Racism in Russia: Report of ADC Memorial and International Committee of the Indigenous Peoples of Russia to the UN CERD

To the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Marking March 21 – the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, ADC Memorial and the International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia have prepared an alternative report to the UN CERD, informing the Committee about the violation of the rights of ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and migrants by the Russian regime. The criminal war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine has spread discrimination and repression to the occupied territories, aggravated the situation of the Crimean Tatars in the annexed Crimea, and caused irreparable harm to indigenous communities and ethnic minorities. Conscription and the imposition of contract army service mostly affected the poorest regions of Russia – exactly those where ethnic minorities live, thus they disproportionately suffer from mobilization. For indigenous peoples, involvement into the war threatens their physical survival, while mining companies continue to destroy their traditional territories.

Over the past decade, state propaganda has been shaping a discourse about Russia’s exclusivity, its “unique historical path” and “traditional values”, superiority in the possession of natural resources. By 2022, civil society and opposition movements were practically suppressed, independent media were closed and/or expelled from the country, anti-war and in any other civil activity criticizing the actions of the authorities and expressing solidarity with Ukraine is being persecuted. The repressive legislation on “foreign agents” has affected the rights of dozens of individuals and organizations. Leading human rights organizations have been liquidated or restricted in their work, including leading experts in the field of combating racism and discrimination. Recently it became known that the Ministry of Justice filed a lawsuit to liquidate the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, that has been analyzing the problems of racism, xenophobia, and human rights violations in Russia for many years.

The gradual degradation of Russian society under the influence of the state propaganda and the tightening regime took place in an atmosphere of escalating hatred and discrimination against various vulnerable groups.

Russia’s migration policy remains extremely harsh, and numerous migrant workers from Central Asian countries face racial profiling, police and judicial arbitrariness. Structural discrimination of Roma population has not been overcome; in recent years there have been massive interethnic conflicts that turned into violent pogroms; thousands of Roma were forced to flee from their places of residence. Russia’s repressive policy has spread to the newly occupied territories: Crimean Tatars are now being persecuted not only in Crimea, but also in the South of Ukraine.

The massive propaganda of national exclusivity and xenophobia inevitably legitimizes direct violence and permit aggressive nationalists to move from words to deeds. Hate-motivated conflicts, including among children and youth, often occur, and there is every reason to expect an increase in the number of ideologically motivated attacks against foreigners, migrants, and representatives of minorities.