The problem under consideration is the situation with the Meskhetian Turks (Meskhetians), persons, belonging to a small Turkish-speaking
Muslim ethnic group, who fled from Uzbekistan and sought asylum in Krasnodar territory (Krasnodarskiy 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 radicalization 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 activization 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, havenít
been officially approved because of special ban. Consequently, the Meskhetians, like other persons who do not have permanent registration
are not officially recognized 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 declined 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 recognized. 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
appr. 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 (appr. 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, radicalization of official rhetorics
(evolving into direct hate speech) against ethnic minorities, especially of non-Slavic and 'Caucasian' origin (Armenians, Turks, Kurds,
Assyrians, Jews) and radicalization 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 organizations 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. The latest shifts in migration and nationalities policies as well as official xenophobic rhetoric
are to be described in the following newsletters.
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 (details are to be displayed in the
following newsletters). 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 didnít 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 burglarized. 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
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's governor and his staff
(The ĎMemorialí HRC possesses copies of two letters addressed from the corresponding ministries to the Chairman of the Turkish ĎVataní
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).
Copyright © 2002 [Anton G.]. All rights reserved. Все права защищены.