war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Human rights in Ukraine 2009 – 2010. 12. Protection against discrimination, racism and xenophobia



As you might know, the number of hate crimes started growing rapidly starting from October 2006, and by the middle of 2008 developed a threatening scale. This forced the state to take various measures2, owing to which the upper layer of these crimes was removed, and their number started to decline in 2009-2010, which is confirmed by both official government statistics and the NGO monitoring. Nonetheless, it is obvious that the problem of racism and xenophobia remains quite acute.

In 2009, 1249 attempted crimes against foreigners were registered. Of them 804, or 64.3%, were against people born in the CIS countries. The largest part of those who suffered from such crimes, are from the Russian Federation (586 persons), followed by, with a large gap, representatives of Belarus (91 person) and those of Moldova (51 person).

Other 445 crimes (35.7%) were committed against the citizens of so called "far abroad" countries, among which 8 were murders (6 solved), grave bodily injuries – 6 (5), medium injuries – 7 (4). Among the crimes committed against the "far foreigners" the most common crimes are the following: robbery with violence (71% of all cases of robbery with violence against all foreigners), hooliganism (59.6%), robbery (52%), inflicting medium bodily injuries (36.8%), and theft (28.4%). Cases of murder and causing grave bodily injuries against non-CIS citizens comprised 22.3% of all crimes committed against foreigners.

For comparison with the data of 2008, it should be mentioned that in 2008, 403 crime attempts were made against far foreigners, of which the violent crimes were 15, including 12 murders (8 solved), grave bodily injuries – 13 (10), medium bodily injuries – 9 (7).

Among all the crimes of the aforementioned category, of a specific concern for the domestic security bodies of Ukraine are the facts of crimes against the foreigners by the participants of radical youth organizations and movements, such as so-called «skinheads» and neo-Nazi. The main goal of their activities, as they say, is the fight for the «purity» of the Caucasoid race by means of banishing from Ukraine people who came from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Today, over 1, 200 persons who consider themselves the partisans of the ultra-right ideology, are on the preventative registration list of the domestic security bodies, including 60 persons in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, 150 persons in Zaporizka oblast, 105 in Odeska oblast, 60 persons in Kharkivska oblast, 126 persons in Chernihivska oblast, 793 skinheads – in the city of Kyiv.

In addition, in the city of Kyiv there are at least 263 hooligan fans of sport clubs «Dynamo-131», «CSC-94», «Arsenal-38», who often act together with the ultra-right groups during public events. In Chernihivska oblast, there are partisans of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, who are not participating in any fights or attacks, yet conduct active ultra-nationalist political events, and disseminate the relevant information on the Internet. In Lvivska oblast, there is an unstable group of "White Power Skinheads” members of around 30-40 people, who are not conducting any affairs or events.

Attempts of Kharkivska oblast NGO «Patriot Ukrayiny» to conduct its activities caused official warnings from the courts for the violation of civil order by the 22 of its representatives. The reason for this was their organizing of the march with xenophobic mottos, dissemination of racist fly-sheets, blocking the access to the monument. In Kirovohrad, 12 persons were discovered who are members of non-official "national labour party", and are partisans of ultra-right ideology.

According to the information of the Chief Administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, in 2009 only in 6 oblasts (Volynska, Zhytomyrska, Zakarpatska, Luhanska, Rivnenska, Chernivetska) no radical youth groups and organizations were found, and the domestic security bodies have no information concerning activities of any such organizations there. No "hate crimes” or any anti-Semitic or extremist manifestations were detected in 10 oblasts (Volynska, Donetska, Zhytomyrska, Ivano-Frankivska, Kirovohradska, Rivnenska, Sumska, Ternopilska, Chernihivska, Chernivetska). Although it should be mentioned that in Chernihivska and Ivano-Frankivska oblasts there were cases of vandalism.

In the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, in the cities of Kyiv and Sebastopol, and in the rest of the oblasts – Vinnytska, Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Kyivska, Lvivska, Mykolayivska, Odeska, Poltavska, Kharkivska, Khersonska, Kmelnytska, Cherkaska – radical youth groups and organizations are active, and some hate crimes were registered. Yet these were not only against foreigners, but also against people with non-Slavic appearance, so it is impossible to separate them from the general crime statistics.

On November 5, 2009, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved amendments to the Criminal Code, initiated by the people’s deputy Taras Chornovil. They introduced criminal responsibility for crimes on the grounds of race-, ethnicity- or religion-related intolerance, such as murder (article 115 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), intentional grave bodily injury (art. 121 CCU), intentional medium bodily injury (art. 122 CCU), beating and cruelty (art. 126 CCU), torture (art. 127 CCU), threat to murder (art. 129 CCU) also importing, producing or dissemination of works that advocate the cult of violence and cruelty (art. 300 CCU). In addition, the sanctions for the article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, relating to instigating hostility and violating the equal rights of people basing on their race, ethnicity or attitude to religion, were made stricter. Yet these changes did not affect the practice of application of the mentioned articles, because proving the intention and execution of the mentioned actions is very difficult, especially in cases where the action in question in publishing xenophobic texts.

