Regarding the Situation with the Glorification of Nazism and the Spread of Neo-Nazism and Other Practices That Contribute to Fuelling Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
The Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of India
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25 november / 2021

Regarding the Situation with the Glorification of Nazism and the Spread of Neo-Nazism and Other Practices That Contribute to Fuelling Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Introduction

This report is a follow-up of the Ministry’s efforts to draw attention to the manifestation in foreign countries of various forms of glorification of the Nazi movement, Neo-Nazism, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

We regret to state that in 2020, instead of commemorating together the memorable date of the 75th Anniversary of Victory over Nazism in the Second World War, the humanity witnessed unprecedented cynical campaigns to rewrite and falsify the period of history associated with that war.

It is also a shame that the current year 2021, which marks the anniversary of an important milestone in the development of modern international law, sees the same and even more active attempts and examples of "historical aggression". This October we celebrate the 75th anniversary of sentencing of the International Military Tribunal to try and punish the main war criminals of the European Axis countries (Nuremberg Tribunal). This sentence outlawed the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis and their accomplices, and also condemned the leaders of the Nazi regime. The Nuremberg legacy is of great importance for defending the historical truth, resisting in a well-argued manner to the attempts to revise the results of the Second World War and countering the glorification of Nazi criminals. It is for this reason that attempts are being made to erase it from the memory of peoples.

Certainly, it is not yesterday that such attempts were launched by a number of countries. The argumentation used for their deplorable activities is also far from being a novelty. All this comes down to a systemic policy of falsification and distortion of history, to the attempts to revise the results of the Second World War and to belittle, and sometimes even pervert, the role and place of the USSR in the Victory over Nazism and Fascism. Quite indicative in this regard is the situation with the imposed thesis on equalizing the responsibility of the Nazi regime recognized as criminal by the Nuremberg Tribunal and of the State that was one of the main participants in the anti-Hitler coalition and a UN founder. Such rhetoric is often found in the vocabulary of foreign politicians. At the same time, there are optional references to the past, selective omission of such mean episodes of European history as the Anschluss of Austria, the Munich Agreement and the German attack on Poland, which led to the outbreak of the Second World War.

Major concerns arise from the growing cynical whitewashing of war criminals and their accomplices – those who created and put into practice the theory of racial superiority – in some Member States of the European Union, the US, Canada and Ukraine. Those who collaborated with the Nazis are declared participants in the national liberation movements who fought for the "independence" of their countries (at the same time there are occasional reverse examples when such "actors" are brought to justice in our days). In addition, the authorities in a number of European countries are taking steps to destroy historical memory by demolishing monuments, memorials and tokens of gratitude to the Red Army soldiers who died in the battles for the liberation of these countries from the Nazis.

Such measures are also taken in the education. With this approach to assessing the history of the war, the emphasis is made mainly on "suffering during the Soviet occupation". Role models are also cultivated among the youth: the curriculum glorifies the "feat" of volunteer members of the national SS legions who fought for Nazi Germany and took part in numerous massacres of civilians. In a number of countries, Nazi ideas and values are being openly promoted; national radicals who often become the main perpetrators of the aforementioned blasphemous "war" with monuments to Soviet soldiers-liberators lift up their heads.

Certain countries record the increasing attempts to split the society based on nationality or language discrimination to ensure the sustainable growth in xenophobic and racist incidents, manifestations of aggressive nationalism, chauvinism, other forms of racial and religious intolerance. The active measures taken by the authorities of a number of countries to glorify the Nazi accomplices or to form title-nation mono-ethnic societies aggravate the problem of protection of the rights of national minorities and ethnic groups, primarily to language and education. Such actions cannot be characterized but discriminatory. It should be noted that the most worrying situation is seen in the Baltic States and Ukraine.

In this light, concerns have been deepened by the fact that the failure to react to the manifestation of racism and intolerance (as regards to certain population groups) has been justified by the authorities with reference to the so-called absolute character of the right to the freedom of expression. Such a blasphemous and discriminatory practice is being developed in a number of States regardless the law mechanisms that have been designed and put into practice within UN, OSCE or the Council of Europe to negate, condemn and prevent manifestations of the glorification of Nazism, racism, xenophobia and their related intolerance.

There is only one purpose, namely to obscure the dark pages of collaboration with Nazis, to mislead the younger generations.

What will be the end point of such irresponsible, blasphemous acts that are incompatible with international obligations if today in Europe and America we see the generations that are unaware of the most horrible war in the human history, including of the aims of the SS organization and its units that had been recognized as criminals by the Nuremberg Tribunal nor of their numerous military crimes?

For our part we would emphasize the following. The real facts of history cannot be defied whatever the attitude towards the Soviet Union that liberated the world from the Brown Plague in those years or towards our country today. The theme of the sacred military feat of the older generation should not turn into a space of pseudo-historical insinuations that have momentary political goals. We believe that today sane people should do everything possible not to allow the feat of our fathers and grandfathers to be buried in oblivion. The modern youth should not be allowed to forget where national egoism, dissociation, tolerance of any manifestations of chauvinism, xenophobia and aggressive nationalism lead to. It is extremely important to prevent any revision of international legal results of the Second World War, including the decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal.

We shall always keep memory of all the people of the Soviet Union that played the decisive role in the victory over Nazism. It is hard to overestimate the significance of this landmark act to the whole humanity.

In line with efforts aimed at preserving the historical truth about the development of the Second World War and Great Patriotic War, Russia together with a number of co-authors submits annually for consideration of the UN General Assembly the profile resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, Neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" that has made the basis of this report.

It is therefore demonstrative that the absolute majority of members of the world community shares our approaches. In 2020, the number of co-authors of the document adopted at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly amounted to 59 States, including Russia. The resolution was supported by the overwhelming majority of 130 countries. As in previous years, only the delegations of the US and Ukraine voted against, and 51 State (including the EU Member States) abstained during voting.

To remind, the resolution condemns the glorification of the Nazi movement and of former Waffen-SS members, including by opening monuments and memorials as well as by conducting public demonstrations to glorify the Nazi past, Nazi movement and Neo-Nazism. It is specifically emphasized that the erection of monuments to commemorate the SS-members, conduct of marches and other similar activities desecrate the memory of countless victims of fascism, affect negatively the growing generation and are absolutely incompatible with the UN members obligations. The co-authors of the resolution cannot close their eyes on the fact that in some countries those who fought against the anti-Hitler coalition or collaborated with the Nazis are steadily promoted up to national or national liberation movement heroes. The Russian Federation and our opinion allies are convinced that this is not about political correctness but about blind cynicism and blasphemy in relation to those who liberated the world of the dismays of National Socialism.

We would like to emphasize that the provisions of international human rights treaties and, primarily, of the International Convention of the Elimination of all Form of Racial Discrimination are the most important regulatory frameworks aimed at combating such negative phenomena and the basis for developing multilateral cooperation. The overwhelming majority of the UN Member States, including those countries that vote against, or abstain, the Russian initiative are the members thereof.

In accordance with Article 4 the States Parties to the Convention undertake, inter alia, to:

- Condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form;

- Declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred;

- Declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law.

This Article is a key provision of the Convention. It is important, primarily, because it establishes a clear line between acts punished by law and freedom of assembly and associations as well as freedom of opinion and its expression. That is why it is not possible to accept the references of certain States to the fact that marches of Waffen-SS veterans, various collaborationists, the facts of building monuments to Nazis or other manifestations are nothing but the implementation of the above liberties. In this context, we are convinced that it is absolutely necessary for the States to expediently revoke the reservations to this treaty, including the reservations to its Article 4.

Several words about the structure of the report. It is rather traditional. At the basis of the report are the provisions of the above mentioned UN General Assembly resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, Neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" that is adopted annually at the initiative of Russia (the text of the resolution and tables with the results of the vote at the 75th General Assembly are provided in the Annex).

Based on the data from international and national sources the document summarizes the factual information on new manifestations in all forms of glorification of the Nazi movement, Neo-Nazism, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and their related intolerance in focal countries as well as additional examples of best practices on combating those phenomena at the legislative and practical levels. It also takes into account the recommendations of international and regional human rights mechanisms, in particular contractual bodies (committees) and regional (especially European) law enforcement institutions as related to the States under consideration. It also uses the profile research by the civil society organization. In this context, we would emphasize a thorough work on identifying former members of Nazi units and collaborationist structures. That valuable data prove to be in demand by law enforcement bodies in a number of countries, and the examples thereof are provided in this report.

In general, the main focus in the document is put on the growth of Neo-Nazism observed in a number of countries in Europe, US and Canada, which in some case is actively supported by governmental authorities as well as on the strengthened discrimination and racism in relation to certain ethnic groups.

Within the framework of efforts aimed at strengthening the Victory as a common patrimony of the UN Member States, preventing – in the spirit of provisions of the UN General Assembly resolution to combat the glorification of Nazi – the destruction and desecration of monuments and memorials dedicated to fighters with the Nazism, this report focuses also on the situation with the attitude to, and the preservation in the European countries of statues, monuments and memorial complexes dedicated to the Red Army soldiers who liberated Europe from the Brown Plague, antifascist soldiers and members of the Resistance Movement.

Besides, the report reflects also the cases of discrimination of the Russian language in the area of education in Baltic States and Ukraine as well as in general the discrimination in the said countries of national minorities, primarily, Russian and Russian-speaking population, and oppression of media, which is also based on racial discrimination factors.

Some country-specific sections highlight the episodes related to racial and national minorities discrimination as related to the spread of new coronavirus infection, in particular, the rise in certain countries of anti-Chinese and/or anti-Semitic attitudes.

In all those manifestations, the Russian Federation sees a direct threat to the fundamental values of democracy and human rights, a serious challenge to international and regional security and stability. We remain convinced that the priority issue in the area of combating the glorification of Nazism and other types of activities aimed at manifestation of racism and racial discrimination today is still the union of efforts of all countries to prevent the recovery of false "values" of superiority and exclusivity of one race or nation, its religion and culture over other peoples and cultures.

Australia

Australian society has a fairly objective view of the events and outcomes of World War II. National authorities have shown no intention to belittle the Red Army's contribution to the defeat of Nazism or justify the aggression of Germany and its allies. Governments of states support the commemoration of troops who fought on the side of the anti-Hitler coalition. They encourage activities of various associations of veterans and victims of the Nazi aggression, including those organized by descendants from the USSR. For instance, the Association of World War II Veterans from Ex Soviet Union founded in 1982 in Melbourne was registered by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, which has been in charge of regulating activities of such structures and allocating grants to them since 2012. According to official reports, in 2020, the Association received USD 15,000 in funding, 96% of which came from the government of the state of Victoria. There have been no instances of preventing such organizations from holding commemorative events on the part of either authorities or radical groups.

However, Australia keeps abstaining from voting in the UN General Assembly on the draft resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" submitted annually by Russia jointly with other co-sponsors.

However, right-wing nationalist associations within the Ukrainian community, first of all the Australian Association of Ukrainian Organisations led by S.I.Romaniv, who is at the same time a leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (Banderites) and the NGO "Ukrainian Democratic Initiative", are working to justify the crimes committed by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

No regular contacts between Australian groups and right-wing nationalist forces in western Ukraine have been reported. A number of media outlets claimed that I.Tilling, a resident of Queensland, was involved in military action as a combat member of the "Georgian National Legion" in 2018. Before that, he had been a member of the Brisbane branch of the Australian organization "Right Wing Resistance" for six months. According to the activist, he left the cell (which had numbered three members) before leaving for Ukraine. Besides, according to media reports, J.Bennett from Victoria, who had served for five years in the Australian Royal Air Force, fought in eastern Ukraine in 2016 as a member of the "Right Sector" group.

In general, right-wing sentiments in Australia have been taking shape since the establishment of the federal state in the early 20th century. A package of legislative measures was adopted at the time to encourage the influx of pure Europoids into the country. Such selectivity with regard to immigration was based on hostility towards Asian and Pacific Islanders prevailing in Australian society at the time, as well as the strong influence of local labour unions, which sought to prevent the emergence of a competitive workforce.

Even though the White Australia policy has given way to the principles of multiculturalism in modern Australian society, hostility toward descendants from Asia and Middle East persists. Surveys have revealed that 47% of respondents have negative attitudes towards Australians of Chinese origin, more than a half – towards natives of Iraq and Sudan, and 37% – towards Muslims. At the same time, 39% of people of Asian descent have reported being subjected to discrimination in everyday life, which increased during the coronavirus pandemic.[1]

Over the last few years, nationalist sentiments in Australian society have been given new impetus. The 2014 hostage-taking at the Lindt Café in Sydney by H. Moniz, a refugee of Iranian origin, became one of the triggers. Two civilians were killed in the terrorist attack. This sparked criticism of the government’s immigration policy. The November 2016 election of Donald Trump, whose election campaign featured right-wing views, as US President also had an influence. Another upswing of nationalism in Australia was associated with the August 2017 racist rallies in Charlottesville, USA, and a terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, committed by an Australian national in 2019.

The rise in racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia, including in political debates and the media, most often targeting migrants, especially Arabs, Muslims, and people of African descent, as well as indigenous peoples, was noted by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) upon consideration of the 18th to 20th periodic reports of Australia,[2] as well as by the Human Rights Committee (HRCtte) in its consideration of the 6th periodic report in October 2017.[3]

Currently, about 70 organizations, political parties, or registered protest movements supporting right-wing radical views are operating in the country. Many of them strive to gain access to the political decision-making process in the top government echelons through federal parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the only right-wing party represented in the legislative branch is Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, which won two senate seats in the May 2019 general election.

Three socio-political groups adhering to right-wing radical ideas can be roughly identified in Australia. These are patriots, nationalists and racists.

Members of the civic patriot movement adhere to ideas and concepts that are shared by the majority of Australian citizens. For example, they advocate the sustainable development of a secular society, its civic institutions and moral and social values, with citizenship (rather than race, ethnicity or religion) remaining a fundamental element and identity marker. The proponents of this movement allow for the possibility of non-Europeans and non-Christians immigrating to Australia, provided that they are assimilated into the Australian system of social values. At the same time, the civic patriots unanimously agree that Islamic fundamentalists, being unable to integrate into secular society due to their traditional religious affiliation, are a "fifth column" seeking to Islamize Australia. Some members of the movement take a firmer stance, denouncing Islam in general as an imperialist and totalitarian ideology that infringes on the rights of non-Muslims. At the same time, the civic patriots are not anti-Semites, rather calling Israel the only "bastion of free Western civilization" in the Middle East.

Such parties as the "Party for Freedom," "Rise Up Australia Party", "Reclaim Australia Protest Movement," as well as organizations such as the "European Australian Civil Rights League," "Love Australia or Leave," "Restore Australia," "Nationalist Republican Guard" consider themselves part of the patriotic movement.

A more right-wing radical force is presented by the nationalist movement, which is both Islamophobic and anti-Semitic. Nationalists prioritize race and ethnicity over citizenship. Although the nationalists place the main focus in their activities on confronting Muslims, their ideology also includes rejection of other national and religious minorities, although it is not expressed too publicly and openly for fear of losing popularity and supporters.

The main actors of the nationalist movement in Australia are the protest movements "Nationalist Alternative," the National Democratic Party of Australia, "Christian Identity" and "Patriot Blue."

The "United Patriots Front" and the "Australian Defence League" are among organizations of this movement that have some kind of international connections.

The United Patriotic Front expressed solidarity with the Greek far-right nationalist Golden Dawn Party. According to the organization's website, in 2017, it was restructured and renamed the "Lads Society," without any identified international ties.

The Australian Defence League was founded in Sydney in 2009 and is a branch of the English Defence League operating in Great Britain.

The most radical right-wing views in Australian society are expressed by the racist movement, which sees belonging to the Caucasian race as a key determinant of identity. Australian racists embrace the idea of social Darwinism, a concept that divides people of different races and ethnicities into different grades within an established hierarchical chain based on their moral, physical and psychological compatibility. Australian racists are hostile to all immigrants of non-European origin. Jewish community is seen as the main threat. At the same time, unlike the previous two groups, racists are not always negative towards Muslims, which reflects the historical fact that Nazi Germany collaborated with some Islamic state leaders during World War II. This political spectrum in Australia mainly includes neo-Nazis who adhere to ideas of anti-Semitism and white supremacy, and embraces the concept of the "white genocide."

"Battalion 88," Club "Nation," "Expel the Parasite," "Australians Resistance Network," "National Socialist Network" make part of this movement.

The following racist movement groups have international affiliation of varying intensity: "Blood&Honour," "Soldiers of Odin," "Women for Aryan Unity," "Right Wing Resistance."

"Blood&Honour" is a low-activity Australian branch of the namesake British organization.

The "Soldiers of Odin" organization was registered as a NPO at the state of Victoria in 2016. It is an Australian branch of a similar structure established in northern Finland in 2015, which is also present in Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Portugal, and Spain. Open sources claim that the Australian "Soldiers of Odin" have been inactive since 2016.

"Women for Aryan Unity" is a grouping established in 1990 in the US with branches in Australia, Argentina, Italy and Spain.

"Right Wing Resistance" is a New Zealand-based organization operating in Australia.

Recently, the "Antipodean Resistance" movement has been the key racist group in Australia; it is the only one in the country to overtly use Nazi symbols and call for the legalization of the murder of the Jewish population. Established in, the group is inspired by actions of well-known right-wing radical groups: the British National Action, the Nordic Resistance Movement in Scandinavia, and Atomwaffen Division in the United States. It is unclear whether it maintains any direct ties with them.

The right-wing movement in Australia is neither large nor consolidated. The vast majority of organizations that identify themselves as patriots, nationalists or racists number no more than a few hundred members. Besides, these entities have no sufficient administrative or financial resources, so their activities are mainly limited to sporadic protests, which are mostly verbal without active violent or other unlawful actions. For example, the biggest right-wing event of late was the large-scale nationalist strike held in April 2015 in 16 Australian cities (including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) and called "Reclaim Australia." However, the number of protesters at the event did not exceed even one thousand people. In most cases, right-wing extremist behavior is manifested in the media, social networks and specialized nationalist forums engaged in the active dissemination of right-wing views and ideas.

In particular, Facebook is widely used to lobby and encourage protest actions. In 2014, nationalists used it to collect signatures to call off the construction of a mosque in Bendigo, Victoria. The media resources of the Australian-American far-right forum "The Daily Stormer" and "The Base" information portal are actively exploited, introducing the Internet audience to neo-Nazi narratives. The "Iron March," which had been the most popular website until recently, was blocked in 2017 because of its extremely reactionary views and mass calls for violence.

Although right-wing radical movements in Australia do not constitute a single whole and cannot pose a serious threat to public and state law and order, the country has seen a certain upsurge in their activities. For example, in February 2020, the National Socialist Network convention held at an Australia Day celebration in a park near Melbourne received media coverage. About 40 people in paramilitary uniforms displayed Third Reich symbols and greeted passers-by with a Nazi salute. In the same month, the leader of the said organization, T. Sewell, started a scuffle at the editorial office of a TV channel that had previously shown his associates in a news program. In November 2020, P.Galea was sentenced to 12 years in prison for preparing a terrorist attack against left-wing NGOs in Melbourne. In March 2021, unidentified people posted pro-White Australia campaign posters at the Australian National University.

These activities are a matter of concern for the country's authorities. In February 2020, Director of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) M. Burgess, said that right wing extremists were posing a growing threat in Australia. He was echoed by Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, R. Kirshaw in July 2020. Such messages increasingly appear in security officials' statements highlighting the rise in right-wing radical activities against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to ASIO, as of September 2020, 40% of the agency's counterterrorism operations aim to combat right-wing extremists (against just 10%-15% in 2016).

In late 2020, the Australian Parliament initiated hearings in the Joint Security and Intelligence Committee on the growing threats posed by extremist organizations, including radical far-right groups. On March 2, 2021, Victoria's specialized parliamentary committee recommended that the use of Nazi swastikas be banned by law throughout the region. This decision was supported by Premier of the state D. Andrews, and his government had earlier requested assistance of the Embassy and the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in obtaining information on legal details of the prohibition of Nazi symbols in Russia. The requested data was transmitted to the Australian partners on 4 February 2021.

In March 2021, Australian Minister of Home Affairs P.Dutton announced that the British neo-Nazi group "Sonnenkrieg Division" was included in the national list of terrorist organizations. This was the first time a right-wing radical structure was put on this list in Australia. The website of the Australian Department of Home Affairs specifies that Australians are not directly involved in its activities and it does not pose a direct threat to the country. However, its ideology, which is hostile to multicultural societies, can encourage local extremists, and its terrorist attacks are potentially dangerous for Australian citizens abroad. Becoming its member, affiliating with it or providing financial support to the organization would constitute a criminal offence punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The expert community and the opposition Australian Labor Party welcomed the step, but pointed to the need to add to the list of banned organizations those groups that are active directly throughout Australia.

Among the potential "candidates" for the list, ASIO singles out the American entity "Base", which tried to recruit supporters in local nationalist associations in 2019 and 2020. Law enforcement agencies refer to the narrow scope of local law, which allows for the recognition as terrorist of only those organizations that are directly or indirectly involved in preparing, planning or inciting terrorist acts.

Of particular significance to Australian society is the issue of public attitudes toward Aboriginal people. The reinstatement of Aboriginal rights is high on the domestic political agenda of major parties in Australia. Targeted efforts are being made to bring Indigenous populations to the modern level of civilization. The Government's Closing the Gap Programme seeks to improve Aboriginal access to pre-school, secondary and higher education, includes steps to increase life expectancy, minimize infant mortality and combat unemployment. However, indigenous people remain the poorest and most disadvantaged part of society[4] and are de facto subjected to discrimination. The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities noted in its concluding observations following the consideration of Australia's combined 2nd and 3rd periodic reports that persons with disabilities within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities expressed suicidal ideation due to lack of support, poverty and isolation.[5]

The Closing the Gap initiative has been criticized by human rights activists for its lack of practical proposals to remedy the situation. The experts are also frustrated by the refusal from engaging in its implementation Aboriginal-led organizations, such as the Australian Indigenous Education Fund. There is a general need to develop models of decision-making with increased participation of local communities. The focus is on the need to address the indigenous appeal to the Australian leadership ("Uluru Statement from the Heart," 2017, calling for the enshrinement in the Australian Constitution of the Aboriginal right to be represented in the country's parliament). However, the ruling coalition has steadfastly refused to give the go-ahead to this initiative.

There remains a persistent bias against indigenous populations on the part of law enforcement officials. Although Aboriginal peoples constitute only 3% of the country's population, they account for more than a quarter of the total number of adult prisoners. Instances of disproportionate use of violence by police officers are not uncommon.

There occurs a dismissive attitude of businesses toward aboriginal sites of worship. For instance, in May 2020, Rio Tinto company's mining activities caused the destruction of the Juukan sacred site, provoking a public outcry.

The dire situation of indigenous Australians, including issues of political participation, lack of protection of their right to land, socio-economic discrimination, disproportionate violence against indigenous women, and the overrepresentation of this category, especially children, in the criminal justice system, have also been highlighted by CERD[6] and the HRCtte[7]. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in addition to the above-mentioned issues, expressed concern at the high level of disadvantage of indigenous peoples across all socio-economic indicators and at the insufficient compliance with the principle of free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples when developing policies with regard to extractive activities on lands traditionally used by indigenous peoples.[8]

Driven by the mass protests in the United States over the murder of African-American G.Floyd, thousands of people rallied in major Australian cities in June 2020 against manifestations of racism, including racism against the country's indigenous populations.

Thus, systemic discrimination against Aboriginals currently remains the most challenging issue in the area of combating intolerance and xenophobia in Australian society. At the same time, in recent years, incidents related to racism and nationalism have increasingly appeared on the agenda, reflecting the rise of extreme right-wing attitudes in society. This trend undoubtedly calls for utmost attention of the national government, which fosters the culture of multiculturalism as a pillar of Australians' national identity.

Austria

After the end of World War II, Austria, which had been liberated from the Nazi occupation, faced an urgent issue of establishing effective legal mechanisms that could prevent the resurgence of fascism. The primary goal was to prevent the resumption of fascist, Nazi or neo-Nazi associations and parties, or other forms of Nazism, in the country.

Vienna's international legal obligations to combat Nazism arise from the provisions of the State Treaty for the Re-establishment of an Independent and Democratic Austria of May 15, 1955, which, in Articles 9 and 10, obliged the state to eliminate from Austrian political, economic and cultural life all traces of Nazism, to ensure that the above-mentioned organizations are not revived in any form, and to prevent all Nazi and militarist activity and propaganda in Austria’s territory.

The Provisional Government of the Republic of Austria, in its first statement upon its establishment in April 1945, introduced the criminal prosecution of the crimes of the Nazi regime. To that end, as early as May 8, 1945, the Constitutional Law on the Prohibition of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) (the "Prohibition Act") was adopted, followed by the Constitutional Law on war crimes and other atrocities of the National Socialists (the "War Criminals Act") of June 26, 1945. These laws are still in force, with some amendments introduced as the national post-war legislation evolved.

According to this act, "the NSDAP, its military formations (SS, SA and others), organizational structures and affiliated associations, all without exception National Socialist organizations and institutions, as well as the resumption of their activities shall be prohibited." Their property shall be alienated in favor of the state.

Paragraph 3 of the aforementioned law specifies that all kinds of activities in the name of the NSDAP are to be prohibited, even if they are actually performed outside this organization. Those who continue to be members of the party or support its goals are declared guilty of a crime punishable by death and confiscation of all property. If there are serious mitigating circumstances, the death penalty may be commuted to imprisonment for 10 to 20 years and confiscation of all property.

In 1992, the Prohibition Act was amended to increase criminal liability for any attempt to revive or support the activities of banned Nazi organizations. The threshold for punishment was lowered. The amendments increased penalties for the propaganda of Nazi ideology through dissemination of publications or works of art, and criminalized a new offence – the denial of Nazi genocide and crimes against humanity or adherence to the ideas of National Socialism.

The provisions of the War Criminals Act can also be applied to Nazi criminals. According to Austrian sources, in the post-war period, there were 13,607 convictions under the Act, 43 of them punishable by capital punishment and 29 by life imprisonment. However, Jewish associations in Austria claim that the law is currently ineffective. In its 2017/2018 annual report, the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center criticized Austria for not having punished a single Nazi criminal in the past 30 years. Although the Post-War Justice Research Agency was established in 2011 with the aim to track them down, its efforts have not yielded any results so far.

The most frequent right-wing extremist activities in Austria are covered by the 1960 Law on Insignia, which prohibits the public use of symbols (insignia, emblems, uniforms, etc.) of banned fascist and Nazi organizations, including similar symbols that can be used as a substitute. This is an administrative offence punishable by a fine of up to EUR 4,000 or arrest for up to one month (except for theatre performances and works of art, as well as exhibition items and printed matter, provided that the use of such symbols is not an essential element thereof and does not aim to propagate or encourage Nazism. Since March 2019, symbols of 13 organizations recognized by Vienna as extremist organizations have been banned in Austria; these include the Croatian fascists, the Ustaša, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Hezbollah organization and political party, Hamas, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and the Grey Wolves, a Turkish nationalist organization. The offence is penalized by a fine of EUR 4,000, and up to EUR 10,000 in case of a repeat offence.

Austrian legislation does not contain specific regulations on countering extremist manifestations. The national legal practice does not clearly define the term "extremism". Therefore, criminal offences that could fall under this definition are regulated by the aforementioned Prohibition Act and the Insignia Act, as well as the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offences.

Article 283 of the Austrian Criminal Code criminalizes extremist acts (incitement to violent acts, causing injury, threatening life or health, etc.) and other acts (e.g. damaging property) against persons, a group of persons, a religious or ecclesiastical association on the grounds of racial, linguistic, national, religious, ideological, state affiliation, ethnic, gender, age or sexual identity. Pursuant to Article 33 of the Austrian Criminal Code, racist manifestations (primarily those mentioned in Article 283) are regarded as an aggravating circumstance when committing unlawful acts.

If certain extremist acts are not criminalized due to the absence of serious negative consequences for society or insignificance of damage inflicted, the provisions of the Code of Administrative Offences apply. In particular, Section III, Article 1, Paragraph 4, establishes a monetary penalty for dissemination of national-socialist ideas.

Austria's official authorities have made significant efforts to monitor, prevent, and suppress the activities of destructive right-wing forces. Since 2013, the state has been implementing the National Action Plan to combat right-wing extremism, which provides a comprehensive approach to countering various right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi manifestations.

In 2017, the Republic of Austria nationalized by a special law the house in Braunau am Inn (Upper Austria), where Hitler was born, in order to prevent it from being turned into a "place of worship for neo-Nazis" (until 1972, the Austrian Interior Ministry had rented it for EUR 5,000 per month). The owner was paid compensation of EUR 310,000, but she considered the amount insufficient. In 2019, the Austrian Interior Ministry announced that the total amount of compensation was EUR 812,000. In 2020, following a lengthy public debate involving politicians, civil society, historians, and construction experts, it was decided to convert the building into a police station. The Marte company, which won the bidding for the works, is expected to complete them by the end of 2022 at a total cost of EUR 5 million.

The Documentary Archive of the Austrian Resistance and the Austrian Mauthausen Committee contribute to the monitoring of right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi activities in Austria through research, education and by posting thematic content on their websites. The Austrian Mauthausen Committee regularly updates its brochure entitled "Right-Wing Extremism", which primarily seeks to inform publishers on forbidden Nazi symbols and insignia. The Committee's official website offers the option of anonymously reporting cases of right-wing extremism.

However, neo-Nazism and racial intolerance persist in some spheres. Despite protests of Austrian anti-fascist organizations, annual "commemoration events" are organized in Austria by ecclesiastical structures or local NGOs associated with right-wing radicals. Since the 1950s, in Bleiburg (Carinthia), the Croatian commemoration of the so-called "Bleiburg Massacre" of 1945, in which J.Tito's Yugoslav partisans executed a mass shooting of Croatian Ustasa members and Slovenian collaborators who had fled to Austria, has been held annually in May. High-ranking Croatian politicians, public figures and clergymen (Prime Minister I.Račan in 2002 and his successor I.Sanader in 2004) take part in the event. There have been repeated visits to Bleiburg by organized groups wearing Ustasa insignia and shouting Nazi salutes. After the police took a strong action against these individuals, their number dropped sharply and such incidents became a rare occurrence. In 2020, due to coronavirus restrictions, there were no large-scale events, but a few wreath laying ceremonies took place and discussions on "the issue dividing the European nations" appeared in the national press on the occasion.

Furthermore, in the city of Lienz (Tyrol), a commemoration of the so‑called "Lienz tragedy" (extradition of Cossacks who served in the 15th SS Cossack Cavalry Corps to the Soviet Union by British occupation troops on June 1, 1945) is held on May 31 to June 1 with the participation of city authorities, the "Austrian Black Cross" NGO, and the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. In 2020, due to the pandemic, the memorial service was cancelled, but an online memorial exhibition organized by two professors from the University of Innsbruck, was displayed at www.dolomitenbank.at, describing the "dire plight of those who strived for freedom."

The report issued on the 2019 Catholic Christmas Eve by the Austrian Freedom Party's Historical Commission, which was established to look into the history of the AFP and its "dark spots" after a series of scandals that had shaken the party in 2018-2019 because some party functionaries and ordinary members had been closely affiliated with the radical right and neo-Nazi circles and there had been manifestations of anti-Semitism in the party ranks, sparked a broad public discussion in Austria. Most experts and journalists agreed that the report was an attempt to rectify the uncomfortable history of the party and whitewash the Nazi past of its founders.

In many Austrian cities there are still names of streets and squares associated with the Nazi past. A special commission of historians headed by Professor Karner (co-chairman of the Austro-Russian Commission of Historians) that worked in Graz in 2016-2019, studied 790 names and concluded that nearly one name in eight bore such relation. The city authorities made the decision (which was criticized by local NGOs) to put "explanatory" plates at the head and end of these streets in a 10-year period, instead of renaming them. The placement of the plates is underway and is occasionally discussed in the Austrian press.

Discussions on topics related in some way to the Nazi past continue to occur from time to time in Austrian society. In November 2018, the "Memory Gaps" art group suggested "reinterpreting" "Hitler's balconies" preserved in Vienna (besides the famous balcony on Heldenplatz, from which the Führer spoke 3 days after the "Anschluss" of Austria in March 1938, a balcony to the Vienna City Hall was constructed personally for him). In December 2018, Austrian NGOs demanded that one of the most famous local red grape varieties, "Zweigelt," be renamed because its developer, F.Zweigelt, was a "fervent Nazi" (even though the breeder himself called the new variety "Rotburger" and the renaming did not occur until 10 years after his death, in 1975).

The right-wing extremist environment in the country is very uneven, differing in the number of participants, composition, resource base and ideological focus (anti-democratic, racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and revisionist movements). The 2019 report by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism, which is responsible, among other things, for countering manifestations of extremism and neo-Nazism, notes that the activities of right-wing groups pose a potential threat to public order and national security.

As for the organizational structure, members of right-wing forces are usually united into so-called "ideological" parties, unions, "clubs of like-minded people" or "fellowships," may be represented by individual revisionist activists who deny Germany's responsibility for the outbreak of World War II and the Holocaust, and seek to understate other crimes of the National Socialist regime. They draw on the "works" of pseudo-historical revisionists from Germany, the United States, Canada, and Great Britain as their "ideological base." Since such campaigning is prohibited by local law, it is carried out from abroad, including through the active use of the Internet.

