The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) monitoring of Roma rights in Russia has revealed an alarming pattern of human rights abuse of Roma and other people perceived as "Gypsies" . The magnitude of the abuse is only comparable to that of the perpetrators’ impunity. Violence by state officials, paramilitary and nationalist-extremist groups, and discriminatory treatment of Roma in the exercise of their civil, social and economic rights are aggravated by the complete absence of governmental action to address these problems.
Despite the rich ethnic diversity of a country that is home to approximately 160 ethnic groups or nationalities, it is important to single out Roma and assess their human rights situation, because not all minority groups in Russia are the object of egregious racist treatment and hate crime. Several ethnic/national communities are particularly vulnerable on the whole territory of the state, wherever they happen to be. The infamous label "person of Caucasian nationality" applied by the Russian authorities to refer to a range of people such as Chechens, Ingushetians, Ossetians, Dagestanis, Georgians, Azeris, etc. is a racist construct that serves as a tool for discriminatory treatment on the basis of physical - and especially physiognomic - features. Apart from "persons of Caucasian nationality" and "Gypsies", Jews and more recently Tajiks and some other people of Central Asian origin are also the target of racist attitudes and actions. While most areas in the Russian Federation have a local pattern of negative stereotyping targeting one group or another and these patterns change over time, the above-listed groups have been disadvantaged throughout the country, and racist attitudes towards them are lasting and deeply entrenched.
In view of the foregoing, international scrutiny of the human rights of Roma in Russia should be seen as a contribution to exposing and combating racism and discrimination in that country generally. Many of the patterns of abuse identified during research on the human rights situation of Roma in Russia may be regarded as clues to similar problems related to other groups. At the same time, these patterns can be understood properly only if seen in the specific legal, political and cultural context of today's Russia.
The findings presented in this submission are the result of an extensive monitoring of Roma rights in Russia conducted by the ERRC since July 2000 through our own field missions, regular reporting by local monitors, and cooperation with Russian human rights and Romani non-governmental organizations. The geography of the ERRC research to date allows a degree of generalization on the status of the Roma in the country, although further research is necessary to achieve full coverage. In the last three years (2002-2004), the ERRC has conducted field research in (i) Northwest Russia: St. Petersburg region (oblast), Velikiy Novgorod region, Pskov region; (ii) Central Russia: the Chuvash Republic, Ivanovo region, Moscow city, Moscow region, Nizhniy Novgorod region, Ryazan region, Samara region, Saratov region, the Republic of Tatarstan, Tver region, Vladimir region, Volgograd region, Ulyanovsk region, Yaroslavl region; (iii) Southern Russia: Adygey Republic, Krasnodar region (kray), Rostov region; (iv) Siberia: Novosibirsk region, Omsk region, Tomsk region; and (v) the Ural area: Chelyabinsk region, Ekaterinburg region.
1. Historical and Social Background
There are no reliable current estimates of the number of Roma in the Russian Federation. The results of the 2002 census indicate that there were 182,617 individuals who identified themselves as Romani. Unofficial estimates, however, suggest that the number of Roma in Russia is much higher. Some Romani leaders place the number of Roma in Russia at approximately 1.2 million. For reasons including assimilatory communist policies, continuing migration movements of Roma throughout the territory of the former USSR, widespread lack of personal documents , and deep reluctance by Roma to identify themselves as such, the official number of Roma as provided by the census figure is a dramatic undercount of the real number of Roma in Russia. In comparative terms, the uncertainty regarding Roma-related statistics, which plagues, in varying degrees, most of the countries where Roma live, is much higher with regard to the absolute number of Roma living in Russia at present.
The economic and social situation of the Roma in Russia deteriorated during the first decade of post-communism at a speed much higher than that of any other ethnic group. In the Brezhnev era, large sections of the Romani community enjoyed a better economic status and their living standards were often higher than the Soviet average. This status was due to the fact that some Roma occupied a profitable mediator niche in the Soviet shortage economy. Highly mobile and with adaptable entrepreneurial skills, many Roma traveled large distances in the former Soviet Union to redistribute deficit commodities, acting mostly outside the official economy. Then, in the 1990s, the booming domestic market quickly developed previously non-existent services. The need for commercial mediation between money-holders and commodities disappeared. Many previously wealthy Roma rapidly sank to the bottom, unable to compete with the "new Russian" class of the suddenly rich. The image of Roma also suffered, and anti-Romani racism grew in both intensity and scope. At the same time, nationalism, racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, specific to post-communist Russia, had a strong anti-Romani element and played a role in further economic marginalization of the Roma. Anti-Gypsyism features prominently among the new hate ideologies of Russia today.
The problems facing ethnic and national minorities in the Russian Federation, including Roma, have been in the focus of international treaty-monitoring bodies. For example, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child stated in its 1999 Concluding Observations on the Russian Federation that “the Committee remains concerned at the living conditions of ethnic minorities, especially in the north, and their access to health, educational and other social services. The Committee is also concerned at the growing incidence of societal discrimination against children belonging to ethnic minorities.” The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination likewise noted in March 2003: "The Committee is concerned at reports of racially selective inspections and identity checks targeting members of specific minorities, including those from the Caucasus and Central Asia and Roma. The Committee recommends that the State party take immediate steps to stop the practice of arbitrary identity checks by law enforcement authorities."
Non-governmental organizations have expressed similar concerns. For example, the 2003 World Report by Human Rights Watch pointed out that “state authorities did little to address racist assaults, and in some areas regional authorities led attacks on ethnic minorities. The government also failed to make any advances in addressing police torture […] Police generally did not take adequate steps to investigate such crimes, denying racial motivation unless presented with strong supporting evidence such as video footage of the crime.” Human Rights Watch also noted “an explosion of skinhead attacks on ethnic minorities, and an ugly campaign against them by the authorities in the southern region of Krasnodar. Skinheads killed several members of ethnic minorities and beat dozens of others in Moscow and other Russian cities.”
2. Legal and Institutional Context
As of September 2004, the State Duma (the Russian Parliament) had made public no plans for the drafting or the adoption of anti-discrimination legislation. In the absence of effective anti-discrimination provisions, Roma as well as a small number of other ethnic groups in Russia listed above are subjected to discrimination in nearly all areas of public life. The relevant legal provisions in the national legislation are inadequate and fail to offer effective protection from discrimination in Russia.