At this time, we do not have the statistics for crimes committed against foreigners in 2010. During 2010, in Ukraine there was a pretty broad range of xenophobia manifestations: starting from existence of radical organizations that openly preach racism, and to the arrogant and contemptuous attitude of common citizens to foreigners, ranging from openly chauvinistic speeches of some politicians to racist graffiti on the walls and hatred-infused materials on some web sites, that disseminate the ideology of racial inequality and make appeals to take violent actions basing on racial or ethnic hatred.

It should be mentioned that, compared to the previous years, in 2010 the number of hate crimes and cases of violence against representatives of ethnic minorities in Ukraine somewhat decreased, yet such cases still happened. Below we will provide several examples.

1. In the night of September 19, 2010, a citizen of the city of Chakhra (Kuwait) was delivered to the neurological reanimation department of M.O.Semashko Hospital, in Simferopol, with a diagnosis: «brain injury, injury of the right forehead area, hypodermic haematoma of right forehead and temporal area, fracture of underjaw on the left, bruised left brow, 2nd degree coma.» The mentioned foreigner, a student of the Crimean State Medical University, fell victim of an assault, when he was returning at night to the dormitory of his educational institution.3

2. From the interview with N., citizen of Azerbaijan (36 y.o., private enterpriser, resident of Cherkasy city): «When in the evening I was resting at a cafe, three young guys sat at my table. At first they behaved normally – they were asking who I was and where I came from to Ukraine, were treated to my cigarettes. Later, during the conversation, one of them asked me if I like Ukrainian girls. I responded that Ukrainian women are very beautiful and cordial. I do not know why, but this response made them angry. The one who asked said: «Our women are not for you, black ass! - and splashed out the mug of beer into my face. They knocked the chair from under me and started kicking me. All three of them were beating me for several minutes, and then ran out.»

And this is how the "Social Nationalist Assembly" evaluates its «contribution to the struggle against illegal migration» on its web-site: «On July 24, 2010, in Vasylkiv, a raid of fighters of the «Patriot Ukraiiny» and the entrepreneurs of the city took place. As a result of the raid, several Vietnamese containers were closed, together with the goods of the aliens, and the counters of Uzbeks and Gypsies were removed. The majority of Ukrainians, who were at the open air market at that time, were approving of the actions of national-socialists. As it was already mentioned before, Ukrainians entrepreneurs who sell at the market are firmly against aliens, in particular Vietnamese, Gypsies, and Uzbeks, etc., selling their goods there. Ukrainian entrepreneurs were supported by Social National Assembly, and by the organization «Patriot Ukraiiny». With joint efforts, the patriots and the entrepreneurs forced out the majority of aliens from the open air market of Vasylkiv during the last 2 weeks. Some members of Vietnamese diaspora had to be forced out, and some of them needed an ambulance. Social-National Assembly… from the first day of the confrontation in Vasylkiv between the Ukrainians and the migrants declared it was for complete removal of all migrants (Vietnamese, Gypsies, Uzbeks) from the near-market area … On July 31, 2010, the fighters of the organization «Patriot Ukraiiny» raided the open air market of Vasylkiv and were explaining to those migrants who remained there that tolerant attitude of police does not guarantee them the place under the sun on the territory of the city of Vasylkiv in particular, and in Ukraine in general. The illegal immigrants who suffered are tending to their wounds, and the free patriots celebrate their new victory over the aliens, and this means that the struggle against the migrants in Vasylkiv continues».4

Along with this, the racist front, in spite of reduced, compared to Russia, activity in physical harassment of the «aliens», gradually increases in numbers and acquires new partisans – as a rule, the youth. Presently, in Ukraine there are a number of organizations and movements with various degrees of radicalism that declare either the idea of the necessity "to keep the white race clean" in general, or the motto «Ukraine is for Ukrainians only». If several years ago radical racism in Ukraine with its classical international features was in fact imported into Ukraine from abroad (mostly from Russia), in 2010 there was a stable tendency of consolidation of the domestic chauvinistic forces, with vision of affirmation of the idea of the exceptional role of the «title nation» in the social life of the country. For example, along with the Ukrainian centres of such well-known international racist groups as «White Power», «Blood & Honour», «World Church of the Creator – Ukraine», we observed the increase of influence in the society of such organizations and associations as «Ukrainian national labour party», «Patriot Ukraiiny», «Slava i Chest», "All-Ukrainian Organization «Tryzub»", etc., whose activists several times participated in the manifestations against so called «dominance of non-Ukrainians».

