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TITLE:  RUSSIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                             RUSSIA


The Russian Constitution establishes democratic governance 
through three branches of power with checks and balances:  the 
Presidency and the Government, headed by the Prime Minister; a 
bicameral legislature, or Federal Assembly, consisting of the 
State Duma and Federation Council; and the courts.  The 
Constitution also lays a comprehensive groundwork for 
observance and enforcement of human rights set forth in the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The constitutional referendum of December 1993, which was 
concurrent with parliamentary elections, strengthened President 
Boris Yeltsin's position vis-a-vis the legislature.  He 
continued to proclaim his commitment to political reform and 
the transition to a modern market economy.  Nevertheless, the 
process of institutionalizing democracy and a modern market 
economy lagged due, in part, to the slow enactment of laws and 
development of regulatory institutions, widespread 
unfamiliarity with democratic and market principles, and a 
reaction against "democrats" and free market advocates because 
of social dislocation.

The Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) is responsible 
for internal security issues, including foreign intelligence 
activity in Russia, drugs, terrorism, and state corruption.  
The Federal Border Service is broadly responsible for the 
security of Russia's external borders.  The Ministry of 
Interior (MVD) is responsible for the police, prison system, 
and paramilitary forces used to maintain public order.  
Legislative oversight of these organizations is tenuous at 
best, and some MVD prison and police personnel have committed 
human rights abuses.

Russia is a vast country with a wealth of natural resources and 
a diverse industrial base.  It made significant progress in 
1994 in its ongoing transformation from a centrally planned 
economy to a market-based one.  Over 70 percent of enterprises 
are now privatized, and the majority of workers are employed 
outside the state sector or in both the private and state 
sectors.  However, by official measurement, gross domestic 
product continued to fall and unemployment to rise, and the 
Government continued to battle inflation and deficit spending.

The overall human rights record in Russia in 1994 remained 
uneven.  The concept of the rule of law has yet to be 
institutionalized and implemented.  In his desire to combat 
rapidly increasing crime, President Yeltsin signed two decrees 
in June, which contradict constitutional rights to protection 
against arbitrary arrest and illegal search, seizure, and 
detention.  The Constitutional Court, the only body having the 
authority to settle constitutional disputes, remained 
inoperative because of governmental inability to fill 
vacancies.  Courts of general jurisdiction, with several 
notable exceptions, remained timid in asserting their 
authority.  Moreover, judges generally feel uncomfortable with 
the idea of having the duty and responsibility to declare 
actions taken by the executive branch and regional authorities 
as unconstitutional.

In August Sergey Kovalev, the Human Rights Commissioner, (a 
position provided for in the Constitution), published a highly 
critical report on the human rights situation in 1993, noting 
that law enforcement officials reportedly beat and physically 
abused detainees; military officers failed to discipline those 
who engaged in "dedovshchina," the violent hazing of 
conscripts, which led to numerous deaths and injuries; and 
prison officials appeared unable to correct life-threatening 
situations in pretrial detention centers.

Claiming the need to prevent Chechnya's secession from Russia, 
Russian troops crossed into the Russian Federation's Republic 
of Chechnya on December 11.  Beginning in late December 
following major Chechen resistance, there was massive aerial 
and artillery bombardment of Chechnya's capital, Groznyy, 
resulting in a heavy loss of civilian life and hundreds of 
thousands of internally displaced persons.  These actions were 
in conflict with a number of Russia's international obligations,
including those concerning the protection of civilian 
noncombatants and notification of troop movements.  In late 
December, Human Rights Commissioner Kovalev accused Russian 
troops of violating human rights on a "massive scale" in 
Chechnya.  The international community and human rights 
nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) called upon both parties 
to respect international humanitarian law and the human rights 
of noncombatant civilians.

Although freedom of speech and press is widely respected, there 
were physical attacks on journalists by unknown persons and at 
least one killing.  Journalists reporting on the conflict in 
Chechnya were harassed and threatened.  Other human rights 
abuses include official and societal discrimination against 
people from the Caucasus, some continuing societal 
discrimination against Jews, violence against women, lack of 
attention to the welfare of children and the handicapped, and 
bureaucratic obstacles to the development of independent labor 
unions.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no known political killings by agents of the 
Government, but the line between politically motivated killings 
and criminal activities has become difficult to distinguish.

Dmitriy Kholodov, an investigative reporter for the newspaper 
Moskovskiy Komsomolets who was to testify in the State Duma on 
corruption in the Russian army in East Germany, was killed on 
October 17 when he opened a package allegedly containing 
documents on the army's illegal arms sales.  Many journalists 
charge complicity in the killing by high-level Defense Ministry 
officials (see Section 2.a.).

Law enforcement authorities have been unable to stem an upsurge 
in contract killings and extortions aimed at Russian businessmen
(especially bankers).  These criminal activities are in part a 
result of the ongoing struggle for commercial and financial 
markets in which there is deep Mafia (and sometimes Mafia and 
government) involvement.  On December 2, elements of the 
President's Security Service staged a raid on the headquarters 
of "Most" bank in central Moscow, injuring several bank 
security guards.  While results of the Government's inquiry 
into this incident were pending at year's end, businessmen 
expressed concern about the authorities' inability to provide 
protection and stability and to curb Mafia intimidation.

The violent hazing and cruel treatment of new recruits by 
soldiers [dedovshchina] continued to cause a number of deaths 
which the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, a human rights group, 
asserts have been covered up by military authorities as 
suicides or accidental deaths (see Section 1.c.).

At year's end, Russian military forces attacking the city of 
Groznyy, the capital of the breakaway Russian Republic of 
Chechnya, utilized disproportionate force and inflicted heavy 
civilian casualties.  (See Section 1.g. for a fuller 
description of violations of humanitarian law regarding 
internal conflicts.)

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Article 20 of the Constitution specifically prohibits torture 
and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or 
punishment.  A series of laws passed since 1991 establish 
internationally accepted standards for the treatment of persons 
suspected of crimes.

Practices and conditions worsened in the prison system 
(including both pretrial detention centers and prison camps) 
because of overcrowding and the failure to expand capacity, the 
Government's lack of sufficient funds for the care and feeding 
of inmates, inadequate supervision by law enforcement and 
correctional facility personnel, and the lack of individual or 
institutional accountability for violations.  The lack of 
funding has also resulted in many prison personnel not being 
paid, exacerbating prison conditions, particularly in rural 
areas.  The Government is considering transferring 
responsibility for administration of the prison system from the 
MVD to the Ministry of Justice.  The Duma has created a 
committee to investigate abuses in prisons, including those 
that occur during pretrial detention.

Overcrowding is becoming severe.  A Moscow prison built with a 
capacity for 8,500 inmates now houses well over 17,000 and is 
still considered better than most prisons in the regions.  Many 
prisons were built in the 1930's and have never been 
renovated.  According to Russian and international human rights 
groups, many are unfit for human habitation as a result of 
deterioration and lack of sanitation systems adequate for the 
number of prisoners housed.

