Police Attack Roma in Saint Petersburg

29 July 2004

On May 20, 2004, in an action named "Operation Tabor", police raids targeting Romani communi-ties commenced in the northwest-ern Russian city of Saint Petersburg, according to ERRC and Northwest Center for the Social and Legal Defense of Roma. According to the Centre, on May 21, uniformed officers entered the Obukhovo district. The police officers reportedly ordered Romani residents to leave the area then shot at them while chasing them out of the district. The officers also burnt to the ground two makeshift homes in which pregnant Romani women and Romani children were living. Several days later, on the morn-ing of May 26, the same police officers stopped Romani women and children in the vicinity of Obukhovo district and threatened to expel them from the district and burn down their homes. Accord-ing to statements by the victims, the officers were from Saint Petersburg's Militia Department No. 29. During a broadcast of the evening news on May 20, 2004, the television station NTV Saint-Petersburg reported that "Operation Tabor" targets Roma directly and aims at "ensuring security of tourists" by protecting them from possible robberies by "marginal elements".

On May 27, 2004, the ERRC sent a letter of concern to Governor Valentina Matvienko of Saint Petersburg, urging to end such abusive operations. As of June 8, 2004, there had been no response. (ERRC, Northwest Center for the Social and Legal Defense of Roma)


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