Russian Federation

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

According to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), the Holocaust “is defined as the extermination of six million Jews by the Nazis and their allies. Other victims of the Holocaust such as Soviet prisoners, Slavic people, and Roma and Sinti are also mentioned.” (Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism, page 107).

At present, the federal legislation and judicial practice in the Russian Federation do not qualify extermination of Roma during World War II as the crime of genocide. Still, the Russian Federation recognises the fact of mass Roma extermination during World War II at the orders of the leaders of Nazi Germany and its allies in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union, including the current territory of Russia. In addition to Roma, a number of peoples and ethnic groups that had inhabited the territory of the Soviet Union (Jews, Byelorussians, Russians, etc.) became victims of mass atrocities and crimes against humanity in this period as well. It is reflected in the relevant sections of history textbooks.

In the Russian Federation, the Roma and Sinti genocide is officially commemorated as part of International Roma Day on 8th April.

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

The office of the President and the Foreign Minister commemorate the international Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27th January through government missives and activities. Such observances have been taking place since 2006 in Moscow and more than 30 other Russian towns and cities. In addition, the November Pogrom of 1938 is occasionally marked with commemorative events.

Commemoration of the Roma, who fell victims of Nazism, is officially held by the Federal National Cultural Autonomy of Russian Roma (the All-Russian “umbrella” Roma organisation), regional national cultural autonomies of Russian Roma and other Roma NGOs in Russia within the framework of the annual celebration of the International Roma Day (8th April). On that day, the said Roma organizations conduct ceremonies in commemoration of the Roma, who perished during World War II, with the participation of representatives of the Russian federal, regional and local authorities as well as other ethnic communities. The Moscow House of Nationalities under the Moscow City Government hosts the Remembrance Day dedicated to those tragic events. Many journalists and periodicals also take part in these activities.

In 1982 a memorial stone in the village of Aleksandrovka near the Russian city of Smolensk was installed to remember the approximately 180 Roma who were shot by members of the SS-Einsatzgruppe B (mobile killing unit) in spring 1942. It remains the only one from Soviet tomes remembering the fate of the Roma.

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

According to the available information, there is no specialised institution, commission or research centre specifically dealing with the issue of the Genocide of the Roma.

Научно-просветительный центр «Холокост»
The Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre and the Holocaust Foundation
Sadovnicheskaya St. 52/45,
115035 Moscow
Russia
Telephone/Fax: +7 (499) 995-21-82, (495) 953-33-62

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

According to the OSCE, both the offices of the President and Foreign Minister have, in the past, commemorated the international Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27th January through government missives and activities.
In 2007, “as instructed by the president, a section devoted to the Holocaust is being prepared within the framework of the permanent exhibition of the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. In St. Petersburg, the Jewish Museum is being established as a subdivision of the Russian Ethnographic Museum, where the issue of the Holocaust is expected to be reflected.” (Holocaust Memorial Days in the OSCE Region, page 36).

Memorial evenings to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust are organised in several Russian cities. They take place in communal and cultural centres and in educational institutions. Every year since 1995, the Russian Holocaust Centre, in co-operation with the Moscow City Government, has celebrated the “Day of Liberation of the Nazi Concentration Camp in Auschwitz”.

On 27th January, speeches are delivered by representatives of the Government of the Russian Federation and the Moscow Mayor’s Office, leaders of European organizations in Russia and ambassadors from a number of countries. Awards are given to those who have been honoured as “Righteous among the Nations”. In past years, senior government officials have participated in the commemorations. Attendees have included teachers and students from various educational institutions, World War II veterans, former prisoners of the Nazi ghettos and concentration camps, public and religious activists and prominent cultural figures. In Moscow, these events are held in the Central House of Literati and are widely publicised in the mass media.

On 27th January 2007, another memorial evening with participation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took place on the occasion of the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by the Red Army. This memorial event in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust took place in the Central House of Writers in Moscow. Furthermore, the Youth Movement “Ours” arranged a commemorative procession dedicated to those deceased during the Holocaust.

An interactive, 4-D, unique Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre was inaugurated on 11th November 2012 in Moscow through the support of the Foreign Ministry and the Mayor of Moscow. It is situated on 8500 m2 and it is one of the largest in the word. There is no information if Roma are included in the exhibition on Holocaust.

