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Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Anti-Discrimination Legislation Constitution of Russian Federation

The Russian Federation has a fairly well-developed anti-extremism legislation; however, its anti-discrimination laws are only just starting to take shape. Preamble to the Constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees equality for all peoples of Russia.

Article 13(5) of the Constitution prohibits the “establishment and activity of public associations whose goals or actions are aimed at forcible change of the constitutional order and violation of the integrity of the Russian Federation, undermining the security of the state, establishment of armed groups, incitement of social, racial, national and religious hatred.”

Article 19(2) of the Basic Law establishes, “the State shall guarantee the equality of human and civil rights and freedoms, regardless of sex, race, nationality, language, origin, financial or official status, place of residence, attitude to religion, beliefs, membership of public associations and other circumstances. Any restriction of civil rights on social, racial, national, language or religious grounds is prohibited.”

Article 28 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, religion, including the right to profess religion individually or jointly with others, or not profess religion at all. It also guarantees “freedom to choose, have and spread religious and other beliefs and act in their accordance.”

Article 148 of the Russian Criminal Code provides for criminal responsibility for violating the right to freedom of conscience and religion, and Art. 282 – for inciting hatred and humiliating human dignity on the grounds of sex, race, nationality, language, origin, attitude to religion or social status. In 2007, xenophobic crime was added as a separate definition in a number of Articles of the Criminal Code on violent crimes.

In 1996, Russia adopted the Law “On National-Cultural Autonomy”, which “Defines the legal basis of the national-cultural autonomy within the Russian Federation, establishes the legal basis of interaction between state and society to protect the national interests of the citizens of the Russian Federation in their selection process of the ways and forms of their national and cultural development”.

In 2002, Russia adopted the Law “On countering extremist activities”, aimed, among other things, against the incitement of racial, national or religious enmity.

In 2012, Article 22.1 of the Federal Law “On State Registration of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs” and Articles 331 and 351.1 of the Labour Code were amended. These changes prohibited persons convicted or criminally prosecuted for extremist crimes from working with children (in education, training, development of minors, health and leisure, health care, sports, culture and arts, social protection and social services), as well as their registration as individual entrepreneurs in the above-indicated fields.

On May 7, 2012, Vladimir Putin signed a Decree “On Ensuring Inter-Ethnic Harmony”, which instructed to form a Council for Interethnic Relations, and develop the State National Policy Strategy (the Strategy was approved in December 2012), as well as develop a set of measures for developing the bodies of state power engaged in prevention and management of inter-ethnic conflicts, and monitoring of inter-ethnic relations.

State Duma introduced amendments and updates to the Code of Administrative Offences and the Federal Law on Countering Extremist Activities. According to these changes, the use of Nazi or similar attributes and symbols is only permitted for the purposes of research, encyclopaedic articles and audio-visual or printed materials that do not contain propaganda and (or) justification of Nazism and fascism. Signs and images similar to the officially registered extremist organisations also fell under the ban.

Offenders are punished with up to 15 days of arrest. Responsibility for public demonstration of prohibited symbols is also given to those in charge of public places. Business owners and officials are punished by a fine of up to 50 thousand rubles.

In 2013, the legislative activity was mostly related to the harmonisation of interethnic relations, as well as prevention of extremism. On July 3, President Vladimir Putin signed amendments to Article 9 of the law on freedom of conscience and religious associations. According to them, religious organisation cannot be founded by a person whose actions were deemed extremist by the court.

On October 22, President signed the Federal Law “On amendments into certain legislative acts of the Russian federation in terms of determining the powers and responsibilities of the public authorities of the Russian Federation, local self-government and their officials in the sphere of international relations”. To the powers of the government bodies of the subject of the Russian Federation, the law attributes corresponding authorities in the field of interethnic relations, such as strengthening of interethnic and interreligious harmony; prevention of discrimination on grounds of nationality, language or religion; social and cultural adaptation of migrants. The Federal Law also establishes similar in content, but within its own competence, powers in the sphere of international relations at all levels of municipalities. Furthermore, the list of grounds for dismissal of municipality heads is supplemented with unsuccessful actions to prevent ethnic conflicts.