Observers claim that some prisons have stopped feeding prisoners
for months at a time, relying on inmates' friends and relatives 
to bring in rations which are shared among all inmates.  
According to the Society for the Guardianship of Penitentiary 
Institutions, the lack of funding has also led to a crisis in 
which inmates receive medical care and medications only when 
they are suffering from a life-threatening condition.  
Prisoners with infectious diseases are sometimes not separated 
from more healthy inmates, and tuberculosis is widespread.

Conditions in Russian pretrial detention centers are 
particularly bleak.  One such facility in Moscow, Butyrskiy 
prison, was originally built in the 18th century.  MVD 
personnel have publicly warned that overcrowding and inhuman 
conditions undermine the Ministry's ability to guarantee 
security in such institutions.  In some cases, detainees lack 
even the room to sit down, must stand shoulder to shoulder, and 
sleep in two or three shifts.  Many detainees suffer from 
infectious diseases.  Many of the most severe reported cases of 
beatings occur in pretrial detention centers where officials 
resort to extreme measures to punish minor infractions of the 
rules as a means to ensure discipline and guarantee their own 
personal safety.

Detainees in pretrial detention centers face much worse 
conditions than convicted criminals in prison camps.  Moreover, 
although existing law allows authorities to hold suspects up to 
18 months in investigative detention, in practice, thousands 
are held for much longer periods.  In some cases, the time a 
detainee serves in pretrial detention is as long as the term he 
would have served in prison if found guilty.  Given these 
circumstances, some detainees choose to confess to crimes they 
did not commit in order to escape the harsh conditions of 
pretrial detention centers.

There are widespread, credible reports of beatings by law 
enforcement officials during arrest and by prison personnel 
during detention and incarceration.  Pressure on law 
enforcement officials from the central Government, local 
government, and society to deal with the rapidly increasing 
crime rate in Russia has led officials to overlook heavyhanded 
practices during arrest and incarceration.  Russian human 
rights monitors claim that law enforcement officials are 
rewarded for bringing cases to quick closure and thus routinely 
deny suspects their right to an attorney and beat and 
intimidate them during questioning to extract a quick 
confession to a crime.  Autopsies are rarely performed to 
determine the cause of prison deaths.

The Moscow Center for Prison Reform has spoken with prisoners 
who have witnessed abuse and rape of female detainees, but rape 
and abuse victims seldom register official complaints.

Police, labor camp, and prison officials harass and abuse 
persons on the basis of sexual orientation.  Gay men are 
particularly targeted for abuse in prisons and labor camps.  
The Society for the Guardianship of Penitentiary Institutions 
claims there are approximately 1,000 gay men in Moscow pretrial 
detention centers who have not been formally charged with 
crimes.  The Society also alleges that gay men are subjected to 
sexual and nonsexual physical abuse on the part of fellow 
inmates and prison officials and are routinely given low 
priority in access to services such as medical care.

While the law does not criminalize lesbian relations, it is 
widely regarded as a form of mental illness, and police 
frequently place lesbians against their will into psychiatric 
hospitals after receiving requests from family members or 
friends to commit the "patient" to an institution for 
treatment.  The Moscow Society for Lesbians, Literature, and 
Art alleges that medical textbooks in Russia still include 
materials on clinical treatments for homosexuality as a mental 
illness.  In psychiatric hospitals, chemical treatments are 
prescribed, and lesbians are sometimes beaten if they refuse 
treatment, according to the Society which claims the only way 
to be discharged is to renounce their sexual orientation.  (See 
Section 1.e. for a discussion of gay men who continue to be 
imprisoned even though the sodomy laws were repealed in 1993.)

Officers of the armed forces continue to permit, even encourage,
dedovshchina, the violent and cruel hazing of young recruits 
which, at best, involves forcing recruits to perform menial 
tasks, often outside official duties, and, at worst, leads to 
beatings, murder, and suicide.  The national military leadership
made no moves to implement training and education programs 
systematically to combat dedovshchina, nor has the concept of a 
military police force advanced much past the discussion phase.

The Committee of Soldiers' Mothers in Moscow and other human 
rights groups note with grave concern that dedovshchina--viewed 
during the Soviet era as a rite of passage--remains a key form 
of discipline for some military officers.  Widespread publicity 
and human rights groups' efforts to eliminate dedovshchina have 
been successful in individual cases and are very much dependent 
on local commanders.  Without effective leadership training and 
a viable noncommissioned officer corps, dedovshchina can be 
expected to persist.  Given current financial difficulties, 
unit officers are often too preoccupied maintaining barely 
adequate living conditions (or taking second jobs to make ends 
meet) to devote much attention to their troops.  The Committee 
claims that the military often covers up deaths due to 
dedovshchina as suicides or accidental deaths.  During the 
first half of 1994, according to a July report by Ministry of 
Defense officials to the Russian legislature, 518 deaths were 
recorded in the armed forces, including 74 officers.  Of these, 
57 percent were due to "violations of safety regulations"; 
5 percent to "barracks violence"; 8 percent to "premeditated 
murder"; and 25 percent were determined to be suicides.

In addition, the military leadership has yet to address the 
worsening problems of dangerous sanitary conditions, poor food 
rations, and the use of conscript labor for personal or private 
gain.  There is credible evidence that inhumane care and 
treatment of soldiers, including lack of suitable housing or 
shelter, poor nutrition, and unsanitary conditions have 
resulted in outbreaks of disease, notably hepatitis and 
dysentery.

Officers have subjected soldiers to inhuman and cruel 
punishment.  Acting Prosecutor General Aleksey Ilyushenko 
described to the press in September one incident in which the 
commander of the Northern Fleet cruiser "Admiral Gorshkov" 
punished violators of discipline by locking them into a metal 
pit, some for as long as 370 days.  Seven sailors, who had been 
incarcerated in a room measuring 4 square meters, were killed 
when a steam pipe burst in February.  This makeshift brig was 
not monitored, and no one else on the ship was aware of the 
accident until it was too late to rescue those confined.

There have also been allegations of forced labor in the armed 
forces inuring to the private gain of corrupt senior officers.  
Young conscripts appear to be often used as forced labor by 
senior officers on personal building and construction 
projects.  Moreover, the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers claims 
to have assisted several families whose sons were sold into 
servitude during their military service.  In one case, Mikhail 
Fedotov, a Russian soldier serving in the Russian army in 
Uzbekistan, was allegedly "sold" by a superior officer to local 
Uzbek inhabitants and forced to work from December 1992 to 
April 1993, after which he was hospitalized for psychiatric 
reasons.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Article 22 of the Constitution states that arrest, taking into 
custody, and detention of persons suspected of crimes are 
permitted only by judicial decision.  Criminal suspects must be 
arraigned before a judge within 48 hours of their arrest.  
Detainees have the right to have an attorney present during 
questioning following arrest and throughout proceedings up to 
and including arraignment.  Detainees have the right to request 
a court evaluation of the legality of detention.  If the court 
finds the detention illegal, the judge has the power to order 
immediate release.

