions such as the North Caucasus and Chechnya.  Concerns were also expressed about racism directed at Africans, especially in sport.  Information had been received about former Soviet citizens having difficulty obtaining the Russian citizenship.  The Committee had also received reports of misconduct and discrimination against ethnic minorities by law enforcement personnel, with incidents involving use of violence, unwarranted arrests, and detention.  In particular, according to certain reports Chechen persons had been ill-treated by prison staff.  Therefore, more information was needed on the sanctioning and prosecution of law enforcement personnel and on preventative measures taken in that regard.  Regarding prison conditions, concerns were expressed about the lack of medical care for detained persons and about Muslims being prohibited from performing their religious duties in prison. 

Further information was requested on the procedures and criteria applied to the allocation of funding for cultural events, which were an important manifestation of the cultural traditions of minority groups.  More information was needed on secondary education and on the right to study in minority languages and take Sate examinations in such languages. 

Regarding the national plan on Roma persons which was going to be enacted soon, more information was requested on the access of Roma people to education, healthcare, and adequate housing, because there was no indication that clear targets with expected outcomes were in place in that respect.  Was it not a key issue to find ways to address the attitudes of non-Roma populations towards Roma rather than talk about the way Roma people perceived Russians?  Difficulties had been reported concerning the registration of Roma persons.  New processes needed to be put in place to ensure that registration processes were facilitated and that Roma people’s right of freedom of movement was protected. 

Precise information was needed on whether there were any factors impeding indigenous peoples from engaging in traditional activities, which was what had been reported to the Committee.  Was there a mechanism to ensure that subsidies provided to indigenous peoples were used in a transparent manner?

Regarding the situation of non-citizens, including illegal migrants and refugees, more information was needed on the action plan for integrating migrants at federal and regional levels and on the implementation timeframe of that plan.  Did the citizens of the Russian Federation and minority peoples in particular have a clear understanding of their rights?  What did the delegation mean by cultural “adaptation” and integration of migrants? Did “adaptation” mean assimilation?

Concerning access to justice, the recent amendments to the Labour Code had been noted but more information was needed on efforts to establish a database of complaints.  What measures had been taken to promote awareness of the Convention throughout the Russian Federation?

Reports that non-governmental organizations receiving foreign funding were classed as foreign agents were of grave concern, especially because of the implications that that would have for small religious groups and for the representatives of indigenous peoples.  What was being done to ensure that revisions of the laws concerned would not affect small religious groups or small sub-groups of larger religious groups?  Also, more information on racial discrimination experienced by women would be welcome.
    
An Expert welcomed Russian efforts to improve the situation with regard to preventing racial discrimination in the country but expressed concern at reports regularly received from the media about incidents of extremism and discrimination in the Russian Federation and the way in which the authorities dealt with such incidents.  Why were such phenomena on the increase in a number of regions in the country, where 50,000 persons reportedly belonged to extremist organizations such as Neo-Nazi organizations?  How did Russian society react to those phenomena?

How did the Russian Federation assess the implementation of its plans and strategies in terms of civil and administrative legislation aimed at combating racism?  The number of persons killed and injured in racists attacks had decreased since 2007.  While figures were available for 2010, no data had been released for 2012.  Was there a consistent downward trend?  If so, what were the reasons for such a positive development?  Given the geographical and demographic profile of the Russian Federation, how could federal policies and strategies apply in exactly the same way to all citizens from all regions of the country?    

Another Expert noted the long list of cultural and other activities for young persons which aimed to promote cultural diversity.  He expressed concern at the absence of a clear and precise definition of the term “discrimination” in Russian legislation.  He also asked why indigenous peoples were defined as groups of less than 50,000 persons, and pointed out that that definition might have been arbitrary.  Reports had been received that the problems of Roma persons without proper documentation in the Russian Federation were far from resolved.  A large number of Roma did not have access to education because they lacked documentation and, as a result, many were illiterate.  Furthermore, newspaper articles regularly depicted Roma people as dangerous and cautioned citizens about receiving them in their homes.  The Expert also said that better police training was needed in order to enable Russian police to better deal with cases of racial discrimination.  Moreover, no distinction seemed to be made in Russian legislation between migrants and internally displaced persons.  Rather, all those persons were grouped together in a category of “forced migrants”.  There also seemed to be an upsurge of police activity against persons originating from Georgia or Tajikistan.  That was unacceptable, because the worsening of State relations should not affect private citizens.