The other segment of the right-wing extremist spectrum is represented by youth "subculture" (mainly regional) groups, neo-Nazi "associations" (including virtual ones), the skinhead movement, individual activists from marginal social groups, and well-organized associations of sports fans. The ideological component plays a secondary role in these structures, but they display a high mobilization potential and a pronounced propensity for violence.

Right-wing extremist associations in Austria include the "Austrian Identitarian Movement" (Identitäre Bewegung Österreich) – part of the European movement which originated in France to oppose the unification of traditional "indigenous" cultures, multiculturalism policies and globalization processes, as well as capitalism and American dominance. The Austrian branch, which is close to the right-populist AFP, has organized annual anti-migration campaigns since 2014, including protests and Internet propaganda, calling to abandon integration policies, repatriate migrants and refugees, enshrine the "leading culture" in the Constitution and pursue the policy of protecting family values and traditional ethnocultural groups in Austria. It maintains a close affiliation with "partner" organizations in Germany, France and Italy.

After it was discovered in 2019 that B.Tarrant, the terrorist responsible for the shooting at the Christchurch mosques in New Zealand, had been funneling donations to this Austrian movement, Austrian Chancellor S.Kurz authorized an inquiry into the judicial grounds for its prohibition. In 2020, major social networks blocked the Identitarians from posting their content. The Identitarians' symbols were banned as part of tougher measures against terrorism and religious extremism following the November 2020 terrorist attack in Vienna. Against this background, in early 2021, an attempt was made to transform the movement: its leader M.Sellner founded a conservative patriotic civil platform "Die Österreicher – DO5" (a reference to the Austrian resistance movement against Nazism O5), whose agenda replicates that of the Identitarians.

Another right-wing extremist association, "The Working Community for Democratic Politics" (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für demokratische Politik/AFP), while it was registered as a political party, does not participate in elections. It consists of a small number of activists and is seen as a platform for establishing contacts between activists on the Austrian right-wing extremist scene and their sympathizers abroad.

The Working Community’s youth wing, "Bund freier Jugend/ Junge Aktion" (Bund freier Jugend BfJ/ Junge Aktion), is secretly operating in Upper Austria. It also brings together nationalists, in particular National Socialists, who hate foreigners on the grounds of nationality and race.

The sentiments against the coronavirus restrictions brought into existence such movements as "Querdenken," "Bewegung 2020," and "Platform Respekt" to oppose harsh "anti-COVID" measures and demand respect for basic constitutional rights and freedoms. Although these groups claim to be politically unengaged and committed to democratic values, they in fact serve as a magnet for other far-right actors. A mass anti-government rally held on 16 January, 2021 (according to the Ministry of the Interior, over 10,000 people took part in it) involving many right-wing extremists, from the Identitarians and LPS to soccer ultras, members of neo-Nazi groups, and former members of the National Democratic Party banned in Austria, was a striking confirmation of this.

Right-wing student unions ("Olympia," "Arminia Czernowitz"), considered to be right-wing by local NGOs, have a certain influence in Austria. Their members are federal and regional political activists from AFP. There also exist a few regional right-wing radical cells: the "Kameradschaft Deutsch-Österreichische Blutsbrüder" (German-Austrian Blood Brotherhood), the "Braunau Resistance" (Widerstand Braunau), "Objekt 21" (Objekt 21, illegal since 2013), and the "Free Fellowships" (Freie Kameradschaften). Representatives of the fellowships account for 20 out of the 51 AFP seats in the National Council (the lower house of the Austrian parliament). According to the Austrian Resistance Documentation Archive, this is "a record figure in the history of the Second Austrian Republic."[9]

Right-wing extremists hold rallies, protests and street marches, which are often not sanctioned by the authorities, to propagate their ideas. They use the print media outlets such as "The Assembly Hall," the "Phoenix," the "New Order," the "Heute," the"Ekkart," etc. as a media platform for disseminating their right-wing narratives. Internet and social networks are increasingly utilized by right-wing extremist groups to promote their "ideas". Local NGOs regard as neo-Nazi such "alternative" Internet portals as "unzensuriert.at" and "alles roger?". Neo-Nazi musical records available on the Internet are actively used to manipulate the target audience, especially the youth.

The Austrian right-wing extremist community maintains ties with the far-right forces in Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Norway, Sweden, and Belgium. Organized groups and individual activists regularly participate in rallies and marches in other countries, mainly in Germany.

However, currently, the Austrian right-wing extremists have no real political chances. Their active supporters are few in number, and their main concerns ("dominance of migrants," "Islamization," etc.) are traditionally addressed in Parliament within the agenda of the opposition right-wing populist AFP. [10] The latter received only 16.2% of the vote in the early parliamentary elections on September 29, 2019, which is 10% less than in the previous election in 2017 (26.5%).

Experts have highlighted the growing aggressiveness and "militarization" of extremist groups in recent years. In December 2020, Austrian law enforcement authorities in a joint special operation with their German colleagues discovered a weapons cache owned by local neo-Nazi groups and intended for the creation of illegal armed formations in Germany.

Overall, Austria has been complying in good faith with its obligations concerning the maintenance of Soviet war cemeteries, most of which are in good condition. On 14 April 2020, with the assistance of the Austrian Interior Ministry and financial support from the Russian company Gazprom Neft Trading and the "Volnoye Delo" Foundation, memorial steles bearing the names of 170 Red Army soldiers who had earlier been deemed missing were installed in the Central Cemetery in Vienna. In 2020 and 2021, the Austrian side undertook steps to improve the area adjacent to the steles: bushes were planted, the lawn was cut, and the memorial site was bounded with small stones.

At the same time, in recent years, there have been cases of desecration of various Soviet war memorials. For example, the monument to Soviet soldiers who perished during the liberation of Vienna located in Schwarzenbergplatz was attacked by vandals twice in 2019 (25 April and 8 May), and three times in 2018 (10 January, 6 March, 5 July), as well as on 16 January 2017, and 23 February 2015, when its facade plinth was daubed with paint. On 1 May 2018, there occurred another attempt to desecrate the monument: a group of unknown individuals tried to throw vessels with paint on the plinth, but the attack was timely prevented by tourists from Russia. Since there were no police in the square the vandals managed to escape. Despite the fact that in April 2019 the Austrian authorities installed two surveillance cameras at the monument, it was damaged again on 2 July 2020, when an unknown person poured candle wax on the memorial plate.

The memorial cemetery in Laa an der Taye (Lower Austria) has also been repeatedly vandalised. In 2019, red stars were knocked off from a number of graves and, earlier, some tombstones were broken. In February 2020, unknown perpetrators stole a massive iron gate that was supposed to be installed at the entrance to the Orthodox church which forms part of a single memorial complex with the burial ground. The Austrian Interior Ministry assumed that it had been an ordinary theft but has so far failed to identify either the perpetrators or their motives.

The Austrian authorities respect the monuments to soldiers who fought against the Nazi and victims of World War II, including the Holocaust. New memorial sites are also being created. In 2017, a memorial to Jewish victims of the Nazi terror was unveiled in Baden, federal state of Lower Austria (a joint project of the city authorities and the Jewish community of Baden supported by the federal state, the Future Fund of the Republic of Austria and National Fund of the Republic of Austria). In March 2018, the Austrian government supported the initiative by the Wall of Names Memorial NGO on the construction of a monument in Vienna dedicated to Austrian Jews, listing the names of all 66 thousand victims who died in 1938–1945 in Austria (the idea of such a monument had been discussed since 1997). It also announced its willingness to adopt a law to simplify the procedure for acquiring Austrian citizenship (while maintaining the existing one) by descendants of Jewish refugees who left the country in the 1930s.

It should be noted that the government authorities, political forces and social movements in Austria do not obstruct the events commemorating Red Army heroes and victims of the war. There have been no illegal exhumations or transfers of the remains of soldiers who fought against the Nazis.

The state memorial complex on the territory of the former Mauthausen concentration camp plays an important role in educating the population in the spirit of awareness and rejection of the crimes of National Socialism. Created in January 2017, the Federal Institution "Mauthausen memorial complex" conducts educational work with young people in order to preserve the memory of the war and prevent a repetition of the horrors of Nazism. The Austrian Mauthausen Committee, an NGO, organizes memorial events in May each year to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the camp, which are attended by the Austrian leadership, the local community members, foreign guests, and the Vienna diplomatic corps and usually gather a significant number of participants, including from civil society. During the warmer months, young people volunteer to tend the numerous monuments in the memorial complex, including those of the Soviet Union.

At the same time, in the international arena, Austria follows the common line of the EU. For example, Austria regularly abstains in the vote on the UN General Assembly resolution on "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance." The vote on the document in December 2020 was no exception.

According to the Austrian Interior Ministry, 853 hate-motivated offences were recorded in 2020 (922 in 2019). There has been a decrease in the number of right-wing extremist crimes (697; 797 in 2019), with an increase in the number of racist (104; 15 more cases compared to the previous period), anti-Semitic (36; 6 more cases) and Islamophobic (16; 9 more cases) crimes. The official numbers provided by the government are much lower than those reported by human rights organisations.

According to the human rights NGO ZARA (Civil Courage and Anti-Racism Work), 1,950 racially motivated human rights violations were recorded in 2019 (1,920 in 2018; 1,162 in 2017), with more than half of them occurring online. The results of a survey conducted in late 2020 by BanHаte showed a 76% increase in the number of online hate messages compared to 2019 (an increase of more than 3,000 messages). A significant proportion of these have right-wing extremist overtones, usually associated with xenophobic (22%), national socialist (21%) and anti-Semitic views (9%). On 1 January 2021, as part of the fight against online hate speech, a package of legal acts entered into force in Austria to significantly restrict the publishing of relevant content on the Internet.

There is a certain polarisation of attitudes in society towards the migration issue. According to public opinion polls (as of March 2018), 67% of respondents said that Austria should help refugees, while 74% agreed with the statement that a parallel migrant society exists in the country. In the opinion of human rights activists, the fact that the Freedom Party of Austria, which used to be part of the Austrian Federal Government (December 2017 – May 2019), actively used the concept of zero tolerance for migrant offenders played a major role in the increase of such manifestations.

The level of integration of foreigners in general and refugees in particular remains an extremely important indicator for the Austrian authorities and local society. Against the background of unabated migrant-phobia, the police have also recorded an increase in offences committed by the local population, primarily targeting temporary accommodation centres for migrants (damage to property, arson, etc.).

International human rights monitoring bodies have also noted the problems related to the situation of migrants. For example, in October 2015, the Human Rights Committee expressed concern that, despite the measures taken by the Austrian authorities, migrants, foreigners and ethnic minorities, especially the Roma, face intolerance and discrimination. In particular, it noted an increase in the propaganda of racial or religious hatred towards migrants and asylum seekers, as well as Roma, Muslims, and Jews; an increased number of incidents of hate speech by political figures, which are not always suppressed, and propaganda of hatred against people of other confessions by radical Islamist preachers. An increased incidence of hate speech on the Internet and online forums was also pointed out. In this regard, the Committee also highlighted the low representation of ethnic minorities in the political and public life of the country, including in the legislative and executive bodies.[11]

In July 2019, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) also expressed concern about hate crimes and attacks against refugees and asylum seekers, including women and girls.[12]

In March 2019, the Austrian government announced plans to open a Documentation Сentre for Political Islam to combat anti-Semitism, especially among migrants. According to a 2018 study by the Vienna Institute for Empirical Social Research commissioned by the Austrian Parliament, 10% of Austrians are "persistent anti-Semites," with anti-Semitic sentiments being especially common among Turkish and Arabic-speaking residents of the country (from 50% to 70% of them).

According to a study on the spread of anti-Semitism in the country commissioned by the Austrian National Council in early 2019, about 10% of the population support anti-Semitic attitudes. According to the Austrian Institute for Empirical Social Research, anti-Semitism is more prevalent among Turkish and Arabic speakers. While a total of 10% of respondents agreed with the statement "if the State of Israel disappears, then peace in the Middle East will be established," for the Arabic-speaking and Turkish-speaking population the number of people supporting the statement reached more than 70% and 50% respectively. According to a study by the EU Agency for Fundamental Human Rights (FRA), 24% of Jewish respondents consider anti-Semitism to be a very serious problem in Austria, while 49% consider it a relatively serious problem.[13]

The results of a joint study by the Forum Against Anti-Semitism NGO and the Jewish Community of Vienna showed that the number of incidents with anti-Semitic overtones is increasing every year: in 2019, it rose to 550, which represents an increase of 10% compared to 2017 (503). A noticeable increase in the number of incidents was recorded at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, when the Jewish population was accused of spreading COVID-19. Most of the incidents involved: abusive treatment, primarily online (239 cases); damage to property (78); attacks (6), which, as a rule, were committed by right-wing radicals or members of the Islamic community.

In April – May 2019, the Vienna open-air exhibition dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust was attacked by vandals three times. In October 2019, a member of the Jewish Community Council was attacked in Vienna by a local motorist, who, allegedly, while shouting anti-Semitic insults, hit the victim in the face several times. In August 2020, a few days apart, unknown assailants attacked the president of the Graz Jewish Community, E.Rosen, and sprayed graffiti on the walls and broke the windows of the city's synagogue.

During the working meeting of Austria’s Minister for the European Union and Constitution K.Edtstadler with E.Rosen, which took place in the wake of the incidents, a draft "road map" for combating anti-Semitism was discussed. In addition to adopting a National Anti-Semitism Strategy in the future, they agreed to establish a special unit within the Federal Chancellor’s Office to monitor such violations and maintain closer coordination with the country’s Jewish communities.

In accordance with the decision of the Austrian government, starting from 1 September 2020, Jews deported from the territory of Austria during the Second World War (more than 100 thousand people) and their descendants can apply for Austrian citizenship without the need to renounce the existing one (dual citizenship is granted in Austria only in exceptional cases). Authorities expect to receive more than 50,000 applications at the first stage. Head of the Austria's Jewish community Oskar Deutsch called the decision "not a gift, but a formal correction of an injustice."

According to Dokustelle Wien, the number of cases of Islamophobia reached 1,051 in 2019 (540 in 2018). According to the "integration barometer" of the Austrian Integration Fund, the attitude of Austrian citizens towards the Muslim part of the population is getting worse every year. Of 1,000 respondents, 62% thought living together with Muslims could be characterized as "bad." This sentiment is confirmed by the findings of the regular report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Austria, according to which "there are high levels of Islamophobia and the public discourse has become increasingly xenophobic, particularly targeting Muslims and refugees."[14]

According to CEDAW, the decision of the authorities to ban face-covering clothing in public places has a discriminatory impact on Muslim women residing in Austria and migrant women and girls coming to the country. This legislative provision, according to experts, restricts the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion of members of this population group who wear certain religiously influenced clothing, as well as contributes to their social isolation.[15]

Criticism was provoked by a number of incidents that occurred since the beginning of the 2019/2020 school year in Vienna’s schools. Since the entry into force in May 2019 of the ban on wearing Muslim niqab headscarves in primary schools until the end of November 2019, 8 cases of violation were recorded. In all cases, the parents, after receiving legal advice, had to accept the authorities’ decision (in case of refusal, they faced a fine of up to 440 euros). In January 2020, the Austrian Islamic Community filed a complaint with the Austrian Constitutional Court against this restrictive measure, believing that it violates fundamental human rights such as the freedom of religion and the right to parenting.

It is noteworthy that the ban itself was formulated in the School Education Act in broad terms: students under the age of 10 should not wear clothes covering their heads that reflect religious or ideological beliefs. However, the parliamentary subcommittee on education subsequently issued an explanatory commentary in this regard, explaining that only those headdresses that hide either the entire hair or most of it are subject to the restriction. Thus, the wearing of yarmulkes and patkas – children’s headdresses of Sikhs – was removed from the scope of the law. This makes it even more obvious that this step is directed against Muslim girls, which, according to ECRI experts, may result in the marginalization of this group of students and negatively affect their exercise of the right to education.[16]

Besides, there are cases of racial profiling by police officers of certain individuals on the basis of their physical appearance, color and ethnic origin.[17] Thus, in January 2019, two police officers beat a 28-year-old Chechen during a routine identity check in Vienna’s Favoriten district. Six law enforcement officers who were nearby watched these unlawful actions indifferently. Only after the victim provided video evidence of the incident, an internal check was initiated against the police officers, as a result of which they were suspended from duty. The case is currently being looked into by the Federal Anti-Corruption Office.

According to the ECRI, despite the legal prohibition on racial profiling in Austria, only two cases in which this issue was raised have been settled in court so far. There is also no data on complaints of such treatment being considered by the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman in Austria, despite the fact that the topic of racial profiling is within its competence.[18]

According to the statistics from the SORA Institute, persons with a migratory background or Islamic religious affiliation experience discrimination twice as often (62% and 78%) than persons without a migratory background (37%) or those of Christian faith (39%). According to a sociological survey cited in the FRA report, 45% of those surveyed in Austria believe that Muslims should not have the same rights as everyone else in the country.[19].

The complexity and fragmented nature of the anti-discrimination legislation remains a problem specific to the Austrian legal system. The reason for this lies in the division of competence between the federal government and the provinces. Differences between the Equal Treatment Law and the laws of each province, which provide for different degrees of protection depending on the grounds of discrimination, lead to legal uncertainty and confusion in the application of regulations.[20]

In March 2020, the Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed the measures taken by Austria to combat hate speech and expressions of neo-Nazism, racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, such as the creation of special units in prosecutors’ offices to investigate incidents of incitement to hatred and the inclusion of issues of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance in the curricula of Austrian schools.[21]

All in all, it should be noted that the considerable number of right-wing radical groups in the country has to do with its Nazi past, but their real influence on Austria's domestic political agenda is insignificant. At the same time, certain forms of intolerance such as racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and migrant-phobia continue to exist. No progress has been made in resolving these problems in recent years, despite the repeated comments and recommendations made by international monitoring bodies in this regard.

Albania

During World War II, Albania was occupied by fascist Italian and then Nazi German troops; the Albanians were able to liberate the territory of their State in 1944 without resorting to direct foreign assistance. For the next 40 years, the country was ruled by Communist dictatorship, which is why today the socialist government, wishing to demonstrate – both to its Western allies and to the Albanian public – that it has nothing in common with its predecessors, is increasingly talking about the need to review the history of the Albanian people's struggle against fascism.

In 2005–2013, the then ruling Democratic Party promoted the idea of "equal responsibility of totalitarian regimes" for the outbreak of World War II. One of the most striking examples of the revisionist activities was the renaming of topographic sites bearing the names of Communist fighters against fascism.

In late 2018, the remains of the "national hero" Midhat Frasheri, leader of the collaborationist anti–Communist organization "National Front", who was in power during the military occupation of Albania, were reburied in the center of Tirana. The authorities paid no attention to the members of the Organization of Veterans of the Antifascist National Liberation War of the Albanian People and the Organization of Families of Patriots who Gave their Lives for their Homeland, condemning this act.

There have been no neo-Nazi marches or rallies in the country. At the same time, the country produces printed publications that present a one-sided pro-Western account of the war years. A government commission has been set up to prepare a new version of the Albanian history curriculum for educational institutions, with German experts revising the section dedicated to the events of the 1940s and 1950s.

Anti-fascist veterans have a negative attitude to such disguised propaganda by the authorities, regarding it as an attempt by reactionary forces to belittle the contribution of patriots to the liberation of the country, to erase the role of Communist partisans from history and to whitewash the Albanian collaborators of the Nazis.

Against this background, the position taken by the delegation of Albania when considering the annual resolution submitted by Russia and other co-sponsors to the UN General Assembly on "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" is not surprising. As a candidate for membership in the European Union, Albania has lined up with the EU and abstained in the voting.

Individual manifestations of neo-Nazism have taken place in the country. This ideology is widespread among the fans of the football club Tirana, in particular among the members of the associations Tirona Fanatics and Capital Crew. Both openly demonstrate their hatred towards the Communists, especially during the matches between Tirana and Partizan. In 2014, Deputy Prime Minister E. Brace described the fans shouting anti-Communist chants and brandishing a poster addressed to the opposing team, reading "We will reopen Auschwitz for you", as fascists. The Albanian public for the most part condemned this act. However, some Internet users, in comments on articles covering these events, expressed the view that Germany had in fact always been an ally of the Albanian state, and the 21st SS mountain division formed by Albanian collaborators, which was named after the national hero Skanderbeg, had fought for ethnic Albania.[22]

Moreover, Capital Crew regularly posts images with Nazi or fascist symbols on its Facebook page. One of the images depicted two people with tattooed swastikas and Celtic crosses, beating a man bearing a hammer and sickle tattoo. Photos of fans giving the Roman salute are also common. They also use the image of the eagle as a symbol of the Third Reich, printing it on T‑shirts. In turn, members of Tirona Fanatics use a flag with the white double-headed eagle on a black background that is barely different from that of the SS Skanderbeg division.[23]

Ideas of nationalism and extremism are not popular in the country. The only relatively large far-right formation was an association called the Red and Black Alliance, comprising several groups of football fans. In 2012, it was transformed into a political party whose ideology was mainly based on Greekophobia and calls for building "Great Albania" through the incorporation of the Albanian-populated lands in neighboring countries. Since this aspiration had always resonated with a significant part of the population, the Alliance leadership decided to use it for electoral purposes. However, the 2013 parliamentary elections were a failure for the party. While in December 2012, 14 per cent of respondents were ready to support it, only 1.7 per cent actually voted for it. Since then, the Red and Black Alliance has become much less active, including on the Internet.

However, on 2 June 2014, the party held a rally against the attendance of a representative of the Serbian Orthodox Church at the opening of an Orthodox church in Tirana. Protesters hung posters on the Church fence, with the words: "Serbian Patriarch is against Albania". The rally was dispersed by police.[24]

Moreover, nationalist appeals were made at an event organized by the party in the capital to honor the memory of Prince Skanderbeg, leader of the anti-Ottoman uprising that united Albanians in the 15th century.[25]

While the problem of the far-right movement in Albania is not that pressing at the moment, the existing legal and regulatory framework does not allow to eliminate it completely. It does not outlaw racist organizations and does not establish criminal liability for participation in them. This was pointed out by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in December 2018.[26]

At the same time, paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the country's Constitution prohibits the establishment of parties whose activities incite racial, religious, regional or ethnic hatred. According to Article 3 of the Constitution, the state undertakes to respect and protect national equality, religious co-existence, co-existence and mutual understanding between Albanians and national minorities. The equality of all religions is further enshrined in Article 10. Article 20 addresses the rights of national minorities, establishing the right of representatives of non-titular peoples to express their ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity, to teach and study in their native language, to unite in organizations and societies to protect their interests and their identity.

According to Article 18 of the Constitution, discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, religion, nationality and other similar grounds is prohibited in Albania. However, section 3 of this Article contains a reservation according to which this prohibition is only effective if "there are no reasonable and objective reasons" for non-compliance thereof.

Albania's Criminal Code also contains a number of provisions against discrimination and intolerance. It criminalizes discrimination by government officials on the grounds of origin, gender, health status, religious or political values, trade union activities, or because of belonging to a particular ethnic group, country or religion. In accordance with Article 253 of the Criminal Code, this act is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to five years.

Besides, Article 265 ("Incitement to hatred or enmity") and Article 266 ("Calls to incite ethnic hatred") are dedicated to combating xenophobic crimes. Pursuant to Article 50, paragraph j, the commission of a crime motivated by racial hatred, as well as on the grounds of intolerance to people of a certain color, ethnicity and other similar characteristics, is an aggravating circumstance.

In addition, the Law of Albania on Protection against Discrimination was adopted in 2010. This legal act contains a detailed list of potential grounds for discriminatory treatment, including, in addition to nationality, race, skin color and other traditional characteristics, pregnancy, marital status, health status, genetic predisposition, etc.

Albania pursues a policy of deliberately withholding statistics related to hate crimes. CERD drew attention to this fact, expressing concern over the lack of reliable information on the number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions in cases concerning acts of racial discrimination. The Committee also voiced criticism over the continued use of hate speech by state officials and public figures in their public statements.[27]

Albania has a consistently high level of cultural and religious tolerance. No infringement of the rights of believers of any confessions represented in the country has been recorded.

However, there are certain problems with ensuring the rights of national minorities. The most vulnerable group is the Roma, who face discrimination in access to employment, education, health care, housing and various services.

A report prepared by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic following her visit to Albania notes that vulnerable groups still have difficult access to justice. A 2017 UNDP study on the issue showed a high level of legal illiteracy, especially among Roma, and a lack of confidence in the justice system among Albanians. According to the study, it is much more difficult for the Roma, the poor, people with low education levels, the disabled, victims of domestic violence and children from residential institutions to achieve justice than for the average Albanian citizen. Many of them become victims of multiple discrimination and experience financial difficulties, which makes it impossible for them to get better services. As a result, some of them give up all attempts to resolve their legal issues.[28]

According to the Council of Europe's Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (AC-FCNM), the Law of Albania on the Protection of National Minorities in the Republic of Albania adopted in 2017 contains declarative provisions aimed at protecting, preserving and developing the cultural identity and languages of national minorities. It defines the scope of application listing relevant groups of persons and the rights of those belonging to national minorities. As noted by the AC-FCNM, this legal act is very general and programmatic in nature. In many important areas, it delegates the resolution of specific issues to the Council of Ministers. However, in order to make the legislative provisions effective, it is necessary to ensure the adoption of secondary legislation in the form of decisions of the Council of Ministers. No such decisions were taken within the six-month period established by law, which deprived the persons belonging to national minorities of access to their rights. Moreover, the Council of Ministers’ decisions are of subordinate legal status, which leads to a lesser degree of protection of rights.[29]

In 2018, the said law was amended: a quota of 20% of the population living in municipalities was established for national minorities to receive school education in their native language.

However, the AC-FCNM, in its opinion on Albania, noted the lack of progress in providing education in national minority languages or teaching of national minority languages. Greek-language schools continue to operate in Gjirokastra, Saranda, Delvina and Korçë, and Macedonian-language education is provided in schools in Korçë. In addition to the limited teaching of the Romani language, teaching in or of other national minority languages has not been introduced. The new law on national minorities provides opportunities for instruction in the languages of all national minorities in Albanian schools. At the same time, draft decisions of the Council of Ministers set out restrictive criteria for creating relevant classes in educational establishments.[30]

Many members of minorities – Roma and Balkan Egyptians – are being forcibly evicted as part of major infrastructure projects, such as the construction of a ring road around the capital. While welcoming a number of measures to ensure the right to housing, including the adoption of the Law of Albania on Social Housing, CERD noted with concern the need for full implementation of the guarantees introduced by this new law in the context of planned evictions.[31]

Women and children from the Roma community make up a disproportionately large number of victims of human trafficking, especially for the purposes of sexual and labour exploitation, as well as forced begging.[32] In addition, Roma and Ashkali women still have limited access to primary health care and services related to sexual and reproductive health, and often are not even aware that such services exist. They also face obstacles to participation in political and public life, including the exercise of their right to vote. Access to the official labour market for such women is also limited. All of these issues were highlighted by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in July 2016.[33] In addition, the experts expressed concern about the limited access to education for Roma and Ashkali girls owing to poor school infrastructure and lack of teachers.[34]

The fact that the country's authorities are making efforts to remedy the situation should be applauded. In Albania, there are institutions of the public defender and the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination. Following the entry into force of the Albanian Law on the Protection of National Minorities, the State Committee for Minorities received a new mandate and is being recomposed, and a fund for national minorities is being created.[35]

There are approximately 4,900 stateless persons or persons at risk of statelessness in Albania, many of whom are Roma with no identity documents, as well as Roma children or children born abroad who lack birth registration. Another group at risk of statelessness is Albanian emigrants who have gone abroad and voluntarily renounced their citizenship and/or did not obtain citizenship of the destination country.[36] The revised Law on the Status of Citizens precluded the possibility for children to receive the status of a "non-citizen."

The analysis of the prevalence of far-right ideologies and discriminatory practices in Albania shows that the situation has not changed significantly over the reporting period. On the one hand, the ideas of Nazism, fascism and neo-Nazism do not enjoy wide support among the population. On the other hand, the Albanian leadership, both socialists and democrats, has consistently pursued a policy of revising the results of World War II. Besides, a range of problems associated with manifestations of hatred based on ethnicity is noted. Discrimination against members of national minorities remains one of the most problematic areas in terms of human rights protection in Albania.

Belgium

Belgium is not one of the countries where the problems of glorification of Nazism and revision of the results of World War II are acute.

The Law on the Prevention of Acts Motivated by Racism and Xenophobia, the Law on the Prevention of Denial, Minimization or Justification of Genocide Perpetrated by the German Regime during World War II, and the Law on Combating Certain Forms of Discrimination provide the legal basis for countering manifestations of neo-Nazism, racism and xenophobia.

In general, Belgium shows respect to the memory of Resistance fighters and victims of Nazism, and duly tends to memorials in their honour and cemeteries where, among others, Red Army soldiers who participated in the partisan movement and died in battles on the territory of the country are buried. The largest memorials are the Breendonk Fort, a former Nazi concentration camp near Mechelen, where thousands of prisoners were held before being deported to Auschwitz, and the Holocaust Museum at the Dossin barracks, located nearby.

Belgium holds celebrations to mark the end of the Second World War and the liberation of the country from the Nazis. The biggest events are organized in Brussels, Liège and Antwerp with the participation of the city administrations, officials from regional and federal authorities, as well as the Royal Palace. On September 6, the Day of Liberation from Nazism, flags of the anti-Hitler coalition countries, including Russia, are traditionally raised above the Antwerp City Hall. During the ceremonies, mayor of Antwerp Bart De Wever, representative of the New Flemish Alliance, traditionally acknowledges the role of the Red Army in the victory over the Nazi invaders.

Belgian authorities, members of veterans' organizations and the public regularly propose holding joint commemorative events with the participation of the Russian side. In March 2019, a plaque commemorating major E.Dotsenko, a Belgian resistance hero, was put up in Comblain-au-Pont at the suggestion of the local military history club. In October 2019, in Rebecq, a national memorial by the grave of V.Talda, a Red Army member of the Resistance movement, was inaugurated in honor of all Soviet fighters who fought in the ranks of the Belgian partisans. The ceremony was attended by Belgian officials, including the governor of the Walloon Brabant province, Gilles Mahieu.

The official authorities have always shown benevolence to and interest in the commemorative events organized in Belgium by the Russian Embassy, including flower laying ceremonies at the graves of fallen soldiers and the Immortal Regiment march held in a number of cities.

Civil society has also expressed disagreement with the EU-wide course towards diluting the role of the Red Army and the USSR in the victory over Nazism. Prominent Belgian historians and publicists in major newspapers criticized the text of the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 19 September 2019 "On the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe," pointing to obvious distortions of facts, attempts to rehabilitate the Nazi regime and the imposition of a revisionist interpretation of history.

Though declaring rejection of the ideas of Nazism, neo-Nazism and hate ideology, Belgium follows the line of the EU and abstains from voting in the UN General Assembly on the resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance," annually adopted at the initiative of Russia and its other co-sponsors.

At the same time, occasional manifestations of Nazism and racism are recorded in Belgium. Thus, a notorious event occurred in September 2018, when a monument in honour of Latvian Waffen SS legionnaires was erected in Zedelgem (West Flanders) on the site of a former British POW camp where Latvian SS members were held after World War II (this was done in cooperation with the Latvian "Museum of the Occupation of Latvia"). In response to the complaint filed by activists of the Belgian Federation of Russian-speaking Organizations to the municipal authorities, mayor Annick Vermeulen said that the monument had been installed to honor the "historical ties" between this Belgian town and Latvia, to "keep the memory of former legionnaires just as human beings" and to "promote Modern Art."

An alarming symptom is that flea markets in Belgium sell military paraphernalia with Nazi symbols. Jan Jambon, minister of the interior in 2014-2018, acknowledged in this regard that the Belgian Criminal Code does not contain provisions prohibiting such practices. Prosecution, including criminal prosecution, is only envisaged for actively expressed adherence to the ideas of Nazism, denial of the Holocaust, and propaganda of unlawful discrimination.

However, the legal provisions applicable to demonstration of Nazi symbols might be amended in the future. A number of bills have been submitted to the House of Representatives of the Belgian Federal Parliament, one of which provides for a ban on their use for propaganda purposes. Another bill is aimed at criminalizing any acts based on affiliation with Nazi and similar ideologies, including the establishment and participation in the activities of relevant associations or unions. One more initiative is aimed at revision of the law prohibiting private military groups. It seeks to include all "antidemocratic" organizations created to promote hate ideologies into the scope of the law.

Regular reports by intelligence services on the security situation indicate a certain increase in the popularity of extreme right-wing forces, which is explained by the migration crisis and the general deterioration of the situation after the terrorist attacks in March 2016. Neo-Nazi groups currently active in the country (which usually have a small number of members) are marginal and have little influence on the domestic political situation. Such organizations include, for example, the Belgian branch of Blood and Honor, an international neo-Nazi organization, Flemish Resistance, and Shield and Friends. Their actions are criticized by the country's officials and draw the attention of law enforcement agencies. Belgian media also usually react to such events. For example, the carnival in the Flemish city of Aalst in February 2020 turned into a scandal because some of its participants made the Jewish community an object of ridicule. The situation caused a wave of public outrage over obvious signs of anti-Semitism. The Belgian authorities, including the country's prime-minister, condemned the incident. The Center for Equal Opportunities and the Fight against Racism acted as an intermediary in contacts on this matter between the Aalst administration and Jewish associations.

