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The 'Memorial' Human Rights Centre

Programme 'Ethnic Discrimination in the Regions of Russian Federation'

12 Maly Karetny per., Moscow, 103051 Russia
fax 7 095 209 5779


Stop Ethnic Cleansing in Krasnodar Territory!

The situation around Meskhetian Turks (Ahisha Turkleri) in Krasnodar Territory (krai) of the Russian Federation becomes critical. More than 13 000 Turks residing within the region since 1989-1990 are not only arbitrary deprived of the basic civil and human right (see Attachment No.2) - the regional authorities are doing their best to squeeze them out of the territory. More and more severe methods are being used recently for these purposes, and the federal authorities have actually approved actions of the regional leaders. It is the first case in the new Russia, when the state machinery without a situation of an armed conflict systematically and deliberately works against a certain ethnic group At any moment a 'soft ethnic cleansing' can evolve into a violent 'clean-up', the second one in the contemporary Russia after the events of 1992 in Prigorodnyi district of the North Ossetia.

Within the last month the 'checks of passport regime' aimed at Meskhetians have become total. Regular household-by-household patrol rounds are being made, policemen and member of the 'Cossack' organisations are catching Turks at the markets, on the streets and roads and fining them for a lack of the local permanent registration, even detaining some persons (including women) and keeping them imprisoned for several days. The sum, that is being taken for the 'temporary registration' has arisen - now Turks have to pay 250 000 instead of 188 000 rubles for the registration at a term of 45 days. Actually every day Turks have to face direct abuses and threats from police servicemen and members of the organisations, which call themselves 'Cossacks'. The Cossack groups openly threaten with pogroms and violent evictions. One of the last demonstration of force took place on 14 November, when the Cossacks obstructed the memorial meeting held by Turks on the anniversary of the 1944 deportation of this people from southern Georgia to Central Asia.

The Krasnodar regional public prosecutor and the regional department of the internal affairs do no find anything illegal in the actions of the Cossack groups, for instance, in the banishment of 4 Moslem families from the Vinogradny Homestead (Krymsk district). The Krasnodar regional administration regularly declares, that it stands for compulsory eviction of the Meskhetian Turks from the territory, for the last time statements of this kind were made at the special meeting on interethnic relation held by the regional government in Krasnodar on 18-19 November.

The Russian Ministry of Nationalities Affairs and Federative Relations demonstrates a position, that actually means support of the Krasnodar authorities. A working group of the Ministry headed by the deputy minister Vladimir Bauer is preparing for the RF government a set of suggestions, which envisages general support to the 'voluntary' emigration of the Turks to Georgia and Turkey (while in the actual circumstances only a small part of Meskhetians will be able and wants to use this opportunity) and garantees of rights only to those Meskhetians, who are Russian citizens. In fact the regional authorities recognize Russian citisens only a small part of the Meskhetians who succeeded in getting permanent registration somewhere on the Russian territory and documenting their citizenship. As reported by ITAR-TASS newsagency on November 24, 1997, Vladimir Bauer, Deputy Minister on the Affairs on Nationalities and Federative Relations stated that ' year, we shall began to resettle the Meskhetian Turks who form a compact community in Krasnodar Krai without official authorization. Their stay there is regarded as temporary.' A similar approach to this issue has been voiced by representatives of the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs. The President's Administration avoids dealing with the Meskhetians' problems.

One can hardly suppose that the federal or regional authorities try to start an organized deportation of the Turks to the other regions of Russia or anywhere else. Two scenarios look realistic. The Krasnodar authorities can gradually evict the small groups of Turks out of the region and count on the following mass exodus. The administration can also encourage the Cossack groups and lead the situation to pogroms and clashes and then strive for 'evacuation' of the Turks. In the both cases the regional administration can count that it will be able to avoid wide publicity, thrust their own version of the ongoing on everybody and to decline responsibility.

It is necessary to take into account that if the Krasnodar authorities manage to fulfill their plans it would not be the end of the story. While the policies of appeasement, that is concessions to extremist forces led to blood shed in a number of regions within the former USSR and has become the main cause of tension within Krasnodar territory, the Russian federal authorities once more try to stick to the same line. The regional administration and the organisations, which call themselves 'Cossacks' in an open way demonstrate hostility against many non-Slavic ethnic groups, neglect attitude toward the law and eagerness to use violence. Any category of the population can be the next and take the Turks' place.

All the attempts by the 'Memorial' and the Krasnodar Regional Human Rights Association to attract attention of the public and mass media to actually starting ethnic cleansing turn out to be in vain - the problem is being stubbornly ignored. We find the situation critical and appeal for help to all the organisations which deal with human rights affairs. At the moment any help - petitions to the Russian federal authorities, forwarding information about the problem, moral support to Meskhetian associations - is extremely valuable. Only an energetic campaign of protest can stop outrage against a small people. It is necessary to achieve the following: the Russian federal authorities without any preliminary conditions must secure permanent registration to the Turks in Krasnodar territory, restore all the previously violated rights, officially recognize them Russian citizens in accordance with the Law 'On citizenship in Russian Federation', charge according with the law all the persons responsible for the discrimination against Turks and violation of their rights, disband and outlaw the paramilitary organisations which call themselves 'Cossacks' and prosecute their leaders.

