Tag Archives: Russia & Far Eastern Europe

Ukraine News | Roma

Attack on Roma camp leaves one dead, several wounded outside Lviv
  • A 24-year-old Roma man was stabbed to death and another four wounded in an attack on a Roma community on the outskirts of Lyiv.
  • The attack comes amidst a wave of far-right violence against Roma communities, where groups of nationalists have destroyed living quarters and assaulted individuals.
  • Police have been accused of refusing to intervene in attacks or conduct arrests, leaving few stopgaps to mob violence and the implicit sanction of anti-Roma sentiment.
Read

U.S., Canada condemn deadly attack on Roma camp in Ukraine” (Reuters | June 2018)

No Relief: Wave Of Attacks, Police Indifference Heighten Fears Among Ukraine’s Roma” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | June 2018)

Additional

A year on from Odessa ‘pogrom’, Ukraine’s Roma face rise in mob justice” (Reuters | September 2017)

Europe & Eurasia Research | Religious & Belief Minorities

Religion and National Identity in Eastern Europe and Eurasia

The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey on the relationship between religious and national identity in Eastern European and Eurasian countries, noting changes in the way that religious identification has influenced national identity since the fall of atheist fundamentalism with the USSR. For religious and belief minorities—now including atheists—the relationship can be a troubling one, particularly as resurgent nationalism in the region has been accompanied by xenophobia and religious discrimination.

Here are highlights from the findings:

70% (Orthodox-majority) / 57% (Catholic-majority)

Average among countries who believe majority religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

82% (Armenia)
81% (Georgia)
78% (Serbia)
76% (Greece)
74% (Romania)
66% (Bulgaria)
63% (Moldova)
57% (Russia)
51% (Ukraine)
45% (Belarus)

Percentage within Orthodox-majority countries who believe Orthodox religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

64% (Poland)
58% (Croatia)
56% (Lithuania)
43% (Hungary)

Percentage within Catholic-majority countries who believe Catholic religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

Read

Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe (Pew Research Center | May 2017)

Russia News | Gay Men

Russia begins investigation into abduction, torture, and massacre of gay men in Chechnya
  • Government officials reportedly launched an investigation as international pressure increased following reports from human rights organizations about the rounding up of gay men into camps.
  • Gay Chechens have allegedly been held in extrajudicial detention and subjected to physical and psychological abuse including beatings, electroshock torture, outing to family, and murder.
  • President Vladimir Putin was reportedly briefed by the country’s human rights ombudswoman and is set up for a showdown with Ramzan Kadyrov, the authoritarian leader of the republic.
Read

Russia investigates ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Chechnya’s anti-gay pogrom: Too much even for the Kremlin?” (The Christian Science Monitor | May 2017)

‘They Have Long Arms and They Can Find Me’” (Human Rights Watch | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Arden Arkman/AP, via The Christian Science Monitor)

Russia News | Gay Men

Scores of gay men reportedly sent to concentration camps in Chechnya
  • According to reports from human rights organizations, more than 100 men have been imprisoned in camps the Russian republic of Chechnya where they have been tortured.
  • The abducted men have ranged in age from 16 to 50, some having been lured via social media and with three among them having reportedly been killed.
  • The abductions began as an LGBT advocacy group began applying for permits to hold parades in provincial cities around the country, although the group avoided applications in much of the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region given the volatile climate.
Read

Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says” (The New York Times | April 2017)

Chechen police ‘have rounded up more than 100 suspected gay men’” (The Guardian | April 2017)

More than 100 gay men ‘sent to prison camps’ in Chechnya” (The Independent | April 2017)

(Image Credit: Musa Sadulayev/AP, via The Guardian)

Russia News | Dissidents

Hundreds arrested across Russia after thousands take to streets in protest
  • Police reported detaining some 500 protesters in the largest anti-Kremlin demonstrations since 2012, including a Guardian journalist and opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
  • Numbering as high as in the tens of thousands, protesters rallied against government corruption and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
  • Polls indicate Putin, who enjoys high approval ratings in Russia, is unlikely to be unseated as many expect a bid for a fourth term.
Read

Russian police detain opposition leader, hundreds of protesters” (Reuters | March 2017)

Russia just had its biggest unsanctioned protests in years and hundreds are now in jail” (The Washington Post | March 2017)

Hundreds detained as opposition activists hold protests in several Russian cities” (RT | March 2017)

(Image Credit: Maxim Shemetov/RT)