Nevertheless, police make arrests without judicial warrants and 
detain persons without judicial permission beyond the 48-hour 
time period.  In September a member of the President's legal 
advisory board estimated that several thousand people had been 
arrested illegally over the previous 2 years, that one out of 
every three persons arrested was denied the right to legal 
services, and that 70 percent of detainees were held for terms 
three to five times longer than necessary while awaiting 
sentencing.  To strengthen the law enforcement authorities' 
ability to combat organized crime, President Yeltsin issued two 
decrees in June, giving them power to detain suspects without 
charges and without access to a lawyer for 30 days, and to 
conduct warrantless searches and seizures.  Law enforcement 
authorities are credibly reported to rely on these decrees to 
avoid abiding by relevant constitutional provisions.

The present judicial and criminal investigative systems lack 
the resources to deal with the continuously increasing number 
of cases.  According to the Society for the Guardianship of 
Penitentiary Institutions, due to the Government's inability to 
implement a functioning system of release on bail, by the end 
of 1994 authorities held a total of 250,000 people in pretrial 
detention centers.  This amounted to 25 to 30 percent of the 
total prison system's population.

The constitutional right to judicial review of detention within 
48 hours of arrest is frequently ignored.  Russian human rights 
monitors have documented evidence from interviews with 
detainees that the few who are aware of their rights and 
complain of violations are subjected to beatings.  
Nevertheless, about one in six cases of arrest is now appealed 
to the courts, and judges release one in six of these on 
grounds of insufficient evidence or breach of procedure.

The Constitution provides for legal assistance for the 
indigent, but in practice the indigent receive little 
assistance.  Local governments lack sufficient funds to pay for 
trial attorneys representing the indigent.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

In the last 3 years, the Government made substantial efforts to 
reform the criminal justice system and judicial institutions.  
Despite these efforts, judges are only now beginning to throw 
off the Soviet legacy to assert their constitutionally mandated 
independence from other branches of government.

The courts of general jurisdiction, or civil courts, are 
undifferentiated as to function and consider criminal, civil, 
and juvenile cases, although a separate court system dealing 
with commercial cases exists.  Civil courts are organized on 
three levels:  district courts, which try the overwhelming 
majority of cases; regional courts, which operate at the 
provincial level; and a Supreme Court centered in Moscow.  All 
may act as a court of first instance, depending on the nature 
and seriousness of the crime.

While the Constitution prescribes the separation of powers and 
the complete independence of the judiciary, judges in practice 
are totally dependent on the Ministry of Justice for court 
infrastructure and financial support and on local authorities 
for their housing.

Prosecutors, like the courts, are organized into offices at the 
district, regional, and federation levels.  They are ultimately 
responsible to the Prosecutor General, who is nominated by the 
President and confirmed by the Federation Council.  Aleksey 
Ilyushenko, twice nominated by the President for the position, 
was denied confirmation by Parliament in 1994 but nevertheless 
continued to serve in an acting capacity.  Apart from regions 
where adversarial jury trials have recently been introduced, 
prosecutors remain very influential in the conduct of court 
proceedings.  Prosecutors supervise criminal investigations, 
which are usually conducted by the MVD.

Criminal cases at the district and regional court levels are 
tried by a panel consisting of 1 judge and 2 lay assessors, 
or--in the 9 (out of 89) regions where by year's end 
adversarial jury trials have been introduced--defendants in 
serious criminal cases may elect to have their cases tried by a 
jury.  Trials are public except when government secrets are at 
issue.  (See Section 2.d. regarding Mirzayanov case.)  
Defendants are required to attend their trials unless they have 
been accused of a minor crime not punishable by imprisonment.  
They may confront witnesses and present evidence.  The court 
appoints an attorney for any defendant who needs one.

Although the former Supreme Soviet and the present Parliament, 
with active encouragement of the President's staff, enacted 
many legal reforms, both the Government of the Russian 
Federation and regional governments failed to fund their 
implementation adequately.  According to a Ministry of Justice 
official, only one-third of the $600,000 (1.5 billion rubles) 
promised in 1994 for judicial reforms was allocated, and 
inflation turned the rest into "a pile of kopeks."  As a 
result, the widespread reintroduction of adversarial juries is 
not taking place according to schedule because courts are not 
being renovated, judges are not receiving necessary training, 
and insufficient funds are available to pay for jurors' 
stipends.

There are also a few instances in which laws have been reformed 
or changed, but persons previously convicted continue to be 
imprisoned.  The Society for the Defense of Convicted 
Businessmen and Economic Freedoms is aware of a number of 
prisoners incarcerated for economic crimes, although the number 
in 1994 is much less than in 1993, when there were tens of 
thousands of such people.  The Criminal Codes are still in the 
process of being revised, but already such crimes as 
bribe-taking, currency speculation, and embezzlement carry 
penalties far less strict than the severe consequences, 
including the death penalty, in effect until 1991.

The Society for the Guardianship of Penitentiary Institutions, 
which compiles relatively reliable statistics, believes there 
are few, if any, persons still imprisoned for sodomy since the 
repeal of the sodomy law in 1993 and the enactment of Article 
54 of the Russian Constitution which states in part "if 
liability for an offense has been lifted or mitigated after its 
perpetration, the new law shall apply."  Nevertheless, the 
Society added that many homosexuals were imprisoned for crimes 
other than or in addition to sodomy and, therefore, were not 
released when the law was repealed (though their prison terms 
may have been reduced, as permitted under Article 54.)

In the 80 regions where juries have not yet been introduced, 
criminal procedures are still weighted heavily in favor of the 
prosecution.  For example, the constitutionally mandated 
presumption of innocence is often disregarded, and defendants 
are expected to prove their innocence rather than prosecutors 
proving guilt.  Moreover, rates of conviction remain above 99 
percent, as opposed to the 16-percent acquittal rate among 
juries.  Judges--fearing that an outright acquittal will result 
in a prosecutorial appeal--frequently send cases back to the 
prosecutor for "additional investigation."  This greatly 
increases defendants' time spent in pretrial detention.

The right to an attorney during pretrial questioning is often 
overlooked.  Many defendants refute testimony given in pretrial 
questioning, stating that they were denied access to an 
attorney, or that they were threatened or beaten and only said 
what they thought the authorities wanted to hear (up to a full 
confession) so that the abuse would stop.  Nevertheless, 
Russian human rights monitors have documented cases in which 
convictions were obtained on the basis of the original, illegal 
testimony (after the defendant refuted that testimony in 
court), and even in the absence of other proof of guilt.

