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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination examines the report of the Russian Federation

GENEVA (4 August 2017) – The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined twenty-third to twenty-fourth periodic report of the Russian Federation on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
 
Introducing the report, Igor Barinov, Head of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs of the Russian Federation, stressed that in today's world it was increasingly important to prevent racial discrimination and that the role of the Committee was therefore crucial.  The provisions of the Convention were incorporated into Russia’s legal system, and active measures were being taken against the propagation of any ideas based on racism, with the Federal Agency for Nationalities seeking to prevent incitement to discord or hatred based on ethnic origin or religion.  An oversight of different public organizations was in place to ensure the protection against racism and discrimination, and a strategy to combat extremism to 2025 had been adopted.  The glorification of Nazism had been criminalized in 2014. 
 
In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts congratulated the Russian Federation on the timely reporting and then raised a series of questions, including on the rights of indigenous minority peoples of north Siberia and the far east, Roma minority, and the situation of Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainians in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.  They also inquired about how the provisions of the Convention were invoked, about the 100,000 unregistered persons present in the country, as well as the migrant population in Russia.  Finally, they wanted to know how the preparations for the World Cup, which would take place in the Russian Federation next year, took into account the rise of hooliganism and hate crimes.
 
In concluding remarks, Marc Bossuyt, Committee Rapporteur for the Russian Federation, thanked the delegation and all participants for the constructive dialogue.
 
Mr. Barinov, in his concluding remarks, thanked all the participants, especially the Rapporteur, for understanding the complexity and problems in the country and reassured the Committee that the Federal Agency for Nationalities was dealing with those on a daily basis.
 
Anastasia Crickley, Committee Chairperson, noted that the Russian Federation was a large and complex country and that the Committee was looking forward to supporting it in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.
 
The delegation of the Russian Federation included representatives of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs, Ministry of Sport, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Federal Agency on Youth Affairs, Administration of the Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Ministry of Education and Science, Prosecutor General’s Office, Supreme Court and the representatives of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
 
The Committee will reconvene in public on Monday, 7 August at 10 a.m. to hold an informal meeting with non-governmental organizations from the United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Djibouti, and Tajikistan, whose reports will be reviewed during the week of 7 to 11 August 2017.
 
Report
 
The combined twenty-third and twenty-fourth periodic report of Russia can be read here: CERD/C/RUS/23-24.
 
Presentation of the Report
 
IGOR BARINOV, Head of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs of the Russian Federation, stressed that in today's world it was increasingly important to prevent racial discrimination, which rendered the role of the Committee crucial.  The provisions of the Convention were incorporated into Russia’s legal system, and active measures were being taken against the propagation of any ideas based on racism, with the Federal Agency for Nationalities seeking to prevent incitement to discord or hatred based on ethnic origin or religion.  Permanent oversight of activities of different public organizations was in place in order to ensure protection against racism and discrimination, and a strategy to combat extremism to 2025 had been adopted.  Russia consistently carried out the policy to combat the glorification of Nazism, the propaganda of the Nazi ideas of supremacy, and any attempt to justify racial hatred or discrimination in any form.  It also took all measures to eradicate racial discrimination and had prohibited by law the publication of books by the National Socialist Party of Germany, the Fascist Party of Italy and any other organization that aimed at full or partial elimination of an ethnic, social, racial or religious group.  The glorification of Nazism had been criminalized in 2014.  Members of the law enforcement agencies carried out training on combatting racial discrimination and racial profiling, and the increased number of identified crimes of extremist nature was to a great extent the result of a pro-active approach to combatting extremism, said Mr. Barinov.  In 2016, the law enforcement agencies had identified 1,450 crimes of an extremist nature; 1,207 had been successfully investigated and 993 had been sent to court, in which 934 persons had been found responsible for those crimes. 
 