Article 19 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation is apparently intended as an umbrella provision enshrining the principle of equal treatment. Article 19.2. stipulates that “all people are equal before the law and in the court of law” and that “the state guarantees the equality of human and civil rights and liberties, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, language, origin, property and employment status, residence, attitude to religion, convictions, membership of public associations and any other circumstances. Any restrictions on the rights of citizens on social, racial, ethnic, linguistic, or religious grounds are forbidden.” The second clause of Article 19.2. limits its ban on “restrictions of rights” (not defined anywhere in Russian law) to five specific grounds, and only with regard to “citizens”, but read together with the first clause, the prohibition of restriction of rights on the prohibited bases may be interpreted as covering all individuals under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, regardless of citizenship. The term “discrimination” appears in the Russian Constitution in the context of equal pay and employment conditions, but no definition is offered in the law.
The equal treatment provisions in the Constitution are elaborated in some Russian sectoral laws, but protections provided by these laws are inadequate. For instance, the term “discrimination” appears in the 2001 Labor Code, again with no definition or guidance as to interpretation. The 2002 Federal Law on Citizenship of the Russian Federation guarantees equal rights to all citizens of the Russian Federation, but not equal access to citizenship regardless of race or ethnicity. A number of sectoral laws fail to contain even such meager equal rights provisions. Such is the case with the 1983 Housing Code, the 1992 Federal Law on the Framework of Federal Housing Policies, and the 1999 Federal Law on the Framework of the Federal Labor Protection Policies.
3. Political and Ideological Climate
Toward the end of the Yeltsin presidency, Russian society was imbued with a strong feeling of chaos, injustice, rampant crime and corruption. President Putin was elected and then re-elected on a ticket of security, law and order. His popular support rests on the broad expectation that he will stifle corruption and curtail crime. The Russian's longing for "normalcy" has turned into a vehement political resource exploited by powers in search of their own legitimacy.
With the quagmire of the war in Chechnya and the series of terrorist attacks in recent years -- of which the most serious to date have been the October 2003 hostage taking in a Moscow theater and the September 2004 school hostage massacre in Beslan, North Ossetia -- an increased preoccupation with security at all levels of public life is taken for granted by the public.
Together with the lack of democratic tradition and the extremely weak rule of law culture, the security and anti-crime agenda in Russia is turning into a platform on the basis of which restrictions on civil rights and liberties are regularly justified. The Putin regime has rolled back media freedoms. The administrative and legal obstacles to the operation of civil society organizations additionally reduce the prospects for human rights and freedoms. In 2004, Putin himself triggered an offensive against human rights organizations in particular when in a presidential speech on May 26, 2004 he used language reminiscent of an earlier era. Mr Putin said that foreign "political, economic and media pressure" was being used in an attempt to weaken Russia's chances of competing globally. Rather than defending "the real interests of the people", the priority of some independent groups is "getting financing from influential foreign and domestic foundations, while others serve dubious group and commercial interests".
Russian internal security policy at present rests on three ideological sacred cows: the "war against terrorism", the "war against corruption" and the "war against drugs". These three rhetorical wars are waged against amorphous and evasive enemies. However, among a public shaped by the hate-speaking media, the enemy images are strongly associated with the three respective most stigmatized ethnic and national groups singled out above: "persons of Caucasian nationality", Jews, and "Gypsies". Each of the three interior policy priorities is effectively translated into a policy of discriminatory treatment against one of these groups. The militant rhetoric of the ideological wars in today's Russia strengthens the existing negative stereotypes about all three nationalities. In the first case, in addition to dealing with occasional disaster caused by real terrorist attacks, security enforcement under the banner of the "war against terrorism" has a disturbing everyday manifestation: harassment of those perceived as "persons of Caucasian nationality" - an increasingly blurry category standing for a range of assorted non-Russians. In the second case, the "war against corruption" has been anchored in a recent series of high profile prosecutions of wealthy Jewish Russian businessmen in the last few years, from Berezovskiy to Khodarkovskiy, for alleged violations of commercial and tax law. Finally, the "war on drugs" has gradually generated, during the 1990s, the image of the typical illegal drug dealer (baryga in popular slang), namely, the "Gypsy". Today, the identification of the Roma with drug dealing has reached a point of near synonymous usage in the media.
In view of this latter case of racist stereotyping, the majority of examples presented in this document make more sense when seen in the context of the fight against drug dealing. There are widespread allegations that police "plant", or threaten to "plant" drugs on Roma, which ERRC research supports. The practice of planting drugs and threatening to plant drugs is made possible by the atmosphere of almost full impunity for crimes against Roma and by the seemingly insurmountable levels of corruption in the Russian criminal justice system. There are two routine outcomes, both favorable to the representative of the authority planting or threatening to plant drugs. The first is receiving a bribe, which would "compensate" the public servant for the very low salary offered by the state. The second is scoring a "victory" in the combat against drug dealing, trafficking and use -- an important achievement in view of the intense public pressure on police to show success in catching and prosecuting drug dealers. The latter outcome renders to the racially biased law enforcement officer the additional satisfaction of punishing a harmful or useless "Gypsy".
4. Abuse of Roma Rights by State Actors
Anti-Romani sentiment in Russia has given rise to a wave of violence against and abusive treatment of Roma. Deepening social and economic disadvantage of Roma in Russia and the absence of Roma from the political arena have made this minority particularly vulnerable to illegal acts by the law enforcement apparatus of the state.
ERRC research has revealed that police violence against Roma in Russia is widespread, though rarely reported to the authorities. While police brutality and abuse by national security forces is a general problem in Russian law-enforcement in recent years, and has been a primary concern of international and Russian human rights organizations, Roma along with several other ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable. Racial-profiling of Roma by the police, the targeting of Romani settlements for abusive police operations and persistent racial stereotyping of Roma as criminals and drug-dealers by law-enforcement officials demonstrate racial bias in the treatment of Roma by state officials. Romani suspects are tortured and ill-treated in police custody, and in some instances physical abuse has resulted in death of the victims. Romani settlements are raided by the police and special units mandated to fight illegal drug dealing at any time of the day and the night. Romani individuals report indiscriminate violent abuse of men, women and children, destruction of housing and other property, and theft of possessions in the course of raids. Abduction of Romani family members and the extortion of money in exchange for their release is a widespread pattern of abuse.
