ERRC Urges Russian Newspaper to End Hate Speech Practices

23 May 2006

Inciting Language Targeted as Public Expressions of Hatred Grow in Russia

On 23 May 2006, the ERRC sent a letter of concern to Mr Alexey Dmitrenko, Editor-in-Chief of the Russian daily newspaper Budni, expressing concern at the prevalence of anti-Romani hate speech in the newspaper and the repeated identification of Roma as drug dealers and criminals. The ERRC urged Mr Dmitrenko to take a firm stand against hate speech and to refrain from publishing inflammatory anti-Romani language. The ERRC action comes against a backdrop of increasing hate crime in Russia, including deadly attacks against minorities, migrants and homosexuals.

The full text of the ERRC letter follows:

Dear Mr Dmitrenko,

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), an international public interest law organization which monitors the human rights of Roma and provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse of Roma, is concerned about the rise of anti-Romani hate speech in your newspaper and the continuous identification of Roma as responsible for illegal drug dealing and criminality.

In particular, the ERRC is alarmed by articles published on 11 January 2006, 28 September 2005, 14 September 2005, 3 August 2005 and 6 July 2005. The 6 July 2005 article entitled "And now a Gypsy theatre will show the performance: "Hi, I am from the social aid department!" hints at the criminality of members of the Romani minority and repeatedly refers to the ethnicity of Romani women accused of fraud. The 3 August article entitled "The trade of Suhumi youth" includes a photograph of two young women with a caption stating "These Gypsy women…" and describes one case of pick pocketing in detail. The article repeatedly emphasizes that "Gypsy women" have committed the pick pocketing and an expert comment in the article concludes that this criminal business is an action of "Gypsies from Suhumi". The 14 September article entitled "Shot at policemen – got 9 years" presents the arrest of a man suspected of involvement in the drug trade and repeatedly refers to the man's Romani ethnicity. The 28 September article entitled "Bloody trace of Gypsy horse-stealers" repeatedly points on the Romani ethnicity of criminals. The year 2006 has not yet seen any change in the practice of indicating the Romani ethnicity while describing criminal events. For example, the 11 January 2006 article "Slaves from the Gypsy villa" suggests that Roma engage in the practice of slavery.

Dear Mr Dmitrenko, the above is, unfortunately, not a comprehensive list of articles published in Budni in which the Romani ethnicity is associated with criminality. The ERRC is concerned that articles appearing in your newspaper incite racial hatred and foster hostile attitudes toward Roma. We urge you and the journalists of your newspaper to take a firm stand against hate speech and to refrain from publishing inflammatory anti-Romani language in your publications.


Dimitrina Petrova,
Executive Director

Persons wishing to express similar concerns are urged to contact:

Mr Alexey Dmitrenko, Editor-in-Chief
"Budni" newspaper
Volzhskiy pr., 6, 443071, Samara, Russia
Tel/Fax: 279-76-47

Ms Svetlana Zhdanova, Director
Volga Regional Administration of Rosohrancultura
str. Kuybisheva, 145, 443010, Samara, Russia
Tel/Fax: 264-08-99, 264-20-39


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