In March 2019, proceedings concerning a high-profile crime against members of the Jewish community in Belgium were brought to a close (4 people were killed in the attack on 24 May 2014 at the Jewish Museum in Brussels; the crime caused a wave of indignation, outrage and sympathy for the country's Jewish community both among the Belgian population and throughout Europe). The jury sentenced the perpetrator to life imprisonment. In its decision, the court also noted the anti-Semitic nature of the attack.[37]

Another example of public disapproval of such practices is the situation around the Shield and Friends movement. A criminal case was instituted against its founder, member of the Federal Parliament Dries Van Langenhove, on suspicion of violating the legislation on weapons possession and justification of Nazi crimes. On 18 March 2021, his parliamentary immunity was lifted.

The Human Rights Committee (HRCtte) in 2019 and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 2021 voiced concerns about the fact that Brussels had not yet adopted a national or inter-federal action plan against racism.[38] Belgium made a relevant commitment as far back as 2001 at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

Some signs of progress on the issue have started showing just recently: in February 2020, the first meeting of the specialized conference with the participation of stakeholders from the federal and regional governments took place, and, in September 2020, a concept note to inform further negotiations was agreed.

Meanwhile, there is a trend towards deterioration of relations between the various ethnic and religious groups of the Belgian population. The animated debate over the wearing of headscarves is a good illustration of the existing tensions. Despite the fact that the State Council reversed the decision to completely ban them in higher education institutions, no fundamental changes in practice followed. The internal regulations that forbid the wearing of religious symbols have been kept in force by universities, regardless of the specifics of the particular institution.

In their most recent report, experts of the Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended that the authorities ensure that decisions taken by schools and higher education establishments regarding the wearing of religious symbols or clothing respect the principle of lawfulness and are free of any form of discrimination. [39]

The HRCtte, in turn, criticized the legislation on the wearing of full veils in public. According to the experts, the fact that it imposes sanctions in the form of a fine or imprisonment constitutes a disproportionate infringement on the freedom to manifest one's religion or belief. In addition, the Committee is concerned about the prohibition against the wearing of religious symbols at work, in certain public bodies and by teachers and students at public schools, which could result in discrimination and marginalization of certain persons belonging to religious minorities.[40]

Cases of racial profiling by law enforcement officers in relation to ethnic minorities have been recorded in the country. The 2020 Report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights noted the existence of this problem with reference to a research conducted by the University of Antwerp in June 2019. According to its findings, young people with an ethnic minority background are three times more likely to be stopped by the police than other citizens. The study concludes that this practice undermines trust in law enforcement among this population group.[41]

The arrest of a Congolese migrant woman in Liège in March 2021 sparked another wave of public discontent and resulted in a demonstration in defense of persons of African descent under the slogan "Black Lives Matter." The woman accused the police of racism and violence. A spontaneous protest that began peacefully ended in clashes with the police.[42]

Earlier that year, in January, a similar situation took place in Brussels, where riots broke out after a 23-year-old man of Guinean origin was killed in a police station. He was arrested after he refused to produce documents to the police and attempted to flee. At the station, he felt unwell, lost consciousness and died.[43]

In addition, on 11-12 April 2020, mass demonstrations took place in Andrélecht, migrant neighbourhood of Brussels. The riot was provoked by the death of a young man killed in a collision with a car while trying to escape from a police patrol. Clashes with the police ended with the use of water cannons and mass arrests.

There is a high rate of unemployment and employment in lower-status jobs among people of African descent. This category of the population is subject to racial discrimination not only in employment, but also in education and housing; besides, it is underrepresented in administration, the media, cultural settings, the scientific community and academia.[44]

In its latest report on Belgium, the ECRI noted that the country's criminal legislation does not contain concepts that distinguish between discrimination and hate-motivated violence. It was emphasized that any violation of the anti-discrimination laws constituting a criminal offence is usually classified by the police or prosecutors as "discrimination." The police or prosecutors' databases do not indicate whether a particular incident involves hate-motivated violence or another form of discrimination. In this regard, Belgium was recommended to include data on aggravating circumstances of offences in statistical reporting so that hate crimes could be more easily identified.[45]

In practical terms, the main document coordinating law enforcement efforts to combat discrimination and intolerance is the joint circular issued on 17 June 2013 by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, and the College of Public Prosecutors. It stipulates, among other things, that a special prosecutor should be appointed in each judicial district to investigate this type of crimes as a matter of priority.

An important tool for monitoring adherence to fundamental rights is the "Committee P" in charge of overseeing the work of the police, established under and reporting to the House of Representatives of the Belgian Parliament. Citizens who believe that their rights have been infringed upon as a result of actions by law enforcers can directly reach out to this body. All complaints of abuse of power, dereliction of duty, including failure to properly investigate incidents of racial intolerance, are duly looked into.

The inter-federal Center for Equal Opportunity and Opposition to Racism is responsible for monitoring the overall situation. In 2020, it opened 956 cases of alleged racism (an increase of 0.5 per cent compared to the previous year). Most of them involve racial discrimination in workplace and employment, service provision, as well as hate speech on the Internet, particularly in social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Much attention is paid to organizing information campaigns, with a primary focus on young people, aimed at preventing domestic discrimination in all spheres of life, avoiding hate speech, and breaking down racial prejudices and stereotypes. Such programmes are implemented both at the federal level (the most recent one was launched in March 2019) and by the regional authorities.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of hate crimes targeting, among others, persons of Asian descent have increased. There has been an increase in the use of hate speech, particularly with anti-Semitic and Islamophobic overtones, and the rhetoric against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers on the Internet and social networks has hardened, too.

To sum up, Belgium is one of those European countries that have a relatively favourable situation in terms of combating racism and discrimination. Nevertheless, there are certain problems in the area that have persisted for years and require much closer attention from the country's official authorities. As for Brussels' policy on the preservation of the memory of World War II, it is generally better than that of certain other EU states.

Bulgaria

Extreme nationalism, neo-Fascism and xenophobia are not uncommon in Bulgaria. There are several entities that openly promote the ideas of National Socialism, including racial hatred and intolerance towards the country's ethnic minorities. Those include the Bulgarian National Union (the leading neo-Nazi movement in Bulgaria, established in 2001 and registered as an NGO, positioning itself as the successor of the Union of Bulgarian National Legions), the Bulgarian branch of "Blood and Honor" (an international neo-Nazi organization founded in the UK in 1987) in Plovdiv, "National Resistance" (a far-right organization founded in 2008) and the Nationalist Party of Bulgaria (founded in 2013).

On 21 April 2019, Sofia hosted the founding congress of Fortress Europe, attended by members of far-right European NGOs. Bulgaria was represented by members of the "Bulgarian National Union".

Nevertheless, there is little prospect that Bulgarian nationalist organizations will get representation in the legislative or executive branches of government. They also show no tendency to increase. Furthermore, on 10 February 2020, the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office filed a complaint with the Sofia City Court to cancel the registration of the Bulgarian National Union (NGO).

The latter has been the driving force behind the spread of extreme nationalism. It organized and masterminded the Lukov March, a torch-lit procession (held from 2003 through 2018) to honor Gen Hristo Lukov (1887-1943) – a Bulgarian Nazi ideologue during World War II, supporter of the Alliance with the fascists and leader of the Union of Bulgarian National Legions.[46] Participants in the procession wear military uniforms, use nationalist symbols and slogans. In 2005, at their initiative, a commemorative plaque was placed on the facade of the building where Hristo Lukov had lived.

In recent years, the Sofia authorities have made repeated attempts to ban the Lukov March, but nationalists succeeded in asserting their rights in court, invoking the provisions of the Law on Assemblies, Rallies and Manifestations. In 2021, the local administration took unprecedented steps to limit the scope of this event. The mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova, issued an order banning the torchlight procession in the center of the capital on 13 February 2021,[47] which was approved by decision of the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria. Those wishing to honor the Nazi collaborator's memory were only allowed to gather at the site of Lukov's death. The Interior Ministry pledged to prevent any violation of the Sofia Administration's legal orders by neo-Nazis and took their movements across the city under close control. In turn, Antifa Bulgaria organized a rally against the Lukov March. Protesters marched through the center of the capital, carrying anti-fascist banners.

Despite the authorities' declared rejection of Nazism ideas, neo-Nazism and the ideology of hatred, as well as their efforts to prohibit the holding of such events, Bulgaria has lined up with the EU and abstained from voting in the UN General Assembly on the resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance".

In October 2019, Angel Dzhambazki, a MEP and candidate for mayor of Sofia from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization party, said in a live Panorama broadcast on Bulgarian National Television that he fully supported the Lukov March in the capital.

Torchlight processions are held to honor another Bulgarian Nazi collaborator, military pilot D.Spisarevsky. They take place annually on 20 December in the village of Dolni-Pasarel, Sofia region.

Every year on 30 April 2019 (the anniversary of Hitler's death), flyers praising the Nazi are pasted up in the streets of Sofia and across the region. Graffiti with swastikas and SS insignia often appear on buildings. Souvenirs with Nazi insignia, Hitler's Mein Kampf and works of foreign and Bulgarian Holocaust deniers, such as R.Harwood, A.Panayotov, B.Stankov, etc., are freely available in market.

Nazi symbols are regularly found in stadiums during football matches between national clubs, some of whose fans do not hide their affiliation with neo-Nazi movements. For example, in October 2019, during the Euro 2020 qualifier match between Bulgaria and England, Bulgarian fans were chanting racist slogans and defiantly extending their arms, imitating a Nazi salute. The incident sparked a massive outcry in Europe. As a result, the Bulgarian Football Union top officials were forced to resign.

Most notably, national legislation equates "dissemination of fascist ideologies" with the violent overthrow of the constitutional order (Article 108 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Bulgaria), but there have been no recorded cases of criminal prosecution on this basis.

Despite all the above, the government in Sofia never hesitates to accuse the Russian Federation of "falsifying historical events" of the war period. In 2020, on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, Bulgaria joined a declaration holding the USSR and Hitler's Germany equally responsible for the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. The document was also signed by representatives of the U.S. and several Eastern European states. Later that year, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zakharieva, when discussing the issue of borders and reparations to Bulgaria, tried to downplay the efforts of Soviet diplomacy at the 1946 Paris Peace Conference.

Another cause for concern is the situation with respect to the inviolability of monuments to Soviet soldiers. While there have been no recorded instances of destruction or dismantling of such memorials in Bulgaria, acts of vandalism occur periodically.

The most frequent attacks have been against the main Soviet military memorials: the majestic monument to the Soviet Army in the center of Sofia, the monument to the Soviet soldier-liberator in Plovdiv ("Alyosha") and the mass grave of Red Army soldiers in Sofia's Lozenets.

On the night of 13 January 2020, the police thwarted an attempt by two schoolgirls to put drawings on the monument to the Soviet Army, and on the night of 30 January 2020, the side of the Alyosha monument and the exposition with a bas-relief in front of it were stained with red paint and daubed with the words "We have not forgotten" and "We will not forgive".

On 13 February 2020, another act of vandalism was reported following a routine inspection of the mass grave of Soviet soldiers in Sofia's Lozenets: the noses of two warriors in the bas-relief group were chipped and their heads damaged. In May 2020, on the eve of Victory Day, head of the local administration K. Pavlov suggested that the memorial be removed from the site altogether.

On the night of 9 April 2020, an act of vandalism was committed against the monument on the mass grave of 45 Soviet officers and soldiers in the city park of Dobrich. On the 7-meter sculpture and 12-meter pylon vandals daubed in blue the words "Death to USSR", "Death to Russia", "Bulgaria on its own", "Death to invaders", "Death to Alyoshas", "Death to Communism" and "Enough with self-abasement".

On the night of 11 August 2020, the monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia was desecrated again: the words "Boyko, Lukashenko out" were sprayed across the central plaque reading "For the liberator Soviet Army from the grateful Bulgarian people". Two months later, on 13 October, the SS double zig rune and under it the number 700, which stands for the SS anti-tank brigade comprised of 700 Bulgarian volunteers, were written in black on the same plaque. On 17 February 2021, the mass grave in Lozenets was once again desecrated and painted with various symbols.

There have been no instances of illegal exhumation or transfer of the remains of Soviet soldiers in Bulgaria.

Neither have there been attempts to prosecute Bulgarian veterans who had fought on the side of the Bulgarian National Army,[48] partisan detachments, battle groups or the Resistance Movement, or any accounts of the prohibition of the Red Army and USSR symbols and insignia, obstruction of commemorative events on the occasion of victory in the Great Patriotic War, or opposition to the activities of veterans' organizations and NGOs fighting against neo-Nazism and the glorification of Nazism.

Neo-Nazi ideas are promoted on the websites of the Bulgarian National Union[49] and the Lukov March[50], which – among other things – provide access to online lectures on the far-right agenda. Facebook is actively used for campaigning and fundraising. In the streets of Sofia, one can find leaflets and graffiti with swastikas or SS units insignia.

Hate speech against national minorities in Bulgaria mainly takes place at the mundane level. Experts explain the existence of nationalist sentiments in Bulgaria by the complicated demographic situation and the growing disproportion between the number of Bulgarian and Roma newborns (by some accounts, it is approximately one to four). The Turkish national minority is also outpacing the Bulgarians in the number of newborns.

Besides, parties and NGOs promoting the interests of the Turkish and Roma populations freely operate in the country. Still, the media occasionally report on strong nationalistic statements by individual politicians, mainly concerning the growing levels of crime and illiteracy among the Roma ethnic group.

International monitoring bodies, such as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination[51] and the Human Rights Committee[52], have raised concerns about reports of an increase in hate speech and hate crimes against Turks, Roma, Muslims, Jews, people of African descent, migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

Experts point to insufficient efforts by the authorities to integrate the Roma minority. Its members, including children, are subject to widespread stigmatization and discrimination, leading to violence and hate speech. This was pointed out, in particular, by the Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ACFC).[53]

Special programs have been developed to provide employment opportunities for Roma (National Strategy for Roma Integration 2014–2020, National Strategy for Roma Integration 2012–2020, Human Resource Development 2014–2020). In practice, however, most members of this diaspora do not have permanent and legitimate sources of income.

The ACFC also noted a deterioration in minorities' right to participate in public affairs during the monitoring period. Many organizations representing the Turkish minority as well as many organizations working with Roma have either left the National Council or not reapplied for membership, expressing their discontent with its work.[54]

It is deplorable that persons belonging to national minorities have not been granted the right to use their native language when interacting with the executive authorities and that no measures have been taken to assess the demand for its use in such situations.

The ACFC also noted that traditional local topographical indications in Bulgaria were not duplicated in minority languages. Moreover, in 2018, the Stara Zagora local council decided to replace local toponyms of Turkish-Arab origin with Bulgarian translations or neologisms.[55]

At the same time, in 2019, benefits were introduced in Bulgarian schools for teaching Turkish as a mother tongue in grades 1 to 7. Work to produce materials for the mother-tongue teaching of Armenian, Hebrew and Romani is underway. As regards the media, some news bulletins are published in minority languages with support from the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues. Bulgarian National Television continues to broadcast daily ten-minute news programs in Turkish. In 2015, the first national Roma television channel in Bulgaria was launched.[56]

The authorities refuse to enter into dialogue with persons identifying themselves as Macedonians and requesting recognition as a national minority. A 2019 judgment by the Sofia Court of Appeal confirmed once again the position adopted by Bulgaria 20 years ago that there is no "Macedonian ethnos" in its territory.[57]

There are difficulties in the functioning of religious institutions. Spiritual leaders of Islam report to feel their rights being infringed. Initiatives to build religious schools in order to educate children about Islam and to publish Muslim literature have been ignored at the local level. Amendments to the Religious Denominations Act have significantly limited the sources of foreign funding for religious organizations. Another approved regulation prohibits wearing all kinds of "thick or semitransparent fabric that covers or conceals the face", including scarves, masks, and other garments in public places. An exception is made only for those who cover their faces due to their profession or health issues. Everyone else is allowed to wear the burqa and niqab only in religious institutions and at home.

There have also been cases of vandalism against places of worship. Investigations of such cases rarely lead to the identification and prosecution of those responsible.

Summarizing the above, the conclusion to be made is that the increasing importance of extreme right-wing movements remains a pressing issue for Bulgaria. At the same time, one cannot overlook the accomplishments in the fight against the glorification of Nazism, in particular the effective ban on the Lukov March for the second year in a row. However, other forms of xenophobia and intolerance are common in the country: there is a growing mundane nationalism that generates hatred toward "aliens" such as Turks, Roma, and a number of other non-titular ethnic groups.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) generally recognizes the importance of the Victory over Nazism, the victory that gave freedom to the nations of Europe. Commemorative events to honor the Yugoslav people's struggle against the invaders are regularly held throughout the country, significant dates are celebrated. Primarily, the Battle of Suteska (15 May – 15 June 1943), the Battle of the Neretva (16 February – 15 March 1943), the Igman March (January 1942), the liberation of Sarajevo, Banja Luka and the Yasenovac concentration camp (April 1945).

At the national level, no instances of glorification of the Nazi movement or the construction of monuments or memorials to the Nazis or their collaborators have ever been recorded in BiH. At the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, the delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina supported the draft resolution entitled "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance", which had been introduced by Russia and other co-sponsors.

However, the peoples living in BiH (Serbs, Croats and Muslim Bosniaks) still cannot find consensus on what contribution each of these nations made to save the world from the brown plague, nor can they agree on how much sacrifice was made. This "fragmentation" of historical memory comes as a consequence of the armed conflict in BiH between 1992 and 1995.

For example, representatives of the Bosniak political elite promote the narrative of fighting against the invaders and "external aggression" both during the war and in the 1990s. They emphasize that in both cases the Bosniaks managed to keep Bosnia and Herzegovina "united and indivisible". Local Serbs remember the victims of the concentration camps established as part of the so-called Independent State of Croatia (ISC) – a pro-fascist puppet state in the territory of present-day Croatia and BiH (1941–1945).[58] They emphasize the decisive contribution of the Serbian people to the fight against the Nazis and often rank the other two peoples among Nazi collaborators.[59] In turn, the Croats tend to underestimate the number of Serbian and Jewish casualties during the war, while emphasizing the need to remember all Croats who lost their lives, both partisan fighters and the ISC supporters. In doing so, they fiercely criticize the "bloodthirsty regime of Josip Broz Tito" for the crackdown on the latter at the end of the war. The Croatian ruling elite regularly take part in relevant commemorative events. For example, in May 2020, cardinal Vinko Puljic held a mass in Sarajevo's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, commemorating the executed members of the Ustasha. This caused an outcry among other nations in the country and veteran organizations. The current President of the Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jakob Finci, condemned the glorification of war criminals.[60] Metropolitan Hrizostom of Dabro-Bosnia announced the end of cooperation with the head of the Catholic church in BiH, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Vrhbosna Vinko Puljic.[61]

As of today, there is no glorification of the Nazi movement or promotion of neo-Nazism at the national level in BiH. Yet, certain manifestations of neo-Nazism are still present. There have been attempts in the Muslim-Croatian Federation of BiH (FBiH) to "whitewash" Nazi collaborators, with the connivance of the local political elite. For example, a number of streets in Mostar were renamed in the 1990s in honor of the Ustasha criminals – M.Budak,[62] J.Francetic, A.Vokic, I.Zelenike and D.Spuzevic. Moreover, local Croats have plans to build a "peace memorial" in the suburb of Mostar in the area of Bili, where they want to install several thousand crosses with the names of Croats from Herzegovina who died during World War II, including those who supported the ISC.[63]

In the aftermath of the armed conflict in BiH, a number of streets were also renamed in honor of Nazi henchmen in towns with predominantly Bosniak populations. In Sarajevo, 152 names were changed. When the city was part of the Republic of Yugoslavia, all these streets were named after Yugoslav partisans and anti-fascists.[64] At the same time, a number of streets were named after ideologues of the Young Muslims pan-Islamic movement M.Busuladzic,[65] A.Serdarevic[66] and V.Curcic, commander of the ISC units during the occupation of Sarajevo S.Pačariz,[67] chairman of the Muslim Charitable Society "Merhamet" and later commander of the Muslim unit M.Panja[68], and director of the Croatian National Theatre during the ISC period A.Nametak.[69] In June 2016, a secondary school in Gorazd (Federation of BiH) was named in honor of Imam Hussein Efendi Jozo,[70] a member of the SS Hajar division, which was comprised mainly of Bosniak Muslims and was famous for its punitive raids in the Balkans during World War II. In 2018, a school in Sarajevo was named after Mustafa Busuladzic, which attracted widespread media coverage. All of the above were sentenced to death by Yugoslav military tribunals after the war.

In late 2020, Damir Arnaut, an MP of the Nasa Stranka (Our Party), put forward an initiative to rename streets and other sites named after Nazi collaborators.[71] The Bosniak newspaper Oslobođenje, which positions itself as a guardian of "anti-fascist traditions", supported the initiative, dedicating a series of articles to the crimes committed by the collaborators during World War II, and accused the Sarajevo canton authorities of bogging the initiative down.

The Jewish Community of BiH and its culture association Benevolencia, located in the Federation of BiH, have always been strong upholders of anti-fascist traditions in the country and regularly organize events to reinforce a truthful narrative of the war years and to educate new generations in the spirit of humanism. In 2020, the Jewish Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo) in cooperation with Russia held an exhibition "The Roads of Victory", devoted to the liberation of South-Eastern Europe by the Red Army with support from national liberation movements against the Nazi occupation in 1944–1945.

Neither the government nor the population of Republika Srpska nor the Bosnian-Serbian population of BiH show tendency toward revisionism or revision of the results of World War II; they actively promote the ideas of anti-fascism. The Immortal Regiment and St. George's Ribbon campaigns grow increasingly popular every year in the Bosnian-Serbian entity (in 2020, due to the spread of the coronavirus infection, the campaigns were held online). At the initiative of the Republika Srpska Government, since the 2018/2019 academic year, the educational programs of the entity include extended lectures on crimes and genocide against Serbs and the Holocaust in the ISC. In 2019, on the initiative of Serbian entity authorities, the 7 February 1942 Society was established, the purpose of which is to gather information about the Ustasha's crimes against the civilian Serbian population in the villages of Drakulic, Sagovac and the Rakovac mine, where more than 2.3 thousand people were killed with particular cruelty in a single day.

At the same time, local Serbs have a special perception of the role of Serbia in World War II and particularly that of the government in exile and its armed forces in the Balkans. In June 2019, a monument was erected in Bilecha to the leader of the Chetniks movement, D.Mikhailovic, who fought not only against the Nazis but also against partisans of the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia. A similar monument is expected to appear in Bijeljina (Republika Srpska). The initiative was negatively received by the Bosniaks, who viewed it as "a provocation in a city that has a 30-thousand Bosniak population". In addition, every year, on the day of D. Mikhailovic's arrest (10 March 1946), supporters of the Chetniks movement organize commemorative events in Visegrad.

The activities of World War II veteran associations in BiH draw on the traditions of being part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The successor to the Yugoslav SUBNOR of the Socialist Republic of BiH (Union of Societies of Veterans of the People's Liberation War) – SABNOR BiH (Union of Societies of Anti-Fascists and Veterans of the People's Liberation War) and SUBNOR RS – united all primary veteran organizations after the 1992-1995 armed conflict and now has an extensive network of offices throughout the country, acting almost on a voluntary basis.

There have been cases of vandalism against monuments to Yugoslav partisans. For instance, every year on 10 April (the anniversary of the establishment of the ISC), neo-Nazis destroy monuments in the Partisan cemetery in Mostar (Croatian part) and draw insulting graffiti on them.

Nevertheless, on the whole, the situation with the maintenance of the memorials to the victims of the national liberation struggle in the territory of BiH can be considered satisfactory. Local veterans' organizations and authorities make efforts to ensure proper maintenance. There are no monuments to Red Army soldiers in the country.

Organized activity of nationalist or far-right groups is not registered in BiH. Some of them operate on the Internet through social media profiles, such as the so-called "Bosnian National Pride Movement",[72] formed back in 2010, which remains largely inactive to this day.

Yet, in February 2020, a group of ultra-nationalist local Croatian football fans attacked a parade dedicated to the anniversary of the liberation of Mostar from Nazi invaders.[73]

There have been no attempts at prosecution or other incidents involving veterans of the People's Liberation Movement in Yugoslavia during World War II.

As for the hate speech against people belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, it is expressed primarily in negative comments under news stories on Bosnian media websites (for example, klix.ba and faktor.ba – major online news outlets operating in the Federation of BiH) but for now does not go beyond the Internet space.

Education remains an area of concern, as ethnic segregation in this field has not yet been addressed. The practice of "two schools under one roof", where children of different nationalities study not only under different programs but also on different shifts, is still common in areas of the Muslim-Croatian Federation of BiH (FBiH) with a mixed population.

The Constitution of BiH, which was part of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement and focused on the settlement of relations between the three constituent peoples, does not allow members of other ethnic groups, united in the category "other citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina", cannot be elected to the highest State authority (the three-member Presidency) and the upper house of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly.

In 2006, social activist D. Sejdic (Roma by nationality) and President of the Jewish Community Jakob Finci filed a lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights against Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to end discrimination and ensure the right of other citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to stand for election in the Presidency and the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH.

In December 2009, the ECtHR ruled in their favor and ordered BiH to provide a mechanism for the participation of national minorities in these State structures by making appropriate changes to the Constitution and electoral legislation. The process of implementing the ECtHR's decision has not brought any results so far due to the lack of consensus between the country's leading political forces on this issue. According to a study by the European Academy for Education and Social Research (NGO), there are more than 100 laws in BiH with similar restrictive wording.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) also noted that the Constitution and electoral laws in BiH, as well as respective acts at entity level, still have discriminatory provisions, despite the ECtHR ruling in the case of Sejdic-Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina, which prevent "others'' from running as candidates for membership in the Presidency and the House of Peoples. Furthermore, the Committee noted with concern the remaining discriminatory provisions in some laws and regulations granting special privileges to the constitutive peoples in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska over others.[74]

In this regard, CERD recommended BiH to take specific measures aimed at promoting a more integrated society based on the values of equality and non-discrimination, and where all citizens take part, irrespective of their ethnic, ethno-religious or national affiliations.[75]

According to the Croatian community members, there is a continued trend of discriminatory attitude from the Bosniak majority towards the legal rights of the Croatian people in BiH. It is noted that, according to the results of the general election held in BiH in autumn 2018, Bosnian Croats again did not get their legitimate representative in the Presidency.

Overall, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a strong anti-Nazi stance. However, there have been isolated instances of disagreement in Bosnian society regarding the role of the various Yugoslav peoples in World War II, which leads to attempts to whitewash individual Nazi criminals and their collaborators, as well as to glorify them as fighters for national independence and freedom.

United Kingdom

The nationalist movement in the United Kingdom has deep roots going back to the historical past of this nation. The first organisations of extreme right-wing views – including those of anti-Semitic nature – appeared in the country as early as 1930-ies. Although all of them were banned at the beginning of the war, they were soon replaced by new groups. So, founded by the famous British nationalist Oswald Mosley (leader of the British Union of Fascists) in 1947 the Union Movement united more than 50 small far-right organisations and groups.

Some British monarchs were also noted for their ultra-right leanings (including connections with the Nazis). In 1937, King Edward VIII paid a visit to Adolf Hitler. A photograph of him performing the Nazi salute is known.

The collapse of the colonial system that resulted in "pervasiveness" of migrants opened a new page in the shaping of the British Nationalist ideology. The desire to preserve the traditional way of life of the British became the focus of the attention of the far right and remained an important aspect of the ideology from that time onwards.

In recent years, an ongoing debate about Britain’s membership in the European Union, culminating with the referendum on the UK's exit from the EU on 23 June 2016, became yet another contributing factor.

Modern British political correctness largely prefers to ignore the painful issue of neo-Nazi groups being active in the country. In turn, the extreme right, who tend to call themselves "the true conservatives", continue to call for the preservation of the unity of the United Kingdom as the heir to the British Empire in the territorial, cultural and racial senses, which appeals to a significant proportion of Britons.

Despite the similarity of ideas, the far-right flank of the British political landscape is hardly united. British far right and nationalist organisations are mostly marginal, and fail to exert significant influence on social and political processes in the country. Their membership usually does not exceed a few hundred people. They mostly focus on online activities, but they also organise high-profile public events in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Belfast. Some of them tried abandoning their most radical slogans aiming to integrate into the political establishment. They tried unsuccessfully to attract more voters, only to face an exodus of radicalised supporters instead.

The most prominent far-right organisation, the British National Party (hereinafter BNP) was established in 1982 by the leader of the neo-Nazi movement John Tyndall. Throughout its history, the party opposed mass immigration and strongly criticised the emergence of the "federal super-state in Europe" referring to the European Union. Unification of the global, primarily European, far right, conservation of the "White British family" values, complete closure of borders for migrants and repatriation of those who had already entered the country were among BNP’s declared objectives. It was not uncommon for its members to make anti-Semitic statements, including calling the Holocaust a historical mystification.

Although BNP vied for leadership among the British far right, due to internal disagreements its registered membership dropped from 13.5 thousand in 2009 to 500 persons in 2020. However, according to BNP, the number of its supporters amounted up to around 3.000 people in 2020.

Throughout its existence, BNP was elected to Parliament. At the 2019 general election, their only candidate got as few as 510 ballots. Their most prominent electoral achievement was receiving two mandates to the European Parliament in 2009. These were lost, however, at the 2014 general election.

Britain First is another British neo-Nazi party established by BNP's Jim Dowson in 2011; it opposes the "Islamisation" and mass migration to the UK. Its main goal is to protect the traditional British way of life, ethno-cultural heritage and Christian faith. Its members advocated for a speedy Brexit to "save their society from the dominating political correctness and multiculturalism madness". Britain First has a "combat wing" in its structure, which calls itself the "party defence forces".

The party attracted attention in 2014 with a number of provocative actions against Muslims in London, Glasgow and Luton: attacks on mosques, forced distribution of anti-Muslim propaganda leaflets, organized protests near homes of Muslim community leaders). Also, "Christian patrols" of up to 12 activists were set up in London to "counter Islamic extremism" (their actions were condemned by clergy representing both the Muslim community and the Anglican Church).

In 2016, the organisation was accused of involvement in the assassination of Jo Cox, a Labour Party MP. The 52-year-old Thomas Mair, a former patient of a treatment centre, reportedly cried out "Put Britain first" at the time of his attack. The right wing group issued a statement denying their involvement in the murder.

On a number of occasions, the BNP leadership was prosecuted for nationalist statements and insulting religious groups. In one case, in October 2019, the police detained Paul Golding, the leader of Britain First, on charges of terrorism after he had returned from Russia where he had met members of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia at the State Duma. The reason for his detention was the fact that he had refused to give access to the electronic devices in his luggage. In May 2020, he was found guilty of an offence under the Terrorism Act, despite the absence of compelling evidence.

Recently, the English Defence League has been rapidly gaining political weight. It appeared spontaneously in the form of a street demonstration in March 2009 opposing the marches of Al Muhajiroun, an Islamic group, against Luton parades of British servicemen returning home from Afghanistan. Tim Ablitt, a far-right activist, leads the group. It is an informal, mostly youth movement that openly opposes "Islamisation" of the nation. The main form of its activity is holding marches and demonstrations, organising public protests against the construction of new mosques and any attributes of Islamic culture being "imposed" on the British.

On 15 March 2019 the Wellington City Council (Shropshire) suspended a National March against Islamisation organised by the English Defence League on 16 March 2019 (about 50 activists were expected to participate) in the wake of the news of a terrorist attack in New Zealand as a sign of respect for the victims and their families. As a result, the demonstration was postponed until 13 April 2019. Just over ten nationalists and over 100 opponents of the National March were present.

Since 2020, the Patriotic Alternative established by a former BNP functionary Mark Collett has been gaining popularity. It primarily targets teenagers and young people and uses the internet and modern technology: the communication between members happens in social networks and messengers, violence-promoting computer games are used to recruit new members. Experts believe that throughout most of 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021 minors were especially susceptible to such negative influence as schools switched to distance learning.

In the UK, some far-right organisations[76] have been listed as banned under the 2000 Terrorism Act [77].

Among these, National Action, a racist neo-Nazi group established in 2013 and banned in December 2016, has gained notoriety. Its ideology is based on the idea of an imminent "race war" in Great Britain and the use of violence against ethnic minorities and perceived "race traitors". National Action’s online propaganda material, disseminated via social media, condones and glorifies terrorism and the crimes perpetrated by the far right.

The Home Office believes that Scottish Dawn, NS131 National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action and System Resistance Network should be treated as alternative names for the already banned National Action (and therefore proscribed as well). Over the past few years several persons, including some members of the British Army (one of them being a native of Finland) have been sentenced to 5.5 o 8 years of prison as members of National Action.

Sonnenkrieg Division (SKD), a white supremacist group established in March 2018 as a splinter group and partly successor of the System Resistance Network (an alias of the proscribed group National Action) has been proscribed since February 2020. In 2019, several members of the group were convicted on charges of terrorism and possessing material that might be used for the preparation of terrorist attacks.