Estonia News | Ethnic Russians

Estonian government reaches out to Russian Estonians to counter Kremlin influence
  • Anxious about a repeat of Ukraine in their country, government officials have begun learning Russian and conducting outreach to increase the integration of ethnic Russians in Estonia.
  • Russian speakers comprise roughly 25% of Estonia’s population, with many concentrated on the country’s border with Russia where a mix of Estonian and Russian media provide differing views on regional geopolitics.
  • Although Russians have been in Estonia since pre-WWII times, many ethnic Russian immigrants in Estonia lack Estonian citizenship after post-Soviet language tests left many holding Russian passports.
Read

Wary of divided loyalties, a Baltic state reaches out to its Russians” (Reuters | February 2017)
Nervous in Narva: a town caught between East and West” (The Irish Times | February 2017)
Baltic Russians: Are They Sudetendeutsche?“* (Forbes | February 2017)

* Commentary/Opinion

Russia News | Women

Putin signs law reducing punishment for domestic violence in Russia
  • Perpetrators who physically assault family members but do not cause broken bones will now only be subject to 15 days in prison or a fine if the violence only occurs once a year.
  • Previously, the crime had carried a maximum jail sentence of two years, but conservative politicians and advocates argued the state was intruding in private affairs.
  • A spike in reports of domestic violence in Russia’s fourth-largest city following the passage of the law has sparked concerns that the law has increased women’s vulnerability to violence in a country that sees 12-14,000 women die a year as a result of domestic violence.
Coverage

Putin approves legal change that decriminalises some domestic violence” (The Guardian | February 2017)
Domestic violence reports soar in Russian city following partial decriminalisation” (The Independent | February 2017)
Majority in Russia See Domestic Violence as Serious Problem” (Gallup | February 2017)

 

Moldova News | LGBT

Anti-LGBT protesters disrupt LGBT Pride festivities in Moldova


Video Credit: Campania socială Fără Frică

  • Hundreds demonstrated against a Pride march taking place in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, by chanting, singing, and reportedly throwing eggs and holy water at participants.
  • The protests appeared to have been led by Orthodox Christian demonstrators, who carried Moldovan and Orthodox flags symbolizing the close ties of religion and national identity in the predominantly Orthodox country.
  • Under heavy police protection, more than 150 participated in the parade, including German, French, and Swedish diplomats, before having to be escorted to safety.

Read more:
Protesters disrupt Moldova Pride march” (The Washington Blade)
Activists, Police Fend Off Counter-Protestors At Moldova’s First-Ever LGBT March of Solidarity” (Unicorn Booty)

 

Russia News | Ethnic Minorities

Ethnic tensions erupt into fatal brawl at Moscow’s biggest cemetery
  • Three were killed and nearly two dozen hospitalized among the 200 embroiled in clashes over service areas at the Khovanskoye cemetery in southwest Moscow.
  • Officials reported the fighting was primarily between Chechens and Dagestanis from the Russian Caucasus on one side and Central Asian migrants on the other, primarily ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks.
  • Tensions have simmered in the country between migrant and other low-paid workers as Russia’s economic woes have led to a constricted job market.

Read more:
Three killed as ethnic rivalries fuel brawl at Moscow cemetery” (Reuters)
Police makes over 100 arrests after Khovanskoye Cemetery brawl” (Interfax via Russia Beyond the Headlines)
Mass melee in Moscow cemetery leaves 3 dead, 23 wounded” (AP via CBC News)

(Image Credit: AP via CBC News)

Europe & Eurasia Research | LGBTI

The State of LGBTI Security in Europe

ILGA-Europe recently released its annual report on the state of LGBT rights and security across the Europe. Covering developments in individual countries and transnational institutions from 2015, the report notes increasing legal protections for gender minorities and family and partnership rights for sexual minorities in Southern and Western Europe as well as ongoing political exclusion, persecution, and violence in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Here are some of the highlights:

Malta

Rated the most progressive European country, Malta’s groundbreaking law prohibiting surgical intervention into a person’s sex characteristics without consent and inclusive education policies for trans, intersex, and other gender minorities were cited as distinctive policies.

Finland, France, Greece, Ireland

Other countries with significant judicial or policy victories regarding the rights of gender minorities.

