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Despite all declarations and several new acts, national minorities continue to face difficulties in Ukraine. President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz noted that Ukraine must concentrate not on prospects of joining the EU, but on solving current problems. Ukraine must comply with a number of international obligations before it can join the EU, one of which is the law on respecting and protecting national minorities, but even this basic legislative norm has not been adopted yet.

Example of one of the most numerous national minority in Ukraine – Romani people, or Roma – indicates that legislative acts are mostly declarative, rather than facilitating concrete actions to resolve acute issues. Ukraine’s Strategy for Protection and Integration of Roma into Ukrainian Society (until 2020) was supposed to be implemented back in 2013. However, not a single penny has been allocated to fund the programme. Besides, some human rights activists argue that the document is declarative in nature in any case.

Presence of extreme right groups and nationalist supporters of the Right Sectors or Azov battalion is worrying. Even though the situation in the country is relatively stable at the moment, there have been several manifestations of racial, religious and national hatred.

Vandalism remains a big issue, exacerbated by the complete lack of law enforcement control over the situation. With impunity, vandals desecrate memorials and monuments, which goes unnoticed. It is possible that decentralisation laws will help local governments to solve the issue of security in such locations.

Attempts to whitewash pro-Nazi collaborationists may lead to the emergence of young people who consider these people and, more importantly, their ideology as an example worth following.

In summer 2015, senior officials were saying that the “point of no return” has been passed, but where the count began and how it affects national minorities in the country is impossible to judge so far.

Ukrainian society is generally motivated to improve the situation. Experts hope that new constitutional reforms regarding decentralisation of power will facilitate the emergence of a new legal state and help minority groups in the new historic conditions.

Ukraine’s Criminal Code needs to be updated to identify and punish hate crime offences. Practical and open dialogue between the government and national minorities to facilitate protection of minority rights.

In 2015, human rights defenders recorded at least 19 victims (1 killed) and 41 acts of vandalism resulting from violence motivated by racial and ethnic hatred; the largest number of acts of anti-Semitic vandalism, compared with previous years, was recorded - 40 cases recorded.

There is also an increase in xenophobia in public opinion. According to the results of the sociological survey of the company GKK “Ukraine”, commissioned by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine in 2015 among young people, 54% of respondents would not like to live next to the Roma, 45% - next to representatives of non-traditional sexual orientation, 33% - AIDS patients, 19% – Muslims, 12% – Russians, 10% – foreign workers, 9% – Jews, and 7% – immigrants.

There were certain tells of a growing hatred towards internally displaced persons (IDPs). In August 2015, 10% of the local residents in the regions of Ukraine answered that the IDPs are people who complicate their lives (in 2014 only 6% of them). For example, in Kiev, only 1.8% of those surveyed were ready to rent an apartment to IDP families.

In order to at least partially rectify the situation, Ukraine urgently needs to take the following steps:

  1. Immediately begin implementing a state policy aimed at establishing interethnic and inter-confessional dialogues in Ukraine.
  2. Develop a draft law “On the Concept of the State Ethno-National Policy of Ukraine” and provide it for public discussion.
  3. Finally adopt the Law on National-Cultural Autonomy, which was long promised to ethnic minorities.
  4. Amend the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” with regard to the exclusion of the discriminatory norm on the permissive procedure for holding peaceful assemblies of believers and representatives of religious organizations.
  5. Restore the provisions of the Law of Ukraine “On the Basics of the State Language Policy”, the action of which was de facto overruled by the acting authorities.
  6. Provide real legal and social protection for internally displaced persons in terms of improving and simplifying registration, confirming their actual place of residence, the possibility of receiving social benefits in a number of banking institutions, etc.
  7. Create a special central state body on ethno-national policy of Ukraine.
  8. Conduct a tolerant policy towards national minorities and religious groups in Ukraine, especially in terms of rejection of hate speech in statements and public speeches by political figures.
  9. Create the necessary socio-economic and other conditions for the preservation and development of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of the people of Ukraine.
  10. Toughen responsibility for hate crimes and discrimination.
  11. Adopt a new version of the Law of Ukraine “On National Minorities”.
  12. Establish a system of state-public monitoring of crimes motivated by hatred, radicalism and neo-Nazism.
  13. Implement Ukraine's international obligations in the field of human rights.
  14. Enhance the role of international organizations in countering radicalism in Ukraine.

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