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Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
September 20, 2004


(Washington) – The United States Helsinki Commission will hold a briefing to examine the plight of Roma in the Russian Federation.


Roma in Russia

Thursday, September 23, 2004

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

2325 Rayburn House Office Building



            Dr. Dimitrina PetrovaExecutive Director, European Roma Rights Center 

            Leonid Raihman, Consultant, Open Society Institute

            Alexander Torokhov, Director, Roma Ural

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Beslan, Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to the potential for many ethnic-confessional conflicts in the Federation. Separately, he also remarked that "one of the tasks pursued by the terrorists was to stoke ethnic hatred, to blow up the whole of our North Caucasus. . . . Anyone who feels sympathetic toward such provocations will be viewed as accomplices of terrorists and terrorism,” Putin warned.

In this context, Roma, like other minorities in Russia, report that they are frequently the victims of racially motivated attacks and have been targeted by law enforcement agents on the basis of their ethnic identity.

This briefing will examine the situation of the Romani minority in Russia, with a focus on hate crimes, police abuse, and discrimination. Panelists will provide background information on Russia’s Romani minority, setting their discussion in the current context of the current political, economic and security climate in Russia.

An un-official transcript will be available on the Helsinki Commission's web site at within 24 hours of the briefing.

The United States Helsinki Commission, an independent federal agency, by law monitors and encourages progress in implementing provisions of the Helsinki Accords. The Commission, created in 1976, is composed of nine Senators, nine Representatives and one official each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.

Media Contact: Dorothy Douglas Taft
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Russian Federation


Citizenship and Political Rights
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