In almost all cases researched by ERRC, violence and other illegal acts perpetrated against Roma by the police and special anti-drug forces remain without legal remedy. Fear of retaliation and the perception of the victims that law enforcement officials are immune from sanctions are a powerful deterrent for many Roma: they are frequently reluctant or fully unwilling to seek justice for illegal acts by police officials. Filing an official complaint is deemed by the overwhelming majority of Romani victims as a dangerous and irresponsible adventure that may incur harm and hardship on the entire family or community. At best, such actions are seen as a useless waste of time. During ERRC field research in Russia, many Roma refused to talk about concrete instances of police brutality involving them as victims or witnesses, while they readily stated that they had experienced or witnessed violent treatment. Some spoke under conditions of confidentiality. ERRC researchers became aware of cases of racist violence implicating law enforcement authorities that had been filed but later retracted, following threats and other pressure. Even legal counsel has sometimes been forced, through a mixture of intimidating phone calls and conversations behind closed doors, to discontinue proceedings and abandon Romani clients. Where complaints have been processed, investigations usually found no offence committed by police and other law enforcement officials.
4.1. Torture and Ill Treatment of Roma by Law Enforcement Officials
The ERRC has documented several dozens of cases in which Roma have been victims of violence committed by law enforcement officials. In several instances, Roma detainees died as a result of physical abuse. Torture and ill-treatment of Roma at the hands of the police appears to be on the rise, both in terms of frequency and severity, yet law enforcement officials are rarely prosecuted or even disciplined when abuses are plausibly alleged. As of September 1, 2004, the ERRC is aware of only one single case in which Russian police officers were sentenced for crimes related to the abuse of a Romani individual and in this case -- which resulted in the death of the victim -- the sentence was suspended and the perpetrators walked free. The examples following below illustrate a number of the problems of violent abuse by law enforcement officials documented by the ERRC and partner organizations..
According to ERRC field investigation, in the evening hours on an unspecified date in January 2003, in the village of Trubichino, Velikiy Novgorod region, Mr. I.N., a 54-year-old Romani man, was at home with two Romani friends when three or four police officers suddenly broke into the flat, allegedly searching for a suspected thief they called “Andrey”. According to the testimony of Mr. I.N.’s relatives, the police officers demanded that the Romani men inform them about the suspect’s location. When Mr.. I.N. and his friends responded that they did not know the suspect, the police officers reportedly began to beat the men. In order to end the beating, one of the Romani men reportedly lied and told the police to look for “Andrey” at a certain location. Before they left, the police officers threatened the men that, should the address turn out to be false, they would return and "things would become worse". Fearing retaliation, Mr.. I.N.’s friends left. Mr.. I.N. stayed, reportedly because he believed he did not have anything to fear. Some hours later, one of the friends, fearing for Mr.. I.N.’s safety, phoned Mr. I.N.’s cousin and asked him to check on Mr. I. N. When his cousin did so, he reportedly found Mr. I. N. dead on a chair in his flat, the floor covered with blood. Relatives of the victim complained that they were not allowed to see Mr. I.N .’s body in the morgue before it was prepared for burial. However, according to witnesses who attended the funeral, Mr. I.N.’s face was swollen and covered with bruises. Mr. I.N.’s sister, Ms. Y.I., asked the local prosecutor for information about her brother’s unexpected death. Ms. Y.I. was told that, according to the official medical examination, her brother had died of alcohol poisoning. One of the two witnesses who had been present in Mr. I.N.’s flat on the evening in question reportedly has been threatened by the police officers involved that he will "suffer consequences" if he does not remain silent about the incident. No one has been brought to justice for the death of Mr. I.N.
On May 24, 2002, at approximately 4:00 AM, Ms. Fatima Aleksandrovich, a 23-year-old Romani woman, died in the hospital in Pskov, northwestern Russia, apparently after having been physically abused by police officers in the local police station. According to ERRC field research, on May 20, 2002, at approximately 8:30 AM, Ms. Aleksandrovich had been taken to a police station in Pskov on suspicion of having committed larceny. Allegedly, Ms. Aleksandrovich had been trying to steal a purse from a female employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on a city bus in Pskov. Mr. Ravshan Mamedov, a police officer who also happened to be on the same bus, detained Ms. Aleksandrovich and took her to the local police station. At approximately 4:00 PM the same day, the police informed Mr. Aleksandr Klein, Ms. Aleksandrovich’s common-law husband, that his wife had attempted to commit suicide by jumping out of a third floor window at the police station and that she was in a coma in the hospital. She died four days later. The doctor who examined the body of Ms. Aleksandrovich and certified her death reportedly expressed doubts that Ms. Aleksandrovich had committed suicide. Ms. Aleksandrovich's corpse had numerous bruises on her arms, inner thighs and neck. According to Mr. Molchanov, a lawyer involved in the initial investigation of Ms. Aleksandrovich’s death, the bruises on Ms. Aleksandrovich’s body did not fit the injury pattern of a fall victim. The family of the victim filed a criminal complaint urging the Pskov Prosecutor’s Office to begin a criminal investigation into the death of Ms. Aleksandrovich. However, no official investigation was initiated. The failure to launch criminal investigation was appealed twice, without success. On January 19, 2004, the Pskov city court acted on the complaint against the decision submitted by the ERRC and ordered the Pskov public prosecutor's office to re-open the pre-trial investigation, which the court did on February 13, 2004. On March 12, 2004, the Pskov public prosecutor again refused to open a criminal case, due to lack of evidence of an offence. As of this writing, the ERRC is preparing further legal action.
In the morning hours of August 3, 2001, according to research conducted by ERRC and the Moscow-based non-governmental organization Romano Kher, 37-year-old Mr. V.V. Yeryomenko was taken to the police station in Khimki, a town in the Moscow region, and beaten to death after being stopped in the street for a routine identity check. Mr. Yeryomenko and his non-Romani neighbor, Mr. D.A. Kuznetsov, were walking home together, when two police officers, V.K. and D.T., stopped them and asked to see their identity documents. Mr. Yeryomenko and Mr. Kuznetsov did not have their identity documents with them, but told the police that they lived only a five-minute walk from the place and could go and get the documents. The police officers declined and instead took Mr. Yeryomenko and his neighbor to the police station in Khimki. There, the two officers reportedly started beating Mr. Yeryomenko with truncheons and fists all over his body, while calling him “Gypsy”. Approximately three hours after he had been brought to the police station, Mr. Yeryomenko died in one of the detention cells. The cause of his death was later determined to be a torn spleen and other grave bodily injuries. Ms. Nikolayenko, Mr. Yeryomenko’s wife, went to the police station on the afternoon of the same day, seeking an explanation for her husband’s death. She was reportedly offered an implausible explanation of the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death, and was allegedly told that “police officers could not, in any case, be prosecuted for the killing.” In this case, unique in Russia, the perpetrators were prosecuted and in April 2004 they were sentenced to seven years imprisonment. However, the sentences are suspended.