On December 30, 2013, Vladimir Putin signed a law introducing Article 280.1 to the Criminal Code, which criminalised public calls to actions aimed at violating the territorial integrity of Russia. Regular calls to separatism are punishable by fine of up to 300 thousand rubles or the two-year’s worth of subject’s income, or by up to 300 hours of compulsory labour or up to 3 years of imprisonment. Similar calls made in the media, including online are punishable for compulsory labour for up to 480 hours or up to 5 years of imprisonment.

A number of laws came into force in 2014, aimed at combatting xenophobia and extremism. Law on Information, which came into force on February 1, 2014, states that Russian Prosecutor General and his Deputies must appeal to Roskomnadzor (media watchdog) if they want to limit access to resources that call for mass riots, extremist activities and participating in pubic actions. Roskomnadzor will then contact service providers in order to limit or block access to resources or information in question. Service providers will have to do so immediately. Access will be renewed when Roskomnadzor receives information that illegal information has been removed from the website.

On February 4, President Vladimir Putin approved the law that increased punishment for extremist crime. The new law introduces changes to the Criminal and Criminal-Procedural Code of Russia. The following Articles have been affected: Article 280 (“Public calls to actions aimed at violating the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation”), 282 (incitement to interethnic and religious enmity), 282.1 (establishment of extremist community), 282.2 (establishment of extremist organisations). Public calls to extremism will be punished by compulsory labour (4 years) or a fine of up to 500 thousand rubles. Organisation of extremist communities will be punished by a fine of up to 500 thousand rubles (previously the maximum amount was 200 thousand rubles) or up to 3 years’ worth of income. Participating in an extremist community will be punished by four years in prison. The maximum sanction is 7 years in prison. Establishing an extremist organisation that was banned by court will be punished by 500 thousand rubles or 2-3 years’ worth of income. The maximum sanction for this crime is 6 years in prison. Participating in an extremist organisation is punished by a fine of up to 300 thousand rubles or two years’ worth of income, with maximum sanction being 4 years in prison.

On May 5, President Vladimir Putin signed a law criminalising the denial of International Military Tribunal’s ruling and punishment of war criminals of the European Axis countries, as well as approval of crimes established by this judgement and distribution of false information about the Soviet Union activities during the Second World War.

Article 3541. “Rehabilitation of Nazism” is being introduced into the Criminal Code. According to the Article, public denial of International Military Tribunal’s ruling and punishment of war criminals of the European Axis countries, as well as approval of crimes established by this judgement and distribution of false information about the Soviet Union activities during the Second World War, is punishable by a fine of up to 300 000 roubles, or a two-year income of the convicted, or up to three years of imprisonment or compulsory labour.

Public disrespect of Russia’s military glory and Russian military holidays, or desecration of Russian military symbols is punished by a fine of up to 300 thousand rubles or compulsory labour for 360 days. This includes offences made online.

On June 30, Vladimir Putin signed a decree introducing Article 282, to the Criminal Code. The Article criminalises the provision or collection of funds intended for the financing of extremist activities. Person who committed the offence shall be exempt from criminal liability if the person, through timely report to the authorities or otherwise, assisted in prevention of the activities that he/she was financing, or assisted in curbing the activity of an extremist group or organisation in question.

The law also criminalises extremist offences with the use of ICT, including the internet, and provides for confiscation of assets received as a result of extremist activities.

Furthermore, Federal law introduces amendments to the Criminal Code, aimed at clarifying the investigative jurisdiction of criminal cases involving extremist crimes, and regulating the arrest and confiscation of assents of those found guilty of such crimes.

On July 22, President Vladimir Putin signed a law introducing a set of amendments to Article 280 of the Criminal Code “Public calls to actions aimed at violating the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation”. Separatist calls will be punished by a fine amounting to 100 000 – 300 000 RUB or 1 to 2 years’ worth of subject’s income, or by up to three years of compulsory labour or 4-6 months arrest or imprisonment for up to 4 years. Similar crimes committed in mass media or online are punished by 480 hours of compulsory labour or up to 5 years of imprisonment.