Crimes of an extremist nature were becoming more widespread since 2012, often perpetrated and carried out with the use of the Internet, while the age of the perpetrators varied from 18 to 29 years.  Due to the constant monitoring in the context of preventive activities, authorities had identified some 42,000 websites promoting the ideas of racial intolerance, xenophobia and neo-Nazism, and over 22,000 sites promoting the terrorist organization Daesh.  The unlawful information had been removed from over 39,000 sites while access to 2,216 website had been limited on the territory of the Russian Federation.  The Federal Agency on Nationality Affairs monitored the situation of inter-ethnic and inter-religious affairs and served as an early warning mechanism for a potential conflict.  In this context, a database was in place which contained information about more than 90,000 media outlets and also indicators of social and economic tensions, and the activities of some 220,000 non-profit and other organizations were being monitored.  The total number of sites under monitoring was over 25 million, said Mr. Barinov and stressed that the monitoring was an important instrument to prevent activities aimed at upsetting inter-ethnic peace and harmony and fuelling racial, national and religious discord and hatred.  Particular attention was being given to preventing racial intolerance and extremist manifestation among fans including during major sporting events.
 
The authorities were carrying out a myriad of measures to prevent prejudice which could lead to racial discrimination and were encouraging mutual tolerance and understanding between peoples and ethnic groups; effective mechanisms were in place to prevent any such phenomena.  Financial support was being provided for national autonomous cultural activities and centres, such as for folklore classes, or research on developing and preserving the traditional cultures of the people of Russia.  The primary and secondary school curricula included special training courses to promote a culture of mutual respect and patriotic world view; traditional religious, cultural and moral values; and cultural and religious traditions of the people of Russia; and the Holocaust.  Great attention was placed on preventing the spread of radicalism among the youth and to this end, there were clubs for inter-ethnic friendships and schools for tolerance, while a new methodology had been developed in 2016 on teaching the Russian history.  There were more than 190 ethnic groups in Russia which, according to the Constitution and the law, had equal rights to their language, culture and tradition.  Measures were in place to support the indigenous peoples from north Siberia and the far east, including in terms of land use and financial support, and great importance was placed on improving the situation of the 207,000 Roma living in the country.  Dozens of organizations promoted Roma culture, a cultural plan for their social and economic activities was in place, while the State Roma Center in Moscow had been in operation for 86 years.  The Convention and the Russian legislation implementing it were fully in effect in the territory of the Republic of Crimea and in the city of Sevastopol; according to the new Constitution of the Republic of Crimea, for the first time, Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatars languages had been accorded the status of the state languages, and federal and regional authorities paid great deal of attention to enabling the studying of native languages in Crimea.  In order to restore the historical justice to the minorities deported from Crimea including Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Italians, Crimean Tatars and others, a presidential decree had been issued in 2014 on measures of their rehabilitation and state support. 
 
Statement by the Office of the Ombudsman of Russia
 
OLGA GONCHARENKO, of the Office of the Ombudsman of Russia, said that racial hatred was part of the Ombudsman’s mandate; to date, some 140,000 complaints had been considered and the number grew on an annual basis, which was an indication of the trust people had in this institution.  The number of complaints related to racial discrimination was rather small, Ms. Goncharenko explained.   In order to strengthen tolerance and respect between groups, regional Ombudsman offices had been established, whereas a seminar had been organized under the auspices of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in St. Petersburg in October 2016.  The Office also worked with migrants, considered communications from migrants and had visited a migration centre to ensure that the rights migrants were respected.  Special attention was given to small indigenous communities. 
 
Questions by the Rapporteur
 
MARC BOSSUYT, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Russian Federation, thanked the delegation for the timely report and asked how the Convention was invoked in specific court cases and how court officials were trained on the provisions of the Convention?  Would a comprehensive definition of anti-discrimination be adopted, including direct and indirect forms of discrimination?  Could updated information be provided on the definition of extremism and the role of the State in combatting extremism? 
 
The Russian Federation had to revise its definition of extremism, as the adopted amendments had not remedied relevant deficiencies, remarked Mr. Bossuyt, and noted that of the total number of complaints, less than 0.2 per cent concerned discrimination.  The Committee would welcome disaggregated data on racial discrimination, including on the remedies provided to the victims. 
 
As for racist hate speech and hate crimes, one of the previous concerns by the Committee had been racist discourse used by officials, for example racism comments against Roma made by the Mayor of Sochi, and central Asians seemed to be the main targets of violence – could the delegation comment?
 