Ireland, Luxembourg

Countries extending marriage rights to same-sex couples

Cyprus, Greece

Countries extending civil partnership rights to same-sex couples

Austria, Portugal

Countries extending adoption rights to same-sex couples

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia

Bottom three countries for LGBTI security

Armenia, FYR Macedonia, Slovenia

Countries blocking same-sex marriage rights

Hungary, Montenegro, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine

Countries denying, limiting, or antagonizing organization and assembly rights of LGBTI civil society groups

Read:
Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe 2016 (ILGA-Europe)

Additional:
Rainbow Europe
Azerbaijan worst place to be gay in Europe, finds LGBTI index” (The Guardian)
Which EU states are out of touch on gay marriage?” (euronews)

Russia Feature | LGBT

Homophobia in the Heartland

As international media attention to the plight of LGBT Russians has waned, advocates have found themselves stretched thin trying to support embattled community members while responding to declining visibility and police intimidation. From ongoing violence against transgender Russians to attacks on private clubs and homes, support organizations like Avers have struggled to create stopgaps for the deteriorating conditions plaguing the Russian LGBT community. A Coda Story report highlights the difficulties the community faces in attempts to organize and resist both ongoing state persecution and everyday threats that burden life in Russia’s hyper-conservative heartland.

Read more:
Gay clubbing and stoic activism in Russia’s homophobic heartland” (Coda Story, via The Guardian)

Additional:
Russian LGBT Network

(Image Credit: Zuma/Rex Features, via The Guardian)

Latvia News | Muslim Women

Latvian ministry plans proposal to ban niqab despite paucity of affected individuals
  • The Ministry of Justice is crafting legislation to ban the niqab, though only a handful of women among the country’s estimated 1,000 practicing Muslims wear the full-body veil.
  • The proposed legislation is a part of Latvia’s widespread anti-immigration reaction to the surge of migration to Europe, framed as a preventative measure as the country prepares to take in 776 refugees over two years (of whom only six have arrived).
  • The legislation does not criminalize the wearing of hijab, but Latvian Muslims have reported public discrimination and vocal prejudice despite the absence of explicitly discriminatory laws.

Read more:
Latvia Wants to Ban Face Veils, for All 3 Women Who Wear Them” (The New York Times)
Latvia mulls face veil ban – but only 3 women wear them” (Al Arabiya)
Latvia wants to become the third country in Europe to ban the face veil” (Al Bawaba)

(Image Credit: Reinis Hofmanis/The New York Times)

Latvia Feature | LGBT

The Rise of “Family Values” Activism in Latvia

Caught between the Western-democratic values of the EU and conservative nationalists and Kremlin supporters, Latvia has seen a surge in so-called family values activism in recent years. Activists have increasingly targeted LGBT rights and visibility as symptoms of cultural decline, and anti-LGBT sentiment has been connected to wide-ranging issues including the rights of Latvia’s Russian minority, abortion, corporal punishment, and academic freedom. EurasiaNet investigates how groups like Asociācija Ģimene (Family), Mūsu bērnu (Our Children), Dzimta (Kin), and Sargāsim mūsu bērnus! (Let’s Protect Our Children!) have grown their reactionary causes, including the influence of Russia’s hard-line anti-gay, “pro-family” campaign next door.

Read more:
Looking at Latvia’s Cultural Fault Line” (EurasiaNet)
The ABC of ‘Traditional’ Values Activism” (EurasiaNet)

(Image Credit: Dean C.K. Cox/EurasiaNet)

Ukraine News | LGBT

Far-right protesters in Ukraine attack LGBT festival attendees after officials ban event
  • Police and city officials in Lviv refused to give official permit to the equality-themed event, whose program included film screenings, literary discussions, and a public march.
  • After a last-minute court hearing banned the festival’s public events, far-right protesters descended on the hotel housing festival attendees, throwing stones and allegedly shouting “kill, kill, kill” as attendees were evacuated.
  • Although Lviv’s mayor admonished both victims and attackers, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack and announced police had begun an investigation.

Read more:
LGBT festival in Ukraine abandoned after far-right protest” (The Guardian)
U.S., Canadian ambassadors condemn attack on LGBT activists in Lviv” (Ukraine Today)
Ukrainian LGBT festival cancelled as far-right groups surround venue, chant ‘kill’” (PinkNews)

(Image Credit: Mykola Tys/EPA, via the Guardian)

Russia News | Atheists

Russian man faces possible year in jail after denying the existence of God online
  • Viktor Krasnov was charged in response to an online exchange in which he described the Bible as a “collection of Jewish fairy tales” and said “there is no God.”
  • Following the jailing of punk rock group Pussy Riots in 2012, lawmakers passed legislation that criminalized “insult[ing] the religious convictions or feelings of citizens.”
  • Despite Russia’s constitutional status as a secular state, President Vladimir Putin has led a campaign to promote traditional religious values to consolidate Russian national identity, long tied to the Russian Orthodox Church prior to the rise of the Soviet Union.

Read more:
Russian Man Could Be Jailed For Saying God Doesn’t Exist” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
Russian Faces Up to Year in Prison for Denying Existence of God” (NBC News)
Russian man in court for ‘no God’ Internet exchange” (AFP, via GlobalPost)

(Image Credit: via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)