On June 19, 2002, Mr. Graf Ivanovich Pavlov, a middle-aged Romani man, testified to the ERRC and the St. Petersburg branch of the non-governmental organization Memorial that on June 7 or 8, 2002, following the death of a Special Purpose Police Unit (OMON) officer, he was beaten by police officers while in detention in Pskov, northwestern Russia, in an apparent attempt to coerce him to admit responsibility for the death of the OMON officer. Mr. Pavlov reported that police officials – two of whom he identified as Officer A.Y. and Officer S. – from Pskov and neighboring Porkhov respectively -- arrested him while he was waiting with his wife, Ms. N. S., at a bus stop in the village of Polovnoe near Pskov. Mr. Pavlov was handcuffed and pushed into a police vehicle. Mr. Pavlov stated that Officer A.Y. and Officer S. began to beat him immediately after he got into the car, accusing him of having murdered the OMON officer. The policemen drove Mr. Pavlov to a police station in Porkhov, where they continued to beat him while still handcuffed and with his legs tied. When Mr. Pavlov refused to confess to the murder, the officers reportedly offered him alcohol and drugs, saying that if he gave a written confession they would help him secure a lighter sentence. Mr. Pavlov refused to answer the questions of the officers without a defense attorney present. When Ms. N. S. finally managed to retain one, the attorney was reportedly not permitted to enter the police station to meet with his client. Mr. Pavlov explained that, on the basis of a resolution of the local prosecutor Sergey Vladimirovich Gubin, he was held in detention until June 18, 2002, because he could not produce his identification documents, which however had been confiscated earlier by the same police officers who had arrested him. According to Mr. Pavlov, throughout the ten days in detention, he was repeatedly beaten and threatened by police officers who called him “Gypsy snout”. During one interrogation session, one policeman, Officer V.I., reportedly threatened to rape Mr. Pavlov in the presence of other officers, including one whom Mr. Pavlov recognized and named. Mr. Pavlov told the ERRC/Memorial that he would not lodge a complaint against the officers.
4.2. Police Raids
Police raids on Romani settlements occur routinely throughout the country. According to testimonies by Roma to the ERRC obtained in 2004, in a number of communities in Central Russia, including in Kimry, Nizhniy Novgorod and Ryazan, police raids have been carried out several times per month. The raids are usually justified on the grounds of searching for criminal suspects and drugs. The police, however, allegedly never show any warrants or even identification documents. Numerous Romani individuals are beaten and/or otherwise abused, and household items and money stolen by the attackers. ERRC researchers heard from many witnesses divided by long distances throughout the country similar descriptions of raids. In many cases, family members present during such raids had the impression that the attackers actually were terrorists or armed bandits engaged in burglary, and only later found that their assailants had in fact been the members of the public administration apparently acting in their official capacities.
In early September 2004, according to information provided to the ERRC by local monitors, law enforcement officials invasively and without regard to fundamental rights and civil liberties conducted a sustained campaign of surveillance and intrusion in several Romani communities in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia. Police officers allegedly searched anyone who left their houses and arbitrarily took Roma to the police station. The operations were allegedly carried out in the context of fighting terrorism, in the wake of the September 1-3 school hostage bloodshed in Beslan, North Ossetia. According to ERRC sources, due to the massive police presence in the Romani settlements, at the time of this writing, Roma live in terror and do not dare to leave their homes. Several Romani families have called local Romani leaders and human rights activists to ask for their help in providing them with essentials such as food. Unidentified police officers allegedly state that the reason for the police presence in the Romani communities is intelligence information that terrorists are disguised as "Gypsies".
It should be noted that some raids are apparently aimed at arresting offenders. However, unlike in cases in which police undertake arrests in non-Romani quarters, when raiding Romani settlements, police raid all houses of the neighborhood indiscriminately, and approach the whole Romani community as if it were one household, thus violating a number of individual rights. An example of such treatment follows:
According to information provided to the ERRC by the Ekaterinburg-based organization "Roma Ural", on August 26 and 27, 2004, police and Special Purpose Police Units (OMON) carried out two successive raids on the Romani community in the city of Revda, Ekaterinburg region.
At around 11 PM on August 26, armed men in civilian clothes stormed into all of the houses in the Romani neighborhood, breaking doors and windows and using foul language. The attackers pointed automatic rifles at the residents, struck them with the butts of their rifles and forced everyone -- men, women and children -- to lie face down on the floor. The attackers did not identify themselves, nor did they present any search warrants. Roma who asked about the identity of the attackers who raided their homes were allegedly beaten and verbally abused in response. One Romani man was shot in the leg when he attempted to defend his family, by threatening the attackers with a toy-gun. Several attackers then forced the man to the floor and beat him with the butts of their rifles. The man's invalid mother was also hit when she approached the attackers and pleaded with them to stop beating her son.
Without asking any questions, the attackers rushed around the houses and detained an unidentified number of Romani men. After the attackers left the Romani settlement, Romani women -- the wives and sisters of the detained -- went to the local police to look for their relatives. They were not provided with any information about the whereabouts of their relatives. Romani women interviewed by "Roma Ural" testified that while waiting in front of the police, they could hear people crying out from inside, apparently as a result of being abused physically. They also witnessed police officers entering the building of the police station with bottles of vodka and beer. At around 4 AM, all detained Roma were released.
When the raid on the Romani houses began on August 26, some Roma thought that the attackers were gangsters and called the police. The police allegedly refused their requests for help. After the raid, Roma claimed that valuables including mobile telephones, as well as personal and other documents were missing from their houses. On August 27, some Roma attempted to seek help from the local hospital. When doctors understood that the Roma had been beaten by the police and security forces, they allegedly refused to treat them.
On the following night -- August 27 -- the police conducted a second raid in the same Romani quarter. Between 11 PM and midnight, police officers arrived in the Romani neighborhood. Many Roma, fearing another night of sustained violence, had left their doors open to prevent the police from breaking them again. The officers, again in plain clothes, stormed the houses and forced people to lie face down on the floor, but this time they did not beat anyone. No one was detained and the police left shortly afterwards.