On November 5, Vladimir Putin signed under the Amendments to Article 6 of the Federal Law “perpetuation of the victory of the Soviet people in the great patriotic war of 1941 – 1945” and Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation. The amendments were adopted in order to clarify some provisions and strengthen the administrative responsibility for the propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and attributes, or symbols and attributes of extremist organisations.

The Russian Military Doctrine, published on December 30, identified “global extremism” (terrorism) and presence of interethnic and interfaith tensions among the main threats to the country, along with territorial disputes, separatism and extremism in certain regions of the world. Among “internal threats” were interethnic and social tensions, extremism and incitement to ethnic and religious hatred or enmity.

On April 21, a Presidential Decree “On Measures for The Rehabilitation of Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Crimean Tatar and German Peoples and The State Support for Their Revival and Development” was signed. “To restore historical justice, eliminate the effects of illegal deportation of Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Crimean Tatar and German peoples from the territory of the Crimean Autonomous Republic and the violations of their rights”, the Russian government was advised to adopt a series of measures to restore the historical justice, political, social and spiritual revival of the Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Crimean Tatar and German peoples, who were subjected to illegal deportations and political repressions on ethnic and other basis.

On March 11, the Supreme Council of Crimea adopted a resolution on providing the Crimean-Tatar language the status of official state language, ensuring their representation in the government bodies and a number of other measures to facilitate their political participation in Crimea At the same time, Crimean Council prohibited the activity of any political parties and NGOs of pro-fascist or neo-Nazi nature.

Article 10 of the Crimean Constitution (adopted in March) introduces three official languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean-Tatar. Paragraph 3 states that Crimea recognises the principle of multiculturalism, ensuring equal development and diversity of cultures.

Paragraph 1, Article 27 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation states, “any person legally residing on the territory of the Russian Federation has the right to freedom of mobility, freedom to choose place of stay and residence”. Paragraph 2 of the same Article states, “any person can freely leave the Russian Federation. Citizen of the Russian Federation has the right to freely return to the Russian Federation.”

Besides Constitution, Federal laws and Russian immigration legislation includes international agreements on visa-free regimes with various countries. Federal laws that regulate immigration include:

  • Law “On the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to the freedom of movement and choice of place of residence within the Russian Federation” dated 25 June 1993 № 5242-I;
  • Law “On the Procedure for Exit from the Russian Federation and Entry into the Russian Federation” dated 15 August 1996 № 114-FZ;
  • Law “On Citizenship of the Russian Federation” dated 31 May 2002 № 62-FZ;
  • Law “On Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation” dated July 25, 2002 № 115-FZ;
  • Law “On migration registration of foreign citizens and stateless persons in the Russian Federation” dated July 18, 2006 № 109-FZ.

On June 13, 2012, Vladimir Putin approved the Concept of State Migration Policy for the period until 2025 The Concept noted that the most important element of the state migration policy is attracting immigrants to fill the population, labour force, develop innovation potential, and create conditions for immigrants’ adaptation and integration. Among other objectives, the concept listed protection of immigrants’ rights and freedoms and their social protection. “Inadmissibility of any form of discrimination” was stated, however, nothing was said about the need to adopt special anti-discrimination legislation. There need to “form intercultural skills among immigrants and the hosting society, combating xenophobia and racial intolerance” was also noted.

In November 2012, the Citizenship Law of the Russian Federation was amended with a requirement to present a Russian-language proficiency certificate when applying for a work permit. On January 4, 2013, President Vladimir Putin has signed a package of bills aimed improving migration legislation, including strengthening the criminal liability for its violation. Thus, now employers and receive the right to involve and employ foreign workers temporarily residing in Russia, without the need for a special permit. In addition, the specified category of foreign nationals, in turn, can carry be employed without a work permit. It will also be possible to direct and process employment of foreign labour documents in an electronic form (online).