Criminal defendants, and prosecutors in nonjury trials, have 
the right of appeal.  In practice, however, superior courts 
lack the authority to overturn decisions of a lower court and 
may only mandate that the case be retried.  The lower court can 
retry the case on the same evidence, reach the same decision, 
and--since there is no legal limit to the number of 
appeals--the dissatisfied party can appeal again.  The system, 
however, is heavily weighted against appeals because (1) the 
prosecution and the courts have a vested interest in clearing 
the backlog of cases, and (2) defendants prefer prisons, where 
better conditions prevail, over pretrial detention centers.  
(See Section 1.c. for a description of conditions in prisons 
and pretrial detention centers.)

In a notable assertion of judicial authority, in what is 
believed to be the first time in Russian history, a Russian 
court awarded an individual compensation for an arbitrary act 
committed against him by the State.  In March charges of 
revealing state secrets were dismissed against Vil Mirzayanov 
who had passed information to the Western press concerning 
Russian violations of international chemical weapons 
conventions.  In June a court heard Mirzayanov's suit for 
damages against the Russian Government and ordered the 
prosecutor's office and Mirzayanov's former employer to pay him 
about $15,000 (30 million rubles) in damages because of 
malicious prosecution.

This victory was short-lived, however, as a Moscow city court 
in July overturned the decision to award damages.  After more 
legal maneuvering between the two courts with jurisdiction over 
the case, the Moscow Chief Prosecutor, according to Mirzayanov, 
refused to hear the case again on appeal, citing, inter alia, 
technicalities such as the lack of a readily identifiable 
defendant in the case.  In October the research institute which 
formerly employed Mirzayanov sued him for 33 million rubles 
(about $11,000 at the October rate of exchange) in damages, 
accusing him again of fabricating information.  Mirzayanov 
expects the court to try the case in January 1995.  (See 
Section 2.d. regarding Mirzayanov's desire to travel abroad.)

The case concerning Semyon Livshits demonstrates continuing 
problems.  Livshits, a naval officer, was arrested on April 23, 
1990, after applying for an exit visa for Israel.  Initially, 
he was accused of conspiring with Mossad, the Israeli 
intelligence service, to turn the submarine on which he was 
serving over to the Israeli Government.  These charges were 
later dropped.  He was also accused of group rape and robbery, 
for which he was tried, convicted, and given a 10-year sentence 
by a Vladivostok military court.  In October 1992, the Supreme 
Court struck the sentence, finding insufficient evidence and 
violations of judicial procedure.  From March 1993 to April 
1994, Livshits was retried by a Vladivostok court, which again 
found him guilty and resentenced him to 10 years in prison.  
Livshits plans to reappeal his case to the Military Collegium 
of the Supreme Court.  By year's end, defense attorneys had 
presented all required documents for the appeal to the court in 
Vladivostok, which in turn was preparing the final documents to 
be sent to Moscow.

The Constitution provides for a Constitutional Court, and 
Parliament adopted a law establishing one.  But by year's end, 
the Federation Council failed to confirm all the President's 
nominees, leaving one vacancy on a consequently inoperative 
Court.

There were no known political prisoners.  In exercise of its 
constitutional prerogative, the State Duma declared an amnesty 
for all those detained by law enforcement authorities in the 
aftermath of the October 1993 crisis, including Ruslan 
Khasbulatov, Chairman of the former Supreme Soviet, and 
Alexander Rutskoy, former Vice President.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

Article 25 of the Constitution states that the right to privacy 
in the home may be violated only on the basis of a court 
decision or in accordance with federal laws.  In practice, law 
enforcement organs and internal security forces fail to do this 
and continue to observe the Soviet-era requirement of informing 
the prosecutor's office of intent to enter private premises.

Article 23 of the Constitution provides for privacy of 
correspondence and electronic communications, except in cases 
in which a judge issues a warrant.  Many Russians believe 
electronic monitoring of residences and telephone conversations 
continues, even if at reduced levels in comparison to the 
Soviet era.

Refugee organizations claim that law enforcement officials 
routinely use informer networks to track the whereabouts of 
persons from the Caucasus, whether resident in Russia legally 
or illegally.  General societal discrimination against people 
from the Caucasus area and reports of harassment against these 
people by law enforcement officials lend credence to such 
assertions.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

The Russian Federation's Republic of Chechnya in the northern 
Caucasus declared itself independent from the Russian 
Federation in 1991.  In the summer, the Russian Government 
intensified its charges against the government of secessionist 
President Dzhokar Dudayev, accusing it of repressing political 
dissent, of corruption, and of involvement in international 
criminal activities.  Meanwhile, several armed opposition 
groups financially and militarily supported by Russian 
government entities sought to overthrow President Dudayev.  In 
August they bombed a telephone station and the Moscow-Baku 
railroad line.  The Dudayev government blamed the acts on the 
political opposition and introduced a state of emergency, 
followed in September by martial law.  Restrictions included a 
curfew, limits on exit and entry procedures, and restrictions 
on travel by road in some areas.  The opposition launched a 
major offensive on November 26 with the covert support of 
"volunteers" from several elite regular Russian army units.  
The operation failed to unseat Dudayev.

By December, Russian military forces were actively working to 
overthrow the Dudayev regime.  Russian military aircraft bombed 
both military and civilian targets in Groznyy, the capital of 
the republic.  Russian military officials initially denied any 
official involvement in the conflict.  Regular army and MVD 
troops crossed the border into Chechnya on December 10 to 
surround Groznyy.  Air strikes continued through the month of 
December and into January, causing extensive damage and heavy 
civilian casualties.  Beyond the large number of civilians 
injured and killed, most residential and public buildings in 
Groznyy, including hospitals and an orphanage, were destroyed.  
These actions were denounced as major human rights violations 
by Sergey Kovalev, President Yeltsin's Human Rights 
Commissioner, and by human rights NGO's.  The United Nations 
High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jose Ayala Lasso, 
reiterated his profound preoccupation at the reports of 
violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Chechnya, 
characterized by a large number of civilian victims.  The 
Russian Government announced on December 28 that Russian ground 
forces had begun an operation to "liberate" Groznyy one 
district at a time and disarm the "illegal armed groupings."  
Dudayev supporters vowed to continue resisting and to switch to 
guerrilla warfare.  (See Section 2.a. for a description of the 
harassment of journalists reporting on the conflict in 
Chechnya.)

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

During 1994 freedom of speech and press was generally 
respected.  The print media, most of which are independent of 
the Russian Federation Government and many of which are 
privately owned, functioned largely unhindered and represented 
a wide range of opinions.

The Russian Government has placed intermittent restrictions on 
Russian and foreign press covering the war in Chechnya, 
claiming the need to protect military secrets and to ensure 
journalists' safety.  Duma deputy and Human Rights Ombudsman 
Kovalev, who was in Groznyy for most of the war, reported that 
the Russian Government has "continually hindered the activity 
of correspondents in the war zone... and force has been used to 
interfere with reporters (including) instances of mistreatment, 
death threats, and confiscation of material."  He also alluded 
to government pressure on the Moscow press, including threats 
to dismiss state television chief Oleg Poptsov for airing news 
broadcasts critical of the Chechnya operation.

