Staunton, January 16 – The Consultative Committee of the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe for the Defense of National Minorities in a 59-page report has sharply criticized Moscow for repressing and marginalizing its non-Russian citizens (rm.coe.int/4th-advisory-committee-opinion-on-the-russian-federation-russian-langu/1680908b0d).
Its criticisms form a virtual laundry list of the ways in which the Putin regime has sought to promote the Russian language at the expense of all others, discriminated against non-Russians in a wide variety of ways, and repressed ethnic groups as such. It implies that Russia today is far more discriminatory toward minorities than even the Soviet Union was.
In response, Russian officials have done what they usually do: they have attacked the report as biased, denied there is any Russian government actions against the interests of non-Russians, and suggested that the Council of Europe report is yet another reason why Moscow should leave that body and all its affiliated institutions as soon as possible.
The report has attracted widespread attention in the media of the Russian Federation and on portals based abroad which follow developments there. Among the most comprehensive are
ng.ru/politics/2019-01-15/3_7482_polit2.html, business-gazeta.ru/article/409552 and idelreal.org/a/29709322.html and region.expert/ce-report/.
The chief conclusions of the Council of Europe report are as follows:
· By promoting Russian at the expense of non-Russian languages, including its insistence that all languages of the indigenous peoples use the Cyrillic script, Moscow has discriminated against the non-Russians and threatened their survivals as peoples.
· Russia’s laws against foreign funding of all organizations and its anti-extremist laws are applied disproportionately and discriminatively against the non-Russians.
· Moscow has rejected the multi-cultural norms now well-established in Europe in favor of a state and society centered almost exclusively on the ethnic Russian majority.
· Officials and especially siloviki routinely mistreat ethnic Russians in greater numbers than they do ethnic Russians.
· Both officials and the government-controlled media present non-Russians in a negative light intending to marginalize them and in fact encouraging xenophobia and attacks.
· Russian government human rights groups rarely focus on the problems of non-Russians as nations.
· Non-Russians are underrepresented in all government institutions.
All these things are in violation of Russia’s commitments as a signatory to European convention on national minorities which Moscow ratified 20 years ago, the report says.
Russian officials, politicians, and many Russian activists and experts denounced the report as one more example of the West’s anti-Russian stance, with some declaring that Moscow should have nothing to do with the Council of Europe (nazaccent.ru/content/29030-rossijskie-eksperty-skepticheski-ocenili-doklad-soveta.html and kommersant.ru/doc/3854196).
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