In July 2020, Feuerkrieg Division (FKD) was pproscribed. Based on a similar ideology, FKD is a group with an international footprint.

In April 2020, Atomwaffen Division (AWD, also known as National Socialist Order), a white supremacist group based in the US and emulated by the British far right, was put on the prescribed organisations list.

Every year on 23 September, the day the founder of the international neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour Ian Donaldson was dead, a concert dedicated to his memory is held in the UK. The 2008 concert in Redhill, Surrey, received extensive coverage from the BBC, radio and print media. The event, organized in 2013, was the largest of its kind in the UK over the past 15-20 years (it was attended, according to various estimates, by between 1,000 and 1,200 neo-Nazis from all over Europe)[78].

One of the most striking manifestations of neo-Nazism in recent years has been the scandal surrounding the situation with the use of Nazi symbols by the Royal Marines in June 2019. During an initiation, they put a Swastika on the chest of one of their colleagues, and then posted photos of him on social media. It is noteworthy that this is not the first time that members of the British armed forces have demonstrated Nazi symbols: in 2013, a photo was published with two British soldiers who served in Afghanistan standing against the background of their country's flag with their hands raised in a Nazi salute.

British law does not criminalise the activities of far-right organisations. Their existence can be terminated only if they are recognized as terrorist in accordance with the Terrorism Act. This can happen if the British authorities believe that such an organisation is "involved in terrorist activities", namely, "commits or participates in terrorist acts, prepares for the commission of a terrorist act, promotes and encourages terrorist sentiments (including illegal glorification of terrorism) or is otherwise associated with terrorist activities". From the moment an organisation is recognized as prohibited, belonging to it (or admitting such affiliation), providing assistance (making a call for assistance), as well as displaying the symbols of such an organisation (including clothing) are crimes and are punishable by imprisonment for a period of 6 months to 10 years and/or a fine.

The fact that the number of new converts to Neo-Nazism has been growing steadily over the last few years is noteworthy in terms of law enforcement practices and social trends in the UK. Such growth is explained both by an increase of the number of radicalised persons and the criminalisation of membership in the mentioned extremist organisations.

At the same time, in its policy paper titled Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy[79], published in March 2021, the British government recognized the far-right ideology as a serious source of terrorist threat. Home Office statistics[80] show that, as at 31 December 2020, there were 209 persons in custody for terrorism-connected offences in Great Britain; of those in custody, 42 were categorised as holding far right-wing ideologies (18% more than in 2019), while 159 were categorised as holding Islamist-extremist views. for the third consecutive year since 2018, Those of White ethnic appearance accounted for the most of terrorist-related arrests – 89 out of 185 (48,1%). their proportion has increased against the previous year (117 out of 282 persons arrested, 41.5%), despite a decrease in the absolute numbers.

In this context, two high-profile cases in 2020 and 2021 are especially worthy of mentioning. In March 2021, a 16 year old boy was given a two-year rehabilitation order for possessing and distributing "right-wing material"; he was the suspected leader of the British branch of the mentioned Feuerkrieg Divison (it was established that he was engaged in the illegal activity since the age of 13). The judge’s decision to spare the boy from jail was explained by the fact he had expressed the desire to pursue a better path, causing a backlash from members of the Muslim community, saying that a Muslim would have been jailed in a similar situation. In April 2021, a 22-year-old Met Police officer was found guilty on charges of terrorism. The young man had been a member of National Action for a number of years, possessed information material that could have been used for preparation of terrorist acts and failed to declare those when he joined the police. At the same time, it has been noted that the corresponding job application form only mentioned the legalised BNP.

Furthermore, the UK has attempted to extend responsibility for extremism to activities that do not involve physical violence. On 7 October 2019, the UK Government's Commission for Countering Extremism published the report titled Challenging Hateful Extremism, which defined a new category of extremist behavior – hateful extremism – in addition to terrorism and violent extremism. The term hateful extremism refers to behaviours that can incite and amplify hate, or engage in persistent hatred, or equivocate about and make the moral case for violence; and that draw on hateful, hostile or supremacist beliefs directed at an out-group who are perceived as a threat to the wellbeing, survival or success of an in-group; and that cause, or are likely to cause, harm to individuals, communities or wider society[81].

In general, the British nation keeps the memory of its alliance with Russia during WWII, recognizes the decisive contribution of the Soviet people to the defeat of Nazism. In recent years, special recognition has been given to the Soviet-British military cooperation during the Arctic convoys of WWII. In Great Britain, like in other Western countries, stereotypes about "equal responsibility of Germany and the USSR for unleashing the war" and "an agreement to divide Poland" have spread. At the same time, the unseemly role of Britain itself in the events leading to the war is widely recognized. The overwhelming majority of local professors prefer not to engage in public revision of historical events associated with World War II, and to revise its results.

There has been no registered cases of the authorities prohibiting the holding of commemoration events or public actions organized by Russian NGOs (Volunteers of the Victory, Heirs of the Victory, The Immortal Regiment), Russian compatriots or diaspora.

At the international level, the UK delegation abstains in the vote on the annual resolution by the United Nations General Assembly "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."

The fight against racial discrimination and xenophobia in the UK is carried out based on the Public Order Act 1986. It prohibits incitement to racial hatred and provides for a penalty of 6 months to 7 years of imprisonment and/or a fine for intentionally committing this act against a racial group, distributing racist materials, making inflammatory speeches, creating racist websites on the Internet, or distributing information against a person or ethnic group with the purpose of spreading racial discontent.

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 also places offences related to "inciting hatred against persons for racial and religious reasons" in the legal framework. A special feature of this legal act is that it introduces for the first time into British law the concept of offences related to incitement to hatred for religious reasons (punishable by up to 7 years of imprisonment and/or a fine). The provisions of this law apply if "verbal language, behaviour, written materials, video and audio recordings, as well as if programs "pose a threat" and "are aimed to incite religious hatred". Discriminatory actions based on religious beliefs in the workplace may also constitute an offence under this law in certain circumstances.

In this regard, of particular interest are the results of an Opinium survey by among members of ethnic minorities and published by the Guardian published in May 2019, according to which 71 per cent of respondents faced racial discrimination (58 per cent in January 2016). What is more, one in four employees of African, Asian or other ethnic origin has witnessed racially motivated harassment or bullying by superiors in the past two years[82].

Another legal instrument aimed at combating discrimination is the Equality Act 2010. It prohibits insults, harassment, and any form of discrimination in the workplace, including that on the grounds of race or religious beliefs.

In February 2021 the Government’s Commission for Countering Extremism published a report titled Operating with impunity. Hateful extremism: the need for a legal framework[83], which stated that the current legal framework is not sufficient for combatting hate crime effectively (including that inspired by far right ideology). The report acknowledges that full protection against hateful extremism is impossible due to the "risks of over-reach" that would result in potential restrictions on free speech. However, the paper makes a case for updating and tightening the rules in this area (not least due to the development of the digital space).

At the supranational level, the United Kingdom is a member of the 1995 CoE Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) (ratified in 1998). Official London declares "respect for the rights of ethnic minorities living in the country", state about "constant efforts to eradicate discrimination, support the development of ethnic culture and identity", emphasize "government guarantees of their rights and freedoms, including access to education and the media, protection of minority languages, and minorities participation in public life".

However, contrary to official declarations, people from African and Asian countries, ethnic minorities and Roma face racial discrimination in exercising their right to healthcare, employment, education, social security, by way of detentions and searches, and in the administration of criminal justice. These population groups face a high level of unemployment and occupational segregation, when they are restricted to mainly unsafe and low-paid jobs.

In August 2016 the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, CERD, highlighted that representatives of these categories of the population continue to face exclusion and are subject to negative stereotypes and stigmatisation in the media. The Committee noted the persistence of discrimination against persons belonging to ethnic minorities in terms of access to health services and the quality of medical care provided. It is also highlighted that persons of African and Asian descent continue to be disproportionately targeted throughout the criminal justice system. Furthermore, the ethnic composition of the majority of the police forces in the State party is not representative of the communities that they serve, particularly in Scotland. In addition, CERD pointed to the existence of racist bullying and harassment in UK schools[84].

In October 2020, Office for National Statistics published data showing that people of African descent are 18 times more likely to subject to racial profiling. The UK was the first European country to face the issue of institutional racial profiling by the police due to test trials of facial recognition technology[85].

The debate about race, as well as the nation’s colonial heritage became especially heated in 2020, largely due to the eruption of the Black Lives Matter movement. The debate, however, could be traced back to a much earlier time. It is noteworthy that the discussion happens in the spirit of uncompromising criticism of any (even the most conjecturable) manifestations of "White supremacy" and in the form of mass manifestations, protests, and demolitions of monuments to historical figures suspected of having links with the slave trade. Some institutions (primarily educational) and place names are being changed if they carry the names of such figures. University professors and schoolteachers have been removed where hints of racism were found in their speech (in a number of high-profile cases, it happened specifically on suspicions of anti-Semitism). In general, disciplinary measures (dismissal, suspension from work) against persons who have allegedly made racist or other offensive statements that due to their insignificance cannot be considered as offenses, have become more common in the UK.

The publication of the report[86] on violations of the rights of ethnic minorities prepared by the independent Equality and Human Rights Commission of the United Kingdom on 18 August 2016 had significant resonance in the UK.

The document, dubbed "the most comprehensive review of the situation with equality in the country in its history" by local experts, notes that members of ethnic minorities (primarily Afro-British) fall victims of crime on average three times more often than White Britons did. The unemployment rate among ethnic Diasporas members is 12.9 per cent, which is twice the national average. There is discrimination in the workplace: the salary of black Britons with higher education is 23 per cent lower than the average salary. Furthermore, only 6 per cent of people from African and Caribbean descent go to any of the 24 leading universities in the UK (among the White British, this figure is 12 per cent, and 11 per cent in the Chinese Diaspora). In addition, attention has been brought to discrimination against ethnic minorities in employment in the judiciary and law enforcement agencies. In general, the document concludes that the situation of representatives of national Diasporas has deteriorated significantly over the past few years.

David Isaac, Head of the Commission, stated in connection with the publication of the report that "discrimination based on race is firmly entrenched in the UK". It is noted that representatives of national minorities "often have a sense of living in another country", as a result of which they "do not identify themselves as British, integrated into society".

Against this backdrop, on 16 March 2021, the final report[87] of an independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities was presented. The commission was made up of prominent figures from fields spanning education, science, business, healthcare and law enforcement; on the recommendation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 9 out of 10 contributors, including the chairperson, represented ethnic minorities.

In contrast to the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities prepared on the request of the UK government in 2016, which painted a bleak picture as regards ethnic and racial disparities, the new document offers a more optimistic view. It concludes that, although a post-racial society is yet to be achieved, the UK has become a beacon to other predominantly White countries in minority rights issues due to a significant progress in reducing inequality in education and economy. The authors conclude that they "no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities". The remaining disparity in many spheres is explained not by racial bias but rather by geography, family composition, socio-economic status, culture and religion.

The document recognizes that outright racism still exists in the UK, which has migrated to the internet. It is noted that members of ethnic minorities are hardly ever found at top jobs in some sectors. At the same time, the report sends a message that non-White British people should strive to play an active role in ensuring their participation in all the social spheres. What is more, the authors drew attention to "an increasingly strident form of anti-racism thinking" that seeks to explain all minority disadvantage through the prism of racism, and noted that the BLM movement might have pushed away the less political public from dialogue.

The conclusions implying a decrease in the significance of racist sentiments in the life of the nation caused an extremely negative reaction in some circles, above all ethnic minorities organisations.

The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism E.Tendayi Achiume failed to agree with the report’s conclusions. The experts were outraged by the Commission failure to acknowledge "the pervasive role that the social construction of race was designed to play in society, particularly in normalizing atrocity"[88].

The official data, indeed, does suggest certain contradictions. According to the official statistics of the Home Office (with numbers provided for England and Wales[89] as a whole, then Scotland[90], and Northern Ireland[91] separately) in year ending March 2020, number of hate crime increased. In total, 111.9 thousand such offenses were recorded during this time (for 2018-2019 – 103.7 thousand, for 2017-2018 – 92.7 thousand). The overwhelming majority of them – 79.7 thousand (71.3 per cent) – were committed on the grounds of racial hatred. For comparison, in 2018-2019, their share accounted for 72.9 per cent, in 2017-2018 – 74.1 per cent. At the same time, the observed increase in registered crimes may not necessarily be associated with an increase in the number of such actions. It may be about the greater disposition of victims than before to report crimes committed against them, as well as the readiness of the police to accept such statements.

Another aspect of racial and ethnic disparity that got special attention in 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic was the heightened risk of death for ethnic minorities. According to the data of the Office for National Statistics[92], in the period from March to July 2020, all ethnic minority groups other than Chinese had a higher death rate than the White ethnic population for both males and females. males of Black African ethnic background had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19, 2.7 times higher than males of White ethnic background. A similar trend was registered among those of African Caribbean and Bangladeshi descent. Females of Black Caribbean ethnic background had the highest rate (2 times higher than females of White ethnic background) followed by females of Black African and Pakistani ethnic background. It is worth noting that after adjustment for geography, socio-economic status (level of income, education), and other factors, the statistical disparity in the mortality factor decreases but remains visible. Analysts offer various explanations to it, including racial discrimination.

On 5 April 2020, it became known that the counter-terrorism unit of the London police was investigating attempts by British far-right groups to use the critical situation with coronavirus in the country to incite hatred against the Muslim population.

For example, founder and former leader of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson published a video on social media that showed a group of Muslims leaving a "secret mosque" in Birmingham at the height of the epidemic, despite the demands of the British authorities not to gather in groups. The video quickly gained more than 10 thousand views and negative comments. The police later denied the time of the footage, noting that it was taken before the quarantine was declared.

However, not all manifestations of xenophobia against the background of the spread of coronavirus infection are the result of organised activities of radical groups. The commission of crimes motivated by national and racial hatred in many cases is caused by panic among the population and the desire to hold certain social groups responsible for what is happening.

Despite active public censure and widespread media coverage of anti-Semitism in the UK, human rights activists assess the situation in this area as extremely negative. According to a report by Community Security Trust, the record for the number of anti-Semitic incidents was broken in 2018. In total, 1,652 cases of anti-Semitism were registered during the period, which is
16 per cent more than in 2017. The vast majority of incidents occurred in London and Manchester, where the country's largest Jewish communities live[93].

A report by Labour against Anti-Semitism, a human rights NGO, submitted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is made an overview of anti-Semitic incidents caused by members of the Labour party[94].

However, it should be noted that the position occupied by Labour leaders in this regard is unequivocal condemnation of anti-Semitism. On 27 January 2020, in a statement on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day and published on Facebook, the party's leader Jeremy Corbyn said that "the loss of social unity today allows racist political movements to turn some social groups against others". He stressed that the Holocaust Memorial Day is an occasion to "reflect on the horrors of the past, the evils of Nazism, genocide and anti-Semitism" [95].

The scale of the problem of anti-Semitism in the country was pointed out by Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on contemporary forms of racism E. Tindayi Achiume in her report[96] to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly on contemporary manifestations of racism and the fight against the glorification of Nazism, prepared in compliance with UN General Assembly resolution 73/157.

In general, British society promotes diversity. Ethnic minorities are well represented in government offices: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is of Indian origin, Home Secretary Priti Patel comes from a family of Indian migrants from Uganda, and Deputy Foreign Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is a son of Ghanian parents, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was born to a family of Pakistani immigrants.

UK’s state sector adheres to the policy of hiring ethnic minorities. Since 1999, the British police have been trying to employ more people of ethnic minority background so that the ethnic composition of the law enforcement agencies is representative of the population they serve. Nevertheless, while ethnic minorities make up 14 per cent of the population in the UK, in 2020 only 7.3 per cent of police officers were from ethic minority background. A certain parity has been achieved only in Lincolnshire, where minorities account for 2.3 per cent of the police force and 2.4 per cent of the population. The largest disparity has been found in London, with minorities constituting 15.5 per cent of the Met Police employees and 40 per cent of population. In England and Wales, the per centage of top police officers of ethnic minority background is lower than among general staff, however, it continues to rise in recent years: from 3.7 per cent in 2018, to 4 per cent in 2019 and 4.3 per cent in 2020[97].

However, members of law enforcement agencies complain that the progress is extremely slow. According to the Chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council Sara Thornton, progress on this issue will not be seen until 2052 at best.[98].

The activity of the media is regulated by a number of legislative acts, with the 2003 Communications Act being the main one. It prohibits the use of the media, as well as social networks owned by the media, for the dissemination of hate speech, propaganda of racial discrimination, xenophobia and other types of intolerance. The main body regulating the work of local TV and radio outlets is the formally independent Office of Communications (Ofcom), headed by Melanie Dawes. Most print media are regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) and the Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS).

At the government level, media activities fall within the purview of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (State Secretary Oliver Dowden). In the government relations with the media are within the remit of the Downing Street Press Secretary Allegra Stratton since October 2020.

At the same time, as noted above, social media, messengers and the internet have become the environment most actively used by far-right organisations and individuals to spread their ideology. The abovementioned 2021 Report of the Commission for Countering Extremism[99] recognizes that the nature and scale of extremist materials (racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic) in UK’s digital space are "shocking", and that it is impossible to combat their dissemination in absence of relevant legislation. In this connection, the Commission recommends the Government to develop UK’s legal framework accordingly.

The United Kingdom, therefore, should be viewed as one of the nations that face deep xenophobic sentiments. Prejudice against certain ethnic and religious groups, a tendency towards glorification of the white race are deeply entrenched in society and have roots in the historical past of the nation. Nevertheless, the official London prefers glossing over the existing problems to finding effective solutions.

Hungary

The right-conservative Hungarian leadership has been consistent in its efforts to strictly suppress any kind of xenophobia, including the spread of Nazi ideology, anti-Semitism and any other form of religious intolerance. Since 2010, there has been a significant decrease in the negative background related to the local and international Jewish community. Monitoring reports of key international NGOs on the manifestations of xenophobia in Hungary have noted that anti-Semitic (as well as Roma-phobic) incidents are occasional, often of a purely domestic nature, and are not associated with physical violence or mass actions by right-wing radical groups.

There are no torch marches or rallies of former Waffen SS soldiers in the country. Nor have there been any attempts to prosecute veterans who served in the Red Army. The governing right-wing conservative Fidesz-KDNP alliance has generally been effective in preventing racially motivated intolerance.

Neo-Nazi organizations and their paraphernalia are prohibited by law in Hungary. There is no government support for them whatsoever. The largest groups that had previously existed and were dissolved by court order were the Blood and Honour group, Betyársereg (Army of outlaws), the National Guards of the Carpathian Homeland, the National Self-Defence movement, the Hungarian National Guard and the For a Better Future movement.

Another prominent far-right organization – the Sixty-Four Counties movement (which refers to the number of counties that were part of the Kingdom of Hungary before 1918), when faced with a real threat of dissolution, promptly changed its charter, got rid of legally prohibited symbols (Nilashist crosses, swastikas and SS runes) and currently positions itself as a "sports and patriotic movement for the preservation of traditions". In fact, it is the Sixty-Four Counties movement that has absorbed the bulk of neo-Nazi youth, including those from the aforementioned banned groups.

A special place in Hungarian socio-political life is occupied by the national-populist Jobbik party (Movement for a Better Hungary) represented in the State Assembly, which previously actively cooperated with far-right groups, but which during its first parliamentary cycle (2010-2014) cleaned its ranks of fringe groups and actually abandoned its xenophobic rhetoric. At present, it is a Eurosceptic organization.

It is to be noted that Hungary’s specific feature is the constitutional fixation of the thesis about the interruption of the state sovereignty from 19 March 1944 (the entry of Hitler's troops within the framework of Operation Margarethe, the establishment of the Nilashist regime headed by F. Szálasi) to 2 May 1990 (the formation of the first government after the change of regime), i.e. actually the idea of the "double occupation" of the country first by Nazi Germany and then by the USSR. At the official level, the message of the complete identity of the communist and Nazi regimes in terms of "guilt for crimes against humanity" is persistently cultivated. The public wearing of the red star, the hammer and sickle is prohibited along with the swastika, SS rune signs and Nilashist crossed arrows.

At the same time the Fidesz-KDNP government seeks not to exaggerate the issue and in every possible way tries to narrow the differences in Russian and Hungarian assessments of the history of the war and post-war period, being inclined to avoid inexpedient politicization of the topic of the historical past. The official authorities do not impede the celebrations of the victory in World War II and other commemorative dates related to the liberation of the country from Nazi invaders.

There are no concerns about Russian military memorial sites belonging to different historical periods which are located in Hungary. At present, their legal status is regulated by the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Hungary on Perpetuating the Memory of Fallen Servicemen and Civilian Victims of War and on the Status of Burial Sites of 6 March 1995. The mechanism for direct implementation of the Agreement – the Joint Russian-Hungarian Intergovernmental Commission on War Graves – is working successfully. In 2020 and the first quarter of this year, no cases of desecration or unauthorized demolition of Soviet military memorial sites were recorded.

In terms of racism and racial discrimination, international human rights bodies criticize the Hungarian authorities on the situation of the Roma population, the vast majority of whom have low social status and are therefore allegedly subject to various forms of discrimination. Human rights NGOs regularly point out that only one in four able-bodied Roma has more or less permanent employment. Reports by the Hungarian Ombudsman have also repeatedly highlighted the dire living conditions of the Roma and called on the government to take real steps to improve the situation as the Roma cannot break the cycle of poverty on their own. It was also stressed that in recent decades, in some parts of Hungary, especially in the north-east, about one hundred Roma ghettos have been actually formed, which are not fully controlled by the authorities and do not contribute to either improved living standards or social inclusion of the Roma. The problems of the Roma community have been highlighted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child[100], the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination[101], the Human Rights Committee[102] as well as the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance[103] and the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities[104].

International and human rights bodies and NGOs continue to condemn decisive measures taken by V.Orbán's cabinet to counter the influx of refugees via the Balkan route. The stubborn unwillingness of the Hungarian side to accept migrants as a matter of principle is causing irritation of the EU leadership. Threats are periodically heard from Brussels to impose punitive sanctions on Hungary in connection with this, as well as a number of other issues.[105] At the same time, many human rights monitoring bodies have acknowledged the large-scale influx of refugees and asylum seekers into Hungary and the fact that this has provoked a crisis situation in the country.

A general analysis of the human rights situation in Hungary shows that official Budapest has made tangible progress in recent years in preventing xenophobia and racism and in promoting the rights of national minorities to use and learn their native languages. Positive aspects in the field of wide access to and use of mother tongues, including in communication with the executive and the judiciary, as well as efforts by the authorities to provide teaching staff, have been pointed out, inter alia, by the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.[106]

Greece

In Greece, there have been no cases of glorification of Nazism, distortion or rewriting of the history of the Second World War and its results by the official authorities, including the construction of monuments and memorials to Nazis and their accomplices, examples of public demonstrations to glorify Nazis or spread neo-Nazi ideas, desecration or destruction of monuments to the fighters against Nazism during World War II, exhumation and transfer of their remains, bans on the symbols of the USSR or the Red Army, etc. Heads of the municipalities are favourable towards the celebration of the Victory Day by Russian compatriots together with the Greeks, including the Immortal Regiment marches in a dozen cities across the country before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Local authorities pay great attention to the preservation of anti-fascist war memorials, including monuments and burial places of Soviet partisans, Greek resistance fighters and civilians killed by the occupiers. Greek society is relatively immune to ultra-right-wing rhetoric and does not accept attempts to revise history and whitewash the Nazis and their henchmen. This is due to the considerable historical popularity of left-wing views in the country and the lingering memories of the reign of the dictatorial regime of the Black Colonels between 1967 and 1974 and the occupation of Greece by the Axis countries between 1941 and 1944. The latter led to many civilian casualties and large amounts of material damage, which Athens still regularly presses Berlin to compensate for. According to public opinion surveys, over 65 per cent of Greeks are against the spread of neo-Nazi ideas in their country.

A landmark event in the fight against the spread of hate ideology was the conclusion in October 2020 of the trial against the leadership of the Golden Dawn nationalist party and its activists (60 in total), charged with, inter alia, murder and illegal possession of weapons, which lasted since 2013. The organization was found to be a criminal group operating under the guise of a political party and was effectively banned, and its top members were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. In the July 2019 parliamentary elections, the party failed to pass the three per cent threshold needed to become part of the law making body.

Among Greek neo-Nazi groups, Cryptia, which borrowed its name from the units of ancient Sparta that murdered Helot slaves, and the Greek branch of Combat 18 (in accordance with Nazi tradition, the numbers 1 and 8 in the name of the organization refer to the first and eighth letters of the Latin alphabet – A and H, which stand for Hitler's initials) have been particularly active in recent years. Both organizations are responsible for dozens of crimes against migrants. In March 2018, law enforcement authorities managed to largely eliminate the Greek branch of Combat 18.

In April 2021, an attempt to whitewash the Nazi occupiers was foiled which consisted in organizing an event to "commemorate the 80th anniversary of the landing of the Third Reich troops and invasion of Crete" in May 2021 by the NGO European Paratroopers Association[107]. After a wave of indignation in political, public and journalistic circles outraged by the distortion of history, the glorification of the Nazis and the disgrace for the four hundred Cretans who died at the hands of the occupiers, the action was canceled.

According to experts, the law enforcement agencies' successful crackdown on Golden Dawn has spurred a 17 per cent drop in anti-Semitism in the country[108].

A long-term project is underway in Thessaloniki to create a Holocaust Memorial Museum and Human Rights Education Centre, aimed at tackling racism and religious discrimination in Greece, among other things[109].

Alongside this, in October 2019, a new wing of the Jewish Museum was opened in the same city, with part of its exhibition dedicated to the period 1912-1945, when the local Jewish community was almost completely exterminated. Former Greek President Pavlopoulos gave a speech at the opening ceremony, in which he emphasized the need to preserve the memory of the Holocaust as one of the most atrocious crimes against humanity. He also said that the resurgence of Nazi and Fascist organizations in Europe risks a repetition of the horrors of the Second World War[110].

In February 2019, in accordance with the European Parliament’s Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism (2017/2692 (RSP)), the Greek government adopted a "working definition" of anti-Semitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), in preparation for Athens' chairmanship of the organization in 2021. E.Lianos-Liandis, who heads the Greek delegation to the IHRA, was appointed Special Envoy for Combating Anti-Semitism in April 2019.

At the same time, despite the listed positive steps in the field of countering the glorification of Nazism and the distortion of history, when the resolution on "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" introduced annually by Russia and other co-authors is considered at the UN General Assembly, the Greek delegation abstains, following the consolidated position of the European Union Member States on this issue.

The country retains a number of right-wing radical parties and organizations which, with the collapse of Golden Dawn, have had a chance to strengthen their position on the Greek political scene. These include, among others, the following.

The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) is the oldest Greek nationalist party, founded in 2000. The party's supporters advocate the forced repatriation of refugees not needed by the Greek economy.

The Popular Greek Patriotic Union (LEPEN) is a party founded in 2016 by former members of Golden Dawn and led by Western Greece regional councillor H.Rigas. It actively promotes anti-migrant and anti-Islamic ideas to the extent of organizing mass actions against refugees.

The National Popular Consciousness (ELASYN) is a far-right party founded in 2019. It is mainly composed of former members of Golden Dawn. It shares the ideals of LEPEN. In December 2020, it announced its merger with this organization.

Patriotic Radical Union (PATRIE) is an ultranationalist party founded in 2018 by former Golden Dawn member and Member of the European Parliament E. Synadinos. Its merger with LAOS was announced in 2019.

Greeks for the Fatherland is a far-right party founded in April 2020. This is one of the most recently established organizations founded by former Golden Dawn activists. It actively opposes multiculturalism and advocates neo-fascism.

The New Right is a far-right nationalist party founded in 2016 by F.Kranidiotis after his expulsion from the New Democracy party. It also openly opposes Islam, immigrants and refugees. The party leader positions himself and his organization as fighters against the "Islamic colonization" of Greece and Europe.

Greek Socialist Resistance (ESA) is a neo-Nazi organization. It uses the emblem of O.Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (BUF).[111]

Domestic manifestations of xenophobia have increased somewhat amid an influx of asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, which peaked in 2015-2016 and intensified again in early 2020. According to the Dianesis 2020 sociological survey published in March 2020, 92 per cent of respondents said that the number of migrants in the country was "too high". Most respondents believe that they increase crime and unemployment rates and have a negative economic impact on the country, do not help solve demographic problems and do not enrich the culture.
27.9 per cent are in favour of the urgent deportation of all migrants, while only 3.2 per cent are in favour of their full integration into Greek society.[112]

In March 2020, the Greek NGO Racist Violence Recording Network, which works with the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, observed instances of violence by Evros residents on the Turkish border against migrants coming from Turkey, as well as social activists and journalists defending their rights. In October 2020, human rights activists drew attention to the Greek coast guard pushing asylum seekers from MENA outside Greek borders in the Aegean Sea back into Turkish waters. In June 2020, the Greek Supreme Court prosecutor initiated an investigation in this regard.[113]

The UN Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, F.G. Morales, expressed his concern about the use of violence against migrants which had led to injuries and deaths, including the death of an asylum seeker from Syria. He also noted an increase in hostility against humanitarian workers, human rights defenders and journalists doing their duty in the border areas and on the Aegean coast. [114]

Reports of ill-treatment of asylum seekers prompted representatives of the Council of Europe's European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) to undertake an emergency five-day visit to Greece. Following the visit, the human rights organization issued a report stating that conditions of detention of migrants in a number of institutions in the Evros region and on the island of Samos could amount to inhuman or cruel treatment. At the same time, the CPT called on the Greek authorities to put an end to the practice of detaining unaccompanied children and children with parents in police stations and to place them instead in reception centres which respond to their specific needs. Furthermore, it is recommended that Athens takes measures to prevent cases of forced returns of migrants.[115]

In March 2020, new legislation regulating the status of refugees was adopted by the Greek parliament. The new regulation shortened the time for processing applications for refugee status, simplified the extradition procedure, made it more difficult to admit refugee children to public schools and increased the time for obtaining a work permit for registered applicants.[116] Racist and xenophobic incidents, particularly against refugees arriving in Greece, but also against the Roma, were highlighted by the Human Rights Committee (HRCtte)[117] in December 2015 and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)[118] in October 2016. Discrimination against the Roma and migrants, in particular excessive use of force in detention and ill-treatment during interrogation, was also highlighted by the CPT.[119] In February 2018, the Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) welcomed the creation by Athens, following its 2015 recommendations, of a dedicated working group consisting of representatives of public authorities, the Ombudsman, the Greek Human Rights Council, NGOs and trade unions to develop a strategy to counter intolerance. While endorsing the draft document adopted by the Greeks in September 2017, ECRI noted that not all its proposals had been taken into account and called for further attention to be paid to the full implementation of anti-discrimination measures. Greek experts acknowledge that Greek legislation in this field does require some improvement as it prohibits discrimination on grounds of nationality, religion or other belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, but only in the field of employment and occupation and not in such areas as social protection, education, access to goods and services, etc.[120]

Since September 2014, the law on combating racism has been in force in Greece which made the acts in question a separate group of offences. This law increased the punishment for incitement to hatred and violence against certain groups, which now includes imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of €20,000.

In 2015, the ratio of officially reported hate crimes to prosecutions was 45 per cent. Overall, up until 2018, the number of convictions in the country did not exceed 6. However, in 2017 alone, the total number of such crimes, according to NGOs, was over 300, of which about 100 were violent crimes.[121]

In recent years, there has been a positive trend in this field. Thus, in 2019, according to the police, 282 hate crimes were committed, of which 232 were prosecuted by law enforcement. In comparison, the relevant NGOs reported only 108 cases of such offences known to them.[122]

It should be noted that there are virtually no examples of combating the spread of racist, hateful and xenophobic ideas in the media and on the Internet in the Greek law enforcement practice. A precedent was set when the Islamophobia case was opened in 2017 against S.Triandafillou – a writer who made statements in her Internet blog which were considered to be hate speech on religious grounds. However, in 2018, the case was closed due to a lack of corpus delicti.

There are no discriminatory prohibitions on the participation of national minorities in the political life and administration of the state; representatives of non-titular ethnic groups are freely admitted therein.

There is no systematic harassment or discrimination against Russian compatriots. In 2018, the Greek central and local authorities provided all possible assistance to the exercise of voting rights by Russian citizens in Greece during the presidential elections in the Russian Federation, and were helpful in organizing the voting for the amendment of the Russian Constitution in June 2020 and the elections to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in September 2021.

Human rights activists point to difficulties in securing the right to ethnic and cultural-language self-identification for the Muslim population of the Thrace region in the north-eastern part of the country on the border with Turkey, as well as on certain islands in the Aegean Sea. Concern was expressed by the HRCtte[123] and CERD[124] that Greek Muslims could be deprived of their right to self-identification, as they were only recognized as a religious minority, but not as an ethnic minority. It is reported that Muslims from Kos and Rhodes are not officially recognized as members of a national minority and, unlike adherents of the Islamic faith in Thrace, are not able to attend special schools where instruction is provided in the Turkish language.

