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.

Alternative report on the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by Ukraine

Prepared by Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group for the 90th session of the UN CERD, 2016

Prepared by Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

for the 90th session of the UN CERD, 2016


Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group have been closely monitoring the violation of the rights of vulnerable ethnic minorities in the situation of armed conflict in the Eastern Ukraine (Donbass) that has affected the life of all the inhabitants of the region. In 2014-2016 field-missions were organized in order to collect evidence of Human Rights violations. The main focus of the research were the violations of Roma rights, therefore a big part of this report is dedicated to this particular problem – Roma rights violations in the conflict-affected area. However, this does not mean that our organizations have not come across facts of other minorities’ rights violations, for example, Meskhetian Turks were victims of the political unrest and discrimination by the self-proclaimed republics (so-called DNR and LNR), in result most of Mekhetian Turks  left the country.

Declaring themselves “anti-fascist”,  the leaders of these “republics” in fact were promoting xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-Roma and anti-Ukrainian ideology.

In the annexed by Russia Crimea is also present strong anti-Ukrainian, anti-Western, disseminative to Crimean Tatar rhetoric and practice.

Only some aspects of these problems were included in this report, as only the well-proven facts based on the research carried out by our experts were collected.

Some general problems of the situation with the hate crime and hate speech illustrate the problem of the influence of the extreme-right discourses on the modern Ukrainian politics.

General situation

The general situation with human rights in Ukraine is determined by two main factors: on one hand the Euro-integration process and the willingness of the society and the government to cohere with international human rights norms and on the other hand the conflict in the Eastern part of the country, Russian aggression and the influence of militarism on society. The adaptation of anti-discrimination laws and the efforts of the Ukrainian government to support the rights of ethnic and linguistic minorities should be welcomed. There are however still a number of problems with the implementation of the new progressive laws and governmental programs. There’s a clear lack of financial resources and governmental investment in the promotion of minorities’ rights; most of the initiatives developed in this field are self-supporting community projects, including educative materials, community media or cultural events.    

There are some points of criticism to the laws related to discrimination: the law “On National Minorities in Ukraine” distinguishes between so-called “ethnic Ukrainians” and “those who choose to identify themselves as Ukrainians”.  This contradicts to Article 11 on the right to freely choose ones nationality. While defining national minorities, one should base on the subjective, rather than the objective character of a person’s identification of him or herself as member of a specific national minority. Another shortcoming of the current law is the lack of mechanism on the implementation of measures to protect the rights of national minorities: the absence of a definition of national and cultural autonomy or other way to identify a minority group. 

The articles of the Ukrainian Criminal Code that criminalize hate crime and hate speech, are not always clear and applicable either : Article 161 of the Criminal Code foresees in punishment for deliberate actions aimed at inciting ethnic, racial or religious enmity and hatred, at denigrating a person’s ethnic honor and dignity or causing offence with regard to religious beliefs.  This article lacks important aspects. It does not cover all individuals, only Ukrainian nationals. It also lacks protection of honor and dignity on such grounds as race, ethnic origin and language. Article 161 doesn’t clearly define all acts of a racist or xenophobic nature as crimes.

The main difficulty in applying Article 161 in hate crimes is the necessity to prove xenophobic intention. Over recent years no one criminal prosecution under Article 161 has resulted in a court conviction. As the well-known lawyer and expert on hate crimes Viacheslav Yakubenko explains: “From time to time, in cases which receive a lot of public attention, criminal investigations are initiated under this Article, mainly when pressure from the public or from National Deputies is exercised. However, we cannot get anybody actually convicted as the crime intent has to be proven in such a precise way that it makes it impossible in practice.”[1]

According to the Article 67 of the Criminal Code, racial, national or religious enmity and hostility are specific aggravating circumstances for the purposes of imposing a punishment. Nevertheless, these circumstances have not been included in the list of circumstances which the judge is bound to consider as aggravating. If the judge decided, however, that these circumstances were not aggravating, the judge has to provide the reasons for this decision in the judgement.

The range of criminally liable offences in Ukrainian law is not as complete as it should be according to the Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination that declares offences “all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another color or ethnic origin, and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof”, while Article 20 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights states that: “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”  

The effect of the annexation of Crimea and the military conflict on the minorities rights

The biggest challenge for human rights in general and minority rights in particular, is the problem of Russian annexation of Crimea and Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics in the East of Ukraine. In these parts of Ukraine, grave violations of rights of ethnic minorities takes place. Especially dramatic is the situation of Crimean Tatars and vulnerable non-protected groups in the zone of armed conflict.

Crimean Tatars, who have suffered from forced deportation in 1944 and returned to their homeland only after the break-up of the Soviet-Union, became again victims of open discrimination and persecution: in annexed Crimea, Tatars face political persecution, mass arrests, searches and closures of schools and kindergartens, cultural centers and mosques. The Self-Government Body of the Crimean Tatar People – Mejlis was forbidden in Russia as an “extremist organization”. Unfortunately, Ukrainian authorities cannot influent the situation in annexed Crimea at present and protect the indigenous people of Crimea from discrimination imposed by Russia. However, it is clear that in the past the Ukrainian authorities did less for Crimean Tatar people than they could have done.

Only after Russia annexed Crimea, Ukraine adopted laws proclaiming special guarantees of the rights of Crimean Tatar people within the Ukrainian state and about the restoration of the rights of those who had suffered ethnically motivated deportation. The adaptation of these laws came too late for those Crimean Tatars who decided to stay in Crimea, but could help those who had to flee their annexed homeland. However, Crimean Tatars residing on the Kherson region and other parts of the country do not benefit much from the special laws either. As most of cultural, educative and political structures of Crimean Tatars are based in Crimea and the support of the Ukrainian state cannot reach them, it is clear that the state proclaimed aid to Crimean Tatars should be focused on supporting at least those, who chose to reside in other parts of Ukraine.

At present, there is only one school outside Crimea (based in the Kherson region), that teaches Crimean Tatar language but even this school lacks educative materials for this task. No one university or high school outside of Crimea has special education programs for training teachers and journalists in the Crimean Tatar language. One of the few things that Ukrainian government can do for Crimean Tatars in Crimea is saving the media broadcast in Crimean Tatar language from Ukrainian territory. However, there is a lack of funding for TV, radio and newspapers, that significantly shrunk since the annexation of Crimea. A dramatic lack of children and youth programs in Crimean Tatar language makes it especially sensitive.       

