Hate Crimes in Russia: What Do Support Workers Tell Us?

22 Jul, 2020

On the occasion of the European Day for Victims of Hate Crime, we spoke to experts on the frontline, those who have dedicated their time to supporting victims, to better understand what they observe in their local contexts and what gives them hope.

 

Maria Yanshina, Director Special Projects, Victim Support Russia

How does your organisation deal with victims of hate crimes: racist hate crimes, religious hate crimes, LGBTI+ hate crimes?

Maria Yanshina: Even though we encourage all victims of crime to come to us for help, Victim Support Russia rarely deals with victims of hate crimes: racist hate crimes, religious hate crimes, LGBTI+ hate crimes. Since the victims are very reluctant to report hate crime and the police are reluctant to record it as hate-motivated crime, we don’t currently have a clear and reliable picture of the situation.

What are the gaps/barriers in your national context to provide quality support to victims of hate crimes?

Maria Yanshina: Article 63 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation recognises, among others, the following aggravating circumstances: committing an offence motivated by political, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious hatred or enmity or hatred or hostility toward a social group. Unfortunately, the data on the application of Article 63 of the Criminal Code is not published and there is a lack of comprehensive data on the application of Article 282 «Incitement to hatred or enmity, and humiliation of human dignity», which makes is it difficult to analyze the current situation and the use of the current anti-extremism legislation.

The amount of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric as well as xenophobic hate speech in traditional media and on the Internet is rather significant and the social networks are widely used to disseminate xenophobic and homo/transphobic comments. At the same time sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly mentioned as protected grounds. Given the current level of intolerance in the society and the lack of legal provisions concerning victims of certain types of hate crime, providing quality support would require a number of changes to the applicable legislation as well as to the official position of the authorities on the matter.

What are your recommendations to national authorities and other stakeholders to improve the situation?

Maria Yanshina: We recommend the adoption of a more comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, which would cover direct and indirect discrimination in all areas of life.

The authorities and the stakeholders should carry out an in-depth study on the nature and extent of hate crimes and bias incidents in Russian society and should promote public hate crime awareness-raising campaigns.

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Learn more about hate crimes on Victim Support Europe’s OneVoiceOneCause campaign website. 

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