We can provide any additional information.

Please, forward this message and the attachment to the persons and organisations which may be of any interest in the case.

Alexander Ossipov,
programme officer

Attachment 1

Coordinates of the federal governmental bodies responsible for the case:

The President's Administration: the head of PA Valentin Yumashev, Staraya sq., 4 Moscow, 103132

General Prosecutor's Office: General Prosecutor of RF Yuri Skuratov, B.Dmitrovka St. 15a, Moscow 103793

Ministry of the Interior: the minister Anatolyi Kulikov, Zhitnaya St., 16, Moscow, 117049

Ministry of Nationalities Affairs and Federative Relations: the minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov, Trubnikovski per., 19, Moscow, 121819

Coordinates of the Meskhetian associations (Note! These people can speak Turkish and Russian, but not English)

The 'Vatan' International Society of the Meskhetian Turks: Chairman of the Central Council Yusuf Sarvarov, Rokossovski blvd., 7/4, Moscow 107370, tel./fax 7 095 160 0870

The 'Vatan' International Society of the Meskhetian Turks, the Krasnodar regional branch: Chairman of the Council Sadain Tamimov, Internatsionalnaya St., 38, Abinsk, Krasnodarski krai, 352320 Russia; tel. 7 86150 5 1703 (of.), fax 5 26 40
Executive Director Server Tedorov, ul. Lunacharskogo, 143a st. Varenikovskaya, Krymski raion, Krasnodarski krai,353350 Russia

Coordinates of the human rights organisations which deal with the case: The 'Memorial' Human Rights Centre, Maly Karetny per. 12, Moscow, 103051 Russia, fax 7 095 209 5779; e-mail

The Krasnodar Regional Human Rights Association, 162/14, ul. Vokzalnaya, st. Leningradskaya, Krasnodarski krai, 353610, Russia, tel./fax. 7 (86145) 32633; e-mail

Attachment 2

Starting Ethnic Cleansing in Krasnodar Territory: the Case of Meskhetian Turks

Alexander Ossipov

The problem under consideration is the situation with the Meskhetian Turks (Meskhetians), persons, belonging to a small Turkish-speaking Muslim ethnic group, who refuged from Uzbekistan and seeked asylum in Krasnodar territory (Krasnodarski krai) of southern Russia in 1989-1990. More than 12 000 Turks were deprived by the regional authorities of residence permission (propiska in the Soviet period, or permanent registration since 1993) and, respectively, of the basic civil, political and social rights.

The situation of the Meskhetians as it had been at the end of 1995, were described in the report Violation of the Rights of Forced Migrants and Ethnic Discrimination in the Krasnodar Territory. Moscow: 'Memorial', 1996.

The 'Memorial' HRC's fact-finding mission conducted by Igor Kuznetsov (Krasnodar), Alexander Ossipov (Moscow) and Anton Popov (Krasnodar) at 3 -18 September 1997 completely affirmed the previous information about radicalisation of discriminatory policies conducted by the regional and local authorities against minorities and especially Meskhetian Turks. Moreover, the mission gathered a number of proofs of indirect instigation by the regional governor, the regional administration and its officials to the violent aggression on ethnic ground. Hate speech of the governmental officials combined with activisation of the right-wing nationalist groups (the Cossacks), also encouraged by the regional authorities, keeps the situation on the brink of a wide-scale ethnic violence.

1. The Meskhetians in Krasnodar Territory continue to be arbitrary deprived of permanent registration (the latter in practice means residence permission given by the local administration). Dwellings, which they had purchased after coming to Krasnodar Territory in 1989- 1990, haven't been officially approved because of special ban. Consequently, the Meskhetians, like other persons who do not have permanent registration are not officially recognised as Russian citizens contrary to the Russian Law on Citizenship of 1991, which does not equate permanent residence with permanent registration while the Meskhetians permanently and legally resided on the Russian territory at the dissolution of the Soviet Union and didn't decline Russian citizenship. They are not allowed to be employed on permanent basis. They actually cannot receive or restore (in case of loss or damage) personal documents (like passports or drivers licenses). Their marriages are not being officially registered and recognised. The Meskhetians are completely deprived of any access to the system of social security and public medical service. They cannot get education higher than of a secondary level.

2. The Meskhetian Turks at Krasnodar Territory in 1992 were selected as a distinct formal category, subjected to special discriminatory policies, pursued by the regional authorities. On 24 April, 1996 Krasnodar Territory's Regional Legislature adopted Decree No.291-P, according to which adult Meskhetians were obliged to pass each 3 months through a special registration procedure, receive certificates of residence and to pay for it (according to the item 2. of the Decree) a fare at amount of the officially established minimal wages (83 400 RUR, or app. 15 USD, which is a tangible sum for the Meskhetians). Those certificates allowed Meskhetians to re-register their vehicles for the corresponding period and to be employed on a short-term basis (not more than 2 months). Item 2. directly contradicted the Federal Law "On Customs" of 1991. In May 1997 the Krasnodar regional public prosecutor lodged protest against item 2. of the Decree No.291-P and the regional legislature abrogated it. Since June according to the instructions, given by the regional Department of the Interior, the local authorities started to register Meskhetians as persons coming for a short stay from the countries of CIS (though they permanently stay at Krasnodar Territory for 9 years) for the term of 45 days and to levy a payment for one registration at an amount of 187 650 RUR (app. 33 USD) per person. The vehicles are to be re-registered for the corresponding period.