Xenophobia, hate speech and hate crimes

The problems of xenophobia, hate speech and hate crime are still actual in Ukraine. There are number of hate crimes reported in 2015-2016 especially against African students, some crimes were committed against Jews and persons originating from the Caucasus. The notorious case of a violent attack against black Africans by the fans of the football team “Dinamo” (October 2015) was later interpreted by the head of Ukraine state as Russian provocation “created in order to accuse Ukraine in racism. [2]However, the independent researchers proved that the football hooligans involved in the racist attack were connected to the well-known Corpus “Azov” and Verhovnaya (Supreme) Rada Deputy Andrey Biletsky [3]

It is clear that Russian propaganda does its best to present Ukraine as an anti-Semitic and racist country, but not all problematic events can be explained only by Russian provocations.

Corpus Azov members often express the extreme-right ideas and demonstrate neo-nazi symbols, but this is generally accepted by the state officials and sometimes even openly supported.

The nationalist rhetoric’s is often used against minorities by the officials from the parties “Svoboda” (“Freedom”) and “Samopomich” (“Self-support”). In spring 2016 the Festival “Equality” was organized by the activists in Lvov, intending to oppose “discrimination of vulnerable groups such as ethnic communities, LGBT, stateless and migrants”. The festival faced a lot of threats and comments, including the word of the member of “Svoboda” party, who called to “oppose the degenerates and their sponsors with side-locks”.[4] The mayor of Lvov and the leader of “Samopomych” party called the attack on the festival a “well-planned provocation, both sides of conflict were part of it in order to destroy the international reputation of Ukraine” [5]

Anti-Semitism takes form not only of hate-speech, number of cases of attacks on the Jewish Holocaust Memorials and cemeteries - in Baby Yar (Kyiv) and in Nikopol (near Dnepr) in 2015, in Poltava and in Kolymye (near Ivano-Frankovsk) in 2016.

Most of cases of vandalism and hate-speech remind un-punished, the hate-crimes are mostly regarded to be “hooligan action”.

Discrimination of Roma

Overall, the situation for the Romani population remains complicated: According to Ukrainian experts, the traditional discrimination against this minority persists and stereotypes and biases remain widespread.

Olga Zhmurko, the director of the Roma program initiative at the International Renaissance Foundation explained that “The situation with the rights of Roma leaves much to be desired. Ukraine now has a Plenipotentiary on Ethno-national Policy. Its actions so far on behalf of Roma are of a declarative nature and it has not opened any perspective for Romani communities. The Ministry of Culture has also done absolutely nothing to help. This ministry, like the analogous ministry in Russia, has only recently started working on the issues of national minorities. When the government tries to transfer some authority in this area to the Ministry of Social Development, which in theory should be working on these issues, the ministry always refuses, attributing this to the fact that they don’t have the money or the capabilities to manage this program.”[6]

The situation of Roma victims of the war in the Eastern Ukraine

Millions of people have suffered over the past year (spring 2014 – spring 2015) of combat operations in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in Ukraine. During this undeclared war thousands of military personnel and civilians have lost their lives, tens of thousands of people have been wounded, and hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the conflict zone. Several million people remain in the conflict zone, where they are forced to endure the cold; hunger; lack of a steady income, medical care, and essential items; and various forms of violence (shelling, raids, and the unlawful actions of unrecognized local authorities). According to data from the UNHCR from January 2015, over one million people had abandoned their homes, 600,000 people had been recognized by the Ukrainian government as internally displaced persons, and, according to the Russian Federal Migration Service, 500,000 Ukrainian citizens had applied for some form of legal status in Russia (almost 250,000 Ukrainian refugees in Russia have asked for international protection).[7]

According to statistics from the UNHRC, which are based, in turn, on information received from Romani NGOs in Ukraine, approximately 6,000 Roma have fled their previous places of residence in the conflict zone.[8]

Some Roma fled the conflict zones of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts for other regions of Ukraine. Other Roma stayed behind. Still others fled but had already returned home to towns and villages retaken by the Ukrainian army. In October 2014, ADC Memorial experts spoke with Roma and social activists who helped these refugees in Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Zaporizhia. ADC Memorial staff then visited Sloviansk and Dzerzhynsk (now Toretsk) in Donetsk Oblast in late November 2014 to interview Roma returning home after these places were liberated from armed separatists; the same places were visited in December 2015 and in March 2016.

First-hand accounts provided to ADC Memorial experts by Ukrainians surveyed show that there was a catastrophic lack of government-provided funds to support internal migrants and no legal framework to guide officials from the very beginning of the mass resettlement within the country. It was only on 1 October 2014, more than six months after the start of the “anti-terror operations” that the Government of Ukraine adopted resolutions regulating the rights of internal migrants from areas under separatist control. These resolutions are Resolution No. 509 “On registration of internally displaced persons from the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and anti-terrorist operation area"[9] and No. 505 “On providing monthly targeted financial support to internally displaced persons from the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and anti-terrorist operation area to cover livelihood, including housing and utilities."[10] On 7 November 2014, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a third resolution, Resolution No. 595, which combined the previous two and addressed not just procedures for calculating and disbursing pensions and social benefits, but financial support for all budget institutions operating in the area under separatist control (“Some issues of financing budget institutions, paying social benefits and providing financial support to individual enterprises and organizations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions”[11]).

Resolution No. 595 was the cause of some dispute among lawyers and human rights defenders, since with this document the Government of Ukraine is in fact absolving itself of its responsibility to provide social guarantees to residents in areas under separatist control. For example, this resolution stipulates that residents in these areas will not receive their pensions or benefits until they are registered in an area under Ukrainian control, which is impossible under Ukrainian law if a person is not living in the place where that person wants to register, or if identity documents have been lost. According to Ludmila Klochko, a staff member at the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, “In Donetsk, for example, pensioners no longer receive their pensions because the funds are no longer transferred to their bank cards. This is supposedly done to avoid financing the separatists. So many people from Donetsk and Luhansk have to travel all over in search of a registration, just in order to receive at least some money.” [12] The law “On securing the rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons,” which governs the status of internal migrants, was approved by the Rada on 20 October 2014.[13] President Poroshenko signed it one month later, on November 19, but even he believes that this law contains many loopholes and will need to be amended.[14] During this time, people fleeing the conflict zone did not have any official status, which severely limited their access to social services like receiving payments, medical assistance, etc.