According to the testimony of Roma from Revda, several days after the raids, they learned that the police had been looking for a young Romani man suspected of the murder of one Russian woman and an 8-year-old Russian girl. Witnesses to the murders had allegedly testified that the perpetrators were a Russian man and a Romani youth. Inhabitants of the neighborhood said that during the previous year there had been a similar raid, following the murder of a Russian man. Later, it was found that the perpetrator was of Russian ethnicity.
IN one case, according to ERRC research, in February 2003 at approximately 11 AM a police raid was conducted in Zubchaninovka, near Samara. Local people described the event as involving approximately 150 armed police officers in masks. According to Mr. Vasiliy Kutenkov, a Romani activist from Samara, police officers entered some of the homes through the windows, and in one case set the door of a house on fire in order to enter a house. During the raid, Mr. Kutenkov’s brother, Oleg Kutenkov, whose home was also stormed, requested that officers clarify the reason for the raid. The police officers allegedly stated that they had been ordered to conduct house searches. Mr. Oleg Kutenkov said that they could search his home only in the presence of his lawyer. The police officers agreed to wait for the lawyer and also reportedly sent one of their colleagues to the neighboring house of another member of the Kutenkov family to warn police officers there that a lawyer would be coming, so they should act in accordance with the law. In most homes, however, the police officers reportedly have caused significant damage to the household and stole valuables. Then the police left. On the following day, Mr. Aleksandr Molchanov, an attorney, offered to file a complaint on behalf of those Roma who had been raided. The Roma in question refused however, indicating that they feared retaliation from the police were they to undertake such an action.
In another case, on March 29, 2001, between fifteen and twenty masked members of the Fast Reaction Group (SOBR), a police unit operating under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, raided a community of more than seventy Romani families in the village of Dorozhny, in the Kaliningrad region, and assaulted a number of residents. According to research by the Moscow-based non-governmental organization Romano Kher, SOBR members armed with machine guns broke into several Romani households in the village, forcing everyone to the floor and beating them with the butts of their guns and with wooden sticks taken from a fence outside. The SOBR officers then allegedly ordered several Roma to crawl into the yard, where they forced them to lean on cars and submit to body searches. Mr. L.P., a young Romani man, was allegedly severely beaten by police officers. The youth's father, Mr. M.P., was reportedly hit in the kidneys when he attempted to help his son. Officers reportedly told him to "stand still or he would have his brains sprinkled on the asphalt". An unnamed 9-year-old Romani girl told Romano Kher that she was at home with her father, who had had heart surgery a few days earlier, when several masked men broke into the house. She related that when her father asked to call for an ambulance because he felt pain in his heart, the masked men laughed at him and beat him. They then took a sausage from the refrigerator and left. Afterwards, according to Romano Kher research, members of SOBR allegedly drove around the village and stopped to assault several Roma. The SOBR officers also confiscated personal items they found on the Roma. The raid reportedly lasted for approximately two or three hours. Several Roma were taken to the hospital for injuries of various levels of seriousness. Others were taken to the local police station for identity checks and released shortly afterwards without charges. In an interview with Romano Kher, Mr. A. Mikhailov, the head of SOBR, stated that the raid had been part of a police search for a Romani man suspected of having committed a crime, and that, though “the Gypsies” had resisted the raid, no abuse of power had taken place. According to Romano Kher, although the Kaliningrad district prosecutor promised them to make an inquiry, no one was subsequently charged with any offence in the context of the raid.
While many raids are conducted apparently on grounds of efforts to detain suspects of crimes other than drug dealing, it appears that the most frequent and most dangerous type of house raids which Roma throughout Russia fear at all times are raids aiming to secure evidence of drug-dealing and to arrest drug-dealers. During these operations, usually carried out by special anti-drug police units (known under the abbreviation OBNON ), drugs may be "planted" --i.e., brought by police themselves and then "discovered" on the person or among the belongings of the person targeted -- following which Roma are either prosecuted and imprisoned, or put under pressure to provide high-price bribes.
4.3. Abduction and Extortion of Money by the Police
Most Roma with whom the ERRC spoke during field missions in Russia in 2003 and 2004 had either been victims of extortion of money by the police themselves or had friends and acquaintances who had been subjected to similar illegal practices. The practice of the police to coerce Roma into paying bribes appears ubiquitous. For example, according to the testimony given to the ERRC on August 24, 2004 by a Romani man from the settlement Dyagrevo in Ryazan, home to more than 200 Romani families, local police officers come at least once a week to the settlement and force Roma to give them money. If the Roma refuse, the police often take Roma hostage. On August 22, 2004, in the late afternoon hours, the settlement was raided by six masked police officers who were allegedly under the influence of alcohol. The officers broke into houses and demanded that Roma give them money. Several people, including women, were beaten. The officers left the settlement taking at least ten Romani individuals hostage. Allegedly, the police demanded 60,000 rubles (approximately 2,000 US dollars) for their release. The Roma were released the same evening after the families collected the money and gave it to the police. Regular extortion of money by the police from the local Roma was also reported to the ERRC in the Romani settlement in Novokuybyshevsk, southwest of Samara, which is home to about 50 Romani families. According to local Roma, police enter Romani homes at least once a month and demand money. If Roma refuse to pay, police officers threaten to plant drugs. If Roma fail to pay in time, they are detained by the police and released only when the police receive money.
Incidents of abduction of Roma and extortion were also recently reported by the Russian media. On June 10, 2004, the Moscow-based Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported that four police officers, including a major, two senior lieutenants and a lieutenant, were arrested in Novosibirsk, the biggest city of Siberia, on suspicion of extortion, group robbery and abuse of power. According to the daily, the arrest followed an incident in March 2004 during which at least eight police officers abducted a three-member Romani family and, during the course of one night, tortured the young couple in front of their 8-year-old daughter in the forest close to the nearby town of Krasny Yar. The officers reportedly beat the child as well. During the physical abuse, the officers stole the family’s gold jewelry and demanded 30 million Russian rubles (approximately 1,026,000 US dollars), according to the daily. The following morning, the officers finally ceased torturing the couple when they agreed to pay 1 million Russian rubles (approximately 34,250 US dollars). At this time, one of the officers accompanied the Romani woman to get the money while the remaining officers held her husband and child hostage. Following the family’s release, the couple filed a complaint with the local police. With a delay of several months, after a search of their homes and offices on the morning of June 9, 2004, the four officers were arrested. Kommersant reported that the local investigator was going to recommend to the local court that the four officers be charged for the above offences. Kommersant also reported that the same officers had been involved in a similar incident in November 2003, during which a relative of the couple victimized in the March 2004 incident had been abducted from a street in Novosibirsk and taken to a forest. There he had been beaten for seven hours while the officers demanded money. Following this assault, the Romani man moved away from the town because the officers had threatened to burn his “Gypsy” family after he refused to give them money.
