Racism and discrimination in Ukraine
Ukraine is a multi-ethnic and multicultural nation[dubious ] where racism and ethnic discrimination are arguably largely a fringe issue. However, there have been recorded incidents of violence where the victim's race is widely thought to have played a role. Those incidents receive extensive media coverage and are usually condemned by all mainstream political forces. Human Rights Watch reported that "Racism and xenophobia remain entrenched problems in Ukraine". In 2012 the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) reported that "tolerance towards Jews, Russians and Romani appears to have significantly declined in Ukraine since 2000 and prejudices are also reflected in daily life against other groups, who experience problems in accessing goods and services".
In 2009, no racial murders were recorded (in Ukraine) and 40 racial incidents of violence were reported. From 2006 to 2008, 184 attacks and 12 racially motivated murders took place. Although according to Alexander Feldman, president of the Association of National and Cultural Unions of Ukraine, "People attacked on racial grounds do not report the incidents to the police and police often fail to classify such attacks as racially motivated and often write them off as domestic offence or hooliganism".
A 2010 poll conducted by Kuras Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies showed that some 70 percent of Ukrainians estimates the nation's attitude towards other ethnical minorities as ‘conflict’ and ‘tense’.
- 1 Race discrimination
- 1.1 Discrimination against foreigners
- 1.2 Discrimination against Russians
- 1.3 Discrimination against Romani
- 1.4 Discrimination against Jews
- 1.5 Discrimination against Tatars
- 1.6 Discrimination against LGBT persons
- 1.7 Latest developments
- 2 Government response
- 3 Statistics on violent crime motivated by racism and discrimination
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Racially motivated attacks occur in Ukraine while police and courts do little to intervene, the Council of Europe said in a report made public February 2008 in Strasbourg. The report also expressed concern about attacks against rabbis and Jewish students, as well as the vandalism of synagogues, cemeteries and cultural centres. "However, criminal legislation against racially-motivated crimes has not been strengthened and the authorities have not yet adopted a comprehensive body of civil and administrative anti-discrimination laws", the body said. "There have been very few prosecutions against people who make antisemitic statements or publish antisemitic literature." Discrimination against the Romani community, continuing antisemitism, violence in Crimea and other acts of intolerance against various ethnic groups in Ukraine were singled out in the report by the Council of Europe's racism-monitoring body, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. Skinhead violence against Tatars and Jews is also frequent and police have offered little protection to the different communities, it said. And ECRI asked Ukrainian authorities to step up efforts to fight violence by skinheads against Africans, Asians, and people from the Middle East For instance: in December 2006 racist attacks on foreign students have been reported by the Council of Europe. The council stated that students where reluctant to report attacks because of police response to these attacks seemed to be inadequate. Many of these incidents are conducted by "skinheads" or neo-Nazis in Kiev, but similar crimes have also been reported throughout the country. In addition to incidents of assault, persons of African or Asian heritage may be subject to various types of harassment, such as being stopped on the street by both civilians and law enforcement officials. Individuals belonging to religious minorities have also been harassed and assaulted in Kiev and throughout Ukraine
Ukraine does not currently have well established movements against illegal immigration or certain ethnic groups that are common in other former Soviet states. As a European country Ukraine is prone to outside influence from the neo-nazi and supremacist movements beyond its borders. For example, in areas of Southern Ukraine that have closer cultural and linguistic ties with Russia a number of neo-nazi groups resemble those in neighbouring Russia.
Since 2005, nongovernmental (NGO) monitors in Ukraine have documented a dramatic rise in violent crimes with a suspected bias motivation. While incidents occurring in Kiev have been most accurately documented, there is evidence that incidents of violence are taking place throughout the country, including the cities of Cherkasy, Chernivtsi, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Lutsk, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Sevastopol, Simferopol, Ternopil, Vinnytsia, and Zhytomyr.
