Forced Evictions and the Right to Housing of Roma in Russia

Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial

, by Fédération Internationale des ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH)

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its Russian partner Anti-Discrimination Center “Memorial” (ADC “Memorial”) publish a fact-finding mission report entitled: Forced Evictions and the Right to Housing of Roma in Russia.

This report is the result of a joint mission that gathered first-hand testimonies in several Russian provinces and towns, including West Siberia.

The Roma living in the Russian Federation are victims of severe forms of racial discrimination, which occur in the broader context of growing racist violence in the country. The mission focused particularly on the “Keldari” (or “Kotlyari”) group: this group represents 30% of all Romani in Russia, it is one of the most segregated and the one most threatened by forced evictions.

In 1956 a decree of the Soviet Supreme prohibited “vagrancy” and forced Romani people to settle. Their houses were rarely properly registered. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the legal framework governing property and the use of land has become extremely complex, and Roma lack the knowledge and the documents to access property rights. The locations where Keldari communities settled had little or no value at the time, but have gradually become the target of speculation. The Russian administration refuses to regularise their occupation of the land and bypasses them when taking measures for the allocation or sale of the land they occupy. When Roma refuse to leave voluntarily, they are often cheated or become victims of forced evictions. In most cases, these evictions follow a court decision but the procedure often violates the right to a fair trial. These evictions are often carried out with violence and in some cases they follow a local campaign vilifying the Roma community as a whole.