Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 26 March 2015
The OSCE participating States have agreed upon a broad range of commitments to combat all forms of intolerance and discrimination and to promote mutual respect and understanding. These commitments acknowledge that racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance, as well as violent manifestations of extremism associated with aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism are a major challenge to social cohesion and protection of human rights across the OSCE region.
We have repeatedly drawn attention within the OSCE to the threats posed by the surge of radicalism, aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism in the Russian Federation. The growing aggressive nationalistic sentiment within Russia, paired with xenophobic public statements by mainstream politicians, presents a challenge to Russia in terms of implementation of its OSCE commitments and a serious risk to long-term stability within the OSCE area.
At numerous OSCE meetings we continue to witness how the Russian delegation initiates discussion on this important subject placing emphasis on alleged shortcomings of other States while entirely ignoring a very disturbing tendency inside Russia.
Notably, Russia’s statement at the Permanent Council meeting on March 19, 2015 concerning the rise of aggressive nationalism in the OSCE area, as well as a brief reference to the national “comprehensive measures to combat neo-Nazism” was delivered just three days before ever largest ultra nationalist and neo-Nazi forum held under the name of International Conservative Forum with the approval of the Russian authorities in St.Petersburg on 22 March 2015.
According to the forum’s website, some 400 representatives of far-right parties from 15 different countries gathered to co-ordinate their policy at the event in Russia. The organisers included the pro-Kremlin ultra-right “Rodina” party, which lists Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Rogozin as a member. According to available information, most of the participants of the forum have a reputation of neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis glorifying Hitler and denying Holocaust. Aleksei Milchakov, the Russian neo-Nazi who joined the Russia-backed militants in Donbas, and so-called ”foreign minister” of the terrorist “DPR” Aleksandr Koffmann were also present at the event.
The soil of Leningrad, which endured a terrible blockade, was shed during the war with blood of true patriots, including Ukrainians. We strongly condemn that this city was chosen for the unprecedented gathering of radical nationalists on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazism.
The event rightfully provoked a strong negative reaction within the Russian civil society, among political parties and non-governmental organizations. However the people, who went into the streets to peacefully protest against fascism, including women and pensioners, proved to be the ones who were brutally dispersed or detained by the police. This becomes a reality of today’s Russia.
The Ukrainian side has repeatedly expressed its concern over the growing number of cases of arbitrary detention of Ukrainian citizens in the territory of the Russian Federation, the inhumane actions of the Russian law-enforcement officials towards Ukrainians, including practice of physical intimidation and psychological pressure.
We reiterate that unacceptable discriminatory policy towards Ukrainians in Russia has become systemic and raises a serious concern over Russia’s failure to observe its OSCE commitments and international obligations.
We are deeply alarmed that the violent manifestations of extremism, xenophobia, and ethnic intolerance increasingly target Ukrainian citizens in the Russian Federation. Anti-Ukrainian sentiments and propaganda, actively fuelled by Russian media, are everyday realities in Russia, endangering the safety of Ukrainians.
We strongly condemn the brutal murder of a Ukrainian citizen Roman Muzychenko by a group of 21 young nationalists in Moscow on 14 February 2015. According to the Russian law-enforcement it was an ethnic biased crime. In its statement of 19 March 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine called on the Russian side to immediately conduct a thorough investigation of this outrageous crime to swiftly identify and bring perpetrators to justice.
We urge Russia to take all necessary measures to prevent any acts of violence or intolerance based on ethnicity or any other biases against Ukrainians and people of other backgrounds in line with its OSCE commitments.
As all these unacceptable and worrying developments take place against the backdrop of unprecedented rise of radicalism, aggressive nationalism, neo-Nazism and xenophobic manifestations in the Russian Federation, we believe that they should become a matter of serious concern for the entire OSCE community and Russia itself.
According to SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, in 2014 at least 19 people were killed in 25 regions of Russia as a result of racist and neo-Nazi attacks, while another 103 were injured. Moscow was the leader in terms of such incidents, with eight killed and 28 injured. People of Central Asian descent continue to represent the main targets of racist violence, along with persons from the Caucasus, and those identified as “non-Slavic in appearance”. Just in December 2014, neo-Nazi vandalized five religious sites in the Volgograd, Novosibirsk and Tyumen regions, and the Republic of Tatarstan. The traditional annual “Russian parades” are accompanied by displays of swastikas and symbols of SS divisions. The neo-Nazi marches of Cossacks combine orthodox and Nazi symbols.
As highlighted by the NGO “Football against racism in Europe”, the first systematic study of racism in Russian football, published in February 2015, showed a gruesome picture of Russian league which is full of aspects of racism and xenophobia with more than 200 cases of discriminatory behaviour over last two seasons.
We remain extremely alarmed that in the environment of growing aggressive nationalism, violent extremism and xenophobia Russia has not only become a breeding ground for intolerance and radicalism, but also exports aggressive nationalism to other countries. There is ample evidence that scores of members of neo-Nazi organizations from the Russian Federation take part in the escalation of violence in the east of Ukraine along with militants of Russian citizenship. We have informed the Permanent Council about these cases, notably on November 13, 2014.
There is an ever growing number of cases of flagrant discrimination, intolerance and hate crimes in Crimea under the Russian illegal occupation.
We see it as a matter of utmost importance that the OSCE Institutions find the tools to address the above alarming trends within their respective mandates.
We call upon Russia to address the root causes of the rise of violent radicalism, neo-Nazism and xenophobia in the Russian Federation. The way to succeed would be to immediately correct its violations of OSCE principles and commitments, restore respect to them, as well as set on track of full and good-faith implementation of OSCE commitments. We encourage to use the valuable expertise of the OSCE Institutions to assist in this process.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.