Could the State party provide information on the implementation of the comprehensive plan to address the marginalization of Roma?  What were the results of the analysis carried out in 2015?  The Committee had expressed concern on the eviction of Roma and destruction of their homes, often without compensation.  What measures had been adopted to address barriers faced by Roma in accessing housing, and was data available on forced evictions of Roma since 2011?
 
There were allegedly over 100,000 unregistered persons, including stateless persons, refugees, and holders of temporary asylum.  Could the State party provide updated information on regulating their situation? 
 
Minority groups were allegedly still targeted.  What was the data on police involvement in cases concerning ethnic minorities, including prosecutions of the perpetrators, and remedies provided to the victims?
 
Regarding Crimea, Mr. Bossuyt highlighted the United Nations resolution 71/275 which called on the Russian Federation as an occupying power to bring an immediate end to all discrimination against the citizens of Crimea.  The residents in Crimea who were known for their pro-Ukrainian stance, faced discrimination and violation of their property rights.  The Committee asked for information about the investigation and prevention of acts of discrimination.
 
As for indigenous peoples, the narrow definition adopted by the State party was of concern.  What were the laws and roadmaps for the indigenous peoples and their land?  Allegedly, their sacred areas were largely unprotected, and their access to effective remedies remained a challenge.
 
Questions by the Experts
 
Experts commended the State party for its punctuality, but noted that the content of the report was not satisfactory.  They reminded that the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance had concluded that the Russian Federation had not acted in accordance with its recommendations and had not adequately addressed the issues of housing for Roma and indigenous peoples’ territories.
 
Speaking of hooliganism and neo-Nazism, one Expert noted that it was incomprehensible that those whose grandparents had fought against Nazism would today promote neo-Nazism.  What was the reason behind that?  The Expert was worried about hooliganism at the upcoming World Football Cup in the Russian Federation and asked about the status of the preparations for the World Cup.
 
Experts raised many concerns about the indigenous peoples’ lands in Siberia, and their traditional practice of fishing and asked about steps taken to strengthen indigenous languages.  Had the Shor peoples been compensated for the destruction of the ancestral village of Kazas in 2013 and was there a programme in place for this group?  What happened with the 500 traditional territories that still did not have the formal or legal support of the Federal Government?
 
The Russian Federation was facing an alarming demographic crisis as it was losing an estimated one million workers every year; the country thus needed the migrant population but, allegedly, migrant workers’ labour rights were violated on a regular basis.  Some 80 per cent of those workers came from the former Soviet Union areas.  What had been done in the past five years with respect to their labour rights?
 
What was the number of hate-related murders and what remedies were provided to the victims of racial discrimination?  Commending the awareness raising efforts, one Expert asked the State party to provide more information about the training courses for police officers, judges and Cossack members.
 
Another Expert commented that the information provided in the State party’s report was different from the information in the international press.  When the international press reported about the Russian Federation, one got the impression that the Cold War was not over and that non-governmental organizations in the country were being crushed.  Yet, they had arrived in Geneva and had expressed themselves freely.  To what extent was the cultivation of nationalism or ultra-nationalism strengthening the idea of fascism in the Russian Federation? 
 
What had happened to the plan on Roma education?  Was it true that 30 per cent of Roma children did not go to school and what measures would be taken to improve that situation?  The Committee had received information about the segregation of Roma children in schools, even though the State party had denied it - could the delegation clarify? 
 
An Expert commended the State party for promoting policies on nationalities, which was something new, and asked whether there had been cases in which the officials refused to apply the State Nationalities Policies and what sort of penalties had been applied in such cases.  What was the enjoyment of human rights by the Crimean Tatars, and the Muslims from the Caucasus?  What had the body established to deal with nationalities achieved?
 
What was the status of the implementation of the recommendation to ratify the amendment to article 8, paragraph 6 of the Convention concerning the financing of the Committee?
 
ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, Committee Chairperson, inquired whether the State party had considered a further action plan for the Roma and, recalling that the Committee continued to receive reports on segregated education for the Roma, asked the delegation to provide more information on the issue.  What special measures had been undertaken for Roma women and girls, and for female migrant workers?  There was a concern about women involved in construction.  How did the State party manage to ensure the full implementation of the Convention in its territory, given the complexities of the Federation?
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
Responding to questions raised by the Committee Experts, the delegation said that the Federal Agency for Nationalities had been created under the mandate of the President in 2015, to protect small indigenous populations and the nationalities, and to prevent any nationalistic or xenophobic activities.  The situation today reflected positive trends, and 93 per cent of the citizens of the Russian Federation had stated that they had never witnessed any negative reactions to a particular nationality or group.  Such a high figure was a result of key high-level decisions that had been taken.  There were more than 22,000 municipal authorities in the country and there were plans to allocate 26 billion roubles with the objective of harmonizing inter-ethnic and inter cultural relations in Russia.  All the activities of the Agency were included in this budget, as well as subsidies for regions aimed at harmonizing interethnic relations.  In order to improve the situation of religious violence, an early warning system had been put in place; an important element of this approach was the sociological monitoring through which areas of high tension were identified. 
 
It was important to start harmonizing inter-ethnic relations and promoting inter-ethnic approach to society at an early age and preserving the specific features of different peoples was considered extremely important.  This included the peoples of the North Siberia where eighteen peoples carried out difficult nomadic ways of life.  In several areas of the Arctic, a plan to develop the small indigenous populations was in the pipeline with a sizeable grant.  The previous year more than forty acts had been approved to this effect, said the delegation and stressed that the national policies were not simply related to festive events but reflected daily steadfast work.  The Russian Federation fully realized that a consistent approach to interethnic relations was of extreme importance. 
 
The International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial was an integral part of the Russian legislation thanks to a Constitutional provision which stated the obligation of all courts to directly apply provisions of international convention.
  
There were several grounds for the criminalization of discrimination.  Over 420 people had been convicted for this crime, and 53 had been held administratively liable.  Judges had an obligation to state the grounds for not applying a real prison term in such cases.  Racially-motivated murders were sentenced by imprisonment.  The differentiation between sentences and administrative liability depended on the individual circumstances, such as repeated crime and so forth, explained the delegation.
 
Judges in practice invoked various Conventions, including the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.  However, according to the Supreme Court decision, the provisions could not be applied if the practice or case law of the relevant body or a Committee was unknown.  Since 2013, the practice of Special Rapporteurs and Committees and documents on the legal positions of the Committees on all forms of discrimination were being sent to the courts. 
 
In response to questions concerning the abuse of authority, the delegation said that in 2016 over 1,000 persons had been held responsible for the incorrect registration of persons with respect to citizens in Crimea.  The decisions in 63 per cent of the administrative cases and in 92 per cent of the civil cases were in favour of the citizens who had filed a complaint.  With respect to Sevastopol, 75 per cent of the administrative cases and 92 per cent of the civil cases had been found in favour of the citizens who had filed a complaint.
 
On the training of officials and law enforcement agencies, including the police, a delegate explained that the preparation of staff was aimed at raising the ability of officers to implement international norms.  More than 42,000 officers followed activities in these programmes in 29 institutions and 39 centres for educational training.  The programmes included the review of international standards, including on the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.  Issues of culture, religion, psychology and dispute settlement were also included.
 
The legal status of Cossack patrols had been laid down in the Law on the Protection of Individuals and in regional laws, which allowed for the creation of ethnic patrols.  More than 9,000 popular patrols and 139 Cossack patrols were spread all over the Russian territory, and they maintained public order and elucidated crimes.  Their conduct was controlled by the Attorney General and it was important to say that to date, there had been no complaints from ethnic minorities about the conduct of the patrols.
 
Inciting social, racial, ethnic or religious discord, or promoting the supremacy of a person, on national, racial, religious or other grounds, led to criminal or administrative proceedings.  An increase in the number of identified extremist crimes was a reflection of the improvements in the law enforcement bodies which were now better able to identify them.  According to the statistics, there were 1,207 cases of extremist crimes, of which 251 were on grounds of racial hatred, and 704 on the grounds of ethnic hatred.  The Russian Federation had a successful system of countering extremism.  The Prosecutor had the right to submit instructions and question regional authorities on non-effective work.  Overall there had been more than 11,000 violations based on ethnic discrimination, of which more than one thousand had been brought to administrative responsibility.
 