We welcome the fact that Ukrainian NGOs have made attempts to count the number of Romani migrants from the conflict zone, are concerned with the problems Roma face, and have been trying to understand and help them. Activists and human rights defenders deserve considerable praise for bringing the problems of the Roma to the attention of the government and society as a whole, thus forcing officials to respond to specific issues.

The Situation for Roma in so called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic

When fighting started in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, all members of the population, including the Roma, suffered from artillery shelling. For example, the first shots fired in Sverdlovsk in late June 2014 hit Servitka Roma in Sharapkino and Stakhanov settlements. The Lunacharsky settlement, home to 20 Vlax and Moldavian Kalderash Roma families, was directly in the line of fire. In Lunacharsky, Roma live in small huts, which were seriously damaged or completed destroyed by the shelling. Residents fled their homes in a hurry and many were not able to take warm clothing, essential items, or even their documents with them.

The fear of being killed by shelling was not the only reason the Roma had for fleeing the territories occupied by the separatists. No less of a risk was posed by disregard for the law, arbitrary treatment, and violence on the part of the pro-Russian fighters. The actions of these fighters were sanctioned by the governments of these unrecognized republics and began before the start of any large-scale fighting. Instances of arbitrary detention, theft, beatings, killings, and even pogroms against Roma have been documented:

“As far as the conduct of the fighters is concerned, they behaved quite brazenly. They took vehicles from whomever they wanted. They could go into any store and take however much they wanted without paying. They behaved like louts with the local population. And they treated the Roma even worse.”[15]

“There’s a food kiosk right in my courtyard. We were at home that day. We heard a racket on the street. My wife and I decided to go out and see what was going on. It turned out that it was the saleswoman in the kiosk screaming. The separatists had gone in and dragged out everything they possibly could. All the food products. I am absolutely convinced that they would have shot us if they had seen us at that moment.”[16]

“I had my first encounter with them when I was driving home. Here’s what happened. A Lada-110 passed me and then turned into a Roma courtyard. Three men in camouflage carrying automatic weapons got out and entered the house. A 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser was parked in the courtyard. First they introduced themselves and explained that they were soldiers for the Donetsk Peoples’ Republic and that they needed his car. The Rom refused. Then they beat him, took his keys, and drove off.”[17]

Separatists forced Roma to be on duty at checkpoints on the borders of population centers that were intended to protect residents from “juntists” and “Banderites.” Thus, a Roma activist from a town D. in Luhansk Oblast told:

«They came to a Roma settlement, about 30 Roma families were living there, and said: “Young men of such and such age – you must go to checkpoints. Do you want this, or don’t you want – you must. Do you want to defend your families?” Our young people were there on duty just four days, then we came and told: “This should be our voluntary will. If we would like – then we’ll join, but nobody has the right to force us”. And we took our guys with us home, later they left for Russia”.[18]

Two Roma women (45 and 28 years old) and a girl of 7 or 8 years old were found raped and murdered (shot) by militants in Shchotove town of Antratsit district, Luhansk Oblast. The incident happened in May-June, 2014, when the women returned home after temporary leave out of the active military actions zone. Their relatives were afraid to apply for investigation; nobody was prosecuted for the crime:

«When the battle started, all the people left the place. The Roma community there consisted of at least 50-70 families, part of them Vlakhi, but also Servs. They left for Russia and when the battle for Lugansk was over, one farmer told his wife, daughter in law and granddaughter to go and look what happened to their home. They had left their farm in the hands of a farm helper because of their cattle. They used to have a prosperous farm. When the women arrived, the cattle was gone and the place was a complete mess. The farm helper was alive. A number of armed men had occupied the house. They either belonged to some cossacks unit or to the militia, unclear. You see, at first, there were only cossacks and the militia were created only later. However, it was unclear who they were. They had made their headquarters in this farm. The women who had arrived, claimed their property and forced the armed men to leave. These men moved to the local “komendatura”. After the women had assessed the extent of the damage done to their home, they also went to the “komendatura” to demand compensation. Over there, they were taken in custody until the evening. After that, they disappeared without a trace. The farm helper called the farmer, who started a search. Finally, the women were found in an improvised mass grave in one of the planted forest along the Rostov-Kharkov road. In the grave were a lot of soldiers, unclear from which side. The 3 women, mother in law, daughter in law and the girl 7 or 8 years old. All of them had been raped, even the girl and they had been executed. The farmer recognized them only from their belongings. He took the bodies and buried them. After that he abandoned the place and left. He refused to file a written complaint, fearing reprisal “Against whom should I write a complain : cossacks, militia, national guard, soldiers ? What would they do to me, now they have destroyed women for simply raising their voice ? I have lost enough already.”[19]

Several dozen captives and prisoners locked up in the building of the municipal administration of Dzerzhynsk (now Toretsk), Donetsk Oblast were the victims of the pro-Russian fighters’ tyranny. During their retreat on July 21, 2014, they set this building on fire. Many of the people in it perished and not all of the victims could be identified. In all likelihood, one of the victims was Yan Belous, who had been arbitrarily detained the day before. It took a great deal of effort for his relatives to get the Ukrainian authorizes to open an investigation into his death. When Yan’s wife went to see the supervisor, he shook a pile of papers at her and said, ‘Do you know how many Russians have disappeared here? Why are you bothering us about your gypsy?’ The investigation had not yet been completed at the time of this writing. [20]

Pogroms in Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast

The situation for Roma in Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast was particularly dramatic. It was there that in April 2014 pogroms of Romani homes, accompanied by violence, were carried out by representatives of the so-called “self-defense forces,” which were made up of armed formations under the command of Vyacheslav Ponomarev, “the people’s mayor” of Sloviansk.[21] People interviewed for this report attributed anti-Roma statements to Igor Girkin, the commander of pro-Russian fighters in Sloviansk.