3. The aforementioned ongoing take place against the background of increasing anti-migration policies, radicalisation of official rhetorics (evolving into direct hate speech) against ethnic minorities, especially of non-Slavic and Caucasian origin (Armenians, Turks, Kurds, Assyrians, Jews) and radicalisation of the Cossack movement, encouraged by the authorities. Many activists of the Cossack movement were appointed to the influential positions in the regional and local administrations, the Cossack organisations obtain direct and indirect financial and material support from the regional budget. Aggravation in these areas are connected with coming to power in the region of Nikolai Kondratenko, a former CPSU functioner, who was elected the governor of Krasnodar Territory in December, 1996 and who expresses in a rigid form his radical nationalist and anti-Semitic views.

4. The new registration regime for Meskhetian Turks leads to new penalties and other sanctions. The authorities have stopped the process of drawing up passports for young people, which had formally started in February, 1995. The Meskhetians cannot get a number of certificates from the local authorities. In all of these cases the officials use as a pretext lack of the temporal registration for 45 days. At some enterprises Turks cannot get their wages until they bring certificates of temporal registration. Dozens of Turks have been dismissed from several enterprises in Krymsk and Abinsk districts, for instance, 19 workers (mostly women) were discharged in July-September from the 'Kuban' agricultural firm at Varenikovskaya settlement in Krymsk district. The same firm didn't rent arable lands to Turkish lessees for 1997. The Meskhetians ;are being fined more and more often by police and even by the traffic police for the lack of registration. Massive checks of 'passport regime' including searches of dwellings have also become more frequent at the resent months. There are a few cases of detains and short-term (up to 9 days) imprisonment of the Turks living in Krymsk district. Officials at the regional as well as at the district level admit, that these policies are aimed at stimulating Turkish migration out of the Krasnodar territory.

5. The movement of Cossacks has increased aggressive activities like massive checks of 'passport regime', public meetings and collective petitions, where Cossack militants put forward threats against minorities and demands of their eviction or move. Minorities, especially Armenians, Turks and Kurds, are accused of theft, rapes and another forms of criminality as well as of being 'culturally alien' to the 'permanent' or 'native' Slavic population. In some cases actions of this kind led to physical violence. The authorities officially treat actions of this kind as 'ethnic conflict' or natural public reaction to growing 'Caucasian criminality' and 'invasion of an alien culture'. Nobody has been prosecuted and punished for hate speech or violent actions. On 29 July 1997 the meeting at the settlement Vinogradny (Krymsk district) demanded eviction of two families (the Jemilovs and the Alievs, Moslems, but not Turks), because two boys (11 and 12 years old) had been accused of homosexual lechery against the other kids ( the Denisovs). The meeting was initiated and led by the Cossacks and attended by a number of officials from the district and settlement administration as well as from the district police office, who didn't protest against the agenda and the demands of eviction. Within the following 2 days 4 families left the settlement, they were threatened by the Cossacks; one family (the Alievs) was burglarised. The Krymsk district administration started to spread by the local TV information about 'the people's spontaneous indignation against criminal and lecherous Meskhetian Turks'. The same information and evaluations are being also used by the officials of the regional administration and the Department of the Interior (The 'Memorial' HRC possesses a copy of the letter addressed from the Department of the Interior to the Chairman of the Turkish 'Vatan' society in Krasnodar as well as two interviews with high officials from the Krasnodar regional administration).

Since 13-14 September the situation has been on a brink of the similar violent actions in the settlements of Varenikovskaya and Nizhne-Bakanskii (Krymsk district).

6. The regional authorities come out for the move of the Meskhetians either to the other regions of Russia or to Georgia or to Turkey. Officials of the regional administration use two main pretexts: a)Turks are the persons who reside within the region illegally since they do not have permanent registration; b) Turks are culturally incompatible with the Slavic and especially Cossack population and their presence permanently provokes conflicts. The regional authorities seek support from the federal government. At the moment the federal Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry for Nationalities Affairs and Federal Relations in general share the position of the Krasnodar governor and his staff (The 'Memorial' HRC possesses copies of two letters addressed from the corresponding ministries to the Chairman of the Turkish 'Vatan' society in Krasnodar). The Krasnodar regional administration at the moment tries to initiate negotiations with the federal government on the matter of Meskhetian Turks and to obtain sanctions for the pursued policies. These contacts as well as a series of consultations among officials and Cossack activists started in September in the districts where Meskhetian Turks reside, provoke aggressive and violent actions of the extremist groups (the Cossacks).