There were 61 organizations espousing the Nazi ideology; one of them was grounded on the exclusivity of the Slavic peoples. 
 
In view of the upcoming World Cup, monitoring activities were in place to supervise football clubs; for example, an organization in Samara had been brought to administrative responsibility for having Nazi symbols in the stadium, attacking a café and incurring bodily harm to a person from the Caucasus.
 
A delegate noted that the Committee was not very informed on some issues and proceeded to explain the action plan for the Federal Agency for Nationalities, noting that the preservation and promotion of the development of small-sized populations was important.  Several initiatives had been launched to this effect, including the review of the Law on Traditional Use of Nature by Indigenous Populations, and the preparation of a draft bill aimed at the normative regulation of issues faced by populations carrying out nomadic and semi-nomadic lifestyles.  Special attention was given to the register of information related to small-sized indigenous populations.  A draft legislation on monitoring inter-ethnic and inter-confessional relations was being prepared.  All this work was being carried out in close cooperation with civil society, experts, and peoples from the Far North and Far East.  
 
Regarding the question on the ban on traditional net fishing for indigenous populations, these problems did exist, said a delegate, noting that fishing in different river basins and seas could be limited during the mating season.  The Government was working on a compromise solution that would be satisfactory with the interests of the small-sized indigenous populations, including by establishing a Special Council composed of representatives of the federal authorities, the Federal Agency on Fishing, and Peoples from the Far East, among others.
 
Many indigenous languages were being taught in schools including Web, Dogan, Karaisk, Manci, Nenetz, Nivksi, Rokski or Ulta, Silkupski, Saiutski, Teleutski, Tafalarski, Udegenjski, Ulski, Handiski, Chukot, Shorski, Evengiski, Evenski, Enetski, Eskimo, and Yukagiski.  Literature and geography were also being taught and a possibility existed to choose a school that better reflected needs of students.
 
Information received by the Committee on the deliberate destruction of the village of Kazas was incorrect.  All the people who lived next to this coal mine, which had been built in the 1980s, had suffered.  A proposal for the relocation of the Shor peoples living close-by had been launched, including a proposal to move the cultural shrine to another area.  A daily bus had been organized to bring people to schools in which the children could study in the Shor language, and the work was being done to protect the features of the Shor community.
 
The citizens of Crimea enjoyed all the rights and the implementation of the Convention there had never stopped, said the delegation and remarked that the question on the status of Crimea was not within the mandate of this Committee.  As there was no situation of armed conflict or occupation in Crimea, international humanitarian law was therefore not applicable, stressed the delegation.  The resolutions mentioned by the Committee were strictly of a political nature.  The aim of Ukraine was not the protection of citizens but the territory of Crimea.  Almost two thirds of the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly had not supported resolution 71/205 and many had characterized it as a politicized solution.  The resolution had no impact on Crimea.  Russian legislation was fully applied there, as were all international treaties the Russian Federation was a party to.  Just about 0.1 per cent of the citizens of Crimea had decided to keep their Ukrainian citizenship; those who had could keep their residence permit in the Russian Federation which granted them all rights, including access to health, employment, education, legal protection, real estate acquisition, and so forth. 
 
A decree on the rehabilitation of Romanian, Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Crimean, Tatar, and German peoples in Crimea had been adopted, thousands of deported citizens had received housing, and another decree on economic development of Crimea and Sevastopol had been issued.  The Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea had established relations with the religious leaders of the community of Sevastopol, and newspapers were being published in all languages, including in Crimean Tatar, Greek, and Armenian. 
 
Sports were regarded by Russia as a necessary way to develop physically, intellectually, and to develop moral values.  Discrimination in sports was banned; a fine of up to €200 could be imposed and individuals could also be banned from participation in sports for a number of years.  To date, more than 3,000 administrative reports had been written, fines had been handed down to over 2,000 individuals, and over 600 individuals had been banned from sports for the next seven years.  Various awareness building projects were in place, such as videos featuring well-known sports stars with positive results, leading to the situation in which no violations carried out by spectators had been registered in 110 matches.
 