Furthermore, a possibility arises to introduce a 3-year ban to entry into Russia for foreign citizens and individuals without citizenship, who during the period of previous stay did not leave the country within the 30 days given after the end of a period of temporary stay.

At the same time, criminal liability is established for foreign citizens or stateless persons, whose entry into the country is prohibited, for crossing the Russian state border. Criminal liability for organising illegal migration was also increased.

It is also worth noting that in 2013 State Duma adopted a legislative act that some experts considered somewhat discriminatory towards foreign nationals – on June 26, President Vladimir Putin signed a new Federal Law “On the introduction of amendments to certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation”. The law establishes the possibility of limiting the right of foreign national to enter the Russian Federation if he/she has been brought to administrative responsibility on the territory of the Russian Federation twice or more times in the past 3 years.

On December 28, 2013, amendments were introduced into Article 27 of the Federal Law “On the Procedure of Entry into the Russian Federation and Exit from the Russian Federation” and Article 5 of the Federal Law “On the Legal Status of Foreign Nationals in the Russian Federation”. According to these changes, immigrant from CIS countries can freely stay in Russia for 90 days, but only once every six months. These persons can return to the Russian Federation after 90 days since their last visit. Stay for a longer period of time will automatically be considered as an offence.

A number of relevant acts have been adopted in 2014. On April 21, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin signed a law that requires migrant workers to take Russian language exams, with the exception of skilled workers. Foreign nationals will have to present relevant documents to prove their Russian language proficiency and knowledge of Russian history and legal framework when filing a patent or applying for a job, a permanent or temporary residence permit. Migrant worker that has no certificate of education issued in the USSR before 1st of September 1991 will have to take a Russian language exam and receive a certificate. The law came into force on January 1, 2015.

On July 23, Putin signed a Federal Law “On amendments to the Federal Law on the status of foreign nationals in the Russian Federation”. Foreign nationals who arrived in Russia without a visa requirement and without aim to carry out business will be unable to obtain work permits or patents. On July 23, Putin singed a law prescribing the conditions for detainment of foreign nationals and stateless persons subject to administrative expulsion from the Russian Federation, deportation or readmission. The law establishes administrative responsibility of foreign nationals and stateless persons for administrative violations committed by such persons during their detainment in the special Federal Migration Service institutions and the order of civil proceedings in cases arising from aforementioned violations.

On December 5, Rossiyskaya Gazeta published laws which from 2015 requires employers to pay for their foreign workers’ health insurance and their sick leave. Furthermore, employers will be required to make social insurance contributions of 1.8% of migrant worker’s payroll, which would pay for foreign national’s sick leave after six months of work.

Ukrainian crisis has led to an influx of Ukrainian refugees, which in turn prompted a number of legislative changes. On July 14, FMS allowed Ukrainian refugees to reside in Russia for 270 days without permanent residence documents. On July 22, Ukrainian refugees were given a simplified consideration procedure. Local authorities were advised to accept refugees in accordance with Emergency Situations protocols. During the course of the armed conflict, Ukrainian refugees could officially register their stay in Russia in three days, as opposed to three months. Temporary asylum for Ukrainian refugees was granted on a batch basis.

On September 12, government resolution № 926 “On measures for the organisation of stay on the territory of the Russian Federation of Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons permanently residing in Ukraine, who came to the territory of the Russian Federation in emergency and en masse” was adopted. The resolution encouraged local authorities to recommend Ukrainian refugees to move from the bordering regions to other, including those implementing the State Programme for Voluntary Relocation to the Russian Federation for Compatriots Abroad.

On July 4, 2015, President Vladimir Putin signed a law developed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, which prohibited discriminatory requirements in job descriptions. From now on, employers will not have the right to specify requirements of sex, age, religion, residence, family status and nationality, in their employment.

