MINELRES: Public Collegium of Journalists Finds Russian National Media Body Responsible for Anti-Romani Speech

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Mar 19 19:08:16 2008

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

ERRC Victory against Anti-Romani Hate Speech in Russian Media   

Budapest, Moscow, 11 March 2008: Today, the European Roma Rights Centre
(ERRC) welcomed a decision of the Public Collegium of the Russian Union
of Journalists (Collegium) made public on 28 February 2008 against the
Russian national television station First Channel (ORT) concerning the
spread of anti-Romani sentiment. The Collegium’s decision, issued on 22
February 2008, relates to a complaint filed by the ERRC on 23 July 2007
against ORT General Director Mr Konstantin Ernst following the broadcast
a programme entitled “Man and the Law” on 8 February 2007.

The substance of the complaint related statements made by the anchorman,
a Mr Pimanov, who stated, “[…] today we shall talk about the other Roma,
whom you meet on the train stations, in trains, in subway. You have to
know only this – they are the members of organised criminal groups.” Mr
Pimanov then asserted that despite the existence of different groups of
Roma, all of them are entirely criminals: “Romani women, whom Rustem
Davidov (the journalist of a broadcast) interviewed conducting a special
operation, are called kalderary on a criminal slang. There are also
lovari – resident thieves, servi – pickpockets, ungri, vlakhy,
plaschuny, and cherni. Davidov was lucky that there were no plaschuny
near kalderary. Those could kill, not merely rob”. For further details
on this case, please see:

The ERRC filed its complaint after first having sent a letter of concern
on 19 March 2007 to Mr Ernst, copied to the Federal Administration of
Rosohrancultura, which was not answered.

During the proceedings, in which the ERRC was represented by Ms Irina
Sergeeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Mr Ernst denied having received
“any claims regarding the programme, or in particular mentioning of the
people of Romani ethnicity”. Ms Nadezhda Demeter, a Romani activist from
Moscow, gave testimony during the proceedings, stating that “such
statements are very harmful for Roma.”

In its decision, the Collegium, taking into account all arguments:

- Considered the programme to be an insulting gesture towards Roma, in
particular as broadcasted by First Channel.

- Suggested First Channel should consider coming back to this topic in
future segments of “Man and the Law” and explain the previous segment in
order to avoid the development of hostile attitudes toward Roma.

- Suggested the journalists should respect professional and ethical
rules and avoid intolerant statements in their publications and
programmes related to race, sexual orientation, language, religion etc.
Requested that First Channel and Ostankino, its partner in the
proceedings, discuss the decision with their staff and inform the
Collegium of the results of their discussion.

- ORT was further requested to publish the Collegium’s decision in the
Russian magazines “Journalist” and “Information Law”, discuss the
decision with journalism students at the Moscow State University, and
inform the Federal Administration of Rosohrancultura and Commission of
the Public Collegium of the Russian Federation on Communication,
Information Politics and Freedom of Speech in the Media about the

- The ERRC welcomes the decision of the Public Collegium of the Russian
Union of Journalists, which represents a major precedent in combating
widespread anti-Romani speech in Russia. The ERRC looks forward to
similar strong stances in the future in similar cases.

The ERRC complaint was part of comprehensive actions to combat hate
speech against Roma in the Russia media, supported by the Royal
Netherlands Foreign Ministry.

To read the press release in Russian please click here.

For further information, please contact:
Azam Bayburdi, ERRC Legal Assistant, azam.bayburdi@errc.org (English and
Tara Bedard, ERRC Programmes Coordinator, tara.bedard@errc.org (English)


The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation 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 

To support the ERRC, please visit this link:

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Tel: +36.1.413.2200

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