On June 26, 2019, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a decision to confirm the credentials of the Russian delegation without restrictions, despite the violation of the principles of the Council of Europe. As a result of PACE having gone against its own resolutions, Ukraine plans to suspend the work of the Ukrainian delegation of the Verkhovna Rada in the PACE up to the moment when the conclusions of the Venice Commission will be published and recommend not to resume work until the basic points of all resolutions approved by the PACE over the past 5 years, will be fulfilled. In particular, it refers to the unconditional release of prisoners of war, 24 Ukrainian seamen, political prisoners in the Russian Federation, in Crimea and the temporarily occupied Donbas, as well as protection of the rights of the Crimean Tatars.
Starting from 2014, the Russian Federation, at the same time with the armed aggression against Ukraine, has exacerbated political and assimilation pressure on the indigenous peoples of Russia. On 30 May, 2019 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the Appeal to the United Nations, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and the national parliaments of the countries of the world regarding the condemnation of violation of the rights of indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation and in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. The manifestations of such Russian policies violating rights of indigenous peoples, in particular, were:
- persecution of representatives of indigenous peoples of Russia for their political beliefs, in particular in connection with their position on Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine and annexation of Crimea: the case of Fawziya Bayramova, leader of the Milli Mejlis of the Tatar People, Republic of Tatarstan, who was sentenced in 2014 to one year in prison for a statement of the Milli Mejlis on the events in Crimea and Donbas; Rafis Kashapov’s case, Republic of Tatarstan, who was sentenced in 2015 to 3 years imprisonment for his statements on the annexation of Crimea (sentenced in full, Amnesty International recognised him as a political prisoner); dismissal from work in 2018 of Angeli Matieva and Zarifa Sautieva, activists of the Ingush national movement, during the organisation of mass protests in Magas, Ingushetia; the arrest of the well-known Chechen human rights defender Oyub Titiev in 2018 for fabricated allegations (he was recognised as a political prisoner by a number of international organisations);
- lack of a fair and transparent investigation of the cases of abductions, killings and assassinations of people who defend the civil and political rights of the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation, including killing in 2010 of Aslan Zhukov, activist of the Circassian Youth Movement “Adyghe-Khase”, the kidnapping of the Ingush activist Rustam L`yanov in 2018 with a view to recording the video of the “European Ingush Association” with an appeal to stop criticism of the authorities, the murder of activist of the Ingush national movement Muslim Hashulugov in Nazran, Republic of Ingushetia, 11.12.2018.
- impeding law enforcement agencies from exercising the right to peaceful protest;
- a ban on the activities of national societies, organisations and movements through deprivation of their registration or announcement them to be extremists (Tatar Social Center, Tatar Youth Association “Azatliq”, Chuvash Society for National and Cultural Revival “Irekleh”, etc.);
- systematic interference with the activities of indigenous community associations (initiation of criminal cases against the activist of the Tatar Youth Association “Azatliq” Batyrkhan Agzamov, 2019; Fayil Alsinov, leader of the “Bashkort” organisation, 2019, the arrest of activists of the Circassian national movement Ruslan Gvashev and Shamsudin Neguch, 2017, etc.) ;
- interference with the activities of religious associations of indigenous peoples, in particular, the recognition of sacred books of the Mari traditional religion, such as “Onaeng eyla”, to be extremist;
- amendments to the federal Russian law “On Education”, according to which the state languages of the national republics of the Russian Federation ceased to be obligatory for study at secondary schools of the republics.
In late April, Russian President Putin signed two decrees facilitating the receipt of Russian citizenship for residents of certain districts of Donbas, such a politicised gesture was considered as a humanitarian annexation, aimed at weakening the newly elected Ukrainian president. In the same time, it is almost impossible to obtain citizenship for the Circassians, Tatars and other people living far beyond the RF, but who recognise Russia as a historical homeland.
In the updated Russian Concept of State Migration Policy for 2019-2025, approved by Putin last year, new goals emerged: the maintenance of “interethnic and interreligious peace and consent in Russian society, as well as the protection and preservation of “Russian culture, the Russian language and historical-cultural heritage of the peoples of Russia, forming the basis of its cultural (civilisation) code”. Apparently, such an emphasis on Russian language and culture in this document is not at all accidental. The Kremlin continues to gather the remains of the Russian world, meanwhile, the Circassians, Tatars and other people living far beyond the country will not be recognised as compatriots in Russia. With the onset of hostilities in Syria, many Circassians living in this country, whose ancestors fled to the Middle East as a result of the Russian-Caucasian war, decided to return to Russia, as their historical homeland. Only in rare cases returned to their homeland managed to obtain citizenship, most of them – just residence permit.
Moscow not only boasts resources from the regions like Idel-Ural, using its territory as a raw material appendage but also pursues an aggressive Russification policy towards indigenous peoples.
In the light of recent return of the Russian delegation to the PACE, given the numerous decisions and resolutions of international organisations and parliamentary assemblies, including the Fourth Conclusion on the Russian Federation, adopted by the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe (ACFC / OP / IV (2018) 001), there is a need to draw the attention of international organisations, parliamentary assemblies and national parliaments to the need to increase attention to violations of the rights of indigenous peoples of Russia and to demand that the Russian Federation stop these violations.