The work of the Greek authorities on constructing new places of worship is appreciated. In 2016, the Greek Council of State approved the construction of Athens' first mosque in modern history, which had been under discussion for more than thirty years. The mosque was completed in May 2019 and officially opened on 2 November 2020.[125] Public attitudes towards the event are contradictory. Athens residents have repeatedly staged protests on the occasion, often led by Golden Dawn representatives.

Among the activities promoting interfaith interaction are the periodic conferences on peaceful coexistence of different religions in the Middle East, organized by the Greek Foreign Ministry, as well as the activities of the charitable organization Apostoli under the Church of Greece and a number of dioceses.

To summarize the above, the Greek authorities have made significant efforts to counter manifestations of neo-Nazism and neo-Fascism, racism and other forms of intolerance in the country. It seems possible to overcome the existing problems as the difficult situation in the field of migration is resolved.

Georgia

There are currently no attempts to glorify the Nazis and their collaborators at the state level in Georgia. In recent years, with the exception of the tragic incident of the demolition on 19 December 2009 of the memorial complex in Kutaisi dedicated to Soviet soldiers who fought in the Great Patriotic War[126], no cases of desecration of monuments dedicated to the Great Patriotic War have been recorded. Nevertheless, the authorities have demonstrated a rather indifferent attitude to the maintenance of memorials and cemeteries of the war period. To a certain extent, the problem is being solved by compatriot organizations.

In particular, members of the International Cultural and Educational Union Russian Club regularly clean and tidy the Kukia and Petropavlovsk cemeteries in the capital, where a total of 3005 Soviet soldiers are buried. As for more remote cemeteries, most of them are gradually falling into disrepair. The Koda cemetery outside Tbilisi, where Soviet military pilots are buried, is a case in point. Many of the graves there are abandoned and neglected, and due to the lack of tombstones (as well as archival data) it is impossible to identify the buried (for example, in connection with the request of the chairman of the
Ust-Tsilma veterans' organization of the Republic of Komi N.G.Khozyainova, the grave of junior lieutenant N.E.Nosov could not be found.)

Existing neo-Nazi groups in Georgia promote their ideas mainly through the social networking site Facebook. The best known of them is the officially unregistered Georgian Force (leader G.Chelidze), supported by the far-right Georgian March group led by S.Bregadze and some football fans of the Tbilisi Dynamo. The Georgian Force is joined by the National Socialist Movement – Georgian National Unity, which does not hide its sympathies for A.Hitler and B.Mussolini. Anti-Semitic ideas are spread by such groups as Bergmann, Edelweiss and Red Pill. On the whole, these structures, which, according to various estimates, comprise between 100 and 200 people, are not active and have no influence on the socio-political life of the country.

Information resources engaged in disseminating distorted interpretations of history in the form of propaganda against the "Soviet past", including the historical memory of the Great Patriotic War, include SovLab, the Georgian service of Radio Liberty, Netgazeta, Batumelebi, Tabula (owned by T.Chergoleshvili, wife of the chairman of the political council of the opposition party European Georgia – Movement for Freedom led by G.Bokeria) and the main anti-government mouthpiece – the television channel Mtavari Arkhi.

In addition, the Civil Movement NGO founded in July 2018 by L.Ioseliani and A.Elisashvili actively opposes the holding of the Immortal Regiment rally in Georgia on social media. This structure, which has branches in Batumi, Kutaisi and Telavi, maintains close contacts with the Tbilisi office of the US-based International Republican Institute (IRI).

The country has ambiguous regulations equating the symbols and insignia of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Amendments to the Freedom Charter Law adopted by the Georgian parliament in 2013 effectively equalized Nazi and Soviet symbols, banning their display and use "for propaganda purposes". In 2019, the appeal of G.Rtskhiladze, director of the Eurasia Institute and organizer of the Immortal Regiment in Tbilisi, to the Ministry of Justice of Georgia for clarification regarding the ban on wearing the St. George Ribbon as a symbol of the "Soviet occupation" (which is absolutely incorrect from the historical point of view) was left unanswered.

There have been isolated instances of putting obstacles to the holding of events on the occasion of commemorative dates of the Great Patriotic War and to their organizers. A high-profile case occurred on 30 March 2020, at the Daryali checkpoint, where Georgian customs officers, following the letter of the above-mentioned law, seized from local citizen T.Pepia 290 memorabilia (unofficial) in honor of the Battle of Stalingrad which were to be given to war veterans living in the country.

At the same time, there is no direct opposition from the authorities to the commemoration of the Second World War. Many citizens of the country, passing on the "baton of the memory" to the next generations, celebrate 9 May. Individual members of the local leadership lay wreaths and flowers at the capital's main memorial complex, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Vake Park.

In addition, there had been attempts in the Georgian education system to rewrite history and the outcomes of the Second World War. It is a telling fact that the textbook for the 12th grade devotes only one page to the participation of 700,000 Georgians in the Second World War in the ranks of the Red Army, half of whom did not return from the battlefields, whereas a much larger volume is devoted to the "handful" of local collaborators who fought in the Wehrmacht units.

On the whole, the official authorities demonstrate an indifferently negative attitude to the preservation of historical memory, avoiding the topic of the heroic participation of their ancestors and fellow citizens in the victory over Nazi Germany. The results of this approach are already affecting the formation of the worldview of some Georgian youth, having a negative impact both on the public mindset within the country and on the prospects for the normalization of bilateral relations with Russia.

Probably in line with the same logic, and in order to demonstrate solidarity with the EU line, Georgia is following the EU's lead when the Russian resolution on "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" is being considered at the UN General Assembly.

The unsatisfactory situation of national minorities in Georgia is noted. International and Georgian human rights NGOs, as well as the Public Defender of Georgia (Ombudsman) regularly express concerns about the isolation of small nationalities and their alienation from the Georgian "majority". The degree of participation of representatives of the largest Azeri and Armenian communities in public and political life of the country remains extremely low, which prevents their full integration into Georgian society. The ban on the creation of political parties based on the territorial principle fixed in Article 23.3 of the Constitution of Georgia creates a barrier to their participation in public affairs. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe has repeatedly issued negative opinions on this constitutional provision.

The main problem of national minorities remains their lack of knowledge of the state Georgian language. Since the Rose Revolution, the Georgian authorities have introduced a series of laws restricting the use of minority languages and obliging non-indigenous ethnic groups to communicate with the authorities in Georgian. For example, knowledge of the language is compulsory for employment in state institutions, for passing the unified exam in schools, and for obtaining licenses for professional activities.

Human rights activists note that the authorities do not create necessary conditions for learning the Georgian language. The situation of minorities is aggravated by the lack of effective mechanisms for their legal protection in Georgia. The Georgian Ombudsman also highlighted the problems of national minorities, although she emphasized the lack of effective measures taken by the local authorities, the lack of educational resources, the lack of quality textbooks and the insufficient retraining of teachers in this field. Overall, the Ombudsman acknowledged that despite the existing state language learning programmes in the country, the number of people who know and use the state language is still low.[127]

In ratifying the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in 2005, Georgia made several reservations, confirming the obligation of the state to create favourable conditions for national communities to learn the Georgian language, but not recognizing the obligation of the authorities to preserve the native languages of national minorities.

Due to the fact that the participation of national minorities in political life in Georgia remains low, representatives of national diasporas have expressed a desire for greater independence in order to make their own decisions in the field of education and culture and to have leverage over the country's policies. This problem was highlighted by the CERD[128] in May 2016 and the Human Rights Committee[129] in July 2014.

For example, the Armenian community has for a long time raised the issue of autonomy for the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, and the Azeris of the Kvemo-Kartli region have been lobbying for greater representation in local government, where all major posts are held by Georgians. These calls are not supported by the Georgian leadership which views them as an expression of separatist sentiment.

The EU has repeatedly expressed concern about the situation of national minorities in Georgia. It has concluded that the protection of non-indigenous ethnic groups remains weak and since the 1990s minorities have been persecuted, discriminated against and pushed out of the country.

The Advisory Committee on the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities noted that the participation of members of national minorities in the political, cultural, social and economic life of the country remains limited. The Advisory Committee also noted that mistrust towards minorities in the context of state security and nation building persisted in Georgian society. In this context, issues related to the implementation of the rights of linguistic and religious minorities are often politicized.[130]

According to the 2018 study conducted under the auspices of the Advisory Committee on the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, 36 per cent of Georgian citizens have a negative attitude towards ethnic diversity and 46 per cent towards religious diversity. According to the respondents, diversity "threatens culture and traditions" (47 per cent), "weakens national unity" (17 per cent) and "jeopardizes national security" (13 per cent). 43 per cent of those interviewed believe that persons belonging to national minorities have no right to protest publicly, 39 per cent consider that they have no right to be elected, 36 per cent think that they have no right to participate in decision-making on important state issues, and 25 per cent believe that they have no right to vote.[131]

The prevalence of negative attitudes towards national minorities leads to unsatisfactory results in practice. International monitoring bodies have repeatedly pointed out that there are cases of physical attacks against ethnic and religious minorities in Georgia, xenophobic and discriminatory statements by public officials and representatives of political parties, hate speech in the media and online, and the lack of completed investigations and prosecutions against those responsible for such acts. This was highlighted, inter alia, by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination[132] in May 2016, as well as the Advisory Committee on the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

It is regrettable that such practices are not suppressed by the authorities; there are no systematic measures to prohibit hate speech; xenophobic statements by politicians are not immediately and unambiguously condemned, on the contrary – discriminatory manifestations are intensified with the connivance and even consent of the authorities. A vivid example of this attitude is the artificial fuelling of Russophobic sentiments in the country and the blatant manipulation of the public consciousness of the Georgian people for political purposes, as was the case in June 2019 when radicals attacked Russian journalists. In the same month, the disruption by Georgian radicals of the meeting of the 26th session of the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy held in Tbilisi and chaired by State Duma deputy Sergey Gavrilov resulted in a crude violent provocation against the Russian parliamentarian.[133]

This year has also been marked by manifestations of Russophobia. In March 2021, for example, the local Russophobes staged a protest against TV journalist Vladimir Posner, who was on a private visit to the country; he and his entourage had to abort their trip and return to Moscow as a matter of urgency.[134]

In early April 2021, a monument to Russian diplomat and poet Alexander S. Griboyedov, who is buried on Tbilisi's Mount Mtatsminda in the pantheon of prominent Georgian figures, was desecrated in central Tbilisi.[135]

There are no signs of improvement for the Roma community living in precarious socio-economic conditions, nor of a solution to the problem of repatriation of Meskhetian Turks due to Tbilisi's failure to fulfil its obligations in this area. International organizations note that Meskhetian Turks face a host of difficulties in the process of repatriation to Georgia, ranging from a number of restrictions and bureaucratic conditions related to the submission of applications (including the requirement to provide archival confirmation of the fact of deportation). The Council of Europe monitoring bodies (the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) assessed as insufficient preparations for the resettlement and integration of Meskhetian Turks and recommended in this regard that the Georgian authorities take comprehensive measures at both local and national level, with respect to both returnees and the host population. The experts also pointed to the continued hostility towards Meskhetian Turks on the part of the Georgian population. Concern about the situation of this community was also expressed by CERD.[136] However, according to civil society organizations, the Georgian authorities are still not taking any measures to address this issue.

Denmark

In Denmark, in 2020 – early 2021 there have been no cases of overt glorification of the Nazi movement, dissemination of neo-Nazism or praising the former members of the Nazi SS organisation and its branches. There have been no incidences of desecration/demolition of monuments honouring those who have fought against Nazism during World War II, no exhumations of remains of anti-fascist fighters and no prosecution of veterans of the Red Army or Allied forces. The Danish authorities do not oppose the holding of events related to the celebration of Victory Day and other anniversaries, providing assistance in the maintenance of local graves located in municipal cemeteries.

However, when voting at the UN General Assembly on the draft resolution "Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" submitted annually by Russia and other sponsors, the Danish delegation abstains, in solidarity with other European Union member States.

It should also be noted that there are a number of neo-Nazi right-wing nationalist organizations active in Denmark (Danish National Front, Danish Defence League, Danish National Socialist Movement, White Pride), with a relatively low level of activity, mainly due to a lack of funding and small membership. Practically, they focus on the distribution of propaganda materials through the Internet and social networks, mainly reflecting the attitude of these organizations to the government’s migration policy, as well as calls for intolerance against the followers of Judaism living in the country. At the same time, the spread of the coronavirus infection and the quarantine restrictions imposed by the Danish authorities have almost entirely shifted the activities of such organizations to an online format.

The right-wing neo-Nazi group Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR, active in Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland) traditionally stands out, by having, unlike other similar organizations, a clear political program (creation of a national-socialist republic, consisting of the countries of Scandinavia, Finland and possibly, the Baltic states, subsequently spreading the national-socialist ideology around the world), as well as a "combat wing" engaging in violent actions. Among NMR’s most recent notable actions – destruction of the Jewish cemetery in Randers in November 2019, marking the anniversary of 1938’s Kristallnacht. As a result, the radicals damaged and desecrated 84 tombstones. In October 2020, two NMR members were prosecuted for these acts (they were sentenced to one year in prison).

Denmark’s criminal law does not punish the use of Nazi symbols. According to Article 27 (paragraph 266 b) of the Criminal Law, a fine or imprisonment for up to two years can be imposed for statements and messages that are public or intended for subsequent distribution and that threaten or insult a group of people on the basis of race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, or sexual orientation. An aggravating factor is the propagandistic nature of such acts. In practice, however, Article 77 of the Denmark’s constitution, which guarantees the right of citizens to freedom of expression, takes precedence in such cases.

The involvement of extremist nationalist parties, racist and xenophobic movements and groups in Danish political life remains limited. For example, the right-wing political party "Hard Line", which had gained notoriety by carrying out provocative actions, including the burning of the Quran in areas where Muslim migrants and refugees live, failed to pass the two per cent threshold for passage to the Folketing (parliament) in the parliamentary elections in June 2019, receiving only 1.8% of the vote.

At the same time, there is an increase in hate crime in Denmark. According to information published in 2020 by Danish law enforcement agencies, in 2019 there had been 569 hate crimes, an increase of 27% from 2018.[137] Muslims and Jews are among the most vulnerable religious groups (56% and 23% of the total number of such crimes, respectively). According to the National Integration Barometer, more than half of Danish ethnic minorities face discrimination in their daily lives. The Danish authorities are particularly concerned about the situation in Muslim communities. For that reason, they are closely supervised in order to make sure that Islam stays an integral and harmonious part of society, not allowing religion to become an instrument of any kind of manipulation and pressure.

Human rights activists criticize the 2016 amendments to the Danish criminal law that established liability for justifying illegal violent acts during religious education (the "Imam Bill"). At the same time, as a way to tighten control over preachers, Danish legislation was amended to allow restricting funding for certain religious organizations, as well as prohibiting entry into the country for members of the clergy who justify radicalization.

This policy of the Danish authorities is also confirmed by the March 2020 terrorist threat assessments report by the Danish Counterintelligence Service, indicating that the main threat to the Kingdom comes mainly from radical Islamism. With right-wing extremist violent acts around the world becoming more frequent, the threat level posed by such groups has been raised from "limited" to "general". The intelligence services do not rule out the possibility of a similar scenario in Denmark.

It should be noted that, in general, the adoption of such measures in the context of combating extremism and terrorism follows the common European practice, but their application in Denmark drew criticism from human rights defenders. At the same time, it is worth noting that similar anti-extremist measures taken by Russian legislators often become the reason for Denmark accuse Russia of alleged attempts to restrict freedom of expression and suppress civil society.

As for Jews living in Denmark, according to a December 2018 study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), 80% of them constantly (9%), often (32%) or sometimes (39%) have to avoid wearing or displaying things and objects that would identify them as Jewish. Eighty-five per cent of respondents consider anti-Semitism to be a very serious or a fairly serious problem (36% and 49%, respectively).[138] At the same time, Denmark’s largest Jewish association, the Danish Jewish Society, traditionally warns against public display of identifying accessories or clothing.

Moreover, since 2012 this organization has been preparing and publishing reports on manifestations of anti-Semitism in Denmark. According to its data, for example, in 2017 there were 30 corresponding cases, including attacks and physical assaults (2), threats (3), anti-Semitic statements (24). At the same time, the number of incidents tends to increase: in 2016, 22 such cases were registered. The alleged detractors include people born in the Middle East as well as ethnic Danes.

Discriminatory attitudes toward migrants still persist. Legislatively, this is reflected by the fact that second and third generation migrants have very limited grounds for obtaining Danish citizenship. This category of people, and especially women, has little involvement in the labour market.[139] Discriminatory attitude towards migrants and their descendants as well as representatives of ethnic minorities is also confirmed by the results of public opinion polls. This was particularly stressed by the FRA.[140]

At the same time, there are examples where Danish courts have clearly indicated that certain claims and statements of political figures do not fall under the protection of freedom of expression. As an example, the FRA cites the July 4, 2019 decision of the Eastern High Court (Østre Landsret) in case S‑1099, which named as discriminatory separate video addresses by the founder of the extreme right-wing Hard Line party, recorded in front of the house where the human rights activist of African descent was living.[141]

The FRA also found that both the far-right extremists and radical Islamists residing in Denmark used the spread of the coronavirus infection and related restrictive measures as a pretext to incite hatred.[142]

The situation is such that there exists a "parallel society" in Denmark, or a social phenomenon where a large proportion of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa live secluded lives and remain outside the Danish linguistic, cultural and legal environment. They tend to reside in disadvantaged urban areas where municipal and social housing accounts for most of the housing stock and which, owing to the influx of refugees, had been almost entirely populated by migrants. In addition, the concept of a "ghetto" has been officially in effect at the legislative level since 2011 (in addition to the discriminatory nature of this term, the criteria included in it also raise questions. In particular, one of the possible grounds for classifying an area as a ghetto is that at least 2.7% of the population should have a criminal record).

In March 2018, the Danish government, led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, presented a package of measures aimed at putting an end to this "parallel society". The program, dubbed "One Denmark without Parallel Societies – No Ghettos in 2030", includes a number of restrictive measures to adjust the national composition of the inhabitants. The document also solidified the concept of a "ghetto".

Since the beginning of the aforementioned program to get rid of ethnic ghettos, the Danish law enforcement authorities were given the opportunity to establish "sharp penalty zones" in the ghettos. If an offence is committed in such zones, the perpetrator may face a penalty twice the maximum sentence presupposed for that category of offence in the Danish criminal law. If the maximum penalty for a crime is a fine, it could be replaced by imprisonment. As additional policing measures, the Danish government has also proposed increasing the police presence in ghettos, including through deploying mobile police units. In addition, a mechanism has been approved to identify and subsequently expel repeat offenders and the most "influential" members of the criminal environment from the ghetto.

In 2019, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights took notice of the situation and expressed deep concern about laws adopted "in contravention of its obligations under international human rights treaties and its Constitution" that "impose differential treatment on grounds such as national origin, social status and residence". In particular, the CESCR viewed as discriminatory the categorization of specific areas as "ghettos" based on the nationality of those living in them (the classification of areas as "ghettos" is determined by the proportion of residents from "non-Western" countries), also pointing to the violation of migrants' right to freely choose their place of residence and choose educational institutions for their children. The combination of such measures, according to the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, not only results in discrimination based on ethnic origin and nationality, but also further marginalizes the residents of disadvantaged areas.[143] Furthermore, the CESCR noted that the authorities had recently taken numerous measures directly or indirectly affecting the economic, social and cultural rights of refugees and migrants. Among these measures, the Committee pointed to the introduction in 2016 of gradations for family reunification in various situations, the launch of the temporary stay procedure for refugees in 2018, under which local authorities are no longer required to provide refugees with permanent housing, and the limitation in 2019 of free interpreter services when visiting medical facilities.

In February 2020, in its report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Danish Institute for Human Rights noted the lack of progress in implementing the provisions of the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination within the national legislation[144].

The Danish authorities take a noticeably discriminatory approach towards the Danish nationals who participated in terrorist structures. For example, 2019 amendments by the Danish Parliament allow for the in absentia administrative stripping of Danish citizenship from persons whose actions caused "serious damage to the vital interests of Denmark" (adopted due to the reluctance of Danes to repatriate and prosecute their foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) in the territory of Denmark). In addition, under these novel laws, the children of Danish FTFs are stripped of the right to automatically obtain Danish citizenship by virtue of the citizenship of their parents. This provision runs contrary to the obligations of Copenhagen to reduce statelessness (according to the open data of the Danish counterintelligence service, 40 Danish children remain in the regions of Syria and Iraq formerly controlled by the Islamic State terrorist organisation, banned in Russia). In addition, Danish citizens who remain abroad and have participated in terrorist organizations may be completely denied consular assistance in Danish foreign missions.

 

Ireland

In Ireland, there have been no attempts to glorify the Nazi movement or former members of Nazi organisations of the SS and its branches, including the Waffen‑SS (for example, by constructing monuments and memorials dedicated to such personalities and organizations, holding public demonstrations in their honour to glorify the Nazi past, Nazi movements, modern Nazi movements, declaring members of such organizations and those who collaborated with the Nazi regime as participants in national liberation movements).

In 2020 – early 2021 the overall situation in Ireland did not change and remained generally satisfactory. At the same time, despite constant monitoring by the government, the Irish parliament and human rights NGOs, the authorities admit, including at a high political level, that the complete eradication of manifestations of racial discrimination is yet to be achieved.

Thus, the anti-racist demonstrations in the United States in the summer of 2020 prompted an analysis of the situation in Ireland, which was assessed by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. He noted that sentiments against migrants and people of colour were gaining strength in Ireland, and that nationalism was beginning to threaten Ireland's democratic foundations. Political leaders and the public have begun to recognize that refugees, migrants and other minority groups are increasingly seen in some parts of Irish society as a threat to "majority rights". Under this pretext, certain local extremist groups have turned to racist and anti-Semitic criminal activity.

According to the online racist incident reporting system iReport.ie, launched by the Irish Network Against Racism, there have been 700 racist incidents in 2020 (530 in 2019), including 159 criminal offenses. There was also the largest increase in reports of racism on the Internet – 334 (174 in 2019), including in social networks and in the Facebook accounts of reputable radio and print media, with Facebook featuring the highest number of such publications (119 incidents). It was noted that this all contributes to an increase in far-right-themed content.[145]

Moreover, according to NGO experts, domestic racism remains a serious problem for Irish society, given the virtual absence of effective legislation and law enforcement measures to curb it (the relevant laws are outdated and practically not applied).

Official Dublin has been criticized by the local and international human rights community for being too liberal in its attitude toward certain organizations and individuals who freely distribute extremist and racist publications in the digital media. Human rights activists point out that the Irish authorities refuse to take action against the disseminators of extremist ideas (including the blocking of content), citing the right to free speech on any subject except for direct calls to violence. Lawyers use this specificity of Irish law to refute accusations of spreading extremist ideas in court.

In December 2019, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination pointed out that there are manifestations of racism in Irish society. This is evidenced by the high incidence of racial profiling on the part of the Irish police ("Garda"), as well as an increase in incidences of hate speech. An increase in racist rhetoric and its frequent use by Irish politicians, particularly during election campaigns, was highlighted. The CERD noted in this regard that the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act had proven ineffective in combating hate speech, especially hate speech on the Internet.[146]

The Committee noted with concern the significant number of racially motivated hate crimes against representatives of ethnic minorities, noting that other grounds of discrimination, such as gender and religious affiliation, were often also present in such cases. It was highlighted that existing Irish criminal law did not feature offence categories in which racial hatred was a primary motive, nor was it specified as an aggravating circumstance. According to the CERD experts, this leads to the misreporting of such crimes, as racist motives are systematically not taken into account in criminal proceedings. In the context of the increase in far-right rhetoric and hate crimes against ethnic minority groups, the Committee also highlighted the absence of legal frameworks banning racist organizations in the country.[147]

However, recently the Irish people have become more willing to report hate speech incidences. The aforementioned NGO, the Irish Network Against Racism, has noted an exponential increase in the number of complaints about hateful offensive publications on the Irish segment of the Internet. By comparison, in 2014, there were 108 complaints about relevant illegal publications online, in 2019 – 174, in 2020 their number reached 334.

To remedy the existing situation, human rights activists emphasize the importance of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission recommendations regarding the need to improve the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act and to develop a comprehensive state-level regulatory framework to combat hate speech on the Internet, with an independent state body to monitor compliance. The experts also point out the urgency for the authorities to take measures to raise public awareness of the issue of combating racial discrimination. In addition, they recommended finalising a law criminalizing Holocaust denial statements and speech in 2021.

It is worth noting that the authorities are taking certain steps in this direction. In April 2021, under public pressure, the Department of Justice of Ireland began drafting the Hate Crime Bill. Its main purpose is to increase the penalties for public insults and aggressive attacks, including on the Internet, based on nationality, race, colour, ethnicity and a number of other distinctions. The bill is scheduled to pass through parliament by the end of this year.

Human rights activists still alarmed about the situation with the steadily growing Muslim community in Ireland (numbering in more than 70 thousand people). According to the Report of the Commission on Human Rights and Equality for 2019 and the Immigrant Council of Ireland's 2019 report, the number of incidences of racism generally directed against Muslims remains at the same, rather high level – about 40% of Muslims in Ireland officially stated that they had experienced violence (verbal or physical aggression) at work, in educational institutions, in everyday life because of their faith. However, experts from these human rights bodies note that in reality the real figure is much higher – about 80%.

Inadequate living conditions for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers remain a significant problem for Ireland. Amnesty International Ireland has pointed to the shortage and poor quality of state-provided housing for this category of citizens, which allegedly negatively affects their "mental state", and also leads to "infringement of dignity" and inability to ensure a normal "private life".

Migrants and refugees from Asia and Africa are among the most vulnerable members of society. Those arriving in the country are housed in temporary accommodation centres, where they wait for all the necessary documents to be processed in order to stay in Ireland. However, the unreasonably lengthy legalization process has resulted in the vast majority of refugees having to reside in these centres for extended periods of time, causing discontent among the local population as well. In 2019-2020, some of these facilities were set on fire, leading in some cases to casualties among refugees. There has been a wave of protests across the country, demanding that the authorities reconsider the existing refugee reception process. Ireland's new coalition government, formed in June 2020, has pledged to dismantle the centres and develop new procedures for the reception and accommodation of refugees.

The problematic situation of migrants in Ireland was highlighted by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination[148] and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance.[149] In this context, lengthy processing of applications for international protection, unreasonably lengthy process of obtaining a work permit, the long periods of inadequate accommodation of migrants in reception centres, and the concealment of deaths in these centres were highlighted. It also noted that the media, including the mainstream Irish media, spread anti-migrant sentiments.

ECRI, citing a 2017 study, noted with concern that 40 per cent of migrants working on Irish trawlers reported encountering racially motivated insults and humiliation at workplace. They also quoted the EU MIDIS II survey, which showed that Ireland had one of the highest levels of hate-related harassment experienced by migrants and descendants of sub-Saharan African migrants.[150]

There are also questions about the situation of such a category of persons as "travellers", a term that includes the Roma and homeless persons. According to estimates by Irish human rights activists, the official recognition of these people as an ethnic minority in 2017 has not fundamentally changed the overall situation. At present, more than 25,000 of these people (about half of the total number) still live in poverty. Between 30% and 50% of prisoners of both sexes in Irish prisons belong to this group. The Irish public and human rights activist recognize that an effective solution to the problem of "travellers" has yet to be found, due in no small part to their culture, which is to some extent incompatible with a sedentary lifestyle and socially useful work.

This problem has also come to the attention of international universal and regional human rights monitoring mechanisms, primarily the CERD and ECRI. In particular, it has been noted that "travellers" and the Roma, along with people of African descent, are disproportionately becoming victims of racial profiling on the part of the police and make up the majority of the penitentiary system population. The racist rhetoric in the media and on the Internet is directed against these vulnerable groups. These ethnic minorities are extremely under-represented in the Irish public sector and in political positions at all levels. They have limited access to social housing, face serious discrimination and inequality in renting in the private housing sector, and as a result are disproportionately at risk of becoming homeless. It has been noted that the 2002 Housing Act has been used by local authorities to justify the forced eviction of "travellers". In addition, local authorities demonstrate a reluctance to fully use the budgeted allocations for providing housing to such persons. Unemployment is extremely high among the "travellers" and the Roma, and children in these communities are very rarely enrolled in school. All members of these groups are in a very poor state of health.

Racism is also evident in education (despite new legislation banning the practice of discriminatory admission of children to schools on the basis of their parents' religion) and in the adoption process. This has been highlighted, inter alia, by the CERD that pointed to racially motivated abuse in Irish mother and child homes, as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse, which have affected children of mixed racial descent the most.[151]

When considering the annual resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" introduced by Russia and other co-sponsors at the UN General Assembly, the Irish delegation abstains, following the consolidated position of European Union member states on this issue.

Iceland

Iceland preserves the memory of its contribution to the formation and maintenance of polar convoys during the Second World War and respects the history of this time period. The President of Iceland, Guðni Thorlacius Johannesson, in part due to his professional historical education, regularly participates in commemorative events dedicated to memorable dates in the history of the war. There is no evidence of attempts to glorify Nazism and its modern forms at the state level or to desecrate monuments and memorials to anti-fascists.

At the same time, at the international arena Iceland joins the EU's common line and annually abstains when voting on the UN General Assembly resolution "Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance".

In recent years separate manifestations of neo-Nazi activity and the spread of neo-Nazi or hateful ideology have been reported in the country. Human rights defenders have expressed concern regarding increased incidences of hate speech, especially against ethnic and religious groups and foreigners (Muslims), as well as cases of incitement to racial hatred and the promotion of ideas of racial superiority and the use of racist stereotypes.

Human rights organizations have expressed concern that the measures taken by the Icelandic authorities to counter racism are insufficient. Furthermore, under Icelandic law, penalties are only imposed for serious and repeated offences, which does not happen often. As a result, the effective prosecution and punishment of those responsible for spreading hateful ideas and speech faces difficulties.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination stressed the problem of the growth of racism in Iceland in August 2019, noting that racially motivated hate crimes may not be always brought to the attention of the competent authorities.[152]

This problem was also previously highlighted by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, which emphasized that anti-Muslim rhetoric is prevalent in political discourse. Accusations of Muslims (as well as migrants) of having links with terrorists, committing acts of aggression and violence have often been used in political debates.[153]

Typically, efforts to spread racism and neo-Nazism in the country were carried out and coordinated from other states. In 2018-2019, Swedish neo-Nazis from the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) attempted to recruit Icelanders into their ranks by launching a campaign on social media and organizing events with leaflet handouts.[154] There were media reports of police interference only in the case of a manifestation in Akranes, where neo-Nazis stood at the entrance to a shopping centre.[155] In September 2019, the head of the aforementioned organization, a Swede by the name of Simon Lindberg, even visited Iceland.

Despite this, there was information in the media about the opening of the Icelandic branch of the NRM (with its own website https://nordurvigi.is, featuring reports about the first manifestation of Icelandic NRM activists – distributing leaflets in the centre of the Icelandic capital).

The reaction of the Icelandic public has been sharply negative. In September 2019, residents of Reykjavik held an anti-Nazi rally with about 200 paricipants.

In 2020, Icelandic neo-Nazis attacked members of the Jewish community living in the country: anti-Semitic posters denying the Holocaust and accusing Jews of abuse of women and paedophilia were distributed near synagogues and Jewish institutions. The action was organized by the NRM not only in Iceland, but also in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. These actions, organized by right-wing radicals during the Jewish community's celebration of Yom Kippur, sparked outrage from international Jewish organizations. In October 2020, Simon Wiesenthal Centre for International Affairs director Shimon Samuels sent a letter to Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, expressing concern about these events (letters were also sent to the leaders of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden). The letter noted that given the total population of the country of about 364,000, neo-Nazis could hardly remain unknown to the authorities. Reykjavik was called on to follow the example of Finland, which banned the NRM in September 2020, and to take action against the instigators of this anti-Semitic campaign.[156]

In Iceland, there are also issues linked to the stay of refugees and migrants. The Icelandic authorities give priority with the refugee reception quotas to particularly vulnerable groups of people, primarily women and children who come from countries engulfed in an armed conflict. For example, Iceland has accepted 200 Syrians in the last 10 years.

According to the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration, in 2020 there were 654 asylum applications from citizens of 52 countries, almost a quarter fewer than in 2019. Despite this decrease in the total number of applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 528 – an unprecedented number of applications – were approved. In addition, asylum was granted to 103 relatives of those refugees that received a favourable decision. Thus, in 2020 Iceland granted asylum to 631 people from 32 countries, mostly from Venezuela (130), Iraq (100) and Syria (58).

The reception of migrants and refugees affected the general public sentiment. For example, in 2015 the media reported public protests against the construction of a mosque in the suburbs of Reykjavik, accompanied by acts of vandalism. According to experts, this expression of discontent was related to Icelanders' fears that this religious facility would contribute to the spread of Islamic radicalism in the country.

Human rights mechanisms have also noted cases of human trafficking in relation to migrants (this has been pointed out by the CERD, among others[157]). It is known that the victims of these crimes mostly originate from East Asia and South America. Between June 2020 and April 2021, the Icelandic police opened 13 investigations into human trafficking cases. The victims were mostly women under the age of 40. Most frequently, the perpetrators were African and Asian nationals with residency permits in Iceland.

Migrant-phobia is usually spread by the far-right. At the beginning of 2020 there were a number of rallies in support of refugees on the verge of expulsion from the country against the backdrop of the growing activity of such structures.