According to M., a Romani resident of Sloviansk who fled to Kharkiv after the first pogrom, there were rumors as early as March 2014 that activists sympathizing with the separatists were asking officials from the municipal administration about the Roma’s sources of income:

“If administration officials said they did not know what a family’s source of income was, then military officers would visit that family and destroy everything in the house. They didn’t bother to ask or try to determine what work people were actually engaged in. They just came, broke glass, took all the money, and set the homes on fire.”[22]

According to media reports, the first pogroms in Sloviansk took place in the area of the railway station and Cherekovka settlement, which was home to many Roma, on 19 April 2014, less than one week after Vyacheslav Ponomarev, a crime boss and drug dealer, became the “people’s mayor” of Sloviansk. Armed rebels burst into Romani homes, led the residents out onto the street, and made them stand with their faces to the wall. They demanded money, gold, and other valuable items.[23] They destroyed property, set fire to the roofs of the houses, and beat the men. According to information obtained by Olga Zhmurko (International Renaissance Foundation), the fire department’s official conclusion was that these fires had been caused by faulty wiring. Roma who later sought medical treatment at medical institutions were turned away by doctors, who feared repressions from the separatists.[24]

Thus it appears that the pogroms against Roma were initially connected with the redrawing of the criminal market and were aimed at removing competitors of “the people’s mayor.” However, all Roma residing in Sloviansk suffered from them. For his part, Vyacheslav Ponomarev stated in an interview that “attacks against Roma in Sloviansk as such did not occur. We’re cleaning the city of drugs.”[25]

Rom P. from Sloviansk had the following explanation for these events:

“Slava Ponomarev, who was our mayor at the time, is a former bandit. Everyone in the city knows him. In the 1990s, he was part of an organized crime group and even was a drug addict himself. Of course he knew firsthand about all the points. The best known ones were at the railway station and in Cherekovka. A Rom by the name of Pasha lived there. The whole city knew that he had been dealing drugs for a long time. That is exactly where the main events developed. Roma were led out of their homes. Their gold, money, all their valuables, were taken from them and then they were locked in their basements. That’s what happened with almost all the Roma, not just the ones near the railway station. The separatists drove by my home several times, but they didn’t touch me because I don’t really look like a Rom and they can’t tell which homes are Romani and which aren’t. Only once did a man with an automatic rifle come in. He was alone and wanted to search my house, but he didn’t. If there had been several of them, they would have definitely turned the house upside down and taken something.

“My friend and his entire family were victims in early May. They actually lived near the railway station. Here’s what happened. He received a call saying that his apartment had been robbed by pro-Russian fighters and that his wife and children had been taken out onto the street. He went there to find out what was going on. When he tried to take his children away from the rebels, they shot him in the leg. From then on, the rebels started driving Roma out of their apartments and houses and taking over their living spaces. They loaded everything of value that they could find into cars: gold, jewelry, and other expensive items. Many Roma had their cars stolen. Several people were beaten up in the city. Gold chains and rings were removed from them. I was told that doctors would not receive people who had been beaten at hospitals because they did not want any problems with the separatists. This went on for about a month-and-a-half until the separatists left. We were scared to leave the house at all during this time. God forbid one of them would catch sight of us.”[26]

Problems Leaving Areas Controlled by Separatists

The pogroms kept the Romani population in the grip of fear: people were scared of being seen by the separatists and tried to find a way to leave the city safely. However, Roma were detained at DPR checkpoints and sent back to Sloviansk, explaining that there was an order to “not allow Roma to leave the city” (the fact that these checkpoints belonged to the separatists can be confirmed by testimony given by Roma that there were no Ukrainian flags flying there and the soldiers were not wearing decorations). The Romani refugee M. and her family were only able to leave Sloviansk on their third attempt:

“Large groups of soldiers started walking through our village at night in May. They were shouting loudly and scaring all the locals. People with weapons were constantly patrolling the hills. We tried to leave for Kharkiv as soon as this all started. We were prohibited from leaving twice. The first time we tried to leave through the checkpoint on Barvenkovo. We were stopped by soldiers and ordered back: ‘We are not letting Roma out of the city.’ I asked them at least to let the children through, but they said they had an order from their commander under which Roma were strictly prohibited from leaving. The second time I was only able to send out my grandson, because he is a redhead and does not look like a Rom. I put him on a bus with other people and then followed in a car with my relatives. We weren’t allowed through, but my grandson was able to leave because the separatists did not realize that he was a Rom. Other Romani children were taken off the bus, but he wasn’t. Also, some Ukrainian women covered for him when they understand that he was a Rom. We got through on the third time, on the other side of Sloviansk.”[27]

According to the subjects interviewed, the separatists did not allow men without their families into areas controlled by the Ukrainian army because they suspected that these men would fight against them. They also did not let young women through because they “saw them as potential snipers.”[28] Problems also arose for families with children when they were trying to pass through the checkpoints. These problems were resolved through bribes: witnesses assert that at the Glubokaya Makatikha checkpoint the cost of the bribe was 1,000 hryvnia for men and 500 hryvnia for women.

Some people interviewed reported that soldiers from the Ukrainian army also did not let Roma through their checkpoints, citing an order from their commanders. There was evidence of this kind of interference at the checkpoint in Barvenkovo (to the west of Sloviansk) and on the way out of Kramatorsk. The Roma say they were able to pass through the Ukrainian checkpoints with the help of bribes:

“On May 8, 2014, my wife, children, and I decided to leave Sloviansk for Novomoskovsk, where migrants were being received. We were detained at the third Ukrainian checkpoint in a row outside of Barvenkovo. This was a checkpoint of the district police, at least that’s how they introduced themselves. The soldier who stopped us told us the turn around and go back because his superior ordered him not to let Roma through. Before this we passed through all the DPR and Ukrainian checkpoints without any problems. I tried to persuade him to let us through and showed him that my wife and children were with me, but he didn’t care. My wife was very scared and stated crying. So did the children. I wasn’t even able to calm them down. We returned to the previous Ukrainian checkpoint, which was in Cherkassk. They were surprised to see us return. I told them what had happened. Then one of the soldiers called his superior, who checked our documents again and said that he would call the other checkpoint and tell them to let us through. To be honest, my wife was in tears. She was practically on her knees begging him for help. As we were approaching the checkpoint in Barvenkovo, about 15 people surrounded our car. I got out and said that their superior had given us permission to pass and that they should have received a call about this, but one of them replied that they had never received a call. They surrounded me and started pushing me, calling me names, then one of them asked where my child was. I opened the back door and showed him my son and daughter. Then he asked, ‘So, are we going to just keep standing here like this?’ I couldn’t understand what he meant, but then I finally figured out that they would not let us through for free. I only had about 200 hryvnia with me and I gave them all to him. My son’s nose started bleeding because he was so nervous, and my daughter started feeling nauseous.”[29]

The Roma of Sloviansk were extremely shaken by a tragedy that occurred in May 2014, when a young Lovari Rom named Bunchur Cherepovsky was killed as he tried to pass through a separatist checkpoint (presumably in Bylbasovka settlement to the west of Sloviansk). According to people interviewed, he died from a beating. His sister G., a single mother, was able to flee Sloviansk for Kyiv immediately after the separatists came to power, but she returned home in late October. She said:

