MINELRES: ERRC/MHG: Action Urged on Racist Expression in Russia

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Sep 26 08:19:23 2005


Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>


ERRC and Moscow Helsinki Group Call Upon Prosecutor-General of the
Russian Federation to Open Criminal Investigation on Hate Speech

On September 16, 2005, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the
Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG) sent a joint statement urging Mr Vladimir
Ustinov, Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation, to open a
criminal investigation against the Russian national television station
NTV on the grounds of incitement to racial hatred in accordance with
Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code. The statement was in follow-up
to joint action by the ERRC and the MHG against a February 10, 2004,
documentary broadcast entitled Coma devoted to "Roma drug dealers" in
Kimry, Tver region, on NTV, including an appeal for violent action
against Roma. During the broadcast, Father Andrey (Lazarev), a
well-known local Orthodox priest, repeatedly urged viewers to burn down
Romani houses. Father Andrey stated during the documentary that Kimry
has become one of the chief transit points of the drug trafficking in
Russia and identified Roma as the main actors in the Russian drug trade.
A drug addict, a non-Romani man named "Sasha", repeated the same message
and stated that "only napalm can solve the problem with Romani drug
dealers".

On June 28, 2004, the ERRC and the MHG sent a letter to Mr Ustinov,
urging him to investigate the lawfulness of NTV's broadcast of Coma. The
ERRC and MHG included a videocassette of the documentary in their
communication. On November 18, 2004, Mr A.N.Yushkov, the Prosecutor of
Ostankinskiy district of Moscow, responded that the videocassette
provided by the authors of the letter "was not produced in accordance
with the procedural rules and therefore cannot be taken into
consideration. Due to the lack of procedural status it cannot be
considered as evidence." While the response of the District Prosecutor's
Office was formally in line with Russian law regarding evidentiary
rules, the ERRC and the MHG are of the opinion that if the institution
had taken the alleged violation of criminal law seriously it would have
ordered an expert verification of the cassette's contents. Therefore, on
February 22, 2005, the ERRC and the MHG requested that the Ostankinskiy
Prosecutor order expert verification of the videocassette's contents and
that the prosecutor initiate criminal investigation. On July 4, 2005, Mr
D.Y. Kulakov, deputy prosecutor of the northeastern administrative
district of Moscow, responded that Mr Yushkov's rejection was lawful and
restated that there were no grounds to open criminal investigation.

Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code establishes criminal liability
for "actions aimed at the incitement of hatred or enmity, as well as
abasement of dignity of a person or a group of persons on the basis of
sex, race, nationality, language, origin, attitude to religion, as well
as affiliation to any social group, if these acts have been committed in
public or with the use of mass media."

The full text of the ERRC/MHG letter in Russian is available at: 
http://www.errc.org/Advocacy_russ_index.php

Persons wishing to express similar concerns are urged to contact:

Mr Vladimir Ustinov, Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation
Bolshaya Dmitrovka str. 15A,
Moscow, 125993
Russia
Fax: +7 (095) 9214186

The recent ERRC Country Report "In Search of Happy Gypsies: Persecution
of Pariah Minorities in Russia" is available at: 
http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2241

_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law 
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary


Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201

_____________________________________________

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