The World Cup would take place in 12 cities throughout the country; the Russian Federation had undertaken the responsibility to guarantee the safety of citizens and it had invented a mechanism for a personalized spectators card which allowing the fans to travel for free and gave them the access to four of the stadiums.  The slogan “Say No to Racism” had been printed on each of the cards.
 
Ensuring the comfort of migrants was the main concept of the migration policy.  A number of acts had been adopted in 2012 in relation to the legal status of foreign citizens, while the law on citizenship of the Russian Federation had a chapter aimed at simplifying ways to obtain citizenship for those with unregulated legal status, which reduced the time required stateless persons, foreign nationals and asylum seekers.  As of 1 July this year some 200,000 persons had received temporary asylum; 265,000 persons had received Russian citizenship in 2016 of whom 245,000 through a simplified procedure.  The measures taken aimed at preserving and protecting the rights of foreign nationals and stateless persons, contained the principle of dignity which was given great importance.
 
Regarding Roma population living in the Russian Federation, a comprehensive plan had been adopted in 2013, the activities of which had been approved by the Roma authority.  One of the outcomes of the activities was the successful implementation of the Programme of the Council of Europe on Mediators between Roma and Law Enforcement Bodies.  A number of initiatives to improve the pre-school education for children, develop traditional crafts and skills and other initiatives were also in place.  Roma had equal opportunities to take part in education, and textbooks, school equipment, food, and buses were provided in the rural areas.  Regarding questions on segregation, no such incidents had been noted by the Government.   At the request of parents, some schools organized remote or different types of training, such as after-hours classes.  Currently, there were more than 400 Roma children attending the school in classes with other children. 
 
Children who faced difficulties in school were given training and psychological assistance.  The 2016 comprehensive sociological survey,  whose goal had been to study the social, economic and political situation of Roma, their way of life, their cultural identity, and their integration in society, had found that up to 86 per cent of Roma in the Russian Federation had said that their life was fully happy.  Another survey would be conducted next year.  The Russian Federation was implementing the best practices from other countries, including Hungary, which had an excellent positive experience in Roma integrating Roma. 
 
Questions by the Experts
 
MARC BOSSUYT, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Russian Federation, noted with regards to the situation in Crimea, that the International Court of Justice had adopted an order indicating provisional measures, which related to issues of concern to the Committee, namely the Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainian language.  What follow-up had been undertaken in regard to this court order?  Mr. Bossuyt also asked the delegation to comment on the labelling of some organizations as undesirable, noting that there was a danger in such arbitrary decisions.
 
An Expert said that the education project on Roma was exceptional and noted however, that in a particular province, the percentage of the Nomadic people was much too high as compared to the number of schools.
 
Was there a resettlement programme for the indigenous peoples?  The Committee had received the information that there was only one badly-adapted site; the delegation said that a special spiritual centre had been built on this site and the Committee wondered whether this decision had been made in agreement with the local population.
 
The negative impact of residential schools had been seen in Canada, United States, Australia and New Zealand, where those had been seen as an attempt to assimilate the indigenous populations.  What was the position of the Russian Federation in this regard?  Was it true that indigenous children had only two hours of class in their own language?
 
Responses by the Delegation
 
In response to questions concerning Crimea, the delegation stressed that the Russian Federation was taking necessary steps to implement the order of the International Court of Justice: the text had been distributed to all stakeholders in Crimea and the Russian Federation and they had participated in a meeting to discuss the best way to implement the said order.  A decision had been made to give priority to the languages.  There was a website which provided information on all establishments in Crimean Tatar, and in all native languages.  Currently, there were 52 schools where the main language was Tatar and in 13 schools teaching was in Ukrainian or there were classes where that language could be studied.  Some 19,000 students studied in Crimean Tatar and 12,000 in Ukrainian language.  The data was based on a questionnaire sent to parents and accessible on the Internet, prior to the beginning of the school year.  There was a possibility to complain if language needs were not met.  A draft law had been adopted on the languages in May 2017, and would be discussed by all relevant stakeholders, including civil society, in September.
 