“As soon as people in black masks with guns started walking around the city, I understood that I had to leave. They demolished the TV tower during those first days. Then they burned two jeeps that belonged to the Pravyi sector [a right-wing group]. I left just in time, but my brother, Bunchur, they killed him. They detained him at a checkpoint and beat him to death. At least that’s what I was told. Now I don’t know if I should stay here and leave again.”[30]

The Life of Roma after their Return Home (to so called “people’s republics” or to the territories that are now controlled by the Ukrainian government)

Roma who temporarily left the conflict zone and later returned to places that were still under the control of the separatists report that pro-Russian fighters continue to exhibit lawless and violent behavior. For example, Romani residents of Sverdlovsk, Luhansk Oblast, who fled this area in June 2014, were forced to return to their ruined homes despite the difficult conditions (these Roma had not been able to receive assistance or find work in other regions of Ukraine or in Russia due to their lack of documents, among other things, and their relatives were not able to support them for long). They report that armed LPR separatists are terrorizing the Romani population of Sverdlovsk by barging into homes, organizing searches, and taking valuable items.[31]

A Roma inhabitant of a town now controlled by so called Luhansk People’s Republic reported about an arbitrary search of her home happened in March, 2016:

“Early in the morning they knocked my door. I opened – militia, but in civilian clothes, two men. “We were reported that you have young men at home”. I said: “It could be – I am a local inhabitant, I have a lot of relatives. Whom personally do you need?” – “We need to talk” – and they are entering the room and going further. I stopped them: “This is my property, you disturb my privacy, I have children and disabled persona at home. If you want to search my home, then give me the order for the search”. And they point a finger at my face: “Now it’s war situation, we have the right to arrest you – and you’ll disappear without a trace”. Then they looked at sleeping children, at disabled, turned out, left my home, entered their car and went out. I wanted to complain, to go to the commandant’s office, but it’s so useless – it’s like to knock at empty house”. [32]

Those who tried to deal with the separatists’ governments face no goodwill to help Roma in their difficult situation as the authorities blame Roma in “betrayal”. A Roma activists from Luhansk Oblast said:

“We have problems with our local Roma – they returned home, their houses are destroyed and robbed as there were big fights here. Roma apply to us, we apply to the current authorities but they can’t help us. I applied to the town governor, to the commandant’s office: “Do you know that a Roma NGO exists in the Oblast?” – “And do you know that the Oblast doesn’t exist, it’s a Republic now, our status is not clear and we don’t support any connections with minorities”. And he started to accuse me: “How many men do you have? Give me the statistics for men up to 45 years old. Why didn’t your men go to defend the Republic?”[33]

The same accusation were faced by Roma who tried to enroll their children to school:

“This year we enrolled the children to school but the authorities didn’t want to take our children: “You left, you fled as soon as the situation got worse in the Republic! You show yourself as betrayers! And you were thrown out of Russia – you again appeared in the Republic, we don’t need you here!” But we are citizens of Ukraine, we have registered here, we have housing here. They don’t have the right to push us out”.[34]

Many Roma who returned to Sloviansk after its liberation found their homes destroyed or badly damaged: the windows had been blown out by explosions and the walls showed marks of the shelling. For example, the house of the Rom A. stood next to a checkpoint manned by separatists, which was under constant fire from the air. Most of the shells, however, fell on neighboring homes and other structures.


“It turned out that while we were living in Novomoskovsk, DPR fighters had lived in our house. When we arrived, we found the place in terrible condition. It was a mess inside: dirt, shells and syringes on the floor, holes in the roof. Not one radiator was left on the first or second floors. They had all been torn off the walls. I don’t know what they did with them, sold them probably. We fixed it up a bit. My wife went to the Municipal Executive Council to ask for help, but they refused. I’m renting it out now because I’m frankly scared to live there. A military base and the Karachunovskaya TV tower, which was destroyed, are right next door. There’s shooting there now, day and night.”[35]

Many Roma families left Sloviansk for Kharkiv Oblast in April 2014, just after the anti-Roma pogroms sanctioned by “people’s Mayor” Ponomaryov. When they returned, Roma found their houses plundered and unfit for habitation. Marauders stole gas stoves, even pillows, blankets and dishware. In December 2015 and March 2016, experts of ADC Memorial visiting the territories liberated of separatists found Roma houses not repaired yet. A Roma woman, an owner of a destroyed house, lamented, “The separatists’ militia took everything from our home, and when they came under fire, so did our house. We’ve been caught in the middle of someone else’s fight.”[36]

Roma who return to Sloviansk feared attacks by Ukrainian soldiers, who, in their opinion, blamed the Roma for the fact that many of the city’s residents participated in the referendum and voted to join Russia.[37]That said, Roma have also been the victims of violence and blackmail committed under the guise of pro-Ukrainian rhetoric:

“About three weeks ago, our friend, a Rom, went out for groceries. As he was walking around the market, he bumped into the same people three times. He bought everything he needed and went home. Along the way, he was cut off by a car. The same four people he had seen at the market got out of it. They were all wearing camouflage pants and tracksuit tops. They dragged him out of his car and asked him why he was there and not defending his country. This question was followed by slurs and a beating. They threatened to take him to the municipal police department. From there, he would be sent to the front unless he paid them 2,000 hryvnia. He called his wife, who called me. We collected 1,000 hryvnia from his family and friends, but that wasn’t enough for them to release him.”[38]

Roma faced discrimination in access to shelter during shooting attacks. In war torn towns like Kramatorsk, Sloviansk and Dzerzhynsk, shelters at times offered the only hope of survival. Unfortunately, shelters were not open to everyone: some simply lacked capacity while others offered access through a person’s place of employment (coal mines, for instance) or place of residence. Roma often found themselves with no place to go.