In response to a letter of concern sent by the ERRC, Mr. Afanasyev, the Deputy Regional Prosecutor, wrote that during the criminal investigation against the four police officers charged with extortion and robbery of the Roma concerned, all measures had been taken to clarify the circumstances of the case. In its letter, ERRC had drawn attention to the apparent racial animus of the offence and insisted that if confirmed it should be considered as an aggravating factor in sentencing the perpetrators. Mr. Afanasyev however contended in his letter that the investigation had not established a motivation related in any way to ethnic or national hatred.
Romani individuals have testified to the ERRC and partner organizations that the process of "ascertaining drug ownership" has often been conducted in violation of procedural requirements because the witnesses of the police who are supposed to be independent from the police have been individuals closely related to it.
The ERRC field investigation in June and July 2004 obtained first hand victim and witness testimonies according to which on October 17, 2003, at about 5:00 PM, a group of approximately ten police officers in plain clothes broke into a Romani house on 2 Kubanskaya Street in Bataysk, Rostov region, without showing warrants. The police forced all the nine Roma present to lie face down on the floor and began to beat them. The officers introduced themselves as "officers from the Department of the Interior of Rostov region", but did not show any identity documents. The attackers detained Mr. P.L., Mr. I.Y., Ms. Y.R., Mr. N.R. and Ms. M.L. and drove them to the Pervomayskiy district police station of Rostov-on-Don. On the staircase inside the police station, the police officers allegedly slipped drugs into the pockets of Mr. P.L., Mr. I.Y. and Ms. Y.R. In the police station the Roma were beaten and urged to sign documents confessing drug ownership. The Roma refused to do so and the beating allegedly continued. According to testimonies of the victim provided to the ERRC in August 2004, the violence in the police station included pulling of the hair, hitting the victims' heads against the wall, throwing jackets on their heads and beating them through the jackets. In one of the rooms where Roma were beaten, police officers had turned on the TV to maximum volume, so that no cries could be heard outside the police station. Ms. Y.R. was subjected to degrading and humiliating sexual harassment as well. One of the officers whom she can identify reportedly took out his penis and forced her to perform oral sex on him, in the presence of several other police officers. Obscene language was used by the officers in most cases when they addressed the victims.
Later Ms. M.L. and Ms. Y.R. were released from the police station, while Mr. P.L., Mr. I.Y., and Mr. N.R. remained in custody. Officers L. Yurchencko and G. Balashov demanded that the three Romani males pay for their release from custody. The police officers took the three Romani men to different offices of the police station, where they beat them and suffocated Mr. N.R. with a scarf. Officer Yurchencko allegedly demanded 100,000 rubles (approximately 3,000 US dollars) from the Roma in order to release them. A wealthy Romani man, known under the nickname "Kashtan", who had allegedly been frequently involved in extortion of money in complicity with the police, and played the role of an intermediary "rescuing" Roma from trouble by taking their money and negotiating levels of bribes and pother conditions in similar cases, called members of the victims' family and offered to "help" release the detainees in exchange for the above amount of money. The sum of 100,000 rubles was subsequently collected by relatives and given to "Kashtan". However, "Kashtan" then told relatives of the victim that this amount had only been the price for the release of Ms. Y.R. and Ms. M.L., while additional 15,000 US dollars had allegedly been demanded by the police for the release of the remaining three persons. He started harassing the family and insisting that the second sum be submitted expeditiously. One of the detained Roma, Mr. N.R., pretended that he would pay for his release and was accompanied home by the officers to provide the money. Mr. N.R. told ERRC that he managed to escape on the way home.
On October 18, 2003, Mr. P.L. and Mr. I.Y. were sentenced to five days imprisonment for hooliganism by the district court of the Pervomayskiy district of Rostov-on-Don. The case file copied by the ERRC contains clear evidence that the charges were entirely fabricated: at the time of the alleged acts of hooliganism in downtown Rostov for which they were sentenced, the two men were in fact in custody at the police station. The decision of the court was appealed before the Regional Court of Rostov-on-Don. The higher court quashed the sentence. By the time the Regional Court made its decision, Mr. P.L and Mr. I.Y. had already spent five days in custody.
On December 9, 2003, the prosecutor of the Pervomayskiy district of Rostov-on-Don initiated criminal investigation against the police officers of the Pervomayskiy police station under Articles 285.1 and 286.1 (abuse of power), Article 292 (forgery), and Article 301.1 (unlawful detention) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
In the course of the investigation police officers V. Nikulin, Y. Tyurmorezov, M. Zaycev, S. Lapinskiy and V. Afanasyev were identified by Mr. P.L. and Mr. I.Y. as the perpetrators of the alleged violations. However, according to Mr. P.L. and Mr. I.Y., not all officers who took part in the action were presented to them for identification. According to the Romani family, Officers L. Yurchencko and G. Balashov gave false testimony stating that on October 17, 2003 they had been away from the Pervomayskiy police station and had not asked for any money for the release of Mr. P.L. and Mr. I.Y.
On April 30, 2004, the criminal investigation against the police officers was terminated for "lack of sufficient evidence that an offence had been committed". On May 11, 2004, the lawyer of the family, Mr. V.S., appealed the termination of the criminal investigation before the prosecutor's office of Pervomayskiy district of Rostov-on-Don. As of June 2, 2004 the appeal had not been considered. On June 30, 2004, Mr. V.S. appealed the termination of the criminal investigation before the higher instance prosecutor of Rostov region. On August 16, 2004, the complaint was rejected.
During a telephone interviews on August 16, 2004, the ERRC learned that members of the criminal justice system in Rostov-on-Don had unofficially informed local Romani leaders that the public prosecutor had initiated the criminal prosecution against the police officers only in order to intimidate them and to solve internal problems between the police and the prosecution in the city. After the problems had allegedly been solved, the criminal case had been dropped.