In 2010, some chauvinistic and racist organizations demonstrated their power several times by holding public actions, during which they declared openly racist mottoes and appeals to ethnic discrimination.

On the public request, the authorities stopped the musical festival «Traditions of Spirit» near Kyiv, scheduled for June 26-27, 2010, under the aegis of the radical «Social Nationalist Assembly» with the goal to promulgate among the youth the ideas of neo-Nazi and chauvinism. During the festival, the performances of ultra-right musical bands were planned («Sokyra Peruna», «Seitar», «Nachtigall», «White Lions»), who in the lyrics of their songs openly approve and show in romantic light the skinhead movement, promote Hitlerist aesthetics, and encourage to harass national minorities.5

On September 04, 2010, in the city of Uman, the local centre of the all-Ukrainian assembly «Svoboda» organized an anti-Hasidic march. The protest participants formed a column and marched the streets of the city. The march was performed under the mottoes «Uman without Hasid! », «No to Hasidic rampancy! », «Honta will come and bring order! », and «Who owns Ukraine – Ukrainians! Who owns Uman – we do!». During the meeting that was organized later, the "People’s Resolution" addressing the people was read out that, in particular, proclaimed the following: «We are indignant and we declare our dissent with the criminal inaction of the central and local authorities on the background of the wave of aggression of the aliens, Hasids, that is growing rampant». 6

On September 7, 2010, in Kyiv a march of several thousand people «For Ukrainian Football» directed against «the dominance of "legionaries"» was organized. It was announced that march would be attended by mostly normal football fans, instead, the chief role was that of neo-Nazis, and so people who had just the football symbols comprised at most 1% of the total. The column marched under the eloquent flags with Celtic crosses, and «Roman greetings» were used.» 7

On December 12, 2010, the office of the Chernihiv Non-Governmental Committee for Protection of Human Rights was attacked by unidentified people who were partisans of extremist and racist ideology – in the room, the windows were broken, and fascist swastika was painted on the front of the building. The damage and the theft of the signboard of the Committee is already something the members of the Committee are accustomed to. In various extremist and radical right Internet resources unidentified people keep posting appeals to lynch the members of the Non-Governmental Committee for Protection of Human Rights and its clients.8

In Crimea, the law-enforcement agencies prevented the mass «solidarity action» of the local skinheads, who wanted to organize one on December 19 at noon near the Green Theatre, in the centre of Simferopol. The partisans and the activists of the extreme right informal movements were going to express their support to their Russian fellows, who organized the civil disorder actions in Moscow, St.Petersburg, and other cities of the neighbouring Russia. One of the action participants, who called himself Max, explained: «We are concerned that in the city, first of all, there are too many illegals, emigrants. And the second, this action was in honor of supporting the situation in Moscow. As the saying goes, one stands for all, and all stand for one. We are Slavic people, Russian people. We need to support each other. Why emigrants can do it, and us, Russian nation, Slavic nation, why are we deprived of this right?».9

During 2010, in Ukraine there were several cases of vandalism against the buildings that were used by ethnic minorities for their religious, cultural, educational, or other needs.

In April of 2010, in Ternopil, monuments and graves were vandalized at the ancient Jewish cemetery, on some of them abusive anti-Semitic inscriptions were found.10

On August 23, 2010, in the city of Simferopol, the memorial to the deported Crimean Tatars was vandalized: at the inscription on the monument «This should never happen again», the word "never" was painted over, and on the memorial itself inscriptions were made «Crimea is Ukrainian, not Tatar», «Long live Ukraine!», and the Ukrainian trident was painted. This chauvinistic manifestation was on the eve of the meeting of Crimean Tatars near the memorial, timed to the European «Memorial Day of the victims of totalitarian regimes». 11

In September 2010, in Poltava, on the monument of «Mourning Mother» that stands on the place where the Fascists shot down over 30 thousand non-combatants and prisoners of war, the vandals painted an SS symbol and inscription «Death to Jews».12

On November 15, 2010, in the city of Kirovohrad, unidentified people vandalized the memorial sign «To Jews – victims of Nazism», by painting the mottos "Shame on Jews", "Death to Jews", and swastikas.13

In Lviv, in the night from 7th to 8th of December, 2010, an insulting act of vandalism was committed against the Monument of Combat Glory of Soviet Army. The bronze image of the Order "Victory" was poured on with red paint, and on the granite slabs of the monument, a Nazi swastika was painted.14

Yet it would be incorrect to consider that xenophobia in Ukraine is only rooted in Ukrainian nationalism. Ambiguous, as many in Ukraine think, change of the «political affinity» of Ukraine towards Russian Federation, that was being actively implemented in 2010 by the new government, caused growth of the cases of «counter-discrimination», where the subject of certain kinds of discrimination are ethnic Ukrainians.