Lydia, a Romani woman from Toretsk (formerly Dzerzhynsk), a town in Donetsk Oblast, tells the story of how she and nine grandchildren ran to the nearest bomb shelter when the town came under fire. The bomb shelter belonged to the mine, and the Roma family was not allowed in, even though they had small children with them. They were forced to run almost a kilometer to the mine though black smoke from the burning town hall and amid the deafening rumble of airplanes. They finally reached the mine, but were denied entry there too. The family stood a long time amid the soot outside the mine. Finally, they were allowed into a dank, cold, and desolate basement where they held the children in their arms as they waited out the fighting for hours. There was not even anyplace to sit. [39]

Roma who moved to the regions of Ukraine not touched by the war suffer of poverty, face unemployment, lack of state support. The following story of a big Roma family is typical:

As Tatyana and her four children were fleeing Makiivka in the fall of 2014, the minibus that was carrying them out of the warzone came under fire. Nothing remains of Tatyana's former home in Makiivka: “At first, it seems, a bomb landed inside, and then the locals took what was left for firewood.” For a long time the family sought new housing in Kharkiv Oblast without success, but finally a policemen put them in touch with locals, who owned a derelict house. It was hard work making the house livable: running wires for electricity (a pastor helped them find an electrician), installing a stove themselves, replacing windows, clearing debris – and on top of it all the rent proved to be beyond their means. Tatyana asked for permission to at least collect brush wood in the nearby forest to heat the home, but local officials refused. The family has three small children, and Tatyana’s oldest son is in a wheelchair and requires medical care. Tatyana’s husband, Arthur, cannot replace his lost identity papers (the government of Ukraine refuses to deal with the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic), and without a passport he can get neither government aid nor a job.[40]

              Roma children had to interrupt their education due to the war and involuntary resettlement. In December, 2015 and in March, 2016 experts of ADC Memorial documented quite a lot of cases when Roma children returned back home after some time spent out of the conflict area didn’t attend school. [41]

Sometimes the risk for the access of Roma children to education is grounded in a xenophobic attitude of local authorities towards Roma. Thus, on March 29, 2016 an information appeared on the website “Dzerzhinsk is a town of miners” ( with the title “The school №5 will be closed, the premises will be given to military forces of Ukraine”. Some parents also heard the same information personally from the town Mayor Mr. Sleptsov. In this school 170 children are educated, including 43 Roma children, and the reform could lead to drop out of them as they and their parents were not ready to change school environment. Some civil activists of Toretsk (former Dzerzhinsk) are sure that this decision was made in order to raise negative feelings towards Ukrainian Army who “deprives even children from facilities”. Thankfully to the efforts of civil activists, who mobilized Roma and non-Roma parents, the school was not closed and on March 31, 2016 the Sector of Internal Policy of the Toretsk Town Council publically disproved it and named the information on the closure as “rumors” and “disinformation”. Meanwhile, the work of the Mayor’s office is not transparent, and the parents are afraid of suddenly maid and not publically discussed decisions that could affect Roma and non-Roma children.[42]

              The territories close to the war area are dangerous not only because of shootings and lack of shelters, but because of minefields situated around the villages and towns. Children are at special risks:

Before the war, the Roma families of Toretsk (formerly Dzerzhynsk) supported themselves by buying or gathering nuts, removing the shells, and traveling to other towns to sell the kernels. Now roadblocks make it impossible to freely travel to the towns (such as Horlivka) where they used to sell their shelled nuts or buy nuts in bulk for shelling. The border with Russia is also more tightly sealed and the Russian market has become virtually inaccessible. Those places where it is still possible to sell the shelled nuts pay so little that this traditional livelihood is hardly worthwhile. Obtaining the nuts in the first place is also difficult: the price for nuts in the shell has greatly increased and gathering them has become dangerous: one Roma, Jimi, recently went for gathering nuts to a forsaken area in the outskirts of the town and stepped on a mine. Jimi survived but lost an eye and suffered serious head injuries. His medical treatment ate up the last of his family’s savings.[43]

The war and the reconfiguration of borders has increased the vulnerability of Roma children, who were already in a precarious situation.

Oleg, who lives in Toretsk, has not been able to receive a government benefit for his preschooler daughter Angelina and first grader son Arseny. Their family has been separated – Oleg’s wife and two youngest children have moved to Donetsk. Their marriage was never registered and Oleg is not listed on his children’s birth certificates, which is why he cannot get the government benefits he is due for raising Angelina and Arseny. Without documents to prove his paternity, he also cannot take the children through roadblocks to their mother.[44]

Refugee Life in Places of Involuntary Resettlement

Most Roma did not settle permanently in the large cities of Ukraine like Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhia. After spending as little as several days in these cities, the Roma would move on to stay with relatives in safe regions, or they would return home if their areas had been liberated from the separatists (and even if this was not the case, especially if they had been unable to receive long-term assistance and settle in a safe area). In these cities, they would spend a period of time in tent cities for refugees, which were set up by forces from the Ministry of Emergency Situations and volunteers. Later they would leave for other regions of Ukraine. The subjects noted that the possibility of returning home became real after the Minsk Protocol was signed in 2014.

According to data from NGOs, nearly 1,000 Roma refugees in Zaporizhia and almost 900 Roma refugees in Kharkiv and Kharkiv Oblast received assistance in the summer of 2014.[45]

The authorities in Ukrainian regions that refugees fled to en masse from conflict zones were not entirely prepared for the situation. In the midst of an economic crisis and a war, the government could not provide sufficient funding for resettling migrants. Local governments had also never had any experience with this type of situation. The result was that Roma frequently did not receive any assistance from state agencies.

For example, after the separatists retreated from Dzerzhynsk, Donetsk Oblast, the Shcherbaks, a Romani family from Kramatorsk, arrived there. This family consisted of 13 people, including two elderly people and several school-age and younger children, one of whom was disabled. According to O., a civil activist, the only thing the authorities in Dzerzhynsk did for this family was add their names to a list of people needing assistance. When they tried to get benefits for their children, they were told that they needed to go to Kramatorsk for some required documents, but they didn’t have enough money to travel there. Officials at the public assistance office told the family that “it wasn’t their problem”. The family spent several days wandering around the city. They picked apricots somewhere and sold them at the market, but they were quickly chased away because they were selling the apricots for less than they should have. Then some Baptists provided the family with shelter in their church, but the family did not live there long because they could not find a way to make a living. They ended up leaving for Russia.[46]

At the same time, residents of Ukraine displayed great solidarity with the refugees and readiness to help them. While local authorities mostly collected information on internal migrants, volunteers, activists from NGOs, and church representatives (mainly Baptists and Protestants) provided most of the actual aid.

However, human rights defenders helping migrants from the conflict zone observed that in some cases there was not enough coordination between Romani activists and other organizations and institutions involved in the aid process.

In the absence of any real aid from the state, the funds collected by volunteers and ordinary citizens were insufficient to provide migrants with even the most essential items on a regular basis. At many humanitarian offices, a person could only receive assistance one time.

Thus, Romani migrants registered with government institutions and NGOs are in the same difficult situation as other refugees: they have at times been placed in quarters that have not been adapted for living and they have lacked sufficient food and humanitarian aid.