The press law requires that mass media publications be licensed 
by the State Committee for the Press.  Its former chairman, 
Boris Mironov, who favored tight regulation of the media, was 
dismissed by the President in September for allegedly asserting 
he was a Fascist.  His successor, Sergey Gryzunov, announced in 
December the closure of the newspaper Al-Kods (an anti-Zionist 
Palestinian publication generally critical of Palestine 
Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat) because of 
noncompliance with a provision of the press law barring 
non-Russian citizens from founding newspapers.  Gryzunov also 
stated he would issue official warnings and begin legal 
proceedings against about 100 newspapers he considered to be 
Fascist or inciteful of ethnic and racial enmity.

Regional political authorities resorted to various devices to 
close down critical newspapers.  The Glasnost Defense Fund, 
which monitors press freedom throughout the former Soviet 
Union, recorded dozens of such incidents.  Perhaps the best 
known case occurred in early 1994 when Governor Nazdratenko of 
Primorskiy Kray (Vladivostok) fired the mayor of Vladivostok 
and closed down two newspapers which had criticized the 
governor's actions.  A radio reporter was also fired and then 
beaten by unknown attackers in September after criticizing the 
administration.

Regional political authorities also cited unpaid printing bills 
or other debts as a pretext for closing newspapers that were 
too critical.  Many media organizations are liable to pressure 
by such authorities because they occupy city-owned premises or 
receive subsidies.  In towns dominated by a single industrial 
enterprise, the leaders of that enterprise have sufficient 
power to suppress investigative reporting and discussion of 
embarrassing topics, such as environmental pollution or 
privatization schemes benefiting management.

Organized crime is increasingly able to exert pressure on the 
media either because of the dire financial straits in which 
most newspapers find themselves or because of the corruptibility
of underpaid journalists willing to write articles favorable to 
particular companies, products, or individuals.  In addition, 
opponents of the Government and journalists have alleged 
involvement by military officials in the murder of an 
investigative reporter.  On October 13, one of Moskovskiy 
Komsomolets' journalists, Dmitriy Kholodov, was notified by 
telephone by one of his contacts that a package of very 
important documents on illegal arms sales by the Russian army 
was waiting to be picked up at the Kazanskiy train station.  He 
retrieved the package and, when he opened it in the newspaper 
building, it exploded, killing him.  Known for investigative 
pieces on corruption in the military and intelligence agencies, 
he was scheduled to testify in the State Duma on alleged 
corruption in the Western Group of Forces, formerly stationed 
in East Germany.  Since Kholodov's death, some journalists 
covering corruption in the military claim to have received 
anonymous threatening telephone calls.

In September a well-known television journalist and two 
executives of St. Petersburg's Channel 5 television network 
were beaten and robbed in a 1-week period.  The attacks are 
widely considered to have had political motives, although the 
attackers remain unknown.

Broadcasters have a weaker legal basis for freedom in broadcast 
programming and are potentially subject to much greater 
government control due to the Government's monopoly of 
transmission facilities and the expense involved in 
establishing and maintaining independent stations.  However, 
stations such as NTV, a privately financed Moscow television 
station, TV6, and other smaller private stations are beginning 
to provide competition to state broadcasting in Moscow and 
other large urban centers.

Television studios at the regional level, formerly part of the 
central broadcasting system during the Soviet era, now operate 
more or less independently.  They function as affiliates, 
opting to use programs from state-owned sources and producing 
local news programming independently.  Local authorities 
sometimes subject these affiliates to pressure.  All 
broadcasters and cable networks, both public and private, use 
foreign broadcast material.

In connection with the Russian military action in Chechnya in 
December, both Russian and foreign journalists reported 
efforts, including harassment and threats of force, by Russian 
officials and military personnel to prevent journalists from 
entering certain areas or to influence their reporting.  
Although formal censorship procedures were not established, nor 
was access to areas of conflict categorically forbidden, the 
Russian Government did not repudiate such efforts by individual 
elements within the military and the Interior Ministry to 
control or suppress media coverage of events in Chechnya.

The breadth of academic freedom in Russia continues to expand.  
Virtually all institutions of higher learning, from universities
to research institutes, enjoy increased autonomy.  While many 
university rectors and department heads are still appointed by 
the Ministry of Education, a growing number of senior university
administrators are now selected by secret ballot in free and 
open elections.  Curriculums and textbooks are continuously 
being revised and updated, and many institutions have developed 
relations with Western counterparts.  The entrenched academic 
nomenklatura (privileged bureaucracy) nonetheless continues to 
exert influence through its control of some resources and 
privileges.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association, and the Government generally respects these 
freedoms.

Organizers of demonstrations must apply for permission to local 
authorities between 15 and 10 days in advance, and officials 
must respond at least 5 days before the scheduled event.  
Participants in unauthorized demonstrations are subject to 
civil and criminal penalties, including fines, 15-day jail 
sentences, and stiffer punishment.  In December Moscow police 
briefly detained members of the human rights organization 
Memorial for holding an unauthorized protest in front of the 
Presidential Administration building against the bloodshed in 
Chechnya.  The authorities routinely issued permits for 
demonstrations throughout Russia in October to mark the first 
anniversary of the violent confrontation between forces loyal 
to President Yeltsin and members of the former Supreme Soviet 
(legislature).  In 1994 there were many public demonstrations, 
few of which were marred by violence.

All public associations must register their bylaws and the 
names of their officers with the Ministry of Justice.  
Political parties must also present 5,000 signatures and pay a 
fee to register.  There are now over 300 social and political 
organizations, and the authorities are not known to have 
refused arbitrarily to register any organization.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the 
Government respects this freedom.

The Russian Orthodox Church continues to gain influence 
throughout society, including within the Government.  The head 
of the Church, Patriarch Aleksiy II, has asserted the Church's 
belief in complete religious freedom but has been reluctant to 
condemn openly anti-Semitic pronouncements by Metropolitan 
Ioann of St. Petersburg.

Bureaucratic obstacles to complete religious freedom still 
exist because the 1990 Soviet law on religion requires 
religious groups of 10 or more persons to register with local 
authorities.  Some groups view the requirement itself as 
contradicting their beliefs and refuse to register.  Failure to 
register precludes organizations from the right to establish 
schools, own property, or engage in social work.  The 
registration process is open to bureaucratic obstructionism, 
such as lost or delayed applications or denial of adequate 
facilities.  In Vladivostok, city authorities tried to block 
the registration of a Roman Catholic parish, reportedly after 
pressure from local Orthodox clergy.

In Krasnodar, after the son of a Pentecostal minister was 
murdered, the local authorities claimed a church member killed 
him and shut the church down.  There were credible reports that 
Russian Orthodox believers prevented Pentecostals and other 
evangelical groups from meeting.  (See Section 5 for a 
discussion of religious discrimination.)

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Citizens are generally free to travel within Russia.  All 
adults are issued internal passports which they must carry 
while traveling and use to register with local authorities 
visits of more than 3 days.  Travelers not staying in hotels 
usually ignore this requirement.