Icelandic society is attempting to analyse the situation, the reasons for the penetration of racist and white supremacy ideas and their impact on people's minds. In part, such processes have been inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. Among other things, there are cases of "positive racism", when enterprises and organizations invite people with migrant backgrounds to events. The goal in such cases is to stress the participation of non-Icelanders in different events.[158] For example, an online conference organized by Amnesty International at the University of Iceland in February 2021 focused on racism in Iceland. Students of non-European descent who had personal experiences of domestic racism also participated in the event.[159]

Spain

The issue of combating Nazism, neo-Nazism and other contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance has been firmly placed among the priorities of the Spanish leadership's domestic and foreign policy, regardless of its party affiliation. In that pursuit, Madrid relies on multilateral structures with broad international legitimacy and responds flexibly to the relevant requirements and recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council, the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, human rights NGOs (Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières, Human Rights Watch, SOS Racismo, Movement against Intolerance, etc.). For the most part, the Spanish authorities understand Russian concerns about the danger of revising history and reviving the ideology of fascism.

It should be noted that the Spanish right-wing nationalism appeals mainly to the period of Francoism (1939–1975). Despite the differences in the approaches of political forces to the assessment of this period in the country's history, such controversial issues as the operation of the Spanish Blue division in hostilities on the Eastern Front as part of the German Wehrmacht is discussed mainly within the framework of historical scientific discourse.

In cooperation with the Spanish authorities, the Russian Embassy has been preserving the historical memory of the Soviet internationalist soldiers who fell in Spain during the Civil War. Archive and research activities are being carried out to identify their burial places and make monuments in their honour. The local authorities promptly approve and issue the necessary permits for the Immortal Regiment marches in Madrid and other Spanish cities.

There is no evidence of the glorification of the Nazi movement, members of the Nazi SS organization or the erection of monuments dedicated to the Nazis in Spain. On the contrary, the Spanish government seeks to combat all forms of discrimination on the grounds of nationality or religion.

Despite this, when the resolution titled "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" traditionally introduced by Russians is being considered at the UN General Assembly, Spain continues to act in line with the EU collective policy and abstains from voting.

In February 2021, the annual march of the Blue Division supporters in Madrid attracted particular attention. This time the action was accompanied by neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic slogans and chants, which caused a wide public response. The organizers and participants in the march were heavily criticized and publicly censured, with the city and autonomous community authorities strongly condemning the action and calling on the prosecutor's office to take a closer look at the participants and check their statements for "hate speech", "extremism", etc.

In recent years, there have been isolated instances of desecration of monuments to those who fought against Franco and Fascists during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). In particular, swastikas were painted on the school walls for disabled children in Fuenlabrada on 23 May 2016, on monuments to participants in the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39 (including to Soviet volunteers) in the Fuencarral Cemetery in Madrid on 29 August 2017, and on posters of parties opposed to the Catalan nationalists in December 2017.

In order to counter the spread of neo-Nazism in Spain, there are NGOs such as Plataforma Global Contra las Guerras (Global Platform against Wars), Coordinadora Antifascista de Espana (Association of Anti-Fascist Coordination of Spain), Casa Sefarad-Israel (Jewish community of Spain), etc.

Generally, there is a complicated situation concerning racism and racial discrimination in the country. The Spanish Ministry of the Interior, as well as civil society organizations – including such NGOs as Observatorio Español contra el Racismo y la Xenofobia (Spanish Observatory against Racism and Xenophobia), Movimiento contra la Intolerancia (Movement against Intolerance, and Plataforma Cívica contra la Islamofobia (Civic Platform against Islamophobia) – keep constant statistics on related crimes and incidents. According to figures released by the Spanish Interior Ministry, the number of hate crimes (the country's Criminal Code punishes such crimes by deprivation of liberty for up 4 years in prison) increased in 2019 compared to the previous year, thus reaching 1,706 cases (1,598 cases in 2018), including those related to racism and xenophobia – 515 cases (426 cases), ideology – 596 cases (585 cases), religious intolerance – 66 cases (69 cases) and anti-Semitism – 5 cases (8 cases). It is necessary to note that this refers to the registered cases only.

The principal victims of these crimes are men (64 per cent) between the ages of 26 and 40 (30.1 per cent), with underage victims accounting for only 6.7 per cent. It is noteworthy that 72.3 per cent of the victims of hate crimes are Spanish citizens, with 27.7 per cent being foreigners, of whom 7.8 per cent are Moroccan citizens. In 2019, most perpetrators were men (83 per cent) between the ages of 18 and 40 (54.7 per cent). Most of them are Spanish citizens (84.7 per cent), with foreigners estimating only 15.3 per cent (mainly holders of Moroccan and Romanian passports).

Movimiento contra la Intolerancia (human rights organization) registers more than 4,000 such incidents in the country every year, noting that the vast majority of victims are disabled persons, homeless, Roma and migrants who do not report such cases to the police. This figure includes attacks against Muslims on the streets, insults on the Internet, and the desecration of mosques. The rate of detection of such offences is about 64 per cent, but in the case of anti-Semitism offences, it does not exceed 30 per cent.

According to the same NGO, Spanish far-right groups consisting of more than 10,000 members hold dozens of mass events every year to spread their ideology, and the Spanish segment of the Internet has about 1,000 websites promoting neo-Nazism, racism and xenophobia.

Such NGOs as Amnesty International and SOS Racismo draw attention to the practice of nationality-based discrimination when the Spanish authorities process asylum applications by refugees from Africa and the Middle East, as well as to the prejudicial treatment they receive by local police.

It should be noted that Nazism, neo-Nazism and other contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance are considered by the Spanish side in the context of human rights issues in general. Thus, attempts are being made to equate the representatives of the LGBT community, as well as women, children and disabled persons, with the victims of neo-Nazism allocated to separate new groups (considered vulnerable in Spain).

Manifestations of discrimination are also noted concerning the situation of irregular migrants in Spain. The problem is still one of the most difficult for the country. Despite a slight decrease in incoming migration flows in 2020 due to the closure of borders in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the mortality rate of incoming migrants remains high. In 2020, the so-called the Canary arrival route (to the Canary Islands via Morocco) was the most dangerous: around one in 20 illegal immigrants drowns in the sea (out of 3,269 people who arrived by this route, more than 160 died).[160]

The stringent measures taken by the Spanish government to prevent illegal migrants (including refugees) from entering the country remain a major concern for international monitoring mechanisms, human rights defenders, independent lawyers, and the public.[161] In particular, they point to the dangerous practice of immediately deporting migrants, even if they have physically crossed the Spanish border, back to Morocco without examining their documents, formalizing protocol, and granting them the right to apply for asylum (these procedures are provided for by EU directives, as well as by international treaties signed by Spain). The experts of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, as well as the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), highlighted the need for Madrid to legally abolish such practices. However, in June 2020, the ECtHR softened its position and unexpectedly recognized the lawfulness of actions by the Spanish authorities in several cases of expulsion of illegal migrants, mentioning the "aggressive behaviour of Africans".[162] Human rights agencies remain concerned about the situation in overcrowded migrant temporary stay centres.

There are still cases of disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officers against migrants and racial profiling, notably not just against the mentioned category, but also against members of ethnic minorities. In particular, the problem was mentioned in the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights Report 2020.[163]

The human rights activists also note the continuing problem of the Roma community in the country, in particular, the low rate of school attendance and completion by Roma children, even though the Spanish authorities have taken steps in this regard.[164]

Italy

In Italy, manifestations and reconstructions of fascism are prohibited by law – article 48 of the Constitution of the Italian Republic of 1947 prohibits the re-establishment in any form of the fascist party, which was dissolved after the defeat of Italy in World War II.

The country also has a legal framework for prohibiting the activities of fascist and Nazi organizations. It is based on the Shelby Law (1952) and the Mancino Law (1993). The first one provides for the criminal liability for the organization of associations, movements or groups that have features typical to the fascist party and aim to recreate it. Following the adoption of the second law, criminal penalties were introduced for "promoting ideas based on racial superiority, racial and ethnic hatred, as well as praising the figures, principles, acts and methods of the fascist regime or its anti-democratic goals."

Several neo-fascist organizations operate on the right edge of the political spectrum in Italy. The most famous of them are the following nationwide
far-right parties: Casa Pound (House of Pound), Forza Nuova (New Force) and Movimento Fascismo e Liberta – Partito Socialista Nazionale (Fascism and Freedom Movement – National Socialist Party). At the regional and local levels, there are smaller associations of radicals – for example, Lealta Azione (Loyalty and Action, region of Lombardy), Skin4Skin (Milano), Hammerskin (Milano), Generazione Identitaria (Generation of Personality, Milano), Manipolo d'Avanguardia (Vanguard, Bergamo), Do.Ra (Varese), Militia (Rome), Avanguardia Nazionale (Rome), Rivolta Nazionale (Rome), Fortezza Europa (Verona), Veneto Fronte Skinheads (Vicenza), etc.

Experts point out that in addition to relatively legally existing socio-political associations, there are also secret cells of radicals and individuals who may have an arsenal of firearms, explosives and related extremist literature at their disposal.

Public actions of radicals include events dedicated to milestone dates (23 March 1919 – the creation of the Italian Union of Struggle, the forerunner of the National Fascist Party; 29 July 1883 – the birthday of Benito Mussolini;
27–30 October 1922 – the "Blackshirts" campaign to Rome; 20 April 1889 – Adolf Hitler's birthday; and 28 April 1945 – death day of Benito Mussolini), as well as meetings in the burial places of fascist figures.

According to a 2020 public report by Italian intelligence agencies,[165] the Italian far-right has intensified its activities in the virtual space in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, using the available social media tools to promote racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, civil disobedience, and to spread conspiracy theories and disinformation.

In their rhetoric, the ultra-right use the traditional slogans about the protection of national identity, traditional family, countering migration, multiculturalism, Islamization, globalization, pan-European institutions and NATO that are understandable to the population.

Radical groups are using the social and economic problems exacerbated by the pandemic to attract new supporters from among the most affected segments of the population. This generally refers to the residents of urban suburbs and young people. In general, Italian observers record a certain increase in the popularity of far-right ideas in the country in 2020, noting the pan-European nature of this tendency.

In the past period, the far-right actively used the slogan about the "sanitary dictatorship of the government" and organized or actively participated in protests in Italian cities against restrictive government measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

It was under the pretext of fighting the aforementioned "sanitary dictatorship" that Forza Nuova (New Force), the largest far-right non-parliamentary party, which has branches in all regions of the country, decided to dissolve itself in December 2020 and to create Italia Libera (Free Italy), new political force, which also included the "orange jackets" (supporters of full national sovereignty) and people not wearing masks.

Nevertheless, neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist associations remain a marginal force in Italy and have no representatives in national authorities.

The countermeasures taken by the Italian authorities also contribute to this. Thus, law enforcement agencies conducted several raids against neo-Nazi supporters across the country in 2019, which resulted in arrests, seizures of firearms, ammunition, propaganda Nazi literature, Nazi flags, and Waffen SS symbols. During these operations, Italian law enforcement agencies registered an attempt to create the Italian National Socialist Workers' Party, which declared Nazi, xenophobic and anti-Semitic positions.[166] On 7 June 2021, police dismantled Ordine Ario Romano (Aryan Roman Order), right-wing organization, which was spreading neo-Nazi and neo-fascist ideas on social media, promoting anti-Semitism, and inciting its followers to commit extremist acts. Moreover, the group's members were developing plans to attack a NATO facility. According to media reports, some group members were already known to law enforcement agencies for their extremist activities and had been under scrutiny for various extremist activities.[167]

It is also worth noting that according to a report published in January 2021 by the Eurispes Institute of Social and Political Studies,[168] there was an increase in the number of people in Italy in 2020 who deny the mass extermination of Jews by the Nazis – 15.6 per cent (by comparison, in 2005 there were only 2.7 per cent). 16.1 per cent of respondents say that the persecution of Jews resulted in "not many casualties." 61.7 per cent of respondents believe that cases of anti-Semitism in Italy "are isolated and do not indicate the existence of a problem." 19.8 per cent of respondents believe that "Benito Mussolini was a great leader who made a few mistakes."

Notable efforts are also being made within civil society organizations. Thus, for instance, Associazione Nazionale Partigiani d'Italia (National Association of Partisans of Italy), which has branches in all regions of the country and is one of the key socio-political institutions for preventing the reincarnation of Nazi fascism in the Apennines and monitoring the activity of the far-right in the country, published a visual map of 4,600 interconnected neo-fascist pages in the Italian segment of Facebook (data as of the end of 2018).

Respectful treatment is also noted in Italy for memorials and monuments erected in honour of those who fought against Nazism and Fascism. New graves of our citizens who died in the Apennines during the war are being detected, and new memorial sites are being installed. In October 2020, another monument to the Soviet partisan Vladimir Tulisko was unveiled in Caldiero (Province of Verona).

Despite the rather active efforts to counteract neo-Nazi and racist organizations mentioned above, Italy, in line with the EU-wide approaches, abstains from voting on the Russian draft resolution of the UN General Assembly titled "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."

As for the manifestations of xenophobia in Italy, according to experts, most of them are not related to the activities of neo-fascists and are of a domestic nature. The main reasons for the growth of xenophobic attitudes in recent years include the deterioration of the socio-economic situation of the population, high unemployment among young people and the presence of migrants from Africa and Asia, as the country has actually become one of the main "transhipment points" on its way from Africa to the rest of Europe.

The ECRI has pointed out with concern that the increase in the number of migrants has contributed to an increase in migrantophobic rhetoric in political discourse.[169] Experts noted the inefficiency and lack of existing financial, organizational and regulatory tools in Italy to combat this phenomenon.

Following the 2018–2019 amendments to migration law that severely restricted the rights of migrants in Italy, including measures to combat illegal migration worldwide and the possibility of taking action against NGOs involved in rescuing migrants on water, the Italian authorities have been criticized by the international community, domestic moderate forces and human rights organizations. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in particular, called on the Italian authorities to take measures to ensure that the rescue of migrants not be considered a crime.[170]

In the context of a labour shortage in Italy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, separate regulations were passed to relatively liberalize the migration regime and facilitate the legalization of irregular migrants. The national unity government led by Mario Draghi, which came to power in February 2021, proclaimed that a "balanced and humane policy" would be pursued with respect to migrants, which would include respect for basic human rights and the rescue of migrants caught in Italian territorial waters. At the same time, given that the problem of illegal migration continues to worsen, the Italian government has decided to act on three fronts: to strengthen cooperation with Libya and Tunisia, once again bring the issue of Italy's assistance in this matter to the EU level, and to accelerate the development of a new EU-wide system of reception and distribution of migrants.

The UN human rights treaty bodies have a rather balanced approach to dealing with the migration situation in Italy. It was pointed out the need to ensure the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, improve living conditions in migrant primarily registration centres, migrant reception centres, as well as specialized "crisis centres" and centres for unaccompanied children, and to stop the practice of holding migrants in detention for more than 48 hours. This has been highlighted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,[171] the Human Rights Committee,[172] the Committee on the Rights of the Child,[173] the Committee against Torture,[174] and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.[175]

International mechanisms also drew attention to the dire straits of migrants who remained in the country. A large part of them is invited to work in the agricultural sector, which is characterized by difficult working conditions and low wages. They become victims of racial discrimination and are exploited. The geography of the countries of origin of migrants is one of the main reasons for this attitude. Thus, Urmila Bhoola, HRC Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, following her visit to Italy on 3–12 October 2018, noted that as of 2017, migrants represented 16.9 per cent of all agriculture workers, and in some Italian regions, migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia have almost fully replaced migrants from the European Union (mostly from Southern Europe).[176] In 2020, Hilal Elver, the HRC Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, also pointed out to this range of problems, noting that irregular migrants were mostly employed in the agricultural sector. With reference to the Italian social services, she pointed out that the migrants working legally made up 35 per cent of the workforce.[177]

A complex of problems is associated with the existence of Roma settlements in Italy. This generally refers to illegal buildings on the outskirts of settlements. These areas are criminalized, and drug trafficking often flourishes there. Law enforcement agencies regularly raid places where Roma live, and illegal buildings are periodically demolished. At the same time, the left-liberal media and human rights organizations use these facts to accuse the government of racism and xenophobia, and the proposal to conduct a census of the Roma population announced in 2018 by the then Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was considered by human rights experts as having no legal basis. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in September 2015, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in December 2016, the Human Rights Committee in March 2017 and the Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2019 drew attention to the importance of addressing the situation of the Roma, including in housing, access to social services and education, and the labour market.

CERD continues to monitor the issue of protection of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, as well as the situation of the Roma in Italy. In a subsequent letter based on a study of the information provided by the Italian authorities on this topic, the Committee asked specifically to include information on these two aspects in the next periodic report of Italy.[178]

Canada

Canada is at the forefront of countries that do not stop trying to falsify the history of World War II. Though the glorification of Nazi criminals is not yet enshrined in law in Ottawa, however, the monuments to all those who fought against the USSR on the side of Hitler's Germany are treated with special care and respect.

For example, in Edmonton (Alberta province), a memorial obelisk in the form of a cross with the inscription "Fighters for the Will of Ukraine" is located at the cemetery of St. Michael where the plates are withdrawn with abbreviations of units of the Sich Riflemen, the Galician Army of the West Ukrainian People's Republic, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-UIA) and the 1st Division of the Ukrainian National Army (formed from the former parts of the 14th Grenadier division of Waffen-SS – Galicia). In the same city of Edmonton, on the territory of the Centre for Ukrainian youth unity, there is a bust in honour of Roman Shukhevych, founder of the OUN-UIA, Deputy Commander of the "Nachtigall" battalion, commander of the 201st SS Schutzmannschaft battalion, and organizer of mass killings of Belarusians, Poles, Jews and Ukrainians during World War II. Another example is Oakville (Ontario) where two monuments are located in the Ukrainian cemetery of St. Vladimir, one of which is dedicated to OUN-UIA soldiers; the other was installed in memory of members of the Galicia punitive division who were killed in the battle with the Red Army for the city of Brody on 13-22 July 1944.[179]

As a justification for the existence of such media monuments, they cite the statements of pro-Bandera lobbyists who openly assert that "fighting on the side of the Germans does not mean being a Nazi," especially if the Ukrainians who served under the Nazis "fought against communism."[180]

Today, many Nazi criminals live in Canada. According to the information given in the report titled "Accomplices of Nazi crimes, 96 veterans of the Latvian SS Legion who are still alive," prepared by the Historical Memory Foundation together with the Foundation for the Support and Development of Jewish Culture, Traditions, Education and Science, 16 former Latvian SS Legionnaires who may have been involved in the Commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the World War II live in Canada as of 2020.[181] There is also a local branch of the Daugava Hawks organization in this country, with members of which the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgar Rinkevich met during his official visit to Canada.[182]

It should be noted that the Canadian side has expressed interest in this regard and has asked the Russian Federation to provide information about the persons mentioned in the report in order to conduct a review of them in accordance with the programme on the investigation of crimes against humanity and war crimes. According to representatives of the Ministry of Justice of Canada, this Agency works together with the border and immigration services, as well as the police to ensure that persons who personally participated in the Commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide are not granted asylum in Canada.[183]

However, the current attitude (or rather, inaction and connivance) of the Canadian authorities to the persons responsible for the mass murder of civilians on the territory of the USSR indicates the opposite. Members of the Nazi formations are carefully hidden from justice, allowing them to live out their lives peacefully. In this regard, the example of Vladimir Katriuk, former member of the 118th punitive SS Schutzmannschaft battalion, responsible for the destruction of the Belarusian Khatyn, is illustrative (he died on 22 May 2015 at his apiary in the province of Quebec).[184]

A similar tactic was also chosen for Helmut Oberlander, born in 1924, a native of the Ukrainian SSR who served as a "translator" during the Great Patriotic War as part of the Nazi punitive unit "Sonderkommando 10-A", that was involved in crimes in the Kuban in 1942–1943, including the murder of 214 children in an orphanage in Yeysk City. The case for his deportation from Canada has been pending since 2001, and three times court decisions on the revocation of citizenship have been overturned on appeal. It was not until December 2019 that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that his 1960 citizenship acceptance was illegal because the documents filed contained false information. However, lawyers and pro-Bandera structures try in every possible way to prevent the deportation of Mr Oberlander to any country, especially to Russia, citing "humanitarian" reasons due to poor health.[185] In April 2021, Federal Court Judge Denis Gascon ruled to reject Helmut Oberlander's lawyer's appeal of an indefinite suspension of his deportation case before the Immigration and Refugee Board's Immigration Division.[186] In early September 2021, the hearing was resumed, but then it was suspended once again due to Oberlander's poor health. Delaying the process allowed the Nazi accomplice to die and avoid deportation. Several civil society organizations, including the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies and the B'nai Brith Jewish public organization, expressed their disappointment with such Canadian authorities' approach.

An active role in justifying the crimes of the Nazis during World War II is played by the Canadian Ukrainian Congress (CUC) and numerous Ukrainian-Bandera structures operating under its authority, promoting the ideas of aggressive nationalism, anti-Semitism and the glorification of Nazi collaborators who fought for "independent Ukraine." At the same time, the obvious facts of direct participation of Bandera in the extermination of civilians, the organization of mass pogroms of the Jewish population, in particular in Lvov in June 1941, and the Poles during the Volhynian massacres are denied.

Under pressure from the CUC, Canada officially equates communism with Nazism, and the Holodomor tragedy is presented as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, without mentioning that other peoples of the Soviet Union were also victims of the famine in the 1930s. The crimes of modern followers of Nazism in Ukraine are hushed up, and the picture of what is happening is deliberately distorted in favour of the ruling regime in Kiev.

Against this background, the country has seen an increase in the activity of neo-Nazi groups and the demand for extremist ideology: Northern Guard, Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens, the Quebec organization "La Meute" ("Pack"), as well as regional branches "Soldiers of Odin" and the Movement "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West" (PEGIDA). In addition, the activities of the extremist organization "Jewish Defence League of Canada, which arose as a defence organization against anti-Semitic residents of African and Latin American neighbourhoods of Canadian cities, were noticed.

At the same time, over the past few years, the activities of such structures as the Storm Alliance and the Canadian branch of the organization "Blood and Honour" have ceased. In this context, it is also noteworthy that in February 2021, the Ottawa authorities included the Proud Boys in its national list of terrorist organizations. A few months later, in May 2021, that association was dissolved. At the same time, a statement by Proud Boys members was published in the Telegram messenger, claiming their non-involvement in terrorist activities or ideas of white supremacy.[187]

For many years, one of the most prominent inspirers and conductors of the ideas of the "brown plague" in Canada has been Paul Fromm (head of the Canadian Association for Free Expression and the Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform), who has a reputation as one of the most famous neo-Nazis in the country, who uses "freedom of speech" to cover up and justify the extremist activities of North American right-wing radicals. In December 2020, the web-publication VICE reported that the federal revenue service had approved payroll subsidies for Paul Fromm's organizations as part of the programmes to support their nationals during the COVID-19 pandemic.[188]

Just as in the other countries, the Canadian far-right has adopted neo-Nazi symbols, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic slogans. There are regular demonstrations in major cities of the country, including anti-government ones. New supporters are actively recruited in the youth environment. The propaganda work is conducted on social networks and in the blogosphere. Neo-Nazis usually manage to mobilize up to 200-300 people for their public actions.

In August 2019, it became known that senior corporal of the reserve engineers Patrik Mathews, trained on duty to work with explosives, recruited his colleagues in the right-wing group "The Base" in Beausejour (province of Manitoba), and later was forced to flee to the United States, where he and his American accomplices were detained by the FBI.[189]

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the equivalent of the American FBI) monitors radical activity and neo-Nazi groups regularly. Moreover, the activities of these organizations are also closely monitored by the US intelligence services, since some of their activists took part in riots in several American cities According to law enforcement authorities, this movement in Canada is currently fragmented, has no clear leader, and consists of several dozen small organizations with similar goals. The level of threat to public order in the country is now assessed as low.

At the same time, there is an anti-fascist movement in Canada. It also consists of several dozen small disparate groups. Activists try to stop any public actions of the far-right. For example, on 30 September 2017, a "March against Racism" was held in the centre of the Canadian capital in the form of a peaceful demonstration, one of the main organizers was the NGO "Ottawa against Fascism."

Unfortunately, Russophobia (anti-Russian prejudice) has become a common phenomenon in Canadian life. One of its most striking examples is the provocation concerning the Victory Day traditionally celebrated by the Russian-speaking community of Ottawa at the T-34 tank located in the Canadian Military Museum. In 2018, the event was disrupted by a CUC representative, who came on stage with the flag of Ukraine and began shouting anti-Russian slogans.

An open letter published a week later on Facebook by the Ottawa branch of the CUC to James Fleck, Museum's Director, and expressed outrage at the support provided by the state museum authority of Canada for "glorifying the Soviet regime." As examples of "proof of guilt" of the USSR, the authors cited a set of Russophobic accusatory stamps that do not have any justification. At the same time, the Victory Banner was mentioned as evidence of the glorification of the "criminal Soviet regime," and the image of the symbol of the defeat of Nazism was contrasted with the picture of the yellow-blue Ukrainian state standard. Later, in the author's column of Marcus Kolga in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper on this occasion, a note was published about "beaten Ukrainian" and "unruly" Russians.

As a result, the Museum's management decided to prohibit the Russian community from holding events on the occasion of Victory Day on its territory. This case was emblematic: any provocation in Canada can be regarded as a reason for restricting the rights of Russian speakers. Taking an anti-Russian stance immediately, without understanding the situation, is typical of local authorities.[190]

The total number of hate crimes remains consistently high in Canada. According to Statistics Canada's latest report,[191] there were 1,946 such offences in 2019, representing an increase of 7 per cent in comparison with 2018 (1,817). More than 75 per cent of the cases occurred in eight major cities, with the highest rates per 100,000 population in Hamilton (15.7), Ottawa (10.8) and Quebec City (8.6). Almost half (876) of the cases were directed against members of a particular racial or ethnic group, with religious insults in second place (608). It is reported that the discrimination was mostly faced by African (335), Arab (128) and Asian (68) people. All three population groups demonstrated an increase compared to previous years.

Afro-Canadians are the most likely targets of racial hate crimes: black people account for 44 per cent of such acts.[192]

At the same time, aggression against the Jewish community increased markedly. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, 2019 was not easy for the Canadian Jewish community[193]: cases of anti-Semitism were registered within the student community of the universities of York (York University), McGill (McGill University), Ryerson (Ryerson University) and Toronto (University of Toronto).[194] The Edmonton Journal (Alberta) was accused of deliberate hate speech in connection with the publication of an offensive cartoon.[195] There were calls on social networks to boycott small and medium-sized businesses owned by immigrants from Israel.[196] The statements of the Quebec politician Hassan Guillet are recognized by the leadership of the Liberal party as a manifestation of intolerance towards an ethnic group.[197] The election posters of Jewish community deputies were defaced with racist graffiti.[198] People were attacked,[199] anti-Semitic statements were repeatedly voiced,[200] and numerous cases of vandalism occurred, including the Nazi symbols were painted.[201]

In 2020, the Canadian NGO "Human Rights League" reported that its experts recorded an average of six cases of anti-Semitism per day (a total of 2,207) in 2019. Thus, the number of such incidents increases for the fourth consecutive year (compared to 2018 by 8 per cent). A sharp increase in attacks on Jews occurred in Ontario (by 62.8 per cent) and Quebec (by 12.3 per cent). According to a statement of a representative of the organization, attacks on the Jewish community have already become the norm, and the number of insulting web messages from anonymous users denying the Holocaust has increased by 11 per cent.

In November 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, recognizing that anti-Semitism was on the rise in Canada and the world, appointed a Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Anti-Semitism.[202] However, the corresponding crimes have not ceased. For example, in January 2021, vandalism at a synagogue in Westmount, Quebec Province, where a young man painted a Nazi swastika on the walls, caused a wide response.[203]

It is noteworthy that the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, was accused of racism during the campaign in September 2019 after publishing archive photos showing him in "blackface" makeup. The politician later acknowledged that his behaviour was "unconscionable racism" and apologized to Canadian minorities.[204]

Manifestations of xenophobia are reported among other State officials. In 2019–2020, the Senate of Canada has twice decided to suspend Senator from Ontario Lynn Beyak for promoting hatred and racism: in March 2019, when she refused to delete from her personal page on the official portal of the Senate letters received from citizens expressing support for her positive statements about the colonial system of boarding schools for indigenous children and containing racist comments against the Indian population; and in February 2020, since the politician did not fully implement recommendations, including successful completion of training courses on countering racism.[205]

The rapid spread of Covid-19 has also led to numerous manifestations of xenophobia and racism in the country. According to an official statement issued on 8 April 2020 by the Canadian Commissioner for Human Rights, Marie-Claude Landry, cases of racist insults and threats, including physical violence against minorities, especially citizens of Asian origin, have increased during the pandemic.[206]

In July 2020, Statistics Canada released data on a sharp increase in insults against racial minorities since the COVID-19 pandemic began.[207] According to a survey of 43,000 people, it was found that one in five (21 per cent) "coloured" Canadians had experienced discrimination. Among the most frequent victims were the African (26 per cent), Korean (26 per cent), Chinese (22 per cent), and Filipino (22 per cent) people.

In accordance with the report released in March 2021 by COVID Racism[208], 1150 people reported manifestations of anti-Asian racism between 10 March 2020 and 28 February 2021. Mainly vulnerable groups of the population (the elders, the youth, the low-income) came under attack. The incidents occurred more often in public places. 60 per cent of the victims were women. A resolution condemning racism against people of Asian descent was approved unanimously on 23 March 2021, by the House of Commons upon the initiative of the opposition New Democratic Party.

In Montreal, Vietnamese Buddhist temples were attacked by vandals. Several statues and objects of worship were smashed. The city police suggested that the crime was committed on a hate basis[209].

In Vancouver, Canadian entrepreneurs of Chinese descent were forced to reduce business activity by 50-70 per cent[210]. In Greater Toronto, sales of Chinese restaurants fell by 30-80 per cent[211].

Indigenous population remains the most discriminated group in Canada. In 2020, the mass media regularly reported cases of violence against aboriginal people. As of November 2020, 41 Indian reservations continued to have long-term restrictions on consumption of drinking water. In February 2021, the Auditor General of Canada found that in some isolated communities the level of funding for wastewater treatment remained the same for the last 30 years[212]. Between 2017 and 2020, the Canadian police killed 25 representatives of First Nations. The per centage of indigenous people in federal prisons reached
30 per cent, while in western provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan) it is 54 per cent[213].

However, racial profiling is common among the police staff, security and border services of Canada, it is targeted not only against indigenous people, but also against Canadians of African descent and other ethnic minority groups and Muslims[214]. Police "street checks", where law enforcement officers stop and question persons suspected of a crime and check their documents, are carried out arbitrarily and disproportionately affect people of African descent[215].

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted over-representation of Canadians of African descent and indigenous peoples at all stages of the administration of justice, from arrest to incarceration. Among the reasons for the discriminatory situation, the human rights body attributed, first of all, widespread poverty among this population group and insufficient quality of social services provided to its members[216].

The HRC Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples noted that the adoption of legislation that removes some of the discriminatory effects of previous provisions, according to which Indian women (and all their descendants) who marry "non-status" men lose their status of a representative of indigenous people, while this status is granted to non-aboriginal women who marry "status" Indians. He pointed out that some categories of persons were still not granted this status because of historical discrimination against maternal offspring.

The Special Rapporteur also indicated that the housing situation for Inuit and First Nations communities has reached a crisis level. People live in overcrowded conditions, and houses need serious repairs[217].

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) expressed concern about reports that indigenous women and girls in the foster and childcare system are at particular risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation[218].

The CERD expressed concern about reports of unequal distribution of resources for education and insufficient funding for mother-language education, which has resulted in some groups of children, especially those of African-Canadian and indigenous descent, not having equal access to quality education, potentially leading to socio-economic inequality among these groups[219]. For its part, the CEDAW expressed concern about the high per centage of girls who suffer discrimination and sexual harassment in schools, and the disproportionately large number of migrant, refugee, asylum-seeker and indigenous girls who continue to face difficulties in accessing quality education[220].

The National Aboriginal Association against Domestic Violence indicated that in most communities in Canada, social services are funded through provincial or territorial governments. However, in First Nations reservations, these services are usually funded by the Federal government, which in many areas provides significantly less per capita funding for related programs and services than is the case for provincial and territorial governments[221].

Mass graves of Indians, school children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School (British Columbia) functioning between 1890 and 1978 (under control of the Catholic Church until 1969, later under the federal government) found in late May 2021, has become a high-profile event.

The remains of 215 children aged 3 were found near the school. According to the chief of the Indian community Rosanne Casimir all deaths were undocumented. According to one version, this might happen because of their violent nature.

In accordance with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, about 500 students were enrolled in the school. Meanwhile, between 1915 and 1963 alone, 51 child died there. Since the very existence of boarding schools in Canada, more than 150 thousand students attended such schools, 4 thousand among them, according to the Centre, had become victims of the government policy carried out in respect of indigenous people. Experts believe, however, that there can be much more deaths[222].