According to a survey conducted by Chachimo, a Romani NGO, and volunteers from Stantsiya Kharkiv, 67% of Roma surveyed had to spend the night on the street, in the railway station, or in tents in forest areas during their first few days in Kharkiv, and they did not receive any humanitarian aid during this time. For example, one Romani family with many children from Sloviansk was camped in a forest area near Proletarskaya metro station. Their youngest child was two months old at the time. Another family consisting of 19 people (10 children and 9 adults) lived under the open sky for four days in a park near the Kharkiv Tractor Factory without any money to support themselves. Roma migrants could also frequently be found in the railway station in Kharkiv, where they would spend several days at a time in the waiting room.[47]

Some Roma interviewed by ADC Memorial experts found that there was no money available for them. G., a single mother with three children, fled Sloviansk for Kyiv, where she and her children had to live at the railway station for three months because there was nowhere to move them. When she applied for benefits for her children at a temporary assistance office, she was not received because there was “no money.”[48] Ukrainian human rights defenders were able to determine that no provisions had been made of offer migrants these kinds of benefits.

All the refugees from the conflict zone have had problems receiving their pensions and allowances. Transferring pensions and allowances to new places of residence takes up a great deal of time, and if the refugees had accounts at PrivatBank, then they weren’t able to access their money at all. N., the mother of three children who fled Luhansk for Merefa, which is outside of Kharkiv, encountered this problem: “By law I am entitled to 2,800 hryvnia a month, but social services said that I would have to pay 1,300 hryvnia to transfer the funds from Luhansk because I am a client of PrivatBank, which does not now operate in the anti-terrorist operation area. In other words, they promised only 1,500 hryvnia, but I wasn’t even able to receive that.”[49] Maxim Butkevich, a representative of the UNHCR, explained that “depositors of PriwatBank who are IDPs from the occupied territories of the Crimea or from the zone of anti-terrorists operation faced unexpected problems trying to withdraw money from their accounts, even they show documents proving their IDP status in other regions of Ukraine. This practice of refusal in money is common. Banks don’t inform people about legal ways the IDPs can use to withdraw their money.”[50]

Issues Unique to Roma that Make their Situation more Difficult than the Situation of Other Refugees

In addition to the circumstances mentioned above, the situation of Romani migrants is complicated for a number of other reasons. First of all, their documents are either not in order or missing completely (a typical problem for Roma in Eastern Europe). This has made it difficult for Roma to leave areas held by separatists and to receive humanitarian aid in the places where they have resettled. According to Yevegenia Levinshteyn, an activist from Stantsiya Kharkiv, almost 80% of Roma who have come to this group for help from May to July did not have passports and 45% did not have any identifying documents whatsoever. “They cannot leave the conflict zone without passports, since the numerous checkpoints have strict procedures for checking documents. If they are somehow able to flee to safe regions, then they are not able to receive assistance for the same reason. People don’t want to hire them here and they are frequently denied medical assistance.”[51]

Second of all, most Roma have little education or are illiterate and cannot determine on their own what kind of assistance they may obtain and where they can obtain it. Without the goodwill of the authorities and sufficient resources from NGOs, Romani migrants are in a more vulnerable position than other refugees.[52]

Third of all, Roma often encounter xenophobia on the part of the general population, officials, and staff and volunteers at refugee organizations. Roma from the conflict zone who are sorely in need of housing encounter problems when they are placed in camps for internal migrants, and also when they try to collect humanitarian aid in Kharkiv (according to testimony given by Roma and volunteers that was recorded by ADC Memorial experts) and Zhytomyr and Cherkaska oblasts (based on information received from Olga Zhmurko of the International Renaissance Foundation). So, for example, according to N., an activist from Stantsiya Kharkiv, there were several instances when Slavic families were received in special tents at the railway station where refugees could pick up food and essential items, but Romani families were denied assistance just because they were Romani. Families with many children that applied to social services for assistance were denied allowances for their children or placed on a waiting list where they had to wait three to six months for payments.[53]

The Romani refugee N., the mother of three children who fled Luhansk for Merefa, which is outside of Kharkiv, encountered difficulties receiving public assistance. Workers in Kharkiv refused to give her a boxed lunch several times because of her nationality: “I went to the tent by the August 23 metro station to pick up milk and things for the children a few times, but they said there was nothing left, even though I could see that Ukrainians and Russians were carrying away grits and other items.”[54]

According to information received from Olga Zhmurko (International Renaissance Foundation), several instances were recorded where only Romani families were denied assistance in Zolotonosha, Cherkaska Oblast. Even when there were available spots in temporary housing and food and warm clothing to be distributed, staff members responsible for resettlement at humanitarian services refused to receive clients when they learned at the last minute that the clients were Roma. At the same time, Crimean Tatars, for example, never encountered any problems. There were also cases where Roma were denied medical treatment because they did not have documents.[55]

In early June, the Ukrainian media reported that Valery Burkin, a deputy in the Nikolayev City Council, refused to house Roma who had fled Kramatorsk at a recreation center he owned because of their nationality and that he demanded payment from them for the three days they spent there.[56] This information was later refuted when it was reported that the local authorities and even Burkin himself were taking active roles in assisting refugees.[57]

Often xenophobia against Roma refugees is spread via mass media that creates a negative image of this ethnic group. Examples include: “Roma from the Anti-terrorist Operation Area Terrorizing Volunteers”[58], “‘Refugee’ Roma from Donbass Set up Drug Trafficking Operation in Zaporizhia”[59], “Roma Turn Darnitsa into Dump”[60], and so forth. These kinds of publications and statements cast Roma in a negative and criminal light and make readers think that the resolution to drug trafficking or fraud depends directly on the fight against representatives of this ethnic group. All this has had the effect of aggravating their already disastrous situation.

Staff members at NGOs list one other reason that makes it difficult for Romani migrants to receive assistance. That is the distrust Roma have for other people resulting from the traumatic experiences they had in the conflict zone and the fear they had of dying from shelling or at the hands of armed bandits. For example, Romani refugees who lived through the pogroms in Sloviansk refused to speak with the press or human rights defenders in Kharkiv because they feared that the attention would lead to an attack by nationalists or other aggressors. Yevgeniya Levinshteyn, an activist from the NGO Stantsiya Kharkiv, which provides assistance without charge to migrants from Eastern Ukraine, reported that none of the Roma with whom she personally worked wanted to separate themselves from the entire group of migrants and tell anyone that they were Roma. “The women were simply afraid to say anything. The men would sometimes let it slip that the separatists forced them out of their homes, beat them, and forced them to dig trenches.”[61]

Thus, Romani refugees from Donetsk, Luhansk, Kramatorsk, Sloviansk, and other cities were sometimes deprived of their ability to gain legal status in other regions of Ukraine and realize basic rights guaranteed to internal migrants due a lack of identity documents, a low level of education, the closed nature of Romani communities, insufficient efforts on the part of government agencies, and the failure of various organizations to coordinate their activities.