Representatives of the Ministry of Justice and Members of Ukrainian parliament stated that discrimination views and antisocial attitudes are practiced by a minority of the population, by fringe organizations, and by younger generation of Ukrainians; they say they are most alarmed by the younger Ukrainian's attitudes. The fact that, during the 2007 parliamentary elections, the right wing parties espousing xenophobic and racist ideology received very little support from the electorate, also points to the unpopularity of such ideas among the general population.
Bias-motivated violence has been largely committed against people of African and Asian origin, as well as people from the Middle East.
Discrimination against foreigners
According to a Western human rights organization, asylum seekers, refugees, and labour migrants are among the victims of bias-motivated violence, which have also included diplomats, expatriate employees of foreign companies, members of visible minorities in Ukraine, and Ukrainians who have assisted hate crime victims. Foreign students, of which there are some forty thousand, have been among the principal victims of hate crimes. Small populations of citizens and immigrants of African origin are highly visible and particularly vulnerable targets of racism and xenophobia. Although relatively few people of African origin reside in Ukraine, the rate of violence against this group has been extraordinary. African refugees, students, visitors, and the handful of citizens and permanent residents of African origin have lived under constant threat of harassment and violence. During the 2009 flu pandemic in Ukraine in November 2009 the police of Transcarpathia asked the local population to report every instance of meeting or communicating with foreigners, especially those from South-East Asia or Middle East. The police explains that the reason for such a request was "the worsening of the epidemiological situation in Transcarpathian Region and the increasing risk of getting ill." The Uzhhorod police removed the request from their website after media drew attention to it.
Discrimination against Russians
Sentiment towards Russia in Ukraine varies throughout the country. According to a long-term survey by Institute of Sociology of National Academy of Science of Ukraine, the overall population of the country, excluding the Ukrainian diaspora, has an on average similar attitude towards Russians as towards ethnic Ukrainians. On the other hand, the 2000 survey of the Lviv Oblast showed that the population of the region has a more negative attitude towards Russia (20%) (cf. 23% of negative attitude towards Ukraine in Russia) than to other countries. Another survey showed that in 2005, compared to the rest of the population, the population of Western Ukraine, Kiev and Kiev Oblast had a less positive attitude towards Russia. The ultra-right nationalist political party Svoboda, marginal on the national scale, often invokes the radical Russophobic rhetoric and has sufficient electoral support to form factions in several municipal and provincial local councils in Western Ukraine.
Discrimination against Romani
It is alleged that the country's estimated 400,000 Romani people, (government figures were 47,600) faces both governmental and societal discrimination. In October 2006 the European Roma Rights Centre complained to the UN Human Rights Committee about violence against Romani in the country, racial targeting and profiling by police against Romani, discrimination in social programs and employment against Romani, and the widespread lack of necessary documentation for Roma to enjoy access to social services and protections. In many areas of the country, poverty often forced Romani families to withdraw their children from school. There were numerous reports of Romani being evicted from housing, removed from public transportation, denied public assistance, kicked out of stores, and denied proper medical treatment. According to the Roma Congress of Ukraine, the findings of the 2003 national study on social integration of Romani remain current: only 38 percent of Romani are economically active, 21 percent have permanent employment, and 5 percent have temporary employment, mainly seasonal jobs. Representatives of Romani and other minority groups claimed that police officials routinely ignored, and sometimes abetted, violence against them. In 2012 the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) reported that "Many Roma do not dispose of basic identity documents. This seriously affects their access to social rights as well as the right to vote.".
There were some reports that the government was addressing the longstanding problems faced by the Romani community. For example, the Chirikli fund reported in fall 2006 that a court in Odessa reviewed its complaint against a school director who refused to admit a Romani child to school. The court refused to review claims of discrimination but the case was still under review for possible administrative violations as of December. A court in Donetsk refused to accept a similar complaint. However in 2012 ECRI stated "government policies themselves at times appear also to ignore the situation of marginalisation and discrimination faced by Roma".
Discrimination against Jews
As of April 2008, in total, 100 hate crimes were committed since January 2007. One of every five hate crimes in Ukraine since the start of last year was against the Jewish community, the country's security police reported. However, not known how much of those attacks were on a racial base.