In this aspect, an indicative is Crimea, where Ukrainians were those who often suffer from anti-Ukrainian attitudes of the large Russian community. It should be mentioned that the opposition of Russians and Ukrainians in the Crimea is almost openly supported by some politicians of the Russian Federation, who spread the ideas of contemptuous attitude to anything Ukrainian, and instigate the pro-Russian residents to confrontation, saying that Crimea is a Russian territory. In the East and South of Ukraine, there are several movements and groups («Russian Fellowship», «Orthodox choice», «Union of the Russian people», «Eurasian Association of Youth» and others), who, distorting the idea of «Slavic brotherhood with the Russians», have and express openly negative attitudes towards Ukrainian language, Ukrainians themselves, integrity of the state, etc. At that, they use the methods similar to those of Ukrainian chauvinists – organizing meetings, pickets, demonstrations, and other public actions, vandalizing the monuments, etc.

On January 17, 2010, the NGOs «Union of the Russian people», «Russian Fellowship», «Union of Loyal Cossacks» conducted a march under the motto «Let us confirm our pledge we gave 365 years ago». The organizers of the action advocated the idea that in 1654 all residents of Kyiv city solemnly pledged loyalty to the Russian Tsar on the Bible, and now the people of Ukraine must confirm this choice that was made in the past.15

On July 22, 2010, in Kyiv city, initiated by the All-Ukrainian NGO «Orthodox choice», a religious march was held under the motto «Against expansion of Western civilization», with the voiced demands to the authorities «to stop the course to the integration with the European Union that is alien to our people, as such integration threatens the civilization of "Pax Russia", of which the people of Ukraine is a part».16

In the night from 17 to 18 of August, in Ternopil city, the memorial plate for Slava Stetsko, head of Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (revolutionary), head of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, was broken. Ivan Bilakh, head of Ternopil oblast organization of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, believes it was a provocation of pro-Russian forces planned on the eve of the Independence Day. «…This is not an accident, as at the same night they ruined the memorial board to the colonel of Ukrainian Insurgent Army Omelian Poliovyi. With the team of Yanukovych in power, anti-Ukrainian forces felt that no one will punish them and they can do anything», – Ivan Bilakh emphasized.17

In October 2010, the Ukrainian branch of the Russian Institute of CIS countries organized the conference «De-Banderization – urgent need for European integration of Ukraine», during which publicist Myroslava Berdnyk declared that Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine was «delirium of geopolitical adversaries of Russia», and said that «Holodomor was invented by the uniates, by the Americans, and by Kateryna Chumachenko (wife of the ex-President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko)». "Institute of CIS Countries" is headed by the deputy of the Russian State Duma Konstantin Zatulin, who was declared persona non grata in Ukraine several times because of his public denials of its language, and national identity.18

As it was already mentioned, Crimea is still the point of stress in the interethnic relations in Ukraine, where the level of confrontation between the Crimean Tatars and the authorities in 2010 even increased. In June of 2010, the head of Mejlis of Crimean Tatars Mustafa Djemilev informed the press about the discriminative HR policy of the government aimed to force out Tatar representatives from the administrative positions of the autonomy. «… This policy is the one of limiting the representation of Crimean Tatars in the sphere of administration. If this tendency persists, it can become a certain problem in the relations with the authorities», – were the words of the head of Mejlis, and the response of Mykola Azarov, Prime Minister of Ukraine, was: «Neither the President nor the Government fear any kind of ultimatum, or boycott, or anything similar, and they do not intend to fear them… We are ready for the dialogue, yet we will not accept any ultimatum as a condition». On December 15, 2010, the head of Mejlis Mustafa Dzhemilev, during his meeting in Washington with the political scientist and politician Zbigniew Brzezinski, informed about the increase of discrimination against Crimean Tatars when they apply for administrative positions.19

The crisis in the relations between Crimean Tatars and the authorities became more acute after Anatoliy Mohilev became the Minister of Internal Affairs, as he used to be the head of Crimean police, and was remembered by police operation at the Ai-Petri plateau, during which the Crimean Tatar population suffered. It was then when one of the Crimean newspapers published an interview with Mohilev, where the latter in fact declared that Stalin’s deportation of Tatars from the peninsula was justified.

