18 April 2004, 21:28
The Condition of Meskhetian Turks in the Krasnodar Territory, February 2004
This review was drawn up by the Human Rights Center Memorial as part of the project titled "Development of mechanisms to counteract ethnic discrimination in the Krasnodar territory"; it is based on monitoring in the region, as well as media coverage.
The general situation
The condition of Meskhetian Turks in the Krasnodar territory remained difficult in February 2004. Monitoring information enables one to judge that the following violations of the rights of this category of citizens continue: unlawful detentions, fines for not being registered, seizure of passports, and so on.
A certain change in the situation is linked with the start of the US government's program aimed at providing the Meskhetian Turks living in the Krasnodar territory with a chance to leave for America. The territorial administration, as well as the administrations of the districts where Meskhetian Turks live, has on the one hand so far demonstrated readiness for cooperation with US embassy representatives and international organizations to carry out this program. On the other hand, becoming more frequent, anti-Turkish statements in the press as well as statements by some administration representatives give reasons for concerns that the territorial authorities will launch another campaign against Meskhetian Turks in order to "prompt" them to leave.
Fines. The districts of Anapa, Krymsk, Apsheronsk
According to the Novorossiysk Human Rights Committee (NHRC), five people were fined 500 to 1,000 rubles by police officers in the Anapa district between February 1 and 10, 2004, because they were not registered in the Krasnodar territory: Yusuf Lutfiev, Mustafa Rasulov, Lutfi Muradov, Ridvan Muradov, Rustam Muradov. Six people were fined in the Krymsk district: Iskander Rumzanov, Amin Rumzanov, Safis Shakhbazov, Ilkham Shakhbazov, Abid Rasulov. They all were fined under Article 18.8 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences. At the same time, passport and visa services deny registration without good reason.
Constant fines are also present in Kubanskaia, Apsheronsk district. Thus, R.A., a Meskhetian Turk, received a notification on January 22, 2004, saying he had to pay a fine of 1,500 rubles. About two months before, a statement had been drawn up that each member of his family was fined 1,000 rubles, which made a total of 5,000 rubles.
Some Turks from Kubanskaia complained about fines to a passport and visa service major in Krasnodar on January 15, 2004. He promised them verbally they would not be fined, but he also added the people should not turn up in the marketplace. Several women applied to the prosecutor's office, but they received no help there and were threatened deportation to "where they came from."
Meetings on the resettlement program
Territorial government representatives Okhrimenko and Ostrozhnyi, as well as some people from the Krymsk administration, organized a meeting on February 11, 2004, between Meskhetian Turk leaders and activists and representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Sarvar Tedorov, a Meskhetian Turk leader, attended the meeting. Delivering a speech, Okhrimenko said "it is Meskhetian Turks that are to blame for having shaped such conditions for themselves, they have driven themselves to the blind alley because they did not take migration cards. Those who stay will constantly have problems, there will be no former life!" Tedorov asked: "How are people to live currently while they are doing paperwork to leave?" Okhrimenko's reply followed: "As before!" At a meeting with the territorial administration, it was claimed, too, that Meskhetian Turks were refugees from Uzbekistan, not Russia! Thus, the territorial administration confirmed their intention of complete eviction of Meskhetian Turks from the Krasnodar territory.
In Kholmskaia the first meeting of IOM representatives with Meskhetian Turks as part of the information campaign for the program of resettlement to the US occurred on February 16, 2004. The reaction of the attending Meskhetian Turks to the news about the opportunity to move to America as refugees was quite mixed. There were rather critical and emotional utterances against the resettlement. The topic of discrimination against Meskhetian Turk and Russia's policy on this matter was raised. However, nearly all those who took part in the meeting took the forms for participation in the resettlement program, distributed by the IOM representatives. Speaking at this meeting, territorial government representatives confirmed their policy to squeeze Meskhetian Turks out of the Krasnodar territory. Okhrimenko said the law would be applied in full to those who live in the Krasnodar region illegally. He said they would observe the law they had as it was. A local administration representative, Yuri Gnutov, said the Abinsk district executive committee would help Meskhetian Turks register their houses and plots of land to sell them afterwards.
Anti-Turkish articles and statements
Novorossiiskii Rabochii newspaper with a circulation of 32,100 published an article on February 11, 2004, titled "No Welcome or Why Illegal Migrants Live Comfortably in City." It read: "... it was said at the meeting of the city operational headquarters that law enforcement and watchdog agencies do not control migration processes. They mentioned the Anapa forestry and a few farms from Raevskaia that lease land to Meskhetian Turks. This means local residents are stripped of jobs." Such articles are constantly published by territorial newspapers, but no condemnation of the discriminatory statements follows on the part of the executive, which is hardly in line with principles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Russia undertook to observe, in particular Article 4: "States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination."