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

According to the OSCE, the Holocaust “is introduced to students at the age of 15 in the context of history and literature courses. In 2002, the Ministry of Education published a list of textbooks recommended for teaching about the Holocaust. Seven out of the 30 history textbooks in use refer to the term Holocaust. The term is perhaps only precisely explained in a small minority of textbooks. On average, one page is allocated to the subject of the Holocaust. According to the information provided, history teachers allocate 30 minutes to the topic.” It is unknown if Roma are part of the curricula. (Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism, page 107).

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

In 2002, the Ministry of Education published a list of textbooks recommended for teaching about the Holocaust. Seven out of the thirty history textbooks in use refer to the term Holocaust. However, it is not known if Roma Genocide is included in the school textbooks.

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

Teacher training is not provided by the state, although a number of seminars are provided by the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre. There are a number of initiatives in Holocaust education but they do not appear to also involve the fate of the Roma. For more information about previous programs, see “Teaching the Holocaust in Russia in the 21st Century”

According to the OSCE, (Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism, page 31), “The Russian Federation serves as an interesting example, where, prior to the political transition of the 1990s, there was hardly any material available on the Holocaust and where today a flood of Holocaust-denial literature exists. Dr. Ilya Altman from the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre in Moscow (founded in 1992 as the first Jewish organization of this type in Russia) is the leading figure in developing and disseminating Holocaust educational material and providing – with the endorsement of the Russian Government – both Jewish and non-Jewish schools with an adequate teaching basis.”

According to the OSCE, (Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism, page 43), “In 2001-2002, the Swedish Embassy in the Russian Federation initiated a Holocaust-education programme called Living History. A number of seminars were organized in Russian towns, and teaching materials were translated into Russian and made available to the public.”

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

There is a Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre and the Holocaust Foundation (Научно-просветительный центр «Холокост»), which appears to deal only with the Jewish tragedy. According to their website, the Centre “brings together more than 200 Russian professional scientists, journalists, public figures and teachers as well as former ghetto prisoners and veterans of WWII. There are branches or regional representatives of the Centre in St. Petersburg, Blagoveschensk, Kaliningrad, Krasnodar, Nijni Novgorod, Voronezh, Vladimir, Rostov, Smolensk, Taganrog and Brest (Belarus).

2.5 Remembrance day

According to the OSCE, (Holocaust Memorial Days in the OSCE Region, page 35), “Since 2006, the “International day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust” has been commemorated on 27th January within the framework of implementing provisions of the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/7 of 21st November 2005. The remembrance day was held for the first time in 2006. In the Russian Federation, no other special day of remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust has been established."

The Federal National Cultural Autonomy of Russian Roma (the All-Russian “umbrella” Roma organisation), regional national cultural autonomies of Russian Roma and other Roma NGOs in Russia hold an official commemoration ceremony for the Roma victims of Nazism on 8th April within the annual celebration of the International Roma Day.

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

According to the available information, there is no designated responsible person in the Ministry of Education.

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

Martin Holler, historian, University of Heidelberg

Ilya Altman, historian, founder and co-chairman of the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre

Vladimir Solonari, historian, University of Central Florida, USA

4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

The regional Roma organisation is International Romani Union of Roma in the Baltic States and the CIS.

Some NGOs focusing on Roma in the region are Romano Kher Moscow, Roma Ural Ekaterinburg, Romani Duma (SAMARSKAYA GORODSKAYA TCIGANSKAYA KULTURNO-PROSVETITELNAYA OBSHESTVENNAYA ORGANIZATCIYA "ROMANI DUMA"), Assosiatsiya Tsigan Volgograd.

Social welfare centre supporting Roma victims of National Socialism in the Volzhsky region (Russia)
The Project is sponsored by the German Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" (German acronym EVZ) within the framework of the campaign “I’m still alive!”, with the budget of 80 000 Euros. Target group is consisted of 80 Roma victims of National Socialism and the objective is to sustainably improve the everyday lives of Roma victims of National Socialism through the provision of free medicines, food, social and medical care as well as legal advice. It is important to note that, thanks to this project, Roma women get organised and take the initiative.
5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies

Survivor story of Valentin Ivanov, a Russian Roma, who was taken by the Germans in 1943 from his home town together with his family and other Roma from Ostrov and put into a nearby camp. Few months later they were taken to a camp near Saulkrasti where he was separated from his parents and taken to a special Roma camp at Konstantynov, near Lodz - children's branch of the Lodz ghetto camp. In 1944, Valentin was taken to Auschwitz and three months later to Mauthausen where he stayed until the camp was liberated by the Russians. His mother was in Stutthof camp and she has survived the war. Valentin's father never returned.