The right to choose one's place of residence freely, although 
provided in Article 27 of the Constitution, is still restricted 
in practice.  Under the "propiska" system, all citizens must 
obtain a residence permit.  A law passed in July 1993 attempted 
to change the character of the system from one in which the 
authorities grant permission for a citizen to reside in a given 
location to one in which the citizen simply registers to inform 
the authorities of his place of residence.  The law came into 
force on October 1, 1993, but has not been implemented.  The 
authorities of larger cities enforce the existing propiska 
system selectively, often targeting those who are not Russian, 
primarily persons from the Caucasus and Central Asia.  In a few 
cases, individuals have appealed propiska refusals in court and 
won, but such instances are rare.  Human rights monitors cite 
these cases as the absurd lengths to which citizens must go to 
enforce observance of basic constitutional rights.

Some officials have called for abolition of the propiska system,
stating that it is unconstitutional.  However, officials in 
major cities, especially Moscow, staunchly defend the system, 
predicting widespread crime and homelessness if it were abolished.  Citing this as justification, Moscow city 
authorities on July 1 imposed a system under which nonresidents 
must pay a daily fee to visit the capital.  Furthermore, 
Russian citizens from within the Russian Federation who wish to 
change their residence to Moscow must pay a fee equal to 500 
times the monthly minimum wage to purchase a permit, while 
persons from the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent 
States must pay 1,000 times the monthly minimum wage and those 
from all other countries must pay 1,500 times the monthly 
minimum wage.  The authorities also enforce this system 
selectively, especially harassing persons from the Caucasus and 
Central Asia.

Russian citizens also have the constitutional right to 
emigrate.  Under the May 1991 Soviet law on emigration and 
foreign travel, which officially came into force on January 1, 
1993, exit permits and formal invitations from abroad are no 
longer required of travelers who are not emigrating.  Emigrants 
need only show an invitation from any relative abroad or 
permission to enter the country to which they are immigrating.  
The law, however, continues to restrict the emigration of 
persons with access to state secrets.  Special travel 
regulations apply to some Russian scientists wishing to travel 
abroad temporarily.

An interagency government commission reviews individual 
passport applications denied on secrecy grounds.  Persons have 
the right to present their case and to call expert witnesses to 
challenge the continued secrecy of the information in 
question.  Since the commission began reviewing cases in June 
1993, the overwhelming majority of passport denials on grounds 
of secrecy have been overturned.  The most famous case of a 
refusal of a passport for foreign travel, that of Vil 
Mirzayanov, a Russian scientist incarcerated several times for 
revealing to a U.S. journalist that Russia continued to violate 
international agreements on chemical weapons production, was 
overturned by the commission on August 31.

The 1991 law also retains the requirement that those intending 
to emigrate obtain permission from close relatives in Russia to 
leave the country.  If unable to obtain this permission, the 
intending emigrant may pursue a resolution of the problem in 
the courts.  In 1994 Russian courts for the first time began to 
accept such cases for review.  At least two such cases were 
resolved in favor of the intending emigrant.

Before the events of December in Chechnya, estimates of the 
number of refugees and forced migrants in Russia differed 
widely, with some stating a total of 3.5 million.  Forced 
migrants or resettlers are generally persons with Russian 
citizenship who lived permanently in other states of the former 
Soviet Union and fled due to economic hardship or 
discriminatory laws.  There are three categories of refugees in 
Russia:  (1) ethnic Russians fleeing conflict areas, such as 
Tajikistan, who are considered refugees by the Russian 
Government and in some cases under the internationally accepted 
definition of refugee; (2) nonethnic Russians, such as 
Armenians and Azerbaijanis of mixed marriages, who would face 
persecution in either Armenia or Azerbaijan and who might be 
eligible for refugee status; (3) third-country refugees, mainly 
Somalis, Afghans, Iraqis, and Kurds, who could not safely 
return home.  The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 
there to be about 50,000 people in this third category.

Many forced migrants resettled to rural areas complain that 
housing is inadequate, job opportunities are scarce, and they 
are unprepared to work in agriculture.  Many areas have refused 
to accept refugees resettled by the Federal Migration Service 
(FMS).  Human rights monitors allege that the FMS also places 
unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles in the way of processing 
applications of persons from the states of the former Soviet 
Union and sometimes expels newly arrived refugees, who may have 
valid claims to refugee status, across Russia's southern 
borders.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Pursuant to the Constitution, the Russian people have the right 
to change their government at both the federation and regional 
levels, although this right under the provisions of the 1993 
Constitution has not yet been tested in practice.  In December 
1993, concurrent with voting on the constitutional referendum, 
voters elected representatives to the Federal Assembly in 
national parliamentary elections.  This body consists of a 
450-seat lower house, the State Duma, and an upper house, or 
Federation Council, comprising two representatives from each of 
the federation's 89 constituent regions.  (The breakaway 
Republic of Chechnya refused to participate in the elections.)  
The next parliamentary and presidential elections at the 
federation level are scheduled to take place in late 1995 and 
1996, respectively, although many prominent politicians have 
called for their postponement.

President Yeltsin was democratically elected to an exceptional 
5-year term in 1991.  After he prorogued the Supreme Soviet in 
October 1993, he emerged in a stronger position politically 
vis-a-vis the legislature.  In order to avoid legislative 
delays in the Federal Assembly and to overcome political 
opposition in Parliament to bills proposed by the Government, 
the President makes heavy use of his constitutional power to 
issue decrees.  Although presidential decrees may not 
contradict the Constitution or the Federal Assembly's statutes, 
the constitutionality of many decrees is openly questioned in 
the Government and the press.  With the Constitutional Court 
not yet in operation, there is no entity which may definitively 
determine the constitutionality (and hence the validity) of 
either presidential decrees or legislation of the Federal 
Assembly.

In contrast to national political institutions, most executive 
branch leaders at the regional level have yet to be elected by 
voters.  For example, almost all sitting regional governors 
were appointed by the President and have not yet stood for 
popular election, although, by contrast, almost all heads of 
ethnically based republics within the Russian Federation have 
been properly elected.  Most regional legislatures, disbanded 
by presidential decree in 1993, had been reactivated by year's 
end.

The Constitution provides for equal rights and freedoms for men 
and women, but women do not occupy many leading positions in 
politics and government.  However, the Women of Russia bloc 
received around 8 percent of the seats in the State Duma 
through proportional balloting.  Women hold 8 of the 170 seats 
in the Federation Council and 59 of 450 seats in the State 
Duma.  Although members of Russia's ethnic and religious 
minorities face no legal limitations on political 
participation, some ethnic and religious minorities face 
societal discrimination that makes it difficult for their 
members to be elected.  Most major ethnic and religious groups, 
however, do have some representation in Parliament.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Numerous local human rights groups were active during the year, 
including the Moscow Helsinki Group, Memorial, the Center for 
Human Rights Research, and the Union of Councils.  They 
investigated and publicly commented on human rights issues, 
generally without government interference or restriction.  
There was one reported incident in which a human rights group 
was denied access to several prisons for the purpose of 
conducting inspections, although other groups gained access and 
reported extensively on prison conditions.