On June 24, 2016, the law "On Amendments to the Federal Law "On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection" and the “Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses” (regarding the streamlining of the dissemination of information on the Internet)” came into force. According to the law, owners of news aggregators are obliged not to allow their use in order to "disseminate materials containing public appeals to carry out terrorist activities or publicly condone terrorism." The law also prohibits the dissemination of information "in order to discredit a citizen or certain categories of citizens on the grounds of sex, age, race or nationality, language, attitude to religion, profession, place of residence and work, and because of their political beliefs."

A day earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law "On the Basics of the Crime Prevention System in the Russian Federation," which was also aimed to counteract terrorism and extremist activity.

On July 6, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed two Federal Laws: "On Amending the Federal Law on Countering Terrorism" and certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation regarding the establishment of additional measures to counter terrorism and ensure public safety (Federal Law No. 374-ФЗ) and "On Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and the “Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation regarding the establishment of additional measures to counter terrorism and security Public security"(Federal Law No. 375- ФЗ).

These federal laws were aimed to improve the legal regulation in countering terrorism. Changes were introduced in 12 federal laws and codes. For example, the notion of "financing of terrorism" was clarified, additional requirements were established for communication operators and organizers of information dissemination on the Internet, as well as for the implementation of transport and forwarding activities.

Federal Law No. 375-ФЗ extends the list of crimes of a terrorist nature, responsibility for which comes from the age of 14, and provides for increased criminal responsibility for crimes of a terrorist and extremist nature. The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation was supplemented with Article 205.6, "Non-Reporting the Crime," which establishes responsibility for not communicating with authorities that are authorized to consider reports of a crime, who, according to certain information, prepares, commits or has committed at least one terroristic crime. At the same moment, the person is not subject to criminal liability for not reporting the preparation or commission of the crime by his spouse or close relative.

In addition, the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation is complemented by a new article 361 "The Act of International Terrorism", singling out an explosion outside the territory of the Russian Federation, arson or other actions endangering the life, health, freedom or inviolability of Russian citizens, in order to violate the peaceful coexistence of states and peoples or directed against the interests of the Russian Federation. There have been changes in a number of articles of the Criminal Code, in particular in art. 208, which criminalizes participation in illegal armed groups, also abroad.

The federal laws "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations", "On the Procedure for Departure from the Russian Federation and Entry into the Russian Federation" and the “Housing Code of the Russian Federation” providing for the legal regulation of missionary activities were amended.

On August 1, 2017, Vladimir Putin signed a law that prohibits persons previously convicted of Internet crimes or extremist crimes from becoming founders or editors-in-chief of media outlets.

On October 11, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law amending the law "On the Procedure for Exiting and Entering the Russian Federation," according to which entry may not be allowed if a foreigner participates in the activities of an extremist organization.

On 27 December 2018, two laws on partial decriminalization of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred) by introducing a mechanism of administrative prejudice were adopted. The laws introduced a new Article 20.3.1 (incitement of hatred or enmity, as well as humiliation of human dignity) into the Code of Administrative Offenses, the disposition of which is almost identical to Part 1 of Article 282 of the CC, but contains a reservation "if these actions do not contain a criminally punishable act". The punishment is a fine of up to 20 thousand rubles, up to 100 hours of compulsory work or up to 15 days in jail. Legal entities shall also be liable: they shall be fined up to 250-500 thousand rubles. The limitation period for administrative liability under this article is one year. To the first part of article 282 of the Criminal Code is introduced a proviso that liability under this article occurs after "bringing to administrative responsibility for a similar act within one year".

On July 26, 2019, a law on the ratification of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) convention on countering extremism was passed. The convention defines such concepts and terms as "extremism," "extremist act," "financing of extremism," "extremist materials," "extremist organization," and "countering extremism." The basic principles of cooperation in the sphere of countering extremism are also established, and a list of measures developed and implemented at the national level is proposed.

On October 1, 2019, Federal Law No. 451-FZ of 28.11.2018 "On amendments to certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation" came into force, according to which cases on recognition of materials as extremist and on recognition of information contained on the Internet prohibited for distribution in Russia were shifted from civil legal proceedings to administrative ones .

