«The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power concentrated in a president and a prime minister, a weak multiparty political ...»
On July 27, the Tver city court sentenced neo-Nazi Russian National Unity group member Dmitry Orlov to life in jail for four killings and multiple assaults stemming from hate crimes committed between 2005 and 2006.
On July 29, four teenagers in St. Petersburg were found guilty by the Vyborgskiy District Court of St. Petersburg of inflaming ethnic hatred and attacking a group of Asians. One victim died from the attack, and the killer was sentenced to a seven and one-half years in prison. The other three perpetrators received suspended sentences of three to four years.
In August 2009 FSB officers arrested Anton Mukhachev, one of the suspected cofounders of the extreme nationalist organization Northern Brotherhood and its Internet-based game Bolshaya Igra, and charged him with incitement to ethnic hatred. Mukhachev remained in detention at year's end. An investigation into his alleged crimes was completed in the summer, but a trial has not yet been
RUSSIAscheduled. The group's Internet-based game is no longer online. Many online nationalists expressed support for Mukhachev, with some threatening revenge against authorities.
On June 17, 10 members of an extremist youth group were arrested in connection with the December 2009 killing of a Ghanaian citizen.
There were no reports of further developments in several 2009 attacks that appeared to be racially motivated, including: the February attack by three youths in St. Petersburg on an African student at the Bonch-Bruyevich Telecommunications University, the May skinhead attack on an Indian restaurant in Moscow, and the October killing of a young Kyrgyz man on Bolshoy Cherkizovsky Street in Moscow.
There were no reports of arrests or prosecutions related to the following 2008 cases: the skinhead attack on Kyrgyz and Vietnamese students at a Ufa university, the incendiary attacks by masked perpetrators on a group of Tajik guest workers in Moscow, the attack on a Turkmen embassy official by 10 neo-Nazis, and the attack near Moscow against two Tajik workers, one of whom was beheaded.
There were developments in some ethnically motivated killings from previous years. In February 2009 the trial began of the Borovikov gang, whose members were charged with seven killings motivated by ethnic hatred between 2003 and
2006. Fourteen skinheads were involved, and nine were arrested. Of the two leaders of the gang, only Aleksey Voevodin is on trial; the other, Dmitriy Borovikov, was shot and killed by militiamen while resisting arrest in 2006. The case consists of 13 episodes of criminal activities of the gang. Due to extensive delays in the investigation and trial, the government was forced to release several of the accused. The trial for the remaining accused continued at year's end; several witnesses and victims have been threatened according to SOVA.
Six persons of North Caucasus origin were convicted and sentenced in connection with the 2006 ethnic rioting in Kondopoga, Karelia. Their sentences ranged from three to 22 years' imprisonment.
There were indications that the government took ultranationalism seriously as a potential threat to the social order. However, in a March 20 interview with Interfax, Federal Migration Service deputy head of the International and Public Relations Directorate Konstantin Poltoranin dismissed the idea that xenophobia
RUSSIAand ethnic intolerance had reached a dangerous level. According to Poltoranin, "To say that in Russia foreign citizens are being victimized en masse is stupid. These are isolated incidents." During the Manezh square riots, on multiple occasions, police effectively protected members of ethnic minorities who had been targeted for attack by neo-nationalist groups.
Human rights organizations expressed concern that Romani children in the education system experienced discrimination. According to the NGO AntiDiscrimination Center Memorial, a number of schools refused to register Romani students on the grounds that they lacked documents, while others segregated Romani students or placed them in classes designed for children with learning disabilities because of their ethnicity.
The law provides for support of indigenous ethnic communities, permits them to create self-governing bodies, and allows them to seek compensation if economic development threatens their lands. Groups such as the Buryats in Siberia and ethnic groups in the far north (including the Enver, Tafarli, Chukchi, and others) continued to work actively to preserve and defend their cultures as well as their right to benefit from the economic resources of their regions. Most asserted that they received the same treatment as ethnic Russians, although some groups claimed that they were not represented, or were underrepresented, in regional governments.
Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993; however, the gay and lesbian communities continued to suffer from societal stigma and discrimination. Gay rights activists asserted that the majority of gays hide their orientation due to fear of losing their jobs or their homes, as well as the threat of violence. However, there are active gay communities in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Medical practitioners reportedly continued to limit or deny gay and lesbian persons health services due to intolerance and prejudice. According to recent studies, gay men faced discrimination in workplace hiring practices. Openly gay men were targets for skinhead aggression; police often failed to respond out of indifference. A few gay rights organizations operated but did so out of public view.
RUSSIAIn Moscow authorities banned permits for a gay pride parade for the fifth year.
Moscow's then mayor Yury Luzhkov, described gay pride marches as "satanic."
However, on May 29, rights activists in Moscow, employing stealth tactics, managed to hold a rally in the center of Moscow despite a ban imposed by the city's authorities. The protesters walked for approximately six-tenths of a mile and left when they saw police. There were no reports of attempts to stop the activists. A few hours later another march took place in northwest Moscow. On the same day, representatives of the Russian Orthodox, Protestant, Muslim, and Buddhist communities made statements in support of then mayor Luzhkov's position and against public actions by sexual minorities.
Five participants in a gay rights rally at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg were arrested for taking part in an unauthorized event on June 26. The police also arrested 20 men who reportedly planned to attack the demonstrators. All were released the next day.