Children were forcibly taken to such educational institutions, they were separated from their families on purpose. Students of the boarding schools were forbidden not only to see their family, but also speak their native language and follow their traditions. At the same time, one of the main tasks of such schools was to develop skills of primitive manual operation. There were bad living conditions in such boarding schools, children suffered from malnutrition, lack of quality health care, hard physical labour and brutal treatment. All this has caused high mortality in such schools.

In memory of the children whose remains were found in Kamloops, the national flags were lowered to half-mast throughout Canada on 30 May 2021. In some cities this period lasted 215 hours, one hour per each child who died.

Moreover, there were demonstrations throughout the country during which a monument to an architect of the boarding school system, Egerton Ryerson, was toppled in Toronto. The protesters doused the statue with paint and put on the empty base graffiti referencing the terrible discovery[223].

Just a month later, Canada announced that it had discovered another, even larger (more than 750 people) mass grave on the territory of a similar educational institution in Marieval (Saskatchewan province). Another event to commemorate the children who died was organized by an indigenous people community of Kausess soon after that. The meeting was opened with prayer and closed with the moment of silence.

Canada's Prime-Minister Justin Trudeau said it was a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of his country’s history.

As for Canada's legal and regulatory measures to counter racism and neo-Nazism, the principle of equality of all residents of the country, regardless of race, social origin and religion, is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988. There is no formal ban on the activities of far-right movements in the country, but Article 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada provides for a penalty of up to two years in prison for spreading ideas of racial superiority (in particular, calls for physical violence and artificial deterioration of the situation of certain groups of the population.

Such first policy document was the Action Plan against Racism[224] adopted by the liberal government of Paul Martin in 2005. This Plan was an attempt to systematize the forms of racial intolerance registered in Canada and distribute the powers between Federal ministries and departments in the implementation of measures to prevent them.

In 2018, the government of Justin Trudeau introduced the National Strategy on Countering Radicalization to Violence[225]. The document analyzes the political, religious and ethno-cultural factors that lead to the escalation of extremism in society. The main challenges are poverty, low level of education, and limited access to health care.

To implement the Strategy, the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence was established under the Ministry of Public Security in 2017. This structure received a good financial boost (35 million Can. dollars in 2016, followed by an annual budget of 10 million Can. dollars). In addition, it has established a special Community Resilience Fund, whose resources are directed to research on countering extremism in Canada (in the period 2019-2020, 7 million Can. dollars have been allocated for this purpose).

In June 2019, the Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez announced allocating a 45 million Can. dollars investment to implement Anti-Racism Strategy 2019-2022[226]. A special unit, Secretariat Against Racism, was organised to implement the tasks set by the Strategy. According to the government, 85 projects amounting to 15 million Can. dollars received funding within the Strategy by 2021. In fall 2020, Deputy Prime-Minister Chrystia Freeland announced allocating 50 million Can. dollars as additional support to anti-racist initiatives for 2020-2022.

As for regional law enforcement, only Ontario has
an anti-racism law, Anti-Racism Act (adopted in 2017 by the Provincial Legislature)[227]. In the document Anti-Racism Policy[228] submitted in 2018 in response to this Act, the key preventive measures include strict observance of the principle of equality in employment for representatives of all ethnic groups, holding training seminars, and promotion of representatives from the "colored" and indigenous populations to senior positions in Federal and provincial government.

In addition, the government of Ontario adopted the Anti-Black Racism Strategy[229], which provides for the allocation of 47 million Can. dollars to help children and adolescents from African-canadian families to "socialize", improve education, and review correctional policies in respect of young offenders.

However, when Canada passed the Universal Periodic Review under the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, referring to the Human Rights Commission of Canada, noted that there had been little progress in addressing many long-standing problems, including the situation of indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups[230].

Given the ambivalent attitude of the Canadian authorities to countering manifestations of racism, it is not surprising to see Canada's position with regard to the UN General Assembly resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance", introduced annually by Russia together with a wide range of co-sponsors. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, the delegation of Canada abstained in the vote on this document. In previous years, representatives of the country have repeatedly voted against the adoption of the resolution.

To sum up the situation with the spread of neo-Nazism, racism and other manifestations of xenophobia in Canada, it is worth mentioning that this subject is one of the most sensitive in the country's human rights profile. There has been no progress on this track in recent years. Moreover, the situation has been gradually deteriorating. Measures taken by the government to curb deeply rooted intolerance against certain groups of the population do not provide any tangible results and can hardly normalize relationships among different social groups in the future.

Cyprus

In general, there are no manifestations of neo-Nazism or glorification of the Nazi movement in Cyprus. The official authorities are not inclined to distort or rewright the history of World War II and its results. There are no attempts to promote neo-Nazi and extremist ideas, as well as to spread hate speech against ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities in the country's information space.

At the same time, the delegation of Cyprus, following the General European line, annually abstains during the vote in the UN General Assembly on the resolution introduced by Russia and other co-sponsors "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance".

In recent years, the far-right nationalist National People's Front (ELAM) party has been gaining popularity. During 2016 parliamentary elections ELAM won 3.71 per cent of votes and was elected to the supreme legislative body for the first time, during 2021 elections the nationalists received already 6.8 per cent of the votes. In the European Parliament elections in May 2019, 3 times more voters voted for ELAM than in the previous campaign.

The party is gaining popularity because a part of its electorate, mainly young and middle-aged people, are in favor of its traditionally strict practices of containing the refugees flow and limiting their presence on the island. ELAM opposes the presence of labor migrants from the "third world" countries considering them the cause of unemployment in Cyprus and an increase in the tax burden for its native citizens. The party does not hide its ties to the "fraternal organization" – the Greek right-wing political party Golden Dawn. In the early 2010s the media published reports of ethnic crimes committed by its activists.

Recently, Cyprus has seen an increase in the number of migrants. According to NGOs, the country does not meet international standards for the treatment of refugees in places of temporary accommodation and in the framework of deportation procedures. The situation in this area was particularly aggravated in 2019 when more than 3 thousand refugees from Syria, Nigeria, Cameroon and several other countries arrived on the island in the first half of the year. So, Cyprus made a record among EU member states in the number of refugees per capita.

The problem is compounded by the lack of migrant accommodation centers, lack of employment opportunities and lack of decent living conditions. In April 2020, Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights of Cyprus Maria Stylianou-Lottides called on the Interior Ministry to improve conditions at two migrant reception centres located in Kokkinotrimithia and Kofinu.

The situation is worsened by the long processing times (up to several years) for applications for refugee status. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)[231] stressed the limited number of reception facilities for refugees. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women noted with concern the difficulty of access to justice for migrant domestic workers due to their possible detention and subsequent deportation pending the completion of legal proceedings[232]. The Committee against Torture drew attention to the fact of criminalization and routine detention of irregular migrants, the extended periods of detention of such migrants and the work of migration detention facilities throughout the country[233]. Among positive developments, one can note the beginning of work, in June 2019, of a specialized judicial body that seeks, among other things, to expedite the processing of migrants' applications.

In May 2020, a number of NGOs criticized the leaders of both communities for the situation with a group of migrants who arrived in Cyprus by sea. The group consisted of 175 Syrian refugees who intended to land on the southern coast of the island in March 2020. But because of the coronavirus-related restrictions, the Cypriot authorities did not let them ashore; the boat then sailed away to the northern part of the island and sank, the migrants were saved by the Turkish Cypriot coastal guard. The entire group, in portions, including unaccompanied minors, were forcibly sent to Turkey, even though all 175 persons had expressed intent to apply for international protection. Some of them have relatives living in Cyprus.

The CERD criticized the spread in society of racially motivated verbal abuse and physical attacks by far-right extremist and neo-Nazi groups against people of foreign origin, including people of African descent, as well as against human rights activists and Turkish Cypriots. The CERD experts also expressed concern about the spread in society of racist stereotypes and hate speech against members of certain ethnic minority groups, as well as Roma who are Muslims. The CERD pointed to the lack of legal provisions to hold such acts accountable, as well as insufficient efforts of law enforcement agencies[234].

The situation in Cyprus is quite acute with manifestations of racism among football fans, who still represent largely uncontrolled groups of aggressive youth. On some occasions disciplinary sanctions have been imposed on Cyprian football teams by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). In the press there are periodic reports on violence and racist chants in Cypriot stadiums during national and international matches. In this regard, the government has repeatedly announced its intention to improve work with football fans communities.

The FCNM Advisory Committee functioning within the Council of Europe has acknowledged the lack of interaction between the state and religious and ethnic communities without a constitutional status. For instance, the Roma living in Cyprus are officially regarded by authorities as belonging to the Turkish community of Cyprus. This hinders their access to certain rights and their possible enjoyment, given that the Roma community remains marginalized in economic and social terms. One of the FCNM Advisory Committee's recommendations to Cyprus therefore was to develop a detailed action plan for the social inclusion of Roma and their overall participation in socio-economic life, to be implemented in close consultation with the representatives of this category of the population.

The Committee has also called on the authorities to consider the establishment of a state institution, with a clear mandate, visibility and sufficient resources, to liaise with relevant entities and address effectively the needs of national minorities, Roma communities, as well as other groups not recognized under the main law of the country[235].

We can see that uncontrolled flow of migrants arriving on the island represent today in the Republic of Cyprus the main problem related to manifestation of intolerance and xenophobia. At the same time, right-wing radical nationalist ideologies are not popular among Cypriots and are condemned both officially, and by ordinary citizens.

Latvia

If we analyze the situation related to manifestation of neo-Nazism, glorification of Nazism, spread of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance in 2020-2021, the first thing we see is that the Republic of Latvia (RL) continues to deliberately pursue the policy aimed at falsifying the history and defending former Waffen-SS Legionnaires and Nazi collaborators, who are elevated to the rank of participants in the "national liberation movement".

Efforts to glorify Nazism and justify the crimes committed by collaborators have become, in fact, part of the State policy. Already on 29 October 1998, the Latvian Saeima adopted a Declaration "On Latvian Legionnaires in World War II", which, contrary to the facts, stated that "the purpose of conscripted and voluntarily joined the Legion warriors was to protect Latvia from the restoration of the Stalinist regime" and that they "never participated in Hitler's punitive actions against the civilian population". In 2000 in the village Lesten, a memorial complex dedicated to the memory of the members of that organization[236] was opened with the support of the State. It was created with donations from the organization "Daugava Hawks", created by veterans of the Latvian Legion.

On the year of the 75th Anniversary of the Great Victory, the Latvian authorities became even more active in rewriting the history, revising the results of World War II and discrediting the role of the Soviet Union in this context. Furthermore, in the past, it was mainly right-wing radical forces who rewrote history and glorified Nazism in Latvia, today, the leaders of the country resort to such rhetoric. Prime-minister of Latvia Krisjanis Karins (Jauna Vienotība (New Unity)), who is also a US national, during his visit to Copenhagen on 3 February 2020, devoted special attention to discussing "the Soviet occupation" of Latvia.

On 7 May 2020, the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Gitanas Nauseda, Egils Levits and Kersti Kaljulaid, adopted a joint statement on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. In a document they presented their own picture of events that had no real basis and accused the USSR and the Red Army of liberating the Baltic States from the Nazis, calling it "occupation", allegedly "because one totalitarian regime was replaced by another".

The content of the video message of the heads of three Baltic States released in June 2021 on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of deportations from these countries (14 June 1941), also distorts real history. It can also be seen as an attempt to develop an idea of the responsibility shared by the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union[237].

At the same time, Latvian officials make regular public statements justifying accomplices of the Nazis. For example, on 2 March 2020, Latvian Minister of Justice Jānis Bordāns attended a meeting in the Viļaka Municipality to commemorate the Forest Brothers on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the events near the Stompaku swamps – an operation to destroy Latvian underground resistance carried out by Soviet state security agencies. In the following days, Jānis Bordāns praised the head of Forest Brothers Pēteris Supe in his comments on this event on Facebook.

Another example is the statement delivered by Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks at an event held at the legionnaires' cemetery near the More settlement on 27 September 2019 on the occasion of "the 75th anniversary of defense battles against the Red Army." In his speech, he referred to SS legionnaires as the pride of the Latvian state and its people and spoke of the need to honour their memory. His fellow party member, Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce supported the views of the Defense Minister, saying that he did not see any problem with calling Latvian legionnaires heroes.

There are also attempts to justify accomplices of the Nazis within a legal framework. In February 2019, the Prosecutor General of Latvia decided to close the criminal trial on the possible involvement of the Latvian pilot Herberts Cukurs (who was a member of the Arays Team – a unit of the Latvian auxiliary SD police – and was nicknamed "the butcher of Riga") in the destruction of the Jewish population of Latvia during World War II. The investigation was conducted since 2006 under Article 71 Genocide of the Latvian Criminal law. The Latvian Prosecutor's office did not find the elements of a crime provided for in Article 71 in the actions of Herberts Cukurs. However, later, under pressure from the public, Latvian and international Jewish organizations, as well as after the appeal in May 2019 of the Council of Jewish communities of Latvia to the Prosecutor General on this issue, this decision was reviewed and the investigation was resumed.

The practice of publishing various pseudoscientific works aimed at promoting the doctrine of occupation is continued. The collection of documents "Crimes of the USSR occupation army in Latvia. 1940 – 1991", prepared by the historian Jānis Riekstiņš and published on the eve of the great holiday, joined the list of such publications. It is significant that this book was published by the Ministry of Justice of Latvia, and Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister for Defense of Latvia Artis Pabriks wrote the introduction to it.

There is information that the books aimed at shaping a positive image of the Nazis and their accomplices are used as supportive literature on history in schools. Andris Grūtups's "Ešafots" serves a good example to this. This "historical" work, full of sympathy for the convicted Nazi criminals and disrespect to their victims, had several editions in Latvian and Russian in Latvia and is distributed in schools[238].

All Latvian-language media are used for the same purposes. They regularly publish documents on certain "commemorative" events, where they whitewash the Waffen-SS Legionnaires and Forest Brothers members. Particular attention is paid to the promotion of "alternative" versions about the beginning and the course of World War II where the Soviet Union is represented as one of the warmongers of the global conflict.

Another attempt to mar the Victory Day was the resolution "On the 75th anniversary of the end of the World War II and the need for a comprehensive view in Europe and on a global level," adopted by the Saeima of Latvia on 7 May 2020. This document was another attempt to equate the Nazis with the Soviet soldiers-liberators. "Refusal to admit aggression of the Soviet Union against the Baltic States, justification of occupation and illegal annexation", as well as "attempts to revise history of World War II in its own interests" was pinned on our country.

On the one hand, Latvian authorities did not obstruct the events to commemorate victory in the Great Patriotic War and other significant events, they were organized in accordance with the coronavirus-related restrictions. However, laying of flowers at the monument to the Liberators of Riga on 9 May 2020, clearly caused "allergy" of some representatives of the ruling coalition. In particular, the Latvian Prime-Minister Krisjanis Karins and Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Justice Jānis Bordāns expressed their discontent.

Continued efforts of the Latvian authorities to represent Forest Brothers members as "freedom fighters" deserve special attention.

Thus, in 2019, the President of Latvia Egils Levits put forward an initiative to commemorate them by declaring 17 March the day of remembrance of the national resistance movement. This year, the Latvian President placed a candle at the Freedom Monument and initiated an online conference Struggle for Latvia. Research and preservation of memory of national resistance movement with the participation of academics to commemorate this date.

On 2 March 2021, those who sympathize with Forest Brothers had another traditional meeting near the Stompaki Swamp (Viļaka district). Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister for Defense of Latvia Artis Pabriks honoured the memory of the "heroes" and stated, "Today, we are commemorating another anniversary of the partisan battle with the Soviet occupiers".

76 years ago, there were battles between state security authorities and Forest Brothers in this area". Peteris Supe, who was parachuted into Latvia on 2 October 1944 as a member of the German intelligence unit "Laplandia", previously was trained within a group of Abwehr intelligence officers 212 in Eastern Prussia, was head of a gang consisting of about 300 guerrillas. Peteris Supe, being a member of "Laplandia" dropped specifically for this purpose, consolidated the scattered anti-Soviet groups and units in the areas of Abrene, Viļaka, Balvi, Alūksne, Gulbene, Valka, Cēsis and Madona.

This subject is promoted in Latvia, in particular, through organizing tourist paths along famous military sites of Forest Brothers. There is a guided tourist path near Stompaki swamp, it offers various tasks and tells tourists historical facts.

Moreover, in May 2021, Latvia and Estonia created a map and a brochure of military-historical tourist sites also aimed at glorifying Forest Brothers. The map includes over 150 military heritage sites related with these gangs. These include well-kept former military sites with extensive exhibitions, as well as natural sites such as battlefields, trenches and bunkers of Forest Brothers. Organizers offer to combine them with walks in the forest and hiking trails.

Against this backdrop, official Riga's response, a nervous one, to the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 544 of 2 September 2020, according to which the participants of military operations to eliminate the underground movement on the territories of Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia between 1 January 1944 and 31 December 1951, were entitled to payments on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of Victory, was quite predictable. On 3 September 2020, the Latvian Foreign Ministry called this an unfriendly action in its comments on the decision. The Latvian Foreign Ministry (statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia of 19 June 2020) also made critical remarks in respect of the article of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin "75th Anniversary of the Great Victory: Shared Responsibility to History and our Future" which was widely disseminated in the Latvian media space.

It seems that by highlighting the "national liberation movement", the Latvian authorities wish to shift focus from the events to commemorate Latvian Waffen-SS legionnaires that are seen shameful in the eyes of international community. Another event was held on 16 March 2021, despite complaints from specialized international organizations, as well as sanitary and epidemiological requirements (16 March is the day of the first joint operation of the 15th and 19th Latvian Waffen-SS divisions against the Red Army held in 1944). Although such individual layings were not as large-scale as "pre-pandemic" sabbaths at the Freedom Monument, deputies of the the National Assembly, the ruling coalition of Latvia, participated in this event. Some venerators of "heroic deeds" achieved by Latvian SS men laid flowers and wretches at the Freedom Monument (one of which was in the form of chevron of the Latvian Waffen-SS Legion). Some of those present were wearing the Nazi symbols (swastika), but the police did not pay attention to it. Individual layings of flowers also took place at the legionnaires' cemetery in Lesten.

In 2020, despite complaints from international specialized organizations and the appeal of 38 MEPs to the Latvian authorities to condemn and ban the glorification of Nazism in the country, the March of SS Legionnaires was allowed by the Riga Duma. Only after the declaration of a state of emergency in the country due to the threat of spread of coronavirus, the leadership of the Metropolitan municipality was forced to cancel its decision on holding this Nazi sabbath in Riga.

However, this did not prevent some venerators of "heroic deeds" achieved by Latvian SS men, mainly the most devoted followers, from laying flowers and wretches individually at the Freedom Monument. Among the officials, the event was attended by a member of the National Association, adviser to the Prime Minister of Latvia on demography I.Paradnsex, the leader of the party R.Dzintari, as well as the Deputy from the National Association Ya.Nesalnieks.

Marches of former Waffen-SS legionnaires are severely criticized by the international community. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has repeatedly expressed concern in its reports about ceremonies in commemoration of Latvian Waffen SS legionnaires held annually on 16 March. The ECRI has pointed to the fact that parliamentarians from the National Alliance party, which is part of the ruling coalition, had been seen attending these ceremonies. The Commission experts have repeatedly made recommendations to the Latvian authorities to condemn all attempts to commemorate persons who fought in the Waffen-SS and collaborated with the Nazis, as well as to call on MPs to abstain from attending such commemoration ceremonies.[239]

By contrast, the attitude of the Latvian authorities towards celebrating Victory Day on 9 May and those who celebrate it is completely different. As a result of restrictions due to the epidemiological situation, all mass events for that day in 2020 were canceled. However, it was not forbidden for residents of the Latvian capital to come to Victory Park and lay flowers at the Monument to the Liberators of Riga individually. This caused an outburst of indignation among the "patriotic" public in general and on the part of Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš personally, who demanded explanations from Minister of the Interior Sandis Ģirģens about the way the police worked on 9 May. Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks went as far as to suggest that those who had come to pay tribute to Red Army soldiers should not receive treatment for COVID-19 but instead should be made to pay for the treatment of "those that had been around." Sandis Ģirģens responded by saying that "the order does not distinguish between nationalities nor does it divide people into those who have the right to lay flowers and those who do not, and respects each person's own motivation for laying the flowers. Especially when people come to commemorate their deceased relatives." At the same time, the minister added that he himself had laid flowers at the Freedom Monument on 4 May to commemorate the restoration of Latvia's independence.[240]

In 2021, it was prohibited to lay flowers at the monument for everyone under the pretext of epidemiological safety. Riga's residents were offered to leave flowers by a special fence erected by the police.

The Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on contemporary forms of racism E.Tendayi Achiume pointed out in her report to the 38th session of the Council that in the annual report of the police for the protection of public order for 2016 published in April 2017, an entry was made according to which unofficial celebrations of the Victory Day over Nazi Germany pose a threat to national security[241]. There are no indications that the Latvian authorities will change their approach any time soon.

Despite the fact that March 16 has been excluded from the list of official commemorations since 2000 and is not an official holiday, the National Association regularly tries to return this day to a special status.

It is exactly this political force, an Alliance of right-wing parties that is part of the ruling coalition, that remains the main advocate of revanchist ideas. In the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers, supporters of this Association head the Ministry of Culture (N.Puntulis) and the Ministry of Agriculture (K.Gerhards). Moreover, member of the National Association I.Murniece has been the speaker of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia for many years. Altogether, the National Association has 12 mandates, two their proxies are elected to the European Parliament from Latvia, Roberts Zile and Dace Melbarde.

Furthermore, the National Association members are widely represented in Latvian local government structures. They head regional Dumas in Ogre, Smiltene, Iecava, Aizpute, Priekule, Engure, Koceni and Rundali. Members of the National Association are represented even more widely in the local legislative bodies as backbenchers, altogether, 166 deputies from the National Association work in 66 municipalities in Latvia.

The 80th Anniversary of Latvia's joining the Soviet Union was used to escalate anti-Russia hysteria from the perspective of history and members of the National Association actively participated in it. It was on 16 January 2020, when the Saeima released a statement "On the 80th anniversary of the occupation of the Republic of Latvia and the unacceptability of the distortion of the history of World War II" containing a call "to pay attention and to take a critical view of the attempts by state officials of the Russian Federation to rewrite the history of World War II and to justify the illegal annexation and occupation of Latvia." Its authors said that "by signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the national socialist Germany and the Soviet Union unleashed World War II".

It should also be mentioned that there are currently about 400 former Latvian SS Legionnaires living in Latvia and abroad, at least some of whom may have been involved in serious crimes during World War II. Civil society organizations are making efforts to draw attention to this egregious fact. In a report prepared in March 2020 by the Historical Memory Foundation and the Foundation for the Support and Development of Jewish Culture, Traditions, Education, and Science titled "Supporters of Nazi Crimes. 96 Veterans of the Latvian SS Legion who are Still Alive", data were published for the first time on nearly 100 living members of the Latvian SS Legion, 22 of whom live in Latvia, as well as in Australia (19 people), Argentina (2 people), Brazil (3 people), Great Britain (4 people), Canada (16 people) and the USA (33 people). Materials continue to be collected.

Moreover, between 1991 and 2020, no Nazi collaborators from the Latvian auxiliary security police SD, Latvian police battalions or other units of the Latvian SS Legion were convicted of war crimes or crimes against humanity. The only exception was the case of Konrad Kaleis, the commander of the Salaspils camp guard who was involved in the mass murder of Jews. After revealing the details of K.Kaleis's biography during World War II and the deprivation of his US citizenship in 1994, the Latvian authorities belatedly sent a request to Australia for his extradition only in 2000, a year before his death. As a result of bureaucratic delays by the authorities of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia, as well as delays with the request from Latvia, the war criminal, which left many obvious traces, was never brought to justice.[242]

In connection with the information revealed in the report, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation confirmed that a number of persons are already being checked for involvement in crimes against humanity against peaceful Soviet citizens, including under criminal investigation into mass killings of civilians in Zhestyanaya Gorka and Chernoe villages in the Novgorod region.

On 24 June 2021, the Prosecutor General's Office of Belarus stated that it sent a request to Latvia to interrogate still alive Latvian SS Legion veterans listed in the Report of the Historical Memory Foundation. There is information that the same requests for international legal assistance will be sent to Argentina, Brazil, Great Britain, Canada and the United States[243].

Taking into account the policy pursued by the Latvian authorities, it is not surprising that at the 75th plenary session of the UN General Assembly held on 16 December 2020, their representatives, along with other EU members, abstained in the voting on the Russia's resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance".

At times, Latvian ruling circles themselves introduce limitations on the use of Red Army and USSR insignia. For example, in June 2020, the Saeima amended the legislation to tighten the ban on the use of Nazi and totalitarian symbols during recreational activities and theatrical performances. The new rules prohibit the wearing on such occasions of uniforms of repressive institutions of the USSR and Nazi Germany, as well as elements of such uniforms (fragments, patches, cap badges, other insignia, accessories) that are clearly identifiable as belonging to former members of such institutions. It is also worth noting that the legislators adopted the toughest wording of the amendments proposed by President of Latvia Egils Levits that puts the responsibility for the violation of the new rules not just on the organizers but also on the participants and viewers of such events as well.

Moreover, on 17 September 2020, the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia approved in the first reading a bill banning the wearing of St. George's Ribbon in Latvia, This initiative is still to be reviewed by the Parliament of Latvia in the second and third hearings.

The commitment to rewrite history can also be seen in the treatment of war memorials. The initiative to demolish the Monument to the Liberators of Riga from German Nazi Invaders in Riga's Victory Park is still discussed, although not as actively as before, within the working group established in the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia, in violation of official obligations assumed by Riga, including under the Intergovernmental Agreement between Russia and Latvia on the Social Protection of Russian Military Pensioners (Maintenance of Memorials and Mass Burial Sites Section). Deputies of the ruling parties are proposing alternatives, such as to rename or transform the memorial allegedly to reflect its "true meaning".

Cases of desecration and vandalism against Soviet military memorials in the country are still documented.

Shortly before Victory Day in 2020, a series of acts of vandalism was committed against memorials to Red Army soldiers in the country. In the village of Skulte, a memorial plaque was removed from the monument to the pilots of the 1st Guards Air Regiment of the Baltic Fleet Air Force. In Valmiera, vandals poured paint on a memorial on the mass grave of Soviet soldiers located in the city centre. The desecration of this monument was registered by employees of the Russian Embassy during a tour of the mass graves of Soviet soldiers and laying flowers to them.[244]

On 24 February 2021, a memorial at the Great Patriotic War military burial in Jēkabpils was destroyed – a 76mm gun that had been mounted on a pedestal was stolen. Latvian law enforcement bodies initiated a criminal case regarding this incident under article 229 of the Criminal Code (Displacement of a Cultural Monument Protected by the State), however, the investigation is not making any progress, and the perpetrators have not been brought to justice.

On 26 August 2021, in Madona, the grave of Major General Nikolai Yakunin who died on 30 September 1944 liberating the town from the Nazis, was opened in the presence of the employees of the Russian Embassy and the local authorities. The General’s remains will be transferred with honours to the communal cemetery of Soviet soldiers that has recently been renovated with the participation of the Russian Embassy. The grave of the honoured Soviet commander that has until now been situated on school grounds had once been a place worthy of a hero’s resting place – it was where children joined the Pioneer Organization, where they were taught to value the contribution, including of their parents and grandparents, to the Victory over Nazism. However, after Anti-Sovietism and the destruction of memorials became part of the State policy of modern Latvia, it would be a disrespect to his memory to leave Major General on the grounds of a school where children are proudly taught about the so-called Soviet occupation, not about the heroes of the 201st Latvian Rifle Division or the 130th Latvian Rifle Corps.[245] The formal reason for relocating the burial was the decision of the municipal council of 19 May 2020, stating that it was necessary as "the current burial site is contrary to the modern Latvian policy and ideology, as well as policy regarding the cultural environment". 17 deputies voted in favour this decision, and one voted against it. (80 per cent of the current population of Madona is Latvian, and only 15 per cent is Russian.)[246]

Apart from monuments to Red Army soldiers, vandals also target other memorial objects related to Russia and Russian culture. On 8 to 13 August 2021, the Orthodox cemetery in Nītaure Parish of Cēsis Municipality of Latvia was desecrated. Crosses and benches were pulled out of the ground, flowers were strewn around.[247]

The potential of the Internet is used extensively. Thus, in spite of complaints to admins, Google Maps still display next to the Russian name of the Monument to Victory an incorrect "translation" into Latvian – Okupacijaspiemineklis ("Monument to Occupation").

In the context of interference with the activities of veteran organizations and NGOs that are fighting against the glorification of Nazism, it should be mentioned that the Republican Society of Veterans (RSV) in Latvia has been closed down. The ruling to terminate the activities of the RSV issued by the court on 3 April 2020 was formally motivated by the "failure to comply with provisions regarding accounting", "tax evasion", "failure to comply with procedures for recording of cash operations" and other violations of fiscal discipline. However, the Latvian justice system did not stop at that, and on 10 October 2020, the chairman of the organization’s board Vladimir Norvind, a citizen of Russia, was deported from the country in spite of a severe deterioration of his health and that of his wife who is a Latvian citizen (shortly before that, on 6 October, his residence permit was withdrawn).

Meanwhile, the Republican Society of Veterans has for many years co-organized Victory Day celebrations in Riga, took part in various patriotic events. RSV members are challenging the decision by the Latvian authorities to close it down in court.

Latvian public bodies are adopting measures to intimidate activists of the Russian-speaking community that adapt an anti-fascist approach. In the past, politically motivated persecution was faced by Vladimir Linderman, Ilya Kozyrev, Dmitriy Sumarokov, Chairman of the Latvian branch of the international human rights movement World Without Nazism Iosif Koren, as well as Latvian journalist and leader of the Congress of Non-Citizens Yuri Alekseyev. Criminal proceedings initiated in July 2019 against Alexander Filey, member of the board of the Latvian Russian Union and permanent author for Rubaltic.ru Russian analytical media outlet who publicly denied the so-called Soviet occupation of Latvia, are continuing. He is charged with "the justification of terrorism, crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, and military crimes".

On 17 December 2020, Aleksandr Gaponenko was charged with one year of probation essentially for criticizing the policy adopted by the Latvian authorities to glorify Nazism and militarize Latvia.

The policy of encouraging neo-Nazism and xenophobia pursued by the official authorities cannot but have a negative impact on the general level of tolerance towards different population groups.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, referring to a 2016 survey conducted by the Latvian Centre for Human Rights among representatives of NGOs and migrants, as well as foreign students, noted that almost 68 per cent had been victims and 33 per cent had witnessed hate incidents or discrimination, or had heard about such incidents from others.
13 per cent of the respondents had been victims of an attack or had heard that someone else had fallen victim to such attacks. According to respondents, hate incidents were motivated by race (36 per cent), ethnicity/xenophobia
(25 per cent), language (22 per cent), and religion (6 per cent). Over 40 per cent of third-country nationals reported having experienced discrimination in situations such as interaction with public authorities and police, in health care institutions, at border crossing points as well as in the street and public transport.[248]

ECRI has also noted that the Latvian legislation contains gaps in terms of the prohibition of racial discrimination and public expression of or incitement to hatred and insults based on race, language, religion or ethnic origin. The Commission noted an increase in Islamophobic rhetoric in public and political discussions in Latvia.[249]

Cases of anti-Semitic statements on the Internet, threats against a Jewish community school, vandalism and desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Riga have also been documented in Latvia. Latvian media reported that the Jewish cemetery in Rēzekne had been vandalized four times in August and September 2017.[250]

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted that unofficial data showed a higher number of hate crimes and hate speech than officially reported and expressed concern about information that victims of hate crimes do not want to report these crimes to the authorities. It also pointed to the use of hate speech by politicians in connection with the election, including the use of hate speech on the Internet.[251]

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has expressed concern about the absence of a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and policy framework aimed at ensuring equality and non-discrimination in the economic, social, and cultural spheres. The CESCR has also pointed out the prevalence of prejudice and discrimination based on colour, language, religion, national or ethnic origin that hinder disadvantaged and marginalized groups’ access to economic, social and cultural rights.[252]

The Russian-speaking population of the country is still regarded as a foreign destabilizing element. As a result, the official authorities' national policy is accompanied by numerous national minority rights violations.

The main human rights challenge in Latvia is the fact that a considerable portion of the Latvian population live without citizenship. According to the Central Statistical Office (CSO), as of early 2020, the number of "non-citizens" reached 10.4 per cent of the population, or 197,800 persons. According to the Office of Citizenship and Migration of the Latvian Interior Ministry, they account for about 12 per cent of the population, or 216,700 persons. For a long time, the official authorities in Riga have taken no meaningful steps to address this problem, limiting their efforts to various cosmetic embellishments.

However, upon the entry into force on 1 October 2013 of amendments to the Law of the Republic of Latvia on Citizenship, 90 per cent of children of "non-citizens" were finally given a political and legal bond with their state.[253] Besides, on 1 January 2020, the Law on the Termination of the Granting of the Status of a Non-citizen to Children Born after 1 January 2020 entered into force, finally putting an end to the perpetration of this status.