The ERRC also learned that Mr. V.S., the lawyer representing the Romani victims, had been advised by the prosecutor of the Rostov region not to undertake further action related to the case. Mr. V.S. had allegedly also received threats to his life and to the life of his children by police officers of the Pervomayskiy district police, following which he withdrew from the case. The ERRC also learned that the Romani families concerned had received threats from the prosecution that a criminal case for the kidnapping of a girl could be initiated against them and that they could be sentenced on any ground if they continued to seek prosecution against the police officers.
In another case, Ms. L.R., a 51-year-old Romani woman from the town of Balashiha, Moscow region, testified to the ERRC and Romano Kher that at around 9:00 AM on March 24, 2002, police attempted to frame her and Ms. M.N. on drug-related charges at the Leningrad railway station in Moscow. According to Ms. L.R., she and Ms. M.N. were walking along the train platform when two police officers approached them and asked the women to open their bags. When the Romani women opened their bags, one of the police officers allegedly dropped a handkerchief into Ms. M.N.’s bag. According to Ms. L.R., Ms. M.N. immediately realized that the handkerchief contained drugs, so she began to shout and threw the handkerchief out of her bag. One of the police officers reportedly then hit Ms. M.N. hard in her chest with the butt of his gun. Ms. L.R. stated that the officer placed the handkerchief back in Ms. M.N.’s bag. The officers then drove both women to the nearest police station in a police vehicle. Ms. L.R. told ERRC/Romano Kher researchers that at the police station, one of the police officers ordered her to open her bag, using abusive language, and placed a small package of drugs into it, explaining that they were going to search the women in front of witnesses. Another officer reportedly said that Ms. L.R. could go home if she paid the officers 15,000 US dollars. Ms. L.R. told the ERRC/Romano Kher that she was afraid of receiving another blow to her chest from the officers because she had recently undergone heart surgery. After some negotiations, Ms. L.R. succeeded in having the cost of the bribe reduced to 6,000 US dollars. Ms. L.R. was reportedly released at about 5:00 PM after her husband provided the money from family savings and loans from relatives. Ms. M.N. was charged for drug trafficking under Article 128 (4) of the Russian Criminal Code. Her case went to trial on May 17, 2002. Again, Ms. M.N.’s case was reportedly decided out of court, with the help of a bribe paid to an officer of the court who promised to deliver the money to the judge.
Testimony provided to the ERRC/Romano Kher by several Roma who wished to remain anonymous revealed that on April 2, 2002, seven police officers in two cars abusively raided a neighborhood densely populated by Roma in St. Petersburg. According to the Roma with whom the ERRC/Romano Kher spoke, police apparently had been planning to detain two Roma, despite having not found any drugs in their possession, but ended up not making any arrests, reportedly because bribes were paid on the spot. According to Roma interviewed by the ERRC/Romano Kher, police officers openly demanded bribes in the amount of 5,000 US dollars, threatening to plant heroin in the pocket of each suspect if they were not paid in full. The Roma also testified that police officers used racist language during the raid. The operation reportedly continued for nearly twenty-four hours. The Roma told the ERRC/Romano Kher that around twenty Roma living in the neighborhood hid on the day in question in order to avoid police harassment.
4.4. Racial Profiling
Arguably the most extensive series of police raids targeting Romani communities in Russia to date has been “Operation Tabor” launched in the first weeks of March 2002 as part of a stepped-up effort against drug-related crime and subsequently re-launched by St. Petersburg police in April 2004. The use of the term "tabor", meaning a "Gypsy settlement or encampment", unequivocally implies that the targets of the operation are the Roma as a group. Russian authorities have thus undertaken official actions based on racial profiling and resulting in human rights abuses, during which they have not even attempted to mask the explicitly anti-Romani character of these actions. When challenged by international treaty bodies and human rights organizations, the Russian authorities adopted an official position consisting in denial that Roma had been the specific target of "Operation Tabor". However, the ERRC has learned, during its interviews as well as during open sessions of training seminars it has conducted in Russia, that many representatives of the authorities including those of the Ministry of Interior disapprove of the "Operation Tabor" and acknowledge its discriminatory nature.
In the course of "Operation Tabor", police raided Romani settlements throughout Russia, checking identity papers of the residents and taking fingerprints and personal data from those who lacked proper documents or whom the police arbitrarily branded as suspicious. According to Russian media, the police also singled out non-Romani landlords who housed Romani tenants for checks. Information thus collected on Roma was reported to have been included in a special database kept by law-enforcement authorities. Throughout the more intensive phase of “Operation Tabor”, the ERRC received numerous reports of abusive, often violent, raids and invidious investigations against Roma living in segregated or mixed settlements. For instance, according to testimony given to the ERRC by Ms. T.V. and Ms. G.D., both Romani women from Pskov in northwestern Russia, Roma from the neighborhood had not been allowed to invite independent witnesses to the searches conducted by police in the early weeks of March, but the police brought along their own “witnesses”. According to Ms. T.V. and Ms. G.D., during the searches, police officers planted in their houses marked money and drugs, which were subsequently found and confiscated, with a purpose to extort bribes in exchange for non-prosecution, or to prosecute Roma and thus score a "victory" in the fight against drugs.
Two years later, on April 20, 2004, the Saint-Petersburg police launched "Operation Tabor" once again. The measure was allegedly introduced in order to ensure the security of foreign tourists and protect them from possible robberies by "marginal elements". According to information by the St. Petersburg based North-Eastern Center for Social and Legal Assistance to Roma/Gypsies, on May 21, 2004, Roma from the town of Beregovo, a town in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine, who as of that date lived in self-made huts in the Obukhovo District in St. Petersburg, were attacked by individuals in uniforms who were shooting firearms in the air. Officers reportedly demanded that the Roma leave the site immediately. Police chased and reportedly shot at persons as they were trying to run away. Officers also reportedly burnt two small shanties where Roma, including pregnant women and children, were living. Officers allegedly warned the inhabitants that on the following day police would return, and all Roma would be expelled. In the morning hours of May 26, the same officers (from Militia Department No.29, according to the victims) detained Romani women and their children in the vicinity of Obukhovo and once again threatened them with expulsion and burning of their houses.