Regarding questions on the Mejlis Organisation, this was never an official representative body of the Crimean Tatars.  Some of the leaders of this organization currently lived in Kiev and one had said that the war would be over when Crimea was returned to Ukraine.  Members of the Mejlis Organisation who had not taken part in acts of violence were currently living in Crimea.  The Order of the International Court of Justice was mandatory for the Russian Federation which was looking at ways to implement it without doing damage to its own citizens.
 
The definition of discrimination covered all manifestations of extremist activities and any narrowing of the term would have a negative impact on its implementation and therefore there were no plans to revise the definition.
 
Some agents working for non-governmental organizations were considered foreign agents if they received support from foreign bodies.  The legislation on foreign agents did not impose any restrictions on activities of such organizations.  Some organizations were included on a register of unwanted organizations and the grounds for inclusion were clear.  Currently 89 non-profit organisations were on this list, out of the more than 225,000 registered in the country, which represented less than one per cent.
 
With regard to who had determined the spiritual home of the Shor peoples, there were individual problems that regarded the Shor peoples, and the Government was trying to resolve them individually.
 
Regarding the 190 nationalities living in the Russian Federation, the delegation noted that some faced additional challenges due to traditional or nomadic lifestyles, as well as climate circumstances; 40 such populations in various regions, including the Arctic, had been identified by the Government.
 
Questions by the Experts
 
An Expert asked about the approach to teaching history in a multi-cultural and diverse population with diverse history, and how the Russian Federation prevented the emergence of a dominant narrative.
 
Another Expert inquired about measures to support African students and students of colour in view of the surge of racist activities that had been documented.
 
Sanctions against politicians fuelling racist discourse were inadequate, Experts said, noting that in 2016 patriotism had been part of the electoral discourse, and extreme patriotism could lead to nationalism and such speech could amount to hate speech.  The importance of tackling racism in political discourse had to be underlined.
 
An Expert found it incredulous that the delegation had stated that there were equal opportunities for the Roma education, that there were sufficient busses provided, that there were no incidents of segregation in schooling, that the special classes were requested by parents, and that 86 per cent of Roma had said that they were fully happy. Could the delegation clarify those statements in the next 48 hours, and elucidate the facts if it did not want to stand behind these declarations.
 
Had Russia considered the ratification of International Labour Convention 169 in particular in relation to the Cossacks?
 
What plans did the State have for the International Decade for the People of African Descent?
 
Responses by the Delegation
 
The scientific study on Roma, in which 86 per cent of whom had declared they were fully happy, had been carried out by the Federal Agency for Nationalities.  Roma had very different values and priorities in their lives which were different from those in widespread society and this was partly the reason for this result. The Government did not mean to overshadow problems – this was the reason why further activities were being implemented, including the exchange with Hungary.

The two-dialect vocabulary system was being developed in order to help Roma children learn their own language.
 
Segregation was not understood in the same way.  It was based on the practice of child psychologists and was used to assist the children with special education needs which included refugees, migrants, students who had missed a significant part of the education due to an illness, and Roma, to successfully complete schooling and go on to the university.
 
Regarding the indigenous populations, special target programmes had been developed, alongside special school manuals while complete curricula was available in 24 languages.
 
Regarding the electoral campaigns, there had been no incidents of hate speech.  There were individuals who may have been too patriotic however if something very harsh was said on ethnic grounds, it was verified.
 
Regarding attacks on students of African descent, this had been a problem in the decade of 2000, and as a result, monitoring had been put in place.  In the last five years, no incidents had been reported.
 
The Government would consider acceding to the International Labour Convention 169 on the indigenous peoples.
 
Concluding Remarks
 
MARC BOSSUYT, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Russian Federation, thanked the delegation and all participants for the constructive dialogue.
 
IGOR BARINOV, Head of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs of the Russian Federation, thanked all the participants, especially the Rapporteur, for understanding the complexity and problems in the country - the vast territory, the vast ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, and the various interests and problems – and noted that the Federal Agency for Nationalities was dealing with those on a daily basis.  All Experts’ remarks would be taken very seriously, Mr. Barinov assured the Committee.
 
ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, Committee Chairperson, thanked all participants for their contributions and noted that the Russian Federation was a large and complex country.  The Committee looked forward to continuing the dialogue and supporting the State party in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

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