According to Nikolay Alekseyev, a leader of Moscow's gay community, in September he was kidnapped from an airport by persons he believed to be security personnel and held for two days outside Moscow where he was threatened and verbally abused by plainclothes officers. Alekseyev expressed the belief that this was an effort to get him to drop lawsuits against Russia filed with the ECHR (see section 1.b.).
Societal animosity toward gays remained strong. In 2008 two youths killed a man they perceived to be gay. Police arrested both individuals, and at year's end they remained under investigation. On October 30, an estimated 1,000 protesters staged a rally in Moscow against gay parades, the legalization of same-sex marriages, and immorality. According to press reports, the rally was organized by a number of Orthodox organizations; many participants carried signs, among them ones that read: "A gay parade will never be held in Moscow." The protest followed a ruling earlier in the month by the ECHR that found the city's ban on gay pride parades to be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The city of St. Petersburg gave permission to hold a gay rights parade/demonstration on November 20. According to the human rights Web site GayRussia.ru, this was the first legally sanctioned gay demonstration in the country's history. There was a large turnout by antigay demonstrators, who threw eggs and shouted insults, and the demonstration was broken off after 40 minutes due to violence.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
Persons with HIV/AIDS often encountered discrimination. A federal AIDS law includes antidiscrimination provisions but frequently was not enforced. HRW reported that HIV-positive mothers and their children faced discrimination in accessing health care, employment, and education. Persons with HIV/AIDS found themselves alienated from their families, employers, and medical service providers. According to the NGO GayRussia.ru, the government no longer requires HIV tests for visitors who apply for short term tourist visas or business visas for one year or longer, so long as the total stay in Russia is not greater than three months per year.
Section 7 Worker Rights
The law provides workers the right to form and join unions, but government policy limited its exercise in practice. For example, by law, the Federal Registration Service should consider a union officially registered once it has submitted the requisite documents. In practice, however, labor experts asserted that the documents a union must submit vary among regional offices of the service, and the offices often find fault with the papers provided for minor, bureaucratic reasons.
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR)--the largest union organization in the country--reported that approximately 45 percent of the workforce was unionized, a decline from approximately 55 percent in 2006. As of June, its membership of 24.7 million (35 percent of the workforce), constituted a majority of unionized workers.
By law labor unions are independent of government bodies, employers, political parties, and NGOs. Interference by government authorities in union activities is prohibited. However, labor activists reported that police regularly used widespread intimidation techniques against union supporters, including detention, extensive interrogations, and provocation of physical confrontation.
Police and prosecutors often questioned union activists based on written orders from the regional office of the FSB. Union activists also alleged that police pressured them to become informants.
RUSSIAOn July 13, Ministry of Interior Senior Police Lieutenant Mikhailova met with Denis Litvin, the chair of the Interregional Union of Autoworkers' affiliate, at his workplace, Tagro, which produces food processing equipment. During the meeting Mikhailova accused Litvin of falsifying union documents and demanded a list of union members and information on his friends and labor activists, which he refused to supply. On July 30, Tagro security staff detained Litvin and threatened him with physical violence if he did not stop distributing union information and "stirring up people." In September, after Litvin won a court case against management for antiunion discrimination, management fired him instead of implementing the court ruling.
In January the Labor Confederation of Russia and All-Russia Confederation of Labor filed a joint complaint against the government with the International Labor Organization's Freedom of Association Committee. The complaint, later joined by
leading unions, documents violations that took place from 2006 to 2009, including:
violations of trade union rights and civil liberties, violations of workers' right to establish organizations without prior authorization, discrimination based on union membership and union activities, refusal by employers to recognize newly formed unions, denial of union leaders' access to members' workplaces, violations of the right to bargain collectively, government interference in trade union activities, and absence of an established system to defend trade union rights.
In February 2009 unidentified assailants attacked Yevgeniy Ivanov, chair of the independent Interregional Union of Autoworkers' General Motors (GM), near his home in a suburb of St. Petersburg. In November 2009 GM terminated Ivanov. In December 2009 Ivanov filed a request with the district court for the restoration of his position and monetary compensation. In March the court ruled in favor of Ivanov, restored him to his position, and ordered GM authorities to pay him 106,000 rubles ($3,500) in compensation.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) continued to seek the release of Valentin Urusov, a miner allegedly framed and imprisoned in 2008 after recruiting employees of the Alrosa Diamond Mining Company to join a union. According to NUM, Urusov was sentenced to six years of hard labor on a fabricated charge of drug possession. In May 2009 the Yakut Supreme Court initially released Urusov and ordered another investigation; but the court subsequently upheld the conviction with a reduced sentence of five years. Despite a continuing review of the case by
RUSSIAthe prosecutor general at the request of the Public Chamber, Urusov's status remained unchanged at year's end.
The law establishes the right to strike, but that right was difficult to exercise. The majority of strikes were considered technically illegal because they violated one or more of a complex set of procedures governing disputes. The law requires the provision of a minimum level of essential services if a strike could affect the safety or health of citizens. The labor code prohibits strikes in the military and emergency response services. In addition, it prohibits strikes in essential public service sectors, including utilities and transportation, or strikes that would threaten the country's defense and safety or the life and health of its workers. According to the FNPR, the legal preparation for a strike takes at least 40 days.
As of November the State Statistics Service had not registered any strikes.