An Expert noted the high quality of the report under review and asked what non-governmental organizations had contributed to the drafting of the report.  He expressed concern at the increased incidents of racist hate speech by politicians against several minorities, including Muslims, Jews and several ethnic groups.  There seemed to be a populist underpinning of such extremist and racist discourse, which appeared to serve particular political interests.  The Expert also expressed concern at allegations of ill treatment of ethnic minority group members by police or other State officials, which often took the form of police profiling.  What sort of training did police and other State officials receive to develop an understanding and respect of cultural diversity and tolerance?                      

Another Expert noted the high quality and original nature of the reports submitted by the Russian Federation and thanked the Head of Delegation for his comprehensive and precise report presentation.  She said that she was struck by the space that had been devoted to the long-standing problem of extremism in all its forms, and she noted with regret that things had not improved in that respect.  Rather, the phenomenon of extremism had been aggravated in recent years and it was disconcerting that young persons were involved in extremist behaviour incidents.  How could education be used to put a barrier to that phenomenon?  It was positive that the Russian Federation had taken measures at the federal level to tackle the problem but what more could be done in that regard? 

Response by the Delegation

In response to these questions and comments and others, the delegation said that a variety of non-governmental organizations had participated in the preparation of the report and the related discussions.  All the rights of citizens including fundamental freedoms were clearly recognized and guaranteed in the Russian Constitution.  Therefore, the definition of racial discrimination in Article 1 of the Convention did not require further incorporation into federal laws.  The approach of the Russian President was that there was no room for spreading national, religious or cultural hate discourse.  The creation of parties which might threaten the peaceful coexistence of different religions and ethnic groups in the country and which might pose a threat to the secular State was prohibited.  The election programmes and statements of political candidates and political parties should not contain any of the elements prohibited by the law on extremist activities.  In the past, political candidates who had used propaganda material which promoted extremism had been removed from the electoral process.  Attributes and symbols that were Nazi or resembled Nazi symbols were also banned.

Committees dealing with issues of indigenous peoples functioned in many regional legislative assemblies.  Ensuring equal access of citizens to higher public office and preventing any discrimination based on ethnic background were at the heart of the State’s human resource policies.

Regarding the integration of Roma people in Russian society, the delegation said that numerous studies had been carried out on the socio-cultural and ethnic characteristics of Roma persons living in the Russian Federation.  It was important to note that within the broad Roma group there were several sub-ethnic groups who identified themselves as gypsies, not Roma.  Raising the education level of Roma persons and facilitating their integration in Russian society were the aims of a specific action plan which was in place.  Representatives of the Roma community participated fully in meetings held to resolve their housing problems and in other initiatives that concerned them. 

Federal legislation left it to the regional authorities to deal with the appointment of regional ombudsmen, which was done by local authorities in cooperation with civil society.  The promotion and protection of human rights was carried out fully at the level of the individual entities of the Russian Federation, not only at the federal level.

Concerning the social and economic development of Russian citizens, including members of small indigenous groups, the main source of information on that was the Russian population census, the latest one having been held in 2010.  Recently demographic indicators had been published and included extensive information of gender and age, knowledge of languages, level of education, sources of income, economic activities and other statistical data relating to ethnic composition.  That information would be submitted to the Committee in the near future.  Regarding the criteria for providing support to members of ethnic minority groups, at the federal level non-governmental organizations representing the interests of minorities had the opportunity to obtain presidential grants.  Funding was also provided by the Ministry of Economic Development, while similar structures also existed at the regional level.  Subsidies were provided by the State to the regions to support the indigenous peoples living in specific areas.  The overall budget allocated for that purpose was between $ 25 and 48 million, including federal and regional resources.  The activities funded were agreed fully with the indigenous peoples.  Any resources lost by indigenous peoples because of external economic and development activities in their territories were carefully assessed and compensation was paid to the communities affected.  A decrease in infant mortality in indigenous communities had been noted in recent years, which was seen as a positive sign.

A special legal regime limited the exploitation and use of territories where indigenous peoples were known to engage in traditional activities such as fishing and hunting, and those territories were protected from external economic development.  Action was being taken to improve access of indigenous peoples to water resources to facilitate fishing.  Specific areas had been set aside for fishing, which was a crucial feature for most indigenous peoples, and quotas had been set to protect the livelihood of indigenous communities.  There were no prohibitions or limits on traditional activities imposed by the law.  On the contrary, such activities were subsidized and protected by the State.  The current legislation supported indigenous peoples and recognized their right to pursue a traditional lifestyle, and particular tax provisions were made for persons who had such a lifestyle.  Support was provided to all indigenous peoples irrespective of where exactly they lived in the Russian Federation.  Concerning the terms used in Russian legislation referring to the population, there were seven terms referring to different groups of the population, such as “indigenous peoples”, “ethnic minority”, etc.  Most of those terms were not precisely defined in Russian legislation but they were based on international instruments which the Russian Federation had ratified.  Indigenous peoples were a minority but also had a particular status and enjoyed special rights compared to the rest of the population.  The difficult climatic conditions of indigenous peoples living in the Far East and in the North were taken into account.