The head of Mejlis Mustafa Djemilev drew attention of the European community to this fact at the European Parliament during the hearings concerning the situation of Crimean Tatars in March of 2010 and said, «Such appointment is a threat to peace and quiet in Crimea. As the person whose position is about combating xenophobia and interethnic animosity, is himself a hatemonger».20

What also causes disquietude is continuous opposition of separate groups of population of Ukraine on the grounds of religion: besides traditional for the entire world exacerbation of relations between Christians and Muslims, Greek Catholics and Orthodox Christians, there are numerous cases of intolerant attitude between supporters of different branches of Orthodox Christianity. To a certain degree this was caused by ill-conceived actions of the authorities, including public demonstrations by the first persons of the state of their religious preferences, what caused overt discrimination of a certain category of believers.

For instance, the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchy distributed information about cases of attempts to prevent their faithful to come to Kyiv for the celebration on July 28, 2010, of the anniversary of the baptism of Kyivan Rus. In the statement it is mentioned that with this purpose the authorities and the law-enforcement agencies exercised significant pressure on transportation companies up to threatening to revoke their license for public transportation for an attempt to depart with their passengers to go to the capital. Such cases happened most often in Southern and Western oblasts of Ukraine. According to the data of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchy, there were also cases when road police officers under vain pretexts tried to prevent the buses with pilgrims from passing on highways.

On July 28, approximately at 5 a.m. at the border of Kyiv, the road police officers stopped 5 buses with people supporting Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchy and tried to prevent them from entering the city with an explanation that «in Kyiv there is no parking space.» Only after one hour of negotiations and threats from the passengers to start a protest action the buses were allowed to follow their route.

On that very day, July 28, in Odesa the road police officers and people in civil clothing on three police cars blocked the bus with pilgrims of Kyiv Patriarchy headed to Kyiv, used force to passengers to stop them from boarding the bus, and took away from the driver the keys from the transportation means and his driver’s license as well as the documents for the bus.

At the same time, the press service admits that the authorities did not take such actions against believers of Moscow Patriarchy; to the contrary, they facilitated them in every possible way so that they would get to places of religious services in Kyiv.21

In the recent years, in the Ukrainian society a suspiciously alert attitude towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers is still widely observed, and in regard of foreign citizens of certain countries it becomes overly hostile. The government perceived the European community’s suggestions to Ukraine to intensify combating illegal migration with the purpose of securing proper control over the migrational processes as a call to combat migrants in general. Such a deformed policy gets reflected in activities of mass media that keep feeding to the Ukrainians clearly xenophobic clichés concerning migrants – «criminals», «people with infectious diseases», «threatening to take your job away. » The Ministry of Internal Affairs enthusiastically joined this blackwashing campaign: on its departmental websites the news about detention of illegal migrants in Ukraine and about crimes committed by foreigners with special emphasis on their ethnic origin are being published all the time. Thus, during the year 2010 the law-enforcement agencies were purposefully establishing in the society the idea about «invasion» into our state of a significant number of foreigners with an alien and thus adversary outlook, and about their significant influence over the economic and criminal situation in the country.

As an example we can mention a TV program ‘Shok-Info’ aired at the end of June of 2010 on a rather popular TV channel «Novy Kanal» that was dedicated to the issue of foreigners staying in Ukraine. This program, with the help of video materials and commentaries, made the audience believe in controversial and unsupported by the official statistical data statements that «illegals» (with no explanation of what this term means) that keep coming to Ukraine intend to sell drugs, carry unknown and dangerous diseases, and Ukrainians are forced to go abroad looking for jobs because they are forced out of their jobs by labour migrants. At that the commentaries concerning illegal migrants contained disdainful remarks like «human garbage», «half humans.» 22

Politicians have been making numerous public statements concerning threats that migrants pose to the very existence of Ukraine as a state.

Levko Lukianenko, veteran of the Ukrainian dissident movement, in his interview to Expert magazine said that migrational processes in Europe forced the European Christian civilization to the brink of downfall, Muslims have all the chances to overpower Christians, and the Blacks will overpower the Whites. To Lukianenko’s opinion, Ukraine is in a more advantageous position: «We are not obliged to let Blacks and Indians into our country, and so we can avoid a disaster.»23

Oleg Tiahnybok, leader of the all-Ukrainian assembly «Svoboda», characterizes the threat from foreigners migrating to Ukraine in the following way: «We can only imagine what they will bring with them. They will bring ethnic crime as they have to earn their living; they will bring exotic diseases – I can tell you this as a former medical doctor…. They will bring a new wave of drug addiction, of sexual deviations, of prostitution; moreover, these people will be looking for the Lebensraum… Europe has already gotten a full share of this, and through it is Europe that happily throws them back to Ukraine you can rest assured: the best of them will stay in Europe – those who can do science, who is more well-off, who has some talent or authority or something like this. And here to us they will send those who would do no good as I already explained; those who will pressure Ukrainians from their workplaces, as illegal migrants would agree to work for a plate of soup so, correspondingly, Ukrainians would be losing their jobs.»24

No wonder, then, that a significant share of the Ukrainian society is being infected with xenophobia, expresses distrust and aggression towards migrants and, following the imposed stereotype «migrant-enemy», approves of the consistent strict actions by the law-enforcement agencies towards foreigners.

