UCSJ Meets with Ukranian Officials

On March 1, a coordination meeting of the “Diversity Initiative,” a coalition of non-governmental organizations active in promoting multiculturalism and countering xenophobia, took place in Kiev. Among the participants of the meeting were representatives of all the interested government and law-enforcement authorities of Ukraine, particularly representatives of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The meeting was dedicated to a number of problems: xenophobia situation in Ukraine according to the results of 2011, the findings and recommendations of the Fourth ECRI Report on Ukraine, which was released to the public on February 21, as well as on the problem of fighting xenophobia in the context of the UEFA Euro 2012 competition, which is to take place later this year in Ukraine and Poland.

The meeting was opened by the report of UCSJ expert Vyacheslav Likhachev, who presented the 2011 results of the  monitoring of xenophobia in Ukraine. According to data collected by UCSJ, last year saw an increase in hate crime, as well as in the general amount of illegal activity by the radical right. According to Vyacheslav Likhachev, the situation is especially worrying in connection with the UEFA competition soon to take place, as well as in the context of the autumn parliamentary elections. The speaker turned the attention of the representatives of the authorities to the necessity of increasing the efforts to counteract xenophobia, to at least slow the negative trend in this sphere.

The second main speaker was the sociologist Alexei Shestakovsky, who presented the conclusions and recommendations of the latest ECRI report.

The subsequent discussion was moderated by Yana Salahova, a specialist on counteracting racism and xenophobia from the International Organization of Migration representative office. The representatives of the non-governmental organizations and the state authorities discussed particular steps possible aimed to prevent a further worsening of the situation. Special interest was shown in the Ministry of Justice-approved project of a Strategy to Combat Discrimination, which is controversial.