 Attacks on ethnic minorities are occurring in Ukraine at a record pace, according to the Union of Councils for the Jews in the Former Soviet Union. Historically, the territory of Ukraine has been the scene of some of history's worst persecution of Jews led by occupying powers, including Tsarist pogroms, Nazi genocides, and Stalin's antisemitic campaigns. The problem of antisemitism has remained despite large-scale emigration of Jews to Israel, Europe, and the United States following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In 2008 Human Rights First reported that "in recent years" Ukraine had seen a revival of anti-Jewish prejudice in the form of an increase of antisemitic attacks and incidents. In 2012 the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) reported that "The number of antisemitic publications in Ukraine had dropped markedly since 2007" and that "The authorities have taken steps to promote awareness and ensure remembrance of victims of the Holocaust and to improve the teaching of Jewish history in schools".
Antisemitism in Ukrainian politics
Among the extreme right in Ukraine, it is taken for granted that current Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is Jewish based on an unproven urban legend that Poroshenko's father was actually named Valtzman until he adopted his wife's Yevgenya's last name.[nb 1]
Antisemitism in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election
During the 2010 presidential elections-campaign candidates Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Yulia Tymoshenko were "accused" of being Jewish, in what appeared to be a smear campaign. Tymoshenko was referred to as "the Jewish woman with the braid". Unattributed leaflets referring to Tymoshenko as "a Jew" and calling not to vote for her appeared in mail boxes in Western Ukraine in the last week before the February 7, 2010 runoff vote of the election. Uzhhorod Mayor Serhiy Ratushniak, not previously known to be antisemitic, attacked Yatsenyuk on the grounds of his alleged Judaism. Ukrainian Jewish leaders retaliated against Ratushniak's antisemitic statements against Yatsenyuk. Vadim Rabinovich, president of the Ukrainian Jewish Congress, sent a letter to law enforcement agencies asking them to restrain Ratushniak. Going further, a lawsuit was filed against him on the grounds of "hooliganism, abuse of office and the violation of the racial and national equality of citizens, after allegedly using viciously antisemetic rhetoric and beating an agitator for one of the leading presidential candidates, who has an ethnically Jewish background" (in August 2009, Ratushniak was alleged to have beaten a female campaigner for Yatseniuk; he denied involved in the incident).
Discrimination against Tatars
In Crimea[nb 2], native Tatars feel discriminated due to lack of lands. Conflicts between Tatars and their Slavic neighbors in recent years has led to massed fist fights, vandalizing graveyards and even murders. The Ukrainian government is slow in acknowledging the tensions. Crimean Tatars asserted that discrimination by mainly ethnic Russian officials in Crimea deprived them of employment in local administrations and that propaganda campaigns, particularly by Russian Cossacks, promoted hostility against them among other inhabitants of Crimea. More than 250,000 Crimean Tatars have returned to their homeland following Ukrainian independence, shifting the ethnic composition of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The return of Tatars, who belong to a different ethnicity, speak a separate language, and are predominantly Muslim, has resulted in increased ethnic and religious tensions in the Crimea and contributed to an increase in bias-motivated attacks against Crimean Tatars and their property.
Discrimination against LGBT persons
The breakdown of the Soviet Union—during which time homosexuality was criminalized—has allowed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual people (LGBT) to be more open about their identity. However, the Ukrainian constitution does not explicitly include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation; laws concerning bias-motivated violence do not cover incidents involving bias on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Many Ukrainians remain intolerant toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgender individuals. According to one recent poll by the Institute of Sociology, almost 35 percent of Ukrainians disagreed strongly or disagreed with the statement that "gay men and lesbians should be free to live their own life as they wish."