It is perhaps too early to assess the impact of events in 
Chechnya on the effectiveness of human rights organizations in 
Russia.  On one hand, several organizations (for example, the 
Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, Memorial, Glasnost Defense 
Fund) have gotten considerable exposure and recognition both at 
home and abroad for their stand against the incursion.  On the 
other hand, one official government response to reports of 
human rights abuses in the theater of conflict criticized 
"biased" political figures and human rights organizations who 
fail to see that the situation in Chechnya "has made human 
tragedies and losses actually inevitable."

President Yeltsin late in 1993 established a special Commission 
on Human Rights headed by Sergey Kovalev, a former dissident 
and political prisoner widely respected in human rights 
circles.  By the end of June 1994, the Commission had drafted 
an unprecedented, highly critical report on human rights 
practices in Russia in 1993 which was leaked to the press and 
then published in full by an official government newspaper.

While openly critical of his style and many of his policies, 
human rights monitors gave the President high marks for 
creating Kovalev's Commission.  However, the Government's 
dialog with human rights organizations broke down as a result 
of the Russian military operation in the Chechen republic.  
Activists, including Commissioner Kovalev, charged the 
Government with indiscriminate use of force, disseminating 
disinformation, and attempting to muzzle critical reporting in 
the mass media.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

Article 19 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination based 
on race, sex, religion, language, social status, or other 
circumstances.  Both official and societal discrimination still 
exist.

     Women

Although women are entitled to the same legal rights as men, in 
practice they are subject to considerable discrimination, both 
official and unofficial.  Women are often paid less than men 
for equal work and frequently are the first to be laid off as 
enterprises reduce staff because of a societal bias in favor of 
male employment as the primary income for the family.  While 
methodologically reliable statistics are difficult to compile, 
the Center for Gender Studies in Moscow has stated that in 1991 
women earned on average 75 percent as much as men, while in 
1994 that figure had dropped to 40 percent, and unemployment 
was three times higher among women than among men.  Men still 
disproportionately occupy positions of influence and prestige 
in both the Government and the economy.

Although the Government maintains no statistics, there is 
considerable anecdotal evidence that violence against women, 
including rape and spousal abuse, is both substantial and 
growing.  Russian human rights monitors allege that police 
often do not take an interest in cases of violence against 
women, particularly cases of domestic violence.  Incidents 
often go unreported because of the belief that the authorities 
will do little about the matter and because of the victim's own 
shame.  In the case of spousal abuse, there are no specific 
legal provisions against wife beating, and legal recourse such 
as bringing charges of assault is unlikely to be successful and 
seldom exercised.

Anecdotal evidence also indicates that rape and sexual 
exploitation and harassment in the workplace have grown 
substantially.  According to the Sexual Assault Recovery 
Center, thousands of unrecorded and uninvestigated rapes take 
place.  Police reportedly are reluctant to deal with rape 
complaints because investigating them is time-consuming, often 
unsuccessful, and increases the unsolved crime statistics.  To 
prove rape, the victim must have a mass of evidence including 
material evidence of resistance and medical records.  Many 
doctors are also reportedly uncooperative, fearing 
time-consuming mandatory court appearances.

Statistics on crime rates do not disaggregate cases of 
trafficking in women, and reliable estimates on the extent of 
the problem are not available.  There were few instances of 
persons being prosecuted for such activity in 1994.

The "Women of Russia" electoral bloc focused its campaign on 
the need for guaranteed health care, education, and social 
welfare.

     Children

The Constitution assigns the Government some responsibility for 
safeguarding the rights of children.  However, the Government's 
efforts to develop an effective social safety net are severely 
hampered by its failure to allocate sufficient resources.  In 
particular, living conditions in orphanages are deteriorating, 
and adoptions by Russian families are declining.  Statistics 
from human rights organizations state that about 20 percent of 
Russian orphans commit crimes and are sent to prisons as 
minors, and 10 percent commit suicide.  There are indications 
that orphans and other disadvantaged children are becoming 
instruments of organized criminal organizations.

     Indigenous People

The State Committee for the Development of the North, based in 
Moscow, is tasked with representing and advocating the 
interests of indigenous peoples.  With only a tiny staff, its 
influence is limited.  Local committees have been formed in 
some areas to study and make recommendations regarding the 
preservation of the culture of indigenous people.  Indigenous 
leaders criticize these committees as lacking political 
influence.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Discrimination against people from the Caucasus and Central 
Asia increased in the middle of 1994 concurrently with new 
measures at both the federal and local levels to combat crime.  
With wide public support, law enforcement authorities targeted 
dark-complexioned people for harassment, arrest, and 
deportation from urban centers.  According to Russian human 
rights monitors, some were dragged from automobiles in traffic, 
harassed, extorted, and beaten in broad daylight on the 
streets.

Human rights groups in Moscow criticized the discriminatory 
procedures under which thousands of persons were forced to 
leave the capital after the June crime decrees.  However, the 
crackdown was generally applauded by Muscovites, who blame much 
of the crime in the city on people from the Caucasus and 
Central Asia.  Vendors and merchants in Moscow's many markets, 
and in city markets throughout Russia, were also targets of 
discrimination.  Concentrating on persons who by appearance 
seemed to be from the Caucasus or Central Asia, Moscow police 
forced many to halt their business, confiscated their wares, 
and subjected them to physical abuse.

     Religious Minorities

Muslims comprise about 10 percent of the Russian population, 
and there were no reports of official discrimination against 
them.  The Russian Government last year facilitated travel on 
the hajj to Saudi Arabia.  Between 4,000 and 6,000 Russian 
Muslims made the pilgrimage.  There have been tensions between 
Muslims and Christians in some areas, particularly Chechnya.

The Government of Russia does not condone anti-Semitism.  
During the January 1994 Moscow Summit, President Yeltsin joined 
President Clinton in a statement promoting human rights 
observance that included specific condemnation of religious 
intolerance and prejudice, including anti-Semitism.

Jewish leaders have increased efforts to revive the Russian 
Jewish community and have received assistance from both local 
and federal authorities in obtaining buildings to reopen 
synagogues and Jewish schools.  The Russian "black book" on the 
Holocaust, which was sponsored by Stalin and then suppressed, 
was published with help from U.S. nongovernmental organizations 
and released in September.

Nevertheless, anti-Semitism continues to exist and is 
manifested in acts of vandalism and verbal assaults on persons 
who appear to be Jewish.  On December 30, 1993, fire destroyed 
one of Moscow's three synagogues.  The Jewish community 
believes, and authorities suspect, that arson was the cause of 
the blaze.  The results of the investigation by year's end were 
still inconclusive.  In October a crude explosive or incendiary 
device was found in the Moscow Choral Synagogue during an 
evening choir rehearsal.  Authorities removed the device, which 
caused no injuries or damage.