The delegation said that taking preemptive measures to prevent extremism among young persons was an important part of the State’s policy to counter extremism.  In the regions of the Russian Federation there were specific programmes to encourage tolerance among young people and to promote respect for cultural diversity.  Significant work was being done to improve the level of education of young persons, which included a forum in the Caucasus region and the International Youth Forum in Ingushetia.  Regarding the point about violence used by law enforcement officials, the delegation said that careful checks were carried out.  Such incidents had indeed taken place but illegal action taken by law enforcement officials in order to counter crime was not in accordance with the basic provisions of immunity and assumption of innocence of suspects.  Therefore, measures were taken to step up the overseeing of the implementation of the Criminal Code in that regard in order to ensure that all citizens fully enjoyed their rights.   Measures were also taken to prevent the exercise of illicit psychological pressure by law enforcement officials.  In 90 per cent of cases of complaints that violence had been used by law enforcement officials, the investigative bodies decided that there were no grounds to open a case.  Nevertheless, every effort was made to eliminate all human rights violations of that sort.                             

The delegation clarified that RIPON had not been disbanded but simply had had its activities suspended because a number of violations had been brought to the attention of the State and, despite receiving a warning, those violations had not been rectified so that they would be in line with Russian legislation.  A new version of its charter had recently been submitted and the preliminary decision was that there were no grounds for refusing registration. 

Regarding access to school education for the children of migrants, Roma and foreigners without official documents, the delegation said that according to Russian legislation the right to education of all children could not be limited on the basis of not being documented.  Foreigners residing in the Russian Federation had the same rights as Russian citizens and received education free of charge.  Provisions were also in place to ensure that foreign and stateless citizens had the same rights as Russian citizens and that included education for all irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, language, origin, the state of their health and whether they had a criminal record.  Refusal to admit a child to school on the basis that the child did not speak Russian was not allowed.  Overall, no limitations existed in ordinary education in the Russian Federation.  Regarding children who lived in the republics of the North Caucasus region, almost 100 per cent of those children received education.  As of 2003, statistical data was gathered on children who were not studying or were not attending school regularly.  Concerning questions about education provided in the language of peoples living in the Russian Federation and the study of the languages of small communities, the delegation said that Russian legislation determined the languages in which teaching was carried out.  Standard education in ethnic minority languages was provided in areas where ethnic minorities lived.  The teaching and study of State languages and of the languages of the Republics were ensured by specific programmes which were in keeping with national education standards.

Concerning asylum seekers, the delegation said that those who applied for asylum should have grounded apprehensions that they would be victims in their country of origin on the basis of their political convictions or religious beliefs.  Several thousand persons applied for asylum in the Russian Federation annually.  It was clarified that the number of Africans who sought asylum was relatively small.  During the period 2007-2012, 600 asylum applications had been received and 22 persons were deemed to be refugees.  Therefore, asylum was accorded to 4 per cent of those who had applied for it.  Temporary refugee status and protection was provided on humanitarian grounds to all those who were found to be in need of protection.  Regarding the access of foreigners to higher education, the delegation stressed that all those who had the ability to study at a Russian university were allowed to do so free of charge.  There were 10,000 foreign students at Russian universities, including students from Asian and African countries.

Concerning hate speech in the media and in statements made by politicians, the Russian Federation attached importance to regulating the activities of the media without denying their right to operate or undermining the freedom of information and expression.  Decisions about alleged extremist activities were made by courts and there was specific legislation on that at the federal level and in the Criminal Code.  The law on extremism also provided for the revocation of media permits on the grounds of circulating extremist materials or of giving a platform to persons who used the media to spread hate speech.  Special monitoring activities were carried out regularly and warnings were issued.  The State was working together with journalists to prepare a code of conduct for journalists to help combat hate speech in the media.  Hate speech on the internet, however, was beyond the scope of regulating the media.  Electoral legislation provided for the removal of those political candidates that circulated extremist views.      
 