What is representative is that «migrant phobia» in the Ukrainian society and, primarily, in the agencies of internal affairs is generally rather selective: a neutral attitude to foreigners that look European combines with a suspiciously alert attitude towards representatives of other ethnic groups. The difference in skin colour, in shape of eyes, accents in their speech or other attributes of the non-European type inevitable draw attention of law-enforcement officers and become a cause for groundless acts of coercion – detention and bringing over to police departments and dactyloscopy under coercion. In separate cases such detentions combine with overtly degrading and racist remarks addressed to them, cruel attitude and beatings.

On July 18, 2010, in Kharkiv in a Target supermarket the employees of the state guard service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs beat O., citizen of Uganda. The victim informed that when he entered the supermarket he was approached by police officers and asked to show his ID, and then led him to one of accessory rooms on the second floor of the supermarket where they took his clothes off and started searching, while explaining that they were looking for drugs. At that the police officers humiliated him and when he expressed his indignation at such actions they kicked him and beat him with a rubber truncheon. At that they did not document the detention and the conducted search; no witnesses were invited to be present at these procedures.25

The most vulnerable ethnic groups in Ukraine still are Roma and people from the countries of the Caucasian region, who in 2010 most often suffered from discrimination, xenophobic prejudice of the population and repressions from the law-enforcement officers. Violation of the rights of representatives of these ethnic categories has already become a shameful «tradition» of the police that is officially castigated by the heads of the law-enforcement agencies, while unofficially it is not only supported but encouraged. A groundless detention and conducting of the personal search, bringing over to district police departments and detainment there for an ungroundedly long time, searches of homes and cars, copying of information from cell phones and dactyloscopy – these are the measures of «prevention» that the police have been widely practicing towards Roma and Caucasians with no regard to the law that directly forbids conducting such procedures of coercion without the appropriate grounds.

In June-July 2010, in Chernihiv the police introduced a practice of detaining and bringing all Roma to the district police departments to conduct dactyloscopy and to take their photographs – with the purpose of updating the existent databases. These actions were conducted with no legal grounds, based only on their appearance.26

In June 2010, in the city of Chyhyryn, Cherkaska oblast, a conflict between a local dweller and a Roma man named L. erupted because of a quarrel between their children. Later L., as well as his wife and his underage son were beaten, but when L. came looking for help to the local district police department, it was him whom the law-enforcement officers apprehended and, according to L.’s statement as, forced him with humiliation and illegal application of force to tar himself. The Roma family came for protection to the public political edition «Pres Centr, » so their journalist came to Chyhyryn district police department to find out the facts but she was told to leave the building of the police, and one of the employees of the district police department told the journalist and the man: «Gypsies are not human beings!».27

From an interview with M., citizen of Ukraine, Azerbaijani, a private enterpriser (newspaper «Rivne Vechirnie» No. 55 as of August 5, 2010): «For 30 years out of my 52, I have been living in Rivne and I have Ukrainian citizenship. I studied here, I married here and together with my wife we are raising our teenage children. I am sick and tired of those permanent inspections that happen virtually every month, they are very degrading to me and to my family. As I never had any problems with the law, I always behave as a law-abiding, good citizen… Last Friday law-enforcement officers came to my work at the café and once again asked about my ID documents. When I said that on me I have only my driver’s license and that my passport is somewhere in the car they forced me to come with them to the city police department. There they copied all the phone numbers from my cell phone, as they said, to see with whom I keep in contact and whether any of these people is on the wanted list in their database. Then they took their time checking on the computer whether what I was telling them was true.” 28

From an interview with R., citizen of Ukraine, Azerbaijani, a private enterpriser (newspaper «Rivne Vechirnie» No. 55 as of August 5, 2010): «I have been living in Rivne for 20 years already, I have Ukrainian citizenship, I work here, have a family. But I also have good relationships with my previous family. My two sons came from Azerbaijan to visit me, and when they came to a café to have dinner with me, in the street they were stopped by three men in civil clothing and were told to show their ID documents. The boys answered that their IDs were in the car a couple of meters away and that at the café their father was waiting for them. In response they were told rudely and with cursing that they should have had their passports in their pockets and then they were thrown into a car and brought to the city police department. I followed them but at the department I was told they didn’t have my sons but I should wait. In an hour they did admit that they had my boys and ordered me to bring their passports. After I brought the passports they held my sons for another three hours.