A local Krymsk television channel broadcast on February 16, 2004, some Cossacks saying publicly that "Meskhetian Turks are all thieves and criminals, let them go away." No response to this statement followed on the part of the local authorities, which may mean the executive's consent with the discriminatory statements.
A meeting occurred in Kholmskaia on February 18, 2004, which decided to "go to court to invalidate the purchase of houses by Meskhetian Turks and to next deliver the housing to the municipality." All this was finalized with the Council of Veterans. Leaflets with a similar text were issued and posted in the Abinsk district.
Krymsk-based Elektron-TV newspaper of February 23-29, 2004, published an article titled "Turks, go home to the U.S.A." It read: "Does he [Bush the junior] know that some Russian boys were raped in Kuban? That Turks (by the way, close relatives of a leader of their ethnic society Vatan) traffic in arms and drugs? That young Turks beat and robbed some Russian guys on an ethnic basis in Nizhnebakanskaia?.. I wonder what Turk suffered in the last 15 years from government in Kuban? How did they suffer? Their son wasn't called up? Or they didn't pay taxes? Oh we, ordinary Russians, would like such sufferings, too..."
A detention in Novorossiysk
Bakhtiiar Shavkatov, 21, resident in Kholmskaia, Krasnodar territory, applied to the NHRC on February 26, 2004. He said his cousin Zakir Kamalov and he were walking along Dzerzhinsky Avenue in Novorossiysk at about 9 p.m. on February 25. A white car pulled up near them, two people in civilian clothes got out, said they were criminal investigation officers and asked the Turks show their ID. Bakhtiiar is a Russian citizen, but he has no registration in the Krasnodar region, while the territorial authorities denied Zakir, like most Meskhetian Turks, both citizenship and registration. The people from the car examined their ID and had them in the car. On the way, they had them out and searched. Then they took the Turks to the Central District Internal Affairs Authority. Checking Bakhtiiar's ID, they let him go, but detained Zakir for 10 days. Police officers refused to explain to Bakhtiiar the grounds on which Zakir was detained for that long, and they threatened he would suffer his cousin's fate unless he was off immediately.
An hour after detention, Zakir was delivered to so-called "crosses." This is the Novorossiysk Dermatovenerologic Dispensary, a closed one, with isolation wards where people are closed behind a door with bars and the high fence has barbed wire. Prostitutes and homeless people were this establishment's key clients until recently.
Local law enforcement and security agencies began to use this method to detain a person without a trial and investigation for that long just recently, after special detention centers had been abolished and court approval was required to detain for a long time. Suffice it to write a report, in this case submitted to Mr. Ruban, Chief of the Central District Internal Affairs Authority, with a special text: "...I detained... Zakir, a HOMELESS PERSON, who lives an antisocial and disorderly sexual life, in joints, has doubtful connections and probably transmits venereal diseases. I request your permission to put the mentioned citizen (the report actually said "grazhdanka," i.e. "female citizen") in the Novorossiysk Dermatovenerologic Dispensary for a medical examination." This document is enough to detain a person for 10 days (the time required to conduct analyses).
As a result, the human rights advocates managed to release Zakir from the dispensary by midday on February 26.
The NHRC wrote and sent letters about it to the territorial prosecutor's office and health authority.
Evasions of execution of court decisions
A Belorechensk District Court judge made in January a positive decision on the establishment of the legal fact of permanent residence in Russia since 1989 to the present of a Meskhetian Turk family, M., (seven members).
Proceeding from similar decisions passed before, petitions were lodged for issuing Russian passports to members of the Meskhetian Turk families B. (two members) and S. (two members).
However, even in such cases passport and visa authorities in the Krasnodar region try to evade issuing Russian passports to Meskhetian Turks. Thus, the passport and visa service at the Belorechensk District Internal Affairs Authority lodged an appeal against a decision by the Belorechensk District Court that established the fact of permanent residence of the family Kh. since August 1989 to the present. The appeal makes an unsupported assertion that "no unquestionable document was submitted to the court that could serve as a ground to pass the corresponding decision." In doing so, they did not mention what the passport and visa representative would view as such a document. In spite of that, they request for overruling and a new hearing.