On December 2, 2019, President Vladimir Putin signed the law "On Amendments to Article 6 of the Federal Law 'On Commemoration of the Victory of the Soviet People in the Great Patriotic War of 1941 - 1945' and Article 1 of the Federal Law 'On Countering Extremist Activity,'" which replaces the ban on "propaganda and public display" of Nazi symbols and attributes and symbols of extremist organizations with a ban on its "use." The exception is situations "in which a negative attitude to the ideology of Nazism and extremism is formed and there are no signs of propaganda or justification of Nazi and extremist ideology" .

On December 2, 2019, a law was passed to expand the list of persons who are prohibited from being founders, participants and members of non-profit organizations, including public and religious associations. In accordance with it, an amendment was made to the federal laws "On Public Associations," "On Non-Profit Organizations" and "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations," which prohibits organizations and individuals whose accounts were frozen by the Interagency Commission on Combating the Financing of Terrorism to become founders as well as members or participants of non-profit organizations. When applied to religious organizations, the restriction on even participation can be seen as an infringement of the right to freedom of conscience, since people are effectively denied membership in religious communities.

On 27 April 2020, the President of Russia signed a law amending the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedural Code. The Criminal Code was amended with Article 243.4 (destruction or damage to military graves, as well as monuments, steles, obelisks, other memorial structures or objects commemorating those who died defending the Fatherland or its interests, or dedicated to the days of military glory of Russia). According to part 1 of this article for such actions committed "with the purpose of causing damage to historical and cultural significance of such facilities," the punishment was a fine of up to 3 million rubles or salary for up to three years, or forced labor for up to three years, or incarceration for the same period. Moreover, it was a question of facilities located both in Russia and abroad.

On May 23, 2020 the law "On introduction of changes to some legislative acts of the Russian Federation (with regard to improvement of legislation on elections and referenda and provision of basic guarantees of electoral rights and the right to participate in referenda of citizens of the Russian Federation)" was passed that prohibited the persons convicted according to "extremist" and "terrorist" articles of the CC to elect to representative bodies of municipal entities and legislative bodies within five years after removal or discharge of their criminal record. The problem, however, is that due to the use of certain articles of the Criminal Code to combat the opposition, these restrictions are perceived as another attempt to limit the ability of opposition candidates to be elected.

On May 29, 2020 Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a new version of the Strategy to Counter Extremism until 2025. The Strategy introduced the concept of "ideology of violence," which is now defined as a set of views and ideas that justify the use of violence to achieve political, ideological, religious and other goals.

The definition of "manifestations of extremism" was also extended to acts threatening the constitutional order and violation of the territorial integrity of Russia. Countering extremism" includes activities to minimize and eliminate the consequences of extremism.

The new version of the Strategy gives a new description of external and internal extremist threats. External threats are now considered to be "support and stimulation by a number of states of destructive activities carried out by foreign or international non-governmental organizations, aimed at destabilizing the socio-political and socio-economic situation in the Russian Federation, violation of unity and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, including instigation of "color revolutions", destruction of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, as well as promotion of activities of international terrorist organizations.

The Strategy identifies as internal threats attempts by nationalist, radical social, religious, ethnic and other organizations and individuals to engage in extremist activities, the spread of violent ideology, the inducement, recruitment or other involvement of Russian citizens and foreigners present in the country into extremist communities and other illegal activities, and the formation of closed ethnic and religious enclaves, as well as the historical, social and economic conditions of the Russian Federation.

As a potential source of threats the new Strategy mentions centers of terrorism in the Middle East, the creation of hidden cells of extremist and terrorist organizations (including through remote recruitment), the danger of radicalization of migrant workers, the "information and psychological impact" of foreign special services in order to "erode traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, destabilize the internal political and social situation in the country" through "destructive activities" of NGOs "disguised as humanitarian, Sports schools and clubs are also mentioned as hotbeds of radicalization of youth.

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