As the sons said, in the city department they were called «niggers» and were told that they as islamites cannot stay here, in Rivne. They were threatened with charges of possessing drugs and were hit on their heads and backs. Then all contacts, family photos and videos were copied from their phone».29

A special threat to the society is posed by that in 2010 the country’s new government, while declaring themselves to be «the government of professionals, » in fact, paid no attention to implementing the state policy on cessation and prevention of cases of racism and ethnic discrimination and gave up on targeted and consistent work concerning reduction of the level of xenophobia in the Ukrainian society. Because of this in 2010 the activities of the Interdepartmental group in the issues of combating xenophobia, interethnic and racial intolerance, which held only in 2009 held 7 sessions that resulted in a set of measures in all spheres of social life of the country, were completely halted.

Let’s remind that during 2009, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted «Action plan on combating manifestations of xenophobia, racial and ethnic discrimination in the Ukrainian society for the years 2008-2009», the National coordinator on cooperation between the law-enforcement agencies of Ukraine and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights was appointed; 4 bills concerning improvement of effectiveness of combating manifestations of racism and xenophobia were filed for consideration of the Verkhovna Rada committees; amendments were made to several articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. NGOs were invited to join the wide circle of such joint events as providing legal advice to victims of manifestations of xenophobia and discrimination; performing the examination of the national legislation concerning combating manifestations of discrimination and xenophobia; development of proposals on improvement of the legislation with the purpose of combating race-related crimes; improvement of the mechanisms to respond to mass media using xenophobic clichés and statements; development of the corresponding curricula. Currently none of these varied measures is implemented in Ukraine.

Instead, the Ukrainians are being actively fed with two intrinsically contrary statements: on the one hand – the authorities completely deny the issue of proliferation of xenophobia in the society, and at the same time, on the other hand – the idea about existence of significant threats to Ukraine’s safety and stability from the so called «ethnic strangers» is being actively promoted. This leads to the situation, when the covert forms of xenophobia and discrimination, which used to be present in the social mores and domestic life of dwellers of Ukraine, currently become more and more wide-spread and dangerous and, as the authorities keep inactive, gradually entrench in people’s prejudices and biases. It is exactly this, latent and externally inconspicuous kind of xenophobia, becomes the most serious and threatening, as even the most perfect and strict antidiscriminatory law adopted by the state would not automatically lead to changes in the consciousness of the citizens. Unfortunately, the current government doesn’t understand that it is exactly its stance and balanced actions, its dedication to resolving this issue that the level of tolerance indicative of the civilized country depends on.

In its turn, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine completely accepted the rules of the game established by the authorities on ignoring the development of the interethnic tension in the society and thus in 2010 wound down the activities on prevention of xenophobia and discrimination and started to act not upon the actual situation in the state, but upon the lulling departmental statistics that mistakes decrease in the number of crimes on the grounds of racism for an indicator of peace in the interethnic relations.

One can say with certainty that in 2010 the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs kept adopting illogical managerial decisions that were obscure to the public. Under the motto of the so-called «staff optimization», in March the Department for monitoring of observing human rights in activities of the agencies of internal affairs was disbanded – and this was a department that had combating racism, discrimination and xenophobia among its priority tasks and whose work was effective and supported by the human rights NGOs of Ukraine. The next wrong step by the heads of the police was disbandment of offices within the Criminal Investigation Department that dealt directly with solving crimes on the grounds of ethnic, racial or religious animosity or hatred. Laying off the employees that already obtained necessary knowledge and certain practical experience led to incompetence in actions of law-enforcement officers and sometimes even to explicitly illegal attempts on their part to qualify the racist crimes as less loud and more convenient for investigation domestic crimes.

For instance, according to the information available, during the first 9 months of the year 2010 not a single criminal case was initiated to investigate crimes committed due to motives of racial, ethnic or religious intolerance (corresponding sections of Articles 115, 121, 122, 126, 127, 129, 300 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), and on Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine only one criminal case was initiated.

In fact, the Ministry of Internal Affairs failed implementation of its own «Action plan on combating racism and xenophobia for the period till the year 2012», most of its items planned for implementation in 2010, stayed unimplemented. The government pretty much ignored this fact. This situation resulted, among other things, in a significant proliferation of xenophobia among the police officers themselves.

For instance, in January 2010, the Head of the Main Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Odeska oblast ordered a dismission of a detective of the Criminal Investigation Department, Odesa City Department of Police, for promotion of fascism and Nazism. The mentioned «police officer» was an active supporter of the Nazist movement, had a tattoo in the form of a fascist eagle with a swastika and was wearing SS-Nazi attributes. We can only presume how his ideology was influencing his professional performance.

This fact is a pretty impressive warning signal not only for the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine but for the entire Ukrainian society. It is exactly the threat of the police transforming from the institution that protects the rights of all – with no exceptions – citizens of Ukraine into a body that persecutes certain minorities and groups of population that requires special attention from the government and the civil society.

