The 'Memorial' Human Rights  Centre,
'Ethnic Discrimination in the Regions of Russian Federation' program
Starting Ethnic Cleansing in Krasnodar Territory: the Case of Meskhetian Turks.

                                                                                  Alexander  Ossipov,
                                                                                 programme manager

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, havent
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 didnt 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 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).
This article was taken from the web site of "Memorial" Human Rights Center. Also available at


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