A report released by Amnesty International in July 2008 warned of an "alarming rise" in racist attacks in Ukraine. According to the report, more than 60 people were targeted in racist violence in 2007, six of them killed; More than 30 people were victims of racist attacks since the beginning of 2008 and at least four had been killed at the time of the report. Rights advocates are puzzled by the rise in hate crimes but they claim government inaction is partly to blame. They also claim the government aggravates the problem by denying that racism is growing and only acknowledging isolated incidents. Rights groups claim Ukrainian hate groups are inspired by their counterparts in Russia, where minorities are assaulted almost every day. Russian skinheads help the local groups, they say, sharing tips and video clips on how to attack and torture their victims and how to safely leave the crime scene.
According to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (in February 2012) since 2008 "progress has been made in a number of fields".
The government's response to the recent surge in hate crimes has been insufficient and inconsistent. President Yushchenko and some other senior government officials have spoken out against racist and xenophobic violence. However, these statements have been undermined by other declarations by some key law enforcement officials whose remarks suggested a denial of the problem. On March 30, 2007, former Interior Minister Vasyl Tsushko condemned acts of xenophobia and racism at a meeting of representatives of embassies and international organizations. Tsushko denied any massive instances of xenophobic incidents in Ukraine, but recognized that single incidents could lead to an overall negative tendency.
The authorities did take some important steps in 2007, including the creation of specialized units in key government agencies. Also, in early 2008, there were several guilty verdicts handed down in cases of violence in which incitement to hatred based on nationality, race, or religion were among the charges. However, these verdicts were exceptions to a pattern in which violent crimes with an apparent bias motivation are more often treated as hooliganism. Law enforcement officials lack training and experience in recognizing and recording the bias motivations behind attacks, limiting the ability of prosecutors to pursue hate crime cases in court. An inadequate legal framework also hinders the ability of criminal justice officials to prosecute hate crimes as such.
Statistics on violent crime motivated by racism and discrimination
There is no government data collection or regular public reporting expressly on violent hate crimes. The most reliable information is produced by NGO and IGO monitoring. Thus, it is impossible to see the full extent of the problem. Human Rights First and Amnesty International released reports on the dramatic rise of hate-motivated violence in Ukraine. Both organizations relied on the nongovernmental monitors and closely collaborated with the Diversity Initiative, a coalition of some 40 NGOs, which was created in April 2007 in response to the unprecedented increase in the number of suspected racially motivated assaults. The Diversity Initiative is supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The United Nations Resident Coordinator called for an end to discrimination against Jews,. An ambassadorial working group was formed and a Diversity Initiative, a coordination group under the leadership of the IOM and UNHCR, was established to provide a forum for anti-discrimination policies – with the overall objective to create a consolidated response to racism and xenophobia in Ukraine. As a result of concerted efforts, the Government stepped up its response to this challenge; an official repudiation of racism by President Viktor Yuschenko issued; the Government adopted an Action Plan on Counteraction to Racism; and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) established a special unit to counteract xenophobia and intolerance. Policy advice was provided and best practices from European countries was shared with Government. There was a wide-scale information campaign, including broadcasting of public service announcements.
- Racism by country
- Demographics of Ukraine
- LGBT rights in Ukraine
- Interregional Academy of Personnel Management
- Hate crimes
- According to Moshe Reuven Azman, Chabad chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Poroshenko told him directly "he wasn’t Jewish”. In 2013, Poroshenko's spokeswoman Irina Fireez asked Forbes Israel to remove his name from a list of the world’s richest Jews. The spokeswoman, Irina Fireez, did not say why she wanted Poroshenko's name removed. Poroshenko’s office did not reply to queries from JTA on this issue.
- The status of the Crimea and of the city of Sevastopol is currently under dispute between Russia and Ukraine; Ukraine and the majority of the international community consider the Crimea to be an autonomous republic of Ukraine and Sevastopol to be one of Ukraine's cities with special status, while Russia, on the other hand, considers the Crimea to be a federal subject of Russia and Sevastopol to be one of Russia's three federal cities.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Racism in Ukraine.|
- Hate Crime in Ukraine a report by Human Rights First
- Report Card: Ukraine Annual Evaluation of Laws, Monitoring, and Reporting related to Hate Crime.
- Ukraine: Government must act to stop racial discrimination a report by Amnesty International