Currently such law-enforcement agencies as the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine face a lot of urgent and important tasks: from initiating making amendments and additions to the corresponding legislative documents to effective control over activities of radical ultra-right and ultra-left movements, from conducting educational work among all strata of population to expanding investigations to detect and prevent hate crimes, from actions to prevent disseminating racist ideology through Internet to open and candid dialogue with ethnic minorities. But at the moment, there are no grounds to make optimistic forecasts about the situation improving. At the Ministry of Internal Affairs, for instance, manifestations of xenophobia and cases of discrimination keep proliferating and become usual occurrences in how law-enforcement officers treat separate groups of population. Many police officers restored in their imagination a notion of the so-called «ethnic crime» specific to representatives of certain ethnic groups that live in Ukraine. As if it were not bad enough that this false stereotype is typical for many people working in the internal affairs agencies, it is being reproduced in the mass consciousness through messages of the Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. It may sound paradoxical but sometimes it is exactly this institution that instead of promoting tolerant attitude among police officers becomes a source of xenophobia and biased information concerning ethnic minorities.

On April 23, 2010, on the official website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs an article was posted that was explicitly hostile towards the Roma people – «Six ways to lose your money or how to keep yourself safe against deceivers.» It had a section «Way 3: poor good Roma in your home», in which all Roma were openly accused of being prone to commit crimes and citizens were advised to abstain from any communication with them. For instance, the article says, «The law-enforcement agencies keep encouraging citizens to keep away from Gypsies as almost every such contact ends in an act of swindling. Be alert when Gypsies try to enter your home due to any reasons: to drink water, to change a baby’s diaper, to ask for food or clothing. While empathetic and nice people are looking for something to give to the allegedly needy, the swindlers start rummaging through their things and taking anything of any value… The Gypsies tend to pick deceivable and credulous people as their victims as they are easy to persuade… That is why you shouldn’t let people of Gipsy ethnicity into your apartment. Never come into contact with them. Don’t respond to any of their requests…».

In total, in 2010 on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine dozens of materials were posted that were negative towards people from specified ethnic backgrounds, including 16 concerning Roma, 8 – concerning citizens of Georgia, and 17 – with the phrase «persons of Caucasian ethnicity» or «Caucasians». On press conferences with mass media and meetings with representatives of the international community, the leaders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs keep denying existence of xenophobia among police and declaring their readiness for changes to the better. But such declarations, as a rule, still stay far from the actual everyday practices – the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine haven’t prepared even a single instruction to inform the ranks about the Minister’s decided stance that for his subordinates it is inadmissible to violate a person’s rights because of his or her ethnicity.

To summarize the described above, we can state that under the influence of a range of economic, social and political factors, the level of ethnic prejudice in Ukraine demonstrates a stable tendency to grow. The psychology of rejecting the «stranger», intolerance to people of different ethnicity, religion, language is getting the attributes of a dangerous social disease that demands immediate response from the state including in the criminal law area. Nevertheless, the authorities, while generally agreeing with the requirements of the international community in regard of prohibition of all forms of discrimination, steers clear of development and implementation of effective mechanisms for actual combating of this shameful phenomenon.


1. Draw up and pass a basic anti-discrimination law which should contain all necessary definitions, a list of prohibited grounds for discrimination, as well as mechanisms for protecting against such discrimination. It should also increase the State’s responsibility for combating discrimination and introduce a special anti-discrimination body.

2. Prepare a Draft law on amendments to the Law «On national minorities in Ukraine», and undertake an expert analysis of the Draft to ensure its compliance with OSCE, Council of Europe and European Union standards.

3 Draw up a Draft law on amendments to the Law on languages and review the Law on ratification of the European Charter on regional languages and language minorities.

4. Prepare Draft laws «On national-cultural autonomy», on amendments to the Civil Code and other laws, as well as special programmes aimed at developing the principle of non-discrimination, and allow special quotas for discriminated ethnic groups (the Roma, Crimean Tatars, Karaims, Krymchaks, etc.)..

5. Prepare a special electoral law for the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea.

6. Carry out an inventory of land in the Crimea to help resolve the problem of land allocations to representatives of formerly deported peoples.

7. Broaden the force of anti-discrimination norms to cover foreign nationals legally abiding in Ukraine.

8. Draw up and adopt changes to legislation in order to regulate single-sex cohabitation.

9. Develop a policy of zero tolerance for manifestations of racism and xenophobia, including drawing up and implementing educational and cultural campaigns aimed at building tolerance towards people of other nationalities.


1 Prepared by Volodymyr Batchayev, Oleg Martynenko, Association of Ukrainian monitors on observance of human rights in activities of law-enforcement agencies, and Yevhen Zakharov, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

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