In the wake of "Operation Tabor", human rights organizations have repeatedly raised concerns related to the discriminatory character of this policy. Following the 2002 operation, representatives of the Moscow-based Romano Kher, based in Moscow met with Mr. V.A.Vasilyev, Deputy Minister of Interior, and Mr. E.N. Sidorenko, Deputy Minister of Justice, who promised that such operations would not be repeated in the future. In the fall of 2003, the St. Petersburg-based Memorial, Citizens' Control, Committee of Human Rights Lawyers, and several other organizations sent a letter to the Governor's Office of St. Petersburg expressing concerns on the increase of the extremist and nationalistic sentiment in the city, directed in particular against Roma. In his response, Mr. L.P. Bogdanov, Head of the Administrative Committee of St. Petersburg's Governors Office, assured the human rights organizations that "...the issue of protecting rights and freedoms and the human dignity of citizens, irrespective of their status as residents of St. Petersburg or as guests of our city, or individuals without citizenship, will be under the constant control of the executive organs of St. Petersburg state authorities."
Following the resumption of "Operation Tabor" in April 2004, on May 27, 2004, the ERRC sent a letter of concern, urging the St Petersburg authorities to terminate the policy. Mr. Bogdanov replied that "information submitted by the ERRC about persecution of the Roma on the basis of nationality has not been objectively confirmed". Several other communications of ERRC with St. Petersburg authorities demonstrated a high level of official denial of any racial motivation underlying "Operation Tabor".
Apart from massive police operations targeting explicitly Romani communities throughout Russia, police officers often stop Romani individuals in the street and take them into custody without any offering any explanation for the reasons for their detention. Roma with whom the ERRC spoke reported that they have been subjected to identity checks, photographing and fingerprint taking -- operations which police officers have expressly related to their Romani ethnicity.
According to the information provided to the ERRC by Mr Pavel Limanskiy, vice-president of the Rostov-on-Don based Romani organization Amala, on May 30, 2004, Ms. Lidia Ogly, a Romani woman from Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, was stopped in the street by police officers of the Oktyabrskiy department of the Interior Ministry and taken to the police station without receiving any explanation. At the police station, she was photographed and fingerprinted. The Ogly relatives turned for help to Mr. Pavel Limanskiy, who telephoned the police station in which the woman was being held. Mr. Aleksandr Dudarev, an official at the Oktyabrskiy department of the Interior Ministry, told Mr Limanskiy that Ms. Ogly had been detained because "she is a Roma and therefore a criminal". According to ERRC research, the officers of this particular department regularly detain Romani individuals and keep them in custody for sustained periods of time without initiating any formal procedure, in the (frequently justified) hope that the worried relatives of detained Roma might offer bribes in exchange for the release without charges of the person in question. Ms. Ogly spent six hours in custody supposedly under suspicion for having committed an unspecified offence, of which no one provided her with any details, before Mr. Limanskiy called the officer on duty at the City Department of the Interior. He urged that Ms. Ogly either be released immediately or charged, and he threatened that he would file complaints. As a result, Ms. Ogly was released.
At around 10 PM on an unspecified date in February 2004, Ms. N., a Romani woman from Novokuybyshevsk, Samara region, had an argument with her husband following which she took 400,000 rubles in cash (approximately 13,700 US dollars) and left home to spend the night at a friend of hers. According to Ms. N.'s testimony to the ERRC, on the way she was stopped by police officers who wanted to check her documents. They also reportedly asked: “What is your ethnicity?” “I am Gypsy”, she replied. “Then let’s go to the police station”, said the officers. At the police station Ms. N. was kept in detention without any explanation. At some point while Ms. N. was detained, police officers brought in an elderly non-Romani woman for a line-up. The officers asked the woman, “Was it her?”, to which she allegedly responded, “Not really”. Then the police officers allegedly said to the woman: “Then you will never see your money back.” The elderly woman then stated, “Maybe it was her”. Ms. N. remained in custody for approximately one and a half months. According to her testimony to the ERRC, she had been pressured by the police to pay for her release. The police officers reportedly told her to put into a box on their table 50,000 rubles (approximately 1,600 US dollars). While N. was placing the box with the required sum on the table as she had been told, a prosecutor entered the room and immediately charged her with giving a bribe. Following N.'s lawyer intervention, however, Ms. N. received her money back and the charges against her were dropped.
On February 29, 2004 Aleksandr Molchanov, a Romani lawyer based in Yaroslavl, central Russia, was stopped by police officers for an identity check at the railway station of Syzran, Samara region. Mr. Molchanov presented them with his bar membership card, since he did not carry his passport with him. The officers asked him to follow them to the police station. At the police station, Mr. Molchanov requested to speak with the officer on duty at Syzran railway station or someone from the police headquarters. Shortly thereafter, Colonel Dektarev, deputy chief of the police office at Syzran railway station, arrived. Colonel Dektarev allegedly took Mr. Molchanov's bar membership card and said, "I will check and see what kind of a lawyer a Gypsy could possibly be". Then the colonel asked to see Mr. Molchanov's passport. Mr. Molchanov explained that he did not carry his passport with him because his identity could be established on the basis of his bar membership card, which indicted his place of residence and work.
Mr. Molchanov asked the colonel to give him an opportunity to make a phone call in order to warn the clients who were waiting to meet with him in Syzran that he would be late. The colonel declined this request and ordered his subordinates to take several photos of Mr. Molchanov. To Mr. Molchanov's question regarding the reason for photographing him, Colonel Dektarev responded that "it is needed for operative purposes". Mr. Molchanov was then told that his Romani nationality was sufficient reason for the photographing him. Apart from Mr. Molchanov, two other men had entered the police office at the same time. These men were asked by the police to serve as witnesses. In the presence of the two individuals, whose identities were not known to Mr. Molchanov, police officers were ordered to conduct a search of Mr. Molchanov's belongings, including documents of a criminal case in his suitcase.
Mr. Molchanov's request for an official registration of his detention was declined. Upon his release from the police later the same day, Mr. Molchanov submitted a complaint about the illegal actions of the police to the Samara Regional Court, the Samara Regional Prosecutor's Office, and other relevant institutions. As of this writing, Mr. Molchanov had received no reply.
5. Abuse of Roma Rights by Non-State Actors
In recent years, apart from the police, non-state actors, such as members of nationalist-extremist groups as well as members of popular civil movements undertaking vigilante anti-drug-enforcement activities have also increasingly targeted Roma for violent racially motivated attacks. Russian authorities have failed to take adequate measures to protect Romani individuals and communities from such attacks.
[continued in part two]