Anti-discrimination policies in Russia: a fairy tale or reality?


On the 12th of October took place meeting of experts titled “Perspectives of anti-discriminatory politics development in Russia”. The event was organized by international Youth Human Rights Movement and United for Intercultural Action in the framework of common 3 years lasting project “Civil organisations serving society: youth actions against racism, nationalism and xenophobia and for Human Rights and inter-cultural dialogue”.

The organizers defined current problem in Russian society this way: “Because in the last few years discussion over issues of xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and hate crimes was updated, there is an urgent need in contemporary Russia to draw up new governmental tactics of counteracting and cutting off this complicated phenomenon”.

In the event participated famous researchers and human rights activists from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and Netherlands.

Regardless of some attempts to create that sort of politics in the opinion of experts: “In reality there are not at all, or very weak developed mechanisms of defense of individuals against discrimination. Of course, one can accept this kind of approach: in order to defend every single individual and its rights it should be established separate, effective governmental politics counteracting xenophobia and hatred but these changes are not possible without common aims and consensual efforts of human rights and experts communities that have an influence on authorities”.

During the discussion there was remarked how specific and difficult is work on discrimination but also work on justification and overall possibility of changing its qualification.

Ralph du Long from UNITED for Intercultural Action (Netherlands) showed in his speech that investigation in case of hate crimes is, in fact, triple operation: first of all, you have to find a victim who would be determined to carry out his case to the very end, after that you have to force the police to work on it, and further - prosecutor’s office and court.

Considerable part of the event was devoted to European and American experience in the field of formulating of anti-discriminatory politics.

Nonetheless, Alexander Osipov from European Centre for Minority Issues (Germany) believes that, first of all there is a need to talk about transformation of society. American and European achievements - that are also significantly dubious - seem to result from transformation of society, not from legislation.