Regarding women from minority groups, discrimination on the basis of gender was prohibited by Russian legislation and that also covered women from ethnic minorities.  Issues of gender equality were taken very seriously by the Russian Federation.  It was indicative that the delegation itself reflected that reality, with women and ethnic minority members being part of the Russian delegation.

The delegation clarified that the definition of “foreign agent” included every non-commercial organization that received external funding and engaged in political activity in the Russian Federation.  For that purpose, political activity did not include sport, culture, art, sciences, health or charitable activities.  There was no prohibition on the funding received by such organizations but the Russian Federation wanted to ensure transparency in terms of the organizations’ financial sources and to check the legality and good practice of non-commercial organizations operating in the political sphere.

Questions by Experts

An Expert asked whether the Convention was known by the courts, lawyers, prosecutors in the Russian Federation and whether it was referred to in court judgments relating to cases of racial discrimination.  Also, was the Convention translated in minority languages?  Regarding the territories of traditional use by indigenous peoples, did the persons living in those territories have priority in terms of access to local resources before anyone else?  Also, were those territories linked to each other in any way?  Were members of minority groups properly represented in the Government?  The Expert also pointed out that the term “forced migrants” only seemed to include those who were displaced from one area to another in the Russian Federation but did not seem to include those who were internally displaced within the same region.  What were internal forced migrants called?

Another Expert noted that between 2007 and 2009 a large number of foreign nationals (almost 300,000) was granted Russian citizenship annually but numbers dropped significantly from 2010.  What was the reason for that?  What were the countries of origin of the persons who had been granted nationality on such a large scale during the period 2007-2009?

Response by the Delegation

Concerning the dissemination and public awareness of the Convention in the Russian Federation and the use of the Convention in courts, statistics related to that would be included in the next report.  The delegation nevertheless clarified that there was a specific information system in place whereby information about the activities of human rights committees was made available and could be used by Russian courts.  Russian citizens were aware of the Convention and knew that there were specific mechanisms that could be used to file a complaint about possible violations of the rights under the Convention.  No such complaints had been received concerning cases of violation of the Convention.

The delegation also said that there was an official list of areas where traditional use of the environment was protected.  Those areas had a special legal status and the traditional activities of indigenous peoples in those areas were protected.  The list had been compiled upon request from members of the communities of indigenous peoples and ethnic origin was not a criterion for inclusion in the list.  A draft bill had been prepared which identified a set of indicators that were used to decide whether an area would be included in the list, and the number of such areas was expected to increase in the future which would also lead to an increase in the amount of federal funding allocated to those areas.  In any case, inclusion or not of an area in the list did not prevent indigenous peoples with a nomadic lifestyle from crossing areas.

Regarding the question about the resettlement of displaced persons and forced migrants, the delegation said that in 2001 a decree had been passed whereby the Government required that an administrative boundary be crossed for a person to be considered a “forced migrant”.  That was done to ensure the safety and security of residents outside the Chechen Republic at the time, but the decree was no longer in force.  Assistance was offered by the State in cases of humanitarian crises even when no boundary lines of administrative areas had been crossed by the persons concerned.

The delegation confirmed that more than 1.5 million persons had received Russian citizenship since 2007.  Many of them were stateless persons who had found themselves in that situation after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union.  Most of those who were granted Russian citizenship came from the regions neighbouring Russia.  Additional statistics relating to those persons would be made available to the Committee. 

Concluding Remarks

ANASTASIA CRICKELY, Country Rapporteur for the Russian Federation, noted the impressive array of programmes and initiatives taken by the Russian Federation but expressed concern at the concrete outcomes of those initiatives.  She noted the progress which had been made in a number of areas but said that the Committee remained concerned about the lack of a clear and comprehensive definition of racial discrimination, which had yet to be achieved.  She said that she also remained concerned about the indigenous peoples’ rights to pursue a traditional lifestyle and about the discrimination experienced by Roma people despite the plan that had been put in place to tackle that problem.  The situation of migrants and stateless persons in the Russian Federation was also a cause for concern.  She also said that she would have welcomed more information on the relationship between the Human Rights Commissioner and the regional ombudspersons, and on how legislation was transferred from the national to the regional level.

YURY OSINTSEV, Secretary of State and Deputy Minister for Regional Development of the Russian Federation, thanked the Committee Experts and the Country Rapporteur in particular for their questions, and stressed the progress that had been made by the Russian Federation in dealing with issues of racial discrimination.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CERD13/005E