Popular expression of anti-Semitism is particularly evident in 
politics.  Street protestors opposed to President Yeltsin often 
refer to him pejoratively as a Jew, and antigovernment graffiti 
often contains anti-Semitic imagery.  Subtle suggestions of 
Jewish heritage manifested through mispronunciation of 
politicians' names or ways they are printed in the press are 
used as a means to discredit them.  The number of extreme 
nationalist and outright Fascist publications which openly 
promote anti-Semitic views and sold publicly is increasing.  
The governmental agency responsible for regulating the print 
media, the Russian Committee for the Press, in December 
announced its intention to take legal action to stop the 
publication of some 100 periodicals it considered Fascist.  
(See Section 2.a. for a fuller description.)

Certain political and religious circles, led by Metropolitan 
Ioann, the Russian Orthodox bishop of St. Petersburg, 
disseminate strong anti-Semitic views.  Patriarch Aleksiy II, 
the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, censured 
Metropolitan Ioann for his anti-Semitic statements.  
Nonetheless, Ioann's followers continue to express such views.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Both the 1993 Constitution and the Labor Code provide for the 
right of workers to form or join trade unions.  However, the 
full exercise of this right is limited in practice.  Labor 
unions are required to register with local authorities, which 
in the past have used this requirement to discourage or block 
the formation of new unions.  However, independent trade unions 
have become more effective in countering obstruction by local 
authorities.

Until October 1993, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions 
of Russia (FNPR), the successor to the Soviet-era All-Union 
Central Council of Trade Unions, was the principal obstacle to 
the exercise by workers of their right to leave the FNPR and 
join new independent unions.  It controlled the social 
insurance fund which provides worker benefits, such as 
disability and maternity payments, sick leave, and vacations.  
Hence, many workers were reluctant to leave the FNPR and openly 
join an independent union.

As of October 1993, the Labor Ministry began officially 
administering the fund, but FNPR employees continue to manage 
the day-to-day operations of local offices.  As a result, 
discrimination and the threat of discrimination continue.  A 
leading independent labor union allows workers to join without 
compelling them to resign from the FNPR.

About 70 percent of Russia's 75 million workers are now members 
of labor unions.  The FNPR, which had claimed a membership of 
65 million, now admits that its membership has dropped to about 
50 million workers.  Independent unions account for 
approximately another 3 million workers.

Labor unions are independent of the Government and political 
parties.  The FNPR was officially allied with the Civic Union, 
but that relationship disintegrated in late 1993 because of the 
FNPR's decision to support the opposition to President Yeltsin 
during October 1993 and the Civic Union's poor showing in the 
December 1993 elections.

Although the Russian Federation Labor Code provides that 
workers have the right to strike, it also contains numerous 
restrictions that severely limit the exercise of that right.  
The Labor Code prohibits strikes for political reasons, strikes 
that pose a threat to people's lives or health, and strikes 
that might have "severe consequences," interpreted so as to 
include the defense industry, communications, civil aviation, 
and railroads.  The Labor Code requires a multistage process of 
notification and negotiation before a strike is permitted.  
Despite these restrictions, strikes are numerous in Russia.  
According to the Labor Ministry, there were nearly 400 strikes 
in the first 9 months of 1994, compared to 264 strikes in all 
of 1993.  Several strikes were declared illegal, including a 
nationwide strike of airline pilots.

The Government makes little effort to protect trade union 
leaders and strikers from management retribution.  In numerous 
instances in 1994, enterprise managers fired workers for their 
union activities.  For example, during a strike at the Avtovaz 
Automobile Factory, management first tried a lockout and then 
unilaterally declared the strike illegal, bringing in police to 
end the strike.  Forty workers involved in the strike were 
fired for violations of "worker discipline."  The independent 
labor union that organized the strike is appealing to senior 
government officials and is contemplating court action to 
reinstate the fired workers.

Independent labor unions continued to seek redress for labor 
law violations from the Russian courts, with increasing rates 
of success.  They have established two labor law centers to 
help unions and their members enforce their rights in the 
courts.

Unions are permitted to form or join federations or 
confederations and may participate in international bodies.

(###)     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Collective bargaining is protected by law but is not practiced 
widely.  The managements of many enterprises refuse to 
negotiate collective bargaining agreements, and many of those 
that are concluded are not the product of genuine collective 
bargaining because of the close subordinate relationship of the 
FNPR to enterprise management and because of management 
personnel's membership in the FNPR.  Independent unions, 
however, have been aggressive in demanding genuine collective 
bargaining, and one of them boasts of concluding 2,000 
collective bargaining agreements.

In several sectors of the economy, labor unions, management, 
and government representatives in a tripartite commission 
negotiate industrywide wages, benefits, and general conditions 
of work.  This arrangement reinforces the workers' tendency to 
rely on the Government to establish wages and other workplace 
conditions.

The Labor Code does not explicitly prohibit antiunion 
discrimination by employers although it is implied in several 
sections.  Discrimination against one union in preference for 
another continues to occur throughout Russian industry.  Under 
current law, there is no mechanism for resolving labor 
disputes.

Russia has several foreign enterprise zones.  There is no 
evidence that worker rights are more restricted in these zones 
than elsewhere in the country.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Labor Code prohibits forced or compulsory labor.  The 
Committee of Soldiers' Mothers alleges that some military 
conscripts were sold into servitude during their military 
service (see Section l.c.).  Government enforcement is 
ineffective.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Labor Code does not permit the regular employment of 
children under the age of 16.  In certain cases, children aged 
14 and 15 may work in intern or apprenticeship programs.  The 
Labor Code regulates the working conditions of children under 
the age of 18, including prohibiting dangerous work and 
nighttime and overtime work.  However, there is anecdotal 
evidence to suggest that the working conditions of children 
under 18 violate Labor Code standards.  The responsibility for 
the protection of children at work is shared by the Labor 
Ministry and the Ministry for Social Protection, but government 
enforcement is largely ineffective.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Federal Assembly sets the minimum wage, which applies to 
all workers.  The current monthly minimum wage, set in July, 
was 20,500 rubles (or about $6 at the December rate of 
exchange) and was insufficient to provide a decent living for a 
worker and family.  However, very few workers actually receive 
the minimum wage.  Its primary purpose is to serve as a 
baseline for computing benefits, pensions, and some wage scales 
(primarily in civil service positions).

The Labor Code provides for a standard workweek of 40 hours, 
which includes at least one 24-hour rest period.  The law 
requires premium pay for overtime work or work on holidays.

Russian law establishes minimum conditions of workplace safety 
and worker health, but these standards are widely ignored, and 
government enforcement of safety and health regulations is 
inadequate.  Industrial deaths and accidents continue to rise 
dramatically.  The Labor Ministry reported that each day 30 
workers die as a result of workplace accidents, while another 
50 are injured.



[end of document]

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