More information about Roma from Eastern Ukraine can be found on in the report Roma and War in Eastern Ukraine – refugees, displaced persons, victims of violence (2015)[62] and the up-date of the report “For today, they don’t seem to be shooting…” (Roma in Donbass an unquiet post-war peace) (2016)[63] published by ADC “Memorial” on

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Law “On national minorities” needs amendments: the definition of national minorities as groups “of Ukrainian citizens who are not ethnic Ukrainians but share a sense of national identity” (Article 3 of the present law) is inadequate. The definition of national minorities should relate to those groups of Ukrainian citizens who do not see themselves as being ethnic Ukrainians but having another ethnic self-identification and community. This would guarantee freedom of choice of ethnic identity and follow the norm: “The State does not interfere in the issue of ethnic identification of Ukrainian citizens”.

 On the law improvement is recommended:

-       To prepare a new version of 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.

-       To provide better definition of the elements of the crime under Article 161 of the Criminal Code; introduce norms stipulating civil and administrative liability for actions directed at discriminating against individuals and groups of society.

-       To broaden the force of anti-discrimination norms to cover foreign nationals and stateless persons

On the situation of national minorities is recommended:

-       The rights of Crimean Tatars have to be legally recognized not only in Crimea, the state programs on promoting the linguistic rights, education in Crimean Tatar language, their media and culture have to be implemented also in other parts of Ukraine.

-       All sides implicated in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, including the international community have to pay special attention to the situation of Roma and other minorities, prevent violence and discrimination against these vulnerable groups, and to assist refugees in attaining legal status and those who have returned home in settling back into their lives.

-       The government of Ukraine must implement planned special measures to integrate Roma (Strategy to Protect and Integrate the Roma National Minority into Ukrainian Society for the Period up until 2020) and develop these measures with account for recent events in Ukraine, with special attention paid to Roma migrants and displaced persons.






[6] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with Olga Zhmurko, director of the Roma program initiative at the International Renaissance Foundation. Kyiv, 15 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.


[8] For example, the UNHCR Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, 15 November 2014,




[12] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with Lyudmila Klochko, a staff member at KHRPG, 16 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.



[15] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with O., a civil activist. Recorded in Dzerzhynsk after the town was liberated from the pro-Russian fighters on 20 November 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[16] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with A., a Roma activist. Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, 18 November 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial expert with L., a Roma activist from D., a town in Luhansk Oblast, 18 March 2016. ADC Memorial archives.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with O., a civil activist. Recorded in Dzerzhynsk after the town was liberated from the pro-Russian fighters on 20 November 2014. ADC Memorial archives.


[22] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with the Romni M., who fled Sloviansk for Kharkiv and later returned home. Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, 17 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.


[24] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with Olga Zhmurko, the director of the Roma program initiative at the International Renaissance Foundation. Kyiv, 15 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.


[26] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with the Rom P. Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, 17 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[27] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with the Romni M., who fled Sloviansk for Kharkiv and later returned home. Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, 17 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[28] First-hand account provided by the Rom P. Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, 17 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[29] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with A., a Romani activist. Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, 18 November 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[30] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with G. Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, 17 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[31] Telephone interview with residents of Sverdlovsk, Luhansk Oblast. 19 February 2015.

[32] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial expert with a Roma from N., a town in Luhansk Oblast, 18 March 2016. ADC Memorial archives.

[33] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial expert with L., a Roma activist from D., a town in Luhansk Oblast, 18 March 2016. ADC Memorial archives.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with A., a Romani activist, after he returned home. Sloviansk, 18 November 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[36] Materials of the field mission of ADC Memorial to Eastern Ukraine. Sloviansk, December 2015. ADC Memorial archives.

[37] From interviews conducted with Roma who returned to Sloviansk after involuntary resettlement. 18 November 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[38] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with A., a Romani activist after he returned home. Sloviansk, 18 November 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[39] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with Lydia, a Romani women. Toretsk (former Dzerzhinsk), December, 2015. ADC Memorial archives.

[40] Materials of the field mission of ADC Memorial to Eastern Ukraine. Merefa, outskirt of Kharkiv, December 2015. ADC Memorial archives.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Information received from civil activists of Toretsk, March-April 2016. ADC Memorial archives.

[43] Materials of the field mission of ADC Memorial to Eastern Ukraine. Toretsk, December 2015. ADC Memorial archives.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Data from the organization Chyachimo (Kharkiv) was obtained by ADC Memorial experts from the activist N. Burlutsky (Kharkiv, 16 October 2014), data from a Roma grassroots initiative (Zaporizhia) was obtained from the Romani activist A.P. (Zaporizhia, 19 October 2014).

[46] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with O., a civil activist. Recorded in Dzerzhynsk after the town was liberated from the pro-Russian fighters on 20 November 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[47] The survey results were received from N. Burlutsky, head of Chachimo. Kharkiv, 16 October 2014.

[48] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with Romani refugee G. after her return home. Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, 17 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[49] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with N., a Romani refugee from Luhansk. Merefa settlement outside of Kharkiv, 18 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[50] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with M. Butkevich of the UNHCR office. Kyiv, 19 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[51] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with Yevgeniya Levinshteyn, an activist with Stantsiya Kharkiv. Kharkiv, 16 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[52] According to the NGO Chachimo, 46% of adult Roma arriving in Kharkiv from the conflict zone have no education and only 8% have an elementary education.

[53] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with N., a volunteer with Stantsiya Kharkiv. Kharkiv, 16 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[54] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with N., a Romani refugee from Luhansk. Merefa settlement outside of Kharkiv, 18 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.

[55] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with Olga Zhmurko, director of the Roma program initiative at the International Renaissance Foundation. Kyiv, 15 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.






[61] Interview conducted by ADC Memorial experts with Yevgeniya Levinshteyn, an activist with Stantsiya Kharkiv. Kharkiv, 16 October 2014. ADC Memorial archives.



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