However, potential changes are more like a symbolic gesture and will have no effect on the situation of more than 200,000 already discriminated persons. The issue of newborn "non-citizens" is not a big challenge. In 2020, this status was only granted to 31 children (27 children in 2019, 38 children in 2018, 51 children in 2017, and 47 children in 2016). The total number of minor "non-citizens" in the country is less than 5,000. At the same time, there are no grounds to expect the complete elimination of mass statelessness in Latvia in the nearest future.

"Non-citizens" are still refused a range of social, economic, and political rights. Latvian human rights activists currently list 84 differences between their status and that of a citizen (for comparison: in 2004, there were 61 differences), including 47 restrictions in the professional sphere (against 25 in 2004). In particular, "non-citizens" are not entitled to hold positions in state, municipal and military service, to be judges, prosecutors, etc. They are also prohibited from founding political parties, participating in court proceedings as lay judges, entering into transactions to purchase land and real estate without the consent of municipal authorities, etc.

The unfavourable situation with naturalization has been reflected in official statistics: the rate of obtaining citizenship has been slowing down every year. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, it dropped to just 915, 930 and 808 persons, accordingly, and reached a record low – 725 – in 2020. For comparison:19, 169 persons were naturalized in 2005, and 2,213 persons in 2012. If the current domestic political context remains as it is, this trend may grow. Today, the reduction in the number of "non-citizens" is caused mainly by the natural decline and out-migration of this category of population.

The survey conducted by the Office of Citizenship and Migration of the Latvian Interior Ministry in 2019 confirms that this category of population is not interested in naturalization. Only 24 per cent of the respondents expressed willingness to be naturalized (against 35 per cent in 2016). About a quarter of all participants stated that they were content with their status or too busy to engage in the process of obtaining citizenship. The situation is partly explained by the fact that 48 per cent of "non-citizens" are over 60 years old.

It should be noted that the naturalization procedure involves, in addition to passing special Latvian language proficiency examinations, obtaining an official "acknowledgement" of the fact of the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union from the applicant.

Civil society organizations representing the Russian-speaking population in their work pay much attention to the issue of "non-citizenship". In particular, the Latvian Human Rights Committee systematically engages with international human rights institutions, the diplomatic corps in Riga, and other relevant entities in this area. In February 2020, it also coordinated the filing of complaints with the European Court of Human Rights against the education reform that is underway in the country. Such activities arouse suspicions of local authorities and annually find their way to final reports of the State Security Service (former Security Police). In particular, the work of the Russian Fund for the Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad, which provides direct financial assistance to this and other interested entities, is strongly disapproved of.

At the European level, the issues of mass statelessness in Latvia and Estonia were discussed in 2017 and 2018 by the relevant committees of the European Parliament (EP) on the initiative of European MP Tatjana Ždanoka and former European MP Andrey Mamykin, who succeeded in securing 20 thousand signatures of EU citizens in support of a petition to grant "non-citizens" the right to vote not only at municipal elections but also at the EP elections. In April 2018, following the vote within the EP Committee on Petitions, it was decided to send letters from European parliamentarians to Latvian authorities expressing concern over the situation with "non-citizens". In April 2018, the Minority Safepack Initiative launched by the Federal Union of European Nationalities NGO (with Tatjana Ždanoka's active support) collected more than a million signatures required for its further consideration by the EU structures.

ECRI in its regular report[254] indicated that it would follow with particular attention the process of establishing a unit within the State Police tasked with reaching out to vulnerable groups, as well providing for the automatic recognition of citizenship for children born to "non-citizens."

The Committee against Torture, even though upon the whole in December 2019 it welcomed the progress Latvia achieved in addressing the issue of statelessness, at the same time expressed its concern about the fact that the law granting automatic citizenship to children of "non-citizens" does not cover all minor "non-citizens" and called upon Latvian authorities to take additional steps to facilitate the naturalization and integration into society of "non-citizens".[255]

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also noted that in 2021, there were still approximately 209,000 "non-citizens" in Latvia, and that discrimination against them persisted.[256]

Active steps taken by the Latvian authorities on the language issue with a view to shaping a monolingual society are also being subjected to criticism. According to the conclusions of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM Advisory Committee), the language policy pursued by the country's leadership has the effect of diminishing the space for the use of languages of national minorities.[257] In fact, the country's ongoing comprehensive education reform aims to eliminate bilingual schools and end the use of the Russian language at educational institutions of all levels. At the same time, according to the reports of the Central Statistical Bureau for 2017, Russian is the second most widely spoken language in the country, its speakers representing 37.7 per cent of the population of the Republic of Latvia (with 61.3 per cent speaking Latvian).[258]

The amendments to the Education Law and the General Education Law adopted in April 2018 provide for the full transition to the use of Latvian as the language of teaching in secondary school (in grades 10 to 12) and an increase in the number of lessons taught in Latvian to 80 per cent in basic school (grades 7 to 9) starting from the 2021/2022 school year. Since the 2019/2020 school year, the graduation examinations have been conducted exclusively in Latvian in basic schools and since the 2017/2018 school year in secondary schools.

Attempts of the public concerned to secure the revision of the reform have failed. On 23 April 2019, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia issued a ruling on a lawsuit against the amendments to the Education Law filed by the Saskaņa Party, announcing the education reform to be in line with the national constitution. In response to the controversial ruling, parents of Russian-speaking students, with support from the Latvian Human Rights Committee and the Parent Community in Latvia,[259] filed a significant number of complaints with the European Court of Human Rights (131 of them were registered).[260]

All the aforementioned measures to switch to instruction in Latvian are being implemented by the authorities without consideration for the students' views. A survey conducted by the "LatvijasAvize" newspaper among Latvian schoolchildren showed that most of them consider Russian a tool for improving their competitiveness that opens up employment opportunities in many countries.

According to a sociological research organized by the "Spectrum" online magazine and conducted in July and August 2020 across the country by SKDS Public Opinion Research Centre with support of the Embassy of the Netherlands and the Embassy of Sweden in Latvia, 84 per cent of respondents representing the Russian-speaking population want to retain their belonging to the cultural space of the Russian language. 88 per cent of respondents consider it important to have an opportunity to receive education in their native language.[261]

The FCNM Advisory Committee has pointed to the fact that the education reform pursued by the Latvian authorities puts students belonging to national minorities at a distinct disadvantage in terms of academic performance, which, in turn, may affect their ability to successfully integrate into social and economic life.[262]

Apart from the FCNM Advisory Committee, education problems in Latvia have also attracted the attention of other international mechanisms.

In 2018, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern over the education reform as well as the issue of "non-citizens." Experts recommended that Latvia take measures to ensure that its language policy and laws do not create direct or indirect discrimination of the population.[263]

In May and August 2019, CERD experts tried to request detailed information from the Latvian government about the ongoing reforms in education, and the situation in pre-school education in particular. However, the Latvian authorities never provided an answer as to how discriminatory the new regulation would be in respect of national minorities in terms of their access to education.

In September 2019, the UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteurs on the right to education, on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, on minority issues, and on contemporary forms of racism sent a letter to Latvian prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš expressing concern about the increasing use of the state language in pre-schools. According to the Special Rapporteurs, the exclusion of the native language from the educational process would infringe on the right to education, and such regulations should only be introduced after consultations with representatives of national minorities, which had not been the case.

In October 2019, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović in her statement on language policy stressed that the 2018 education reform in Latvia could lead to a de facto transformation of bilingual education into a system where only native language and culture lessons would be given in the language of the national minority.

In January 2020, OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Lamberto Zannier expressed his concerns over the changes in education in his letter to speaker of the Saeima Ināra Mūrniece (particularly focused on the amendments that envisaged the obligation of local governments to open Latvian groups even in Russian pre-schools, upon demand). He stressed that this might lead to reducing educational opportunities for children from national minority families and pointed to the need for prior consultations with all stakeholders.

In June 2020, the Council of Europe’s European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission of the Council of Europe) published an opinion on the education reform in Latvia. The Commission found that increasing the proportions of the use of Latvian in educational programs for national minorities was legitimate as its ultimate goal was to raise the proficiency of all students. Nevertheless, in experts' opinion, the question of introducing Latvian as the main language in pre-schools should be reconsidered, because acquiring proficiency in minorities' own languages is crucial for preserving their identity as well as linguistic diversity within the society. It was also noted that private schools should be granted the right to implement educational programs in minority languages, which is currently de facto prohibited.

The problem of the discrimination against national minorities in education has also been touched upon by the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. In particular, CESPR experts noted with concern that current language policies of the Latvian authorities may have a discriminatory impact against persons belonging to minorities as regards their enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, especially in the fields of education, employment, and access to services. It was also noted that the Committee remains concerned that the recent amendments to the Education Law, and Cabinet Regulation No. 716 of 21 November 2018, have a discriminatory effect on minority groups and that they create undue restrictions on the teaching of minority languages and teaching in minority languages in preschool and primary education in both public and private schools.[264]

The resolution of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by Latvia published on 3 March 2021 draws attention to discrimination against national minorities in Latvia as well[265]. It states that cases of documented inflammatory statements by public figures in the Republic of Latvia have not led to the authorities taking sufficient action, creating an impression of impunity and ambivalence, thus affecting negatively the interethnic climate. Besides, "restrictive policies and other pressures driven by a political agenda... are particularly evident in the education system, the media, and with regard to the use of national minority languages". It is also noted that the broad scope of application of linguistic requirements in Latvia adversely affects the possibility for non-native speakers of Latvian of accessing positions within the public service.

In spite of the generally positive evaluation of Latvia’s efforts in the sphere of education, the sponsors of the resolution were particularly concerned with plans of the authorities to reduce the scope of national minority language teaching. Furthermore, the introduction in 2015-2016 of "loyalty clauses" for teachers and school directors are characterized in the document as creating "a climate of suspicion and apprehension".

For all the seriousness of the situation, teachers and the administration at schools teaching national minority children have no say on the issue of further organization of the educational process and advisability of the reform. Changes introduced to the Education Law in 2015 and 2016 compel them to express loyalty to the state under threat of dismissal.

Pre-school education is also being subjected to considerable reformation. On 1 September 2019, Cabinet of Ministers Regulation No. 716 of 21 November 2018 on pre-school education entered into force. The document provides for the use of Latvian as the main medium of communication when playing with young children. Human rights activists report that there had been no consultations with representatives of national minorities before these measures were developed. Attempts by Russian-speaking human rights activists to challenge this decision in court have failed.

The authorities have announced their intention to ensure the full transition of pre-schools to instruction in Latvian. On 14 May 2020, the Saeima adopted amendments to the General Education Law, which aim to make it mandatory for all municipal pre-school institutions to provide the possibility of teaching in Latvian language starting from 2021.

These new developments have put at particular risk small Russian-language pre-schools which simply lack resources to implement both programs. The requirement imposed on them to open Latvian-language groups is thus fraught with complete de-Russianization. Further difficulties arise because pre-school employees are mostly of pre-retirement age and have no or very poor command of the state language[266].

On June 19 2020, the Constitutional Court of Latvia ruled that the introduced provisions were in line with the constitution. In this regard, as of December 19, 2020, 46 complaints were filed with the ECtHR, three of which have already been registered and are now pending.[267]

Private educational institutions also came under the scrutiny of the authorities. On 4 July 2018, the then president of Latvia, Raimonds Vējonis, approved amendments to the Law on Higher Education which affected the possibility for citizens to benefit from services offered by private universities and colleges with Russian-language curricula. New enrolments were terminated starting from 1 January 2019. However, this ban was lifted on 11 June 2020 by the ruling of the Constitutional Court. The document also set 1 May 2021 as the deadline for the official termination of the challenged provisions. Shortly before that date, the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science suggested introducing amendments to the draft law that allegedly met the requirements set out in the aforementioned ruling. The main adjustment provided for permitting university education, beside Latvian, in the official languages of the EU and countries with which Latvia had relevant treaties, but the share should not exceed 20 per cent. It was also decided that academic tests and examinations would be conducted solely in the state language. The document did not specify any differences in terms of regulation for public and private institutions of higher education. The proposed amendments were urgently approved in two readings.

At the same time, in November 2019, the Constitutional Court of Latvia ruled that the transition to instruction in the state language in private national minority schools was in line with the country's Constitution.

On 2 July 2020, the Latvian parliament passed the Law on International Schools, granting these institutions the right to instruct only in the EU and NATO countries' official languages.

In January 2020, the members of the Saeima from the National Alliance once again proposed a full transfer to the state language in election campaigning, but the idea gained no support. On 7 May 2020, a new Law on Administrative Penalties for Offences in the Field of Administration, Public Order, and Use of the Official Language was passed. This piece of legislation imposes administrative liability for "showing serious disrespect for the state language," concluding employment contracts with employees who do not speak Latvian, the unwillingness to ensure the use of the state language at work. It also provides for control of compliance with regulations on the distribution of information: printed advertising materials distributed among Latvian citizens must be in Latvian only, unless the citizen has expressed consent to receive the materials in other languages as well.

In 2017 and 2018, the members of the Saeima from the National Alliance repeatedly proposed legislative changes to compel workers in the services sector to use solely the state language and prohibit election campaigning in Russian and re-broadcasting of Russian channels in the Latvian territory.

In April 2021, Latvian President Eglis Levits called on the government to promptly end "discrimination" wherever the knowledge of the Russian language is unreasonably required in the labour market.

Language requirements are used inter alia as a pretext for terminating the powers of Russian-speaking members of local councils. One such case concerns Ivan Baranov, Balvi City Council member, whose mandate was terminated on the grounds of the insufficient command of the Latvian language. Previously, in October 2017, the mayor of Daugavpils, Richard Eigim, was fined for insufficient knowledge of the Latvian language. He was asked to improve his Latvian language proficiency within six months, after which time he was to take a new exam.[268]

The Russian-speaking population also faced discrimination on the grounds of language during the pandemic. Detailed information on the disease in the Russian language was only made available after people living in Latvia began to express mass discontent on social media, and members of the opposition Saskaņa Party raised this issue in parliament. Furthermore, after schools were locked down, the majority of school assignments under the new system were disseminated in Latvian, making learning difficult for national minority pupils. The Tavaklase education channel, which was specifically created to provide support in distance learning during the lock-down, also broadcasted programs in the state language only.

In accordance with the Law on the State Language, it is only possible to refuse to use Latvian in communication with state authorities when contacting the police, medical institutions and rescue services to report an emergency situation. At the same time, Latvian is still the only language used by municipal authorities, regardless of the per centage of the population belonging to national minorities. All this hampers access to public services for elderly residents who were not taught the state language. Russian ethnicity was reported by 40.2 per cent of residents of Riga in the last census, and according to the same source, 55.8 per cent of residents of Riga and 60.3 per cent of residents of Latgale district speak Russian at home.

The Latvian Human Rights Committee's report on the language policy of Latvia, inter alia, expresses concern about the uneven level of financial support provided to the Riga Russian Theatre and especially to the bilingual Daugavpils theatre in comparison to main Latvian-language theatres. Discrimination against the Russian national minority is thus gradually spreading to the field of culture.[269]

The consistent policy of de-russification also manifested itself in the abolition of language quotas for radio and television broadcasts by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia on 5 June 2003. Article 32 of the Electronic Mass Media Act stipulates that national and regional electronic and television media broadcast 65 per cent of all programs, except advertising, in the Latvian language. In 2014, the Saeima adopted amendments to the act. They provided for the transition to broadcasting in the state language of the vast majority (50 out of 67) of commercial radio stations starting from January 2016. However, following a wave of protests, amendments were introduced into these provisions, postponing their entry into force until 2017 and reducing the number of "affected" channels to 37. New legal provisions obliged radio stations to fill at least 90 per cent of their weekly airtime with their own content, most likely in order to limit re-broadcasting of foreign products. To ensure compliance, a fine of 2,100 to 10,000 euros was introduced into the Code of Administrative Violations for breaking license conditions. In general, the FCNM Advisory Committee recognized that the conditions and requirements established by this legislation violate the Framework Convention, go beyond the licensing requirements and unduly hinder private broadcasters, thereby restricting access to the media for persons belonging to national minorities.[270]

On 11 June 2020, new amendments to the Electronic Mass Media Act were adopted. These provide for the increase in content broadcasted in the official languages of the EU and EEA while limiting the share of Russian-language programs in major packages of cable television operators to
20 per cent.

Latvian authorities are also fighting the so-called dissent in mass media; it manifests as an attack on Russian and Russian-language media. They started by suspending the broadcast of TV channels (e.g., by decision of the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) the broadcast of RTR-Planeta in 2014 and 2016, as well as Rossiya RTR in January 2019, was discontinued for three months.

In November 2019, the NEPLP banned the broadcasting of nine Russian TV channels that are part of the National Media Group private media holding group. The formal reason behind blocking was that one of its beneficiaries is a Russian entrepreneur Yury Kovalchuk included in the EU sanctions list "for undermining the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine." The website Baltnews.lv, which belongs to the Rossiya Segodnya International News Agency, was also blocked under a flimsy pretext.

In March 2020, after pressure had been put on the BaltijasMedijuAlianse media holding group, the Russian-language news service of the First Baltic Channel was shut down in Latvia and broadcasting of daily news and original programs was discontinued.

Furthermore, the First Baltic Channel and Baltcom, as well as some other Russian-language media outlets, are being fined, allegedly, for "illegally retransmitting Russian content" and publishing interviews with Russian politicians. On 15 July 2021, the Latvian media regulator revoked the broadcast license of the popular Radio Peak radio station.

In November 2020, the NEPLP announced the full transition to broadcasting in Latvian of the only multilingual channel LTV7. It stated that it was planning to preserve a certain portion of content in national minority languages available on the online platform.

In February 2021, the Latvian media regulator suspended the rebroadcasting of 17 Russian TV channels, including RenTVBaltic, NTVMirBaltic, and RTR-Planeta. The re-broadcasting of the Rossiya RTR channel was banned for a year. The leading Latvian cable TV operator Tet (the State holds 51 per cent of it) explained its decision to stop the broadcast by the "ambiguity regarding the right to represent these TV channels, and concerns that their representatives might not implement the EU sanctions regime". According to the agency’s director Ivars Āboliņš, these measures aimed to "protect the Latvian information space".

This decision attracted the attention of international human rights agencies. In particular, the suspension of the rebroadcast of Russian TV channels by Latvian telecom operator Tet was discussed during the meeting of OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro with Latvian Representative to the Organization Katrĩna Kaktiņa.[271]

On his Facebook page, Latvian member of the European Parliament, former mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs noted that the closure of Russian-language TV channels will encourage the deterioration of interethnic relations, as the State is unable to talk to its Russian-speaking population who do not trust it and do not listen to it. He believes that when popular Russian-language channels become unavailable, "Russian speakers will continue to watch their channels using other technologies and will pay even less attention to content produced by local mass media".

It should be noted that, according to the European Commission, this new Russophobic attack should be regarded as a proportionate and reasonable measure, consistent with European law, against a media outlet that has violated the prohibition on broadcasting incitement to violence or hatred.[272]

On 31 March 2021, the NEPLP blocked websites RT in Russian, ntv.ru, rus24.ru and teledays.net, which provided online access to Russian television channels, allegedly illegal dissemination of programmes involving content that "may violate copyright laws, have a negative impact and be directed against Latvia and its citizens."

In July 2021, amendments to the Electronic Mass Media Act adopted in 2020 at the initiative of President Eglis Levits entered into force, providing for the reduction of the number of Russian-language channels in favour of programmes broadcast in the official languages of the European Union and the European Economic Area. In line with the amendment, all Latvian cable network operators must increase the broadcasting in these languages to 80 per cent.

At the same time, on 4 February 2021, the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia adopted in the final reading amendments to the Protected Service Law according to which individuals will be fined for watching illegal content on satellite television. Up to now, these measures have only been applied to the broadcasting of prohibited programmes for commercial purposes. It is presumed that this measure will make unlicensed Russian TV channels less accessible in the country.[273]

Steps taken by the Latvian authorities to eliminate the Russian language from the country’s mass media is criticized by the society. Co-chair of the Russian Union of Latvia (RUL) party Miroslav Mitrofanov has called the closure of Russian-language TV channels discrimination of the country’s native Russian speakers, as well as of all citizens who prefer to watch high-quality Russian-language television.

RUL board member, lawyer Andrey Pagor has said that it was a mistake on behalf of Latvian authorities to block access to information for part of the Russian-speaking population, mainly senior citizens, who prefer TV over Internet.[274]

In response to restrictive measures introduced by the authorities the RUL held a flash mob protest on Dome Square in Riga opposite the NEPLP office with the slogan "We have, are, and will be watching the channels we want".[275] Flash mob participants sat on folding chairs in the square and watched recently banned TV channels to show the absurdity of the restrictions introduced by the authorities.

Russian and Russian-speaking journalists are being subjected to pressure. On 24 February 2020, the reporter of the "Izvestia" newspaper Andrei Zakharov was detained in Riga International Airport, and his multiple-entry Schengen visa was cancelled on request of the Estonian authorities.

On 10 June 2020, with reference to recommendations of the Latvian state security agencies, the Latvian Foreign Ministry refused to extend the credentials of Darya Grigorova and A. Chagaev, employees of Riga VGTRK bureau.

On 18 February 2021, Latvian authorities put Russian journalist Vladimir Solovyev on Latvia's list of personae non gratae.

Searches and interrogations carried out by the Latvian State Security Service on 3 December 2020 targeting prominent Russian-speaking journalists and Russian-language community activists who closely cooperate with Russian news outlets Baltnews and Sputnik Latvia as freelance authors attracted a lot of attention. Seven representatives of mass media were accused of violating the EU sanctions regime in view of their cooperation with the RT media group. On 14 April 2021, five more journalists were called in for questioning to be informed that they are officially suspects.

Among the accused were Andrei Yakovlev (former Baltnews.lv editor-in-chief), Andrei Solopenko, Alla Berezovskaya, and Vladimir Linderman. Their homes were searched, and their computers, telephones, data storages, and bank cards were seized. After the questioning and searching, journalists were released as suspects under a travel ban. Regarding these actions, Andrei Yakovlev has noted, that "the desire to cleanse the information space and achieve single-mindedness in Latvia is stronger that the desire to be seen as a State governed by the rule of law".[276] Journalist Alla Berezovskaya who is an active advocate of Russian-language education in Latvia, has published articles on statelessness and glorification of Nazism, and covered proceedings against Latvian journalists and human rights defenders, noted that Latvia "has started a genuine witch-hunt against official Russian media. It is a kind of dehumanization, they want to tell the world, send a signal that those who cooperate with official Russian mass media and work there are not journalists, but propagandists. Thus, democracy, the freedom of speech, human rights may not apply to them.[277]

Persecuted journalists sent a collective letter to Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in which they recounted the numerous violations of the rights of Russian-speaking journalists in Latvia, noting that this interpretation of EU sanctions by Latvia violates article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union that guarantees the freedom of expression and pluralism of media, ratified by Latvia upon its entrance into the European Union.[278] The journalists have also addressed United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.[279]

Lithuania

The purposeful state policy of the Republic of Lithuania to falsify the history of the Second World War and glorify fascist collaborators, which obviously contradicts, in particular, the decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal regarding the perpetrators, causes and results of the war, as well as the provisions of UN General Assembly resolution 74/136 of December 18, 2019, "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" actually serves as a justification for Nazi crimes and contributes to the revival and spread of the ideology of hatred. Respectively, it is not surprising that Lithuania regularly abstains from voting on this document in the General Assembly.

At the highest level, the Lithuanian authorities are making attempts to falsify history, aimed at retouching unsightly pages of their own history by blackening the Soviet Union and the actions of the Red Army. A representative example was the joint statement adopted on 7 May 2020 by the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, G.Nauseda, E.Levits and K.Kaljulaid, on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. In a document published on the official websites of the heads of the Baltic States, they referred to the Red army’s liberation of the Baltic States from the Nazis as an "occupation", "because one totalitarian regime was replaced by another".

Interpretations that distort the actual history are also contained in the video message of the heads of the three Baltic States posted in June 2021 on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of deportation from these countries (14 June 1941). It also attempts to develop the thesis of an equal responsibility of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. [280]

The policy of whitewashing and proclamation of the Forest Brothers (according to Lithuanian interpretation – "partisans") as "heroes of the national liberation movement" and "fighters against the Soviet regime" continues. Their armed groups of up to 30 thousand people operating in 1944-1956 are responsible for the death of more than 25 thousand local civilians, including about 1,000 children. Many of the band members actively collaborated with the occupation administration of the Third Reich and were part of it, personally participated in the crimes of the Holocaust in Lithuania during World War II, during which more than 220 thousand Jews were killed (95% of the Jewish population living in the country at that time).

In 2020, a series of celebrations to commemorate the Forest Brothers, including the unveiling of monuments and memorials, the reburials, presentations of memoirs, and other events were held in the Republic of Lithuania.

The Lithuanian Seimas decided to declare 2021 as the year of Juozas Lukša (Daumantas), a "partisan" who fought against Soviet regime after the end of World War II and was a member of the anti-Semitic Lithuanian Activist Front, founded in Berlin. In 2020, an unnamed public garden in Vilnius' Zhirmunai district was named after him. Chairperson of the Jewish community in Lithuania Faina Kukliansky appealed to the parliament for the annulment of this decree. In his turn, member of the Seimas Arvydas Anušauska (faction of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, HU-LCD) said that Faina Kukliansky is "spinning the carousel of accusations" against "partisan" Juozas Lukša "without specific factual grounds".[281]

Back in 2019, declared by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania as the year of "General" Jonas Jemaitis-Vytautas, who headed the headquarters of the Lithuanian anti-Soviet bandit underground in the post-war years and was officially recognized as the "President of Lithuania" (already in the 2000s), the country also held a series of events to commemorate the Forest Brothers.

During the solemn session of the Lithuanian Parliament on 13 January 2019 on the occasion of the Defender of Freedom Day, dedicated to the Vilnius events of 13 January 1991, interpreted by the Lithuanian authorities as "Soviet aggression", with the participation of the country's top leadership, the annual "Freedom Award" was awarded to seven "partisans" who have lived to this day, and on 13 January 2020 this award was presented to another former Forest Brother – Albinas Kentra.

On 3 May 2019, on the occasion of the "Day of Honoring Partisans, the Unity of the Army and Society" and the 110th anniversary of Jonas Jemaitis-Vytautas, the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Lithuania held a solemn pedestrian March in the area of Jurbarkas. As part of the "Day of Civil Resistance" on 14 May 2019, the then President of Lithuania, D. Grybauskaite, opened an exhibition in a symbolic bunker dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the so-called "Declaration of the Movement of Struggle for Freedom of Lithuania" in 1949, which was signed by former leaders of the Forest Brothers.

In the summer of 2019, a memorial plaque dedicated to Zenonas Ignatavicius, chaplain of the Second Lithuanian auxiliary battalion (later renamed the 12th LAPB), was unveiled in the town of Vilkija, near Kaunas. This police battalion, characterized by exceptional brutality, was involved in the extermination of at least 20,000 Belarusian Jews in 1941-1942 in Minsk, Koidanov, Rudensk, Dukar, Kletsk, Nesvizh and Slutsk[282]. The head of the Jerusalem branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Efraim Zuroff, noted that the chaplain was aware of the nature of the punitive battalion's activities, but there is no indication that Ignatavicius expressed any disapproval of their activities or sympathy for the innocent victims[283].

In September 2019, a campaign "Along the Paths of the Green Devil" was held with the participation of Lithuanian servicemen in honor of another bandit known for his direct participation in the Holocaust – Jonas Misiūnas (nicknamed the "Green Devil").

In October 2019, the "last Forest Brother" Antanas Kraujelis (nicknamed "Siaubūnas" – "Terrible"), known for numerous murders and robberies of civilians (shot himself on March 17, 1965, when he was surrounded by KGB officers), was reburied with honors at the Antakalnis cemetery located in the center of Vilnius.

In August 2019, President of Lithuania Gitanas Nauseda attended the unveiling of a monument to the pro-fascist dictator of pre-war Lithuania Antanas Smetona in his hometown of Uzhulenis, Ukmergsky District, and publicly approved the idea of installing a monument in his honor in Vilnius. In March 2020, a working group was created to carry out this task.

Among the political initiatives was an attempt of members of the Seimas Laurynas Kasčiūnas and Audronius Ažubalis from the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats to pass a bill declaring September 17 "the day of aggression of the USSR against Europe". It is noteworthy that this initiative appeared on May 8, 2020, the day before the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory.

At the same time, in May 2021, (the year of the 80th anniversary of the Nazi Germany invasion of Soviet Union) the town of Rukla held field training exercise Iron Wolf involving German soldiers serving as part of NATO’s enhanced forward presence. It is noteworthy that "Iron Wolf" (Geležinis Vilkas) was the name of the Lithuanian nationalist movement (also known as the Iron Wolf Association) founded in 1927, fascist and antisemitic in origin, that called for the creation of a powerful state following the example of the European fascist movements. Its members were actively involved in slaughter of Poles and Jews. Later, after the organization was dissolved, its supporters joined the Lithuanian collaborators and together continued to participate in the systematic extermination of the Baltic Jews.

A month earlier, German soldiers stationed in Rukla celebrated Hitler’s birthday, all the while singing Nazi marches and anti-Semitic songs, bullying and beating up fellow soldiers.

In January 2021, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a member of parliament representing the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats party, head of the parliamentary Commission for the Cause of Freedom and the National Historical Memory Valdas Rakutis accused some Jews of collaborating with the Nazi and Soviet regimes by saying that "there was no shortage of Holocaust perpetrators among the Jews themselves." Following the scandal in the Republic and resonance in other countries, Valdas Rakutis made an apology and resigned as Chairman of the Commission.[284]

The policy of rehabilitation of war criminals is also carried out by the state chief executives. On 6 October 2020, a monument to Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas), the commander of the Forest Brothers who collaborated with the Nazis, was unveiled in Vilnius. The opening ceremony was attended by Lithuanian President G.Nausėda, Prime Minister S.Skvernelis and Speaker of the Seimas A.Prancketis. The tombstone was placed at the pantheon of the state leaders in the Antakalnis Cemetery, where Vanagas' remains were reburied on the same day in 2018. G.Nausėda noted that the monument to the Forest Brothers commander is "also a monument to all his comrades"[285].

It has also become publicly known that some Lithuanian politicians, including those at the highest level, may be involved in Nazi crimes. For example, in June 2021, it became known that the Prosecutor General's Office of Belarus requested Lithuanian law enforcement agencies’ cooperation in providing legal support to question the former president of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus (Valdas Adamkavičius). According to investigators, during the war, he may have served under the command of Antanas Impliavičius (also known as the "Minsk Butcher"), who headed the 2nd (12th) Lithuanian police battalions and then headed the 2nd battalion of the Collaborationist Army of Defense of Homeland. Antanas Impliavičius carried out punitive operations against civilians in Lithuania and Belarus (where he is believed to have killed about 15,000 Jews alone)[286].

Against this backdrop, independent human rights defenders are concerned about the decision of the European Court of Human Rights of 12 March 2019 in the case of Drėlingas v. Lithuania, which upheld the sentence given by the Lithuanian court to Stanislovas Drėlingas, a former KGB officer who participated in the 1956 operation to apprehend Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas and his wife (later, the gang leader was executed by shooting). Official Vilnius interprets this ECtHR ruling as recognizing that the Soviet authorities’ campaign against the "partisans who fought for the freedom of Lithuania" constituted "genocide of the Lithuanian people."[287]

The Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania (LGGRTC), a state-funded organization studying "the crimes of Soviet occupation" and community resistance to it, is actively involved in glorification of Lithuanian collaborators. During 2020, many commemorative events were held under the aegis and with the participation of the Centre: monuments and memorials to Lithuanian "partisans" were erected (a memorial to "partisan" Juozas Lukša in Juodbūdis village, Kaunas County[288]; a plaque was put up in memory of underground fighters in the town of Papilys, Panevėžys district municipality[289]; monuments were erected in Kryžkalnis, Raseiniai district municipality[290], and in the city of Prienai, Prienai District Municipality[291]; a memorial plaque dedicated to "partisans" and their supporters was consecrated in the village of Šiaudiniai, Utena district municipality[292]). The remains of 11 Lithuanian "partisans" and their supporters, who were involved in murders of civilians during the war, killings of Soviet party workers and ordinary citizens, who showed compassion to the Soviet power[293], were found and identified; also the reburial of remains of an underground gang member Juozapas Streikus (Stumbras) was organized in Panevėžys[294]; memories of collaborator Jonas Kadžionis-Bėda "Through the swamps of pain" and the English translation of 2015 memoirs of a member of an underground organization Bronius Kemeklis (Kerštas) [295], were published. In January 2021, the LGGRTC published a diary of the headquarters of the Merkys "partisan", written by Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, who fought the Soviets until 1952.

In order to consolidate the new "historical" approaches, textbooks for schools and universities are rewritten in Lithuania, visual material is reformatted in regional local history museums, new thematic museums are created, including the Vilnius Museum of the Genocide and Resistance of Lithuanian Residents to Occupation Regimes, located in the building of the former KGB LSSR.

Lithuanian state policy of falsifying the history of World War II provokes Lithuanian ultra-rights’ open display of sympathy for the Nazis.

Neo-Nazi organizations manifest themselves most openly in the public space of Lithuania at annual processions held in the center of Vilnius to celebrate national holidays on February 16 (State Restoration Day) and March 11 (Day of Restoration of Independence of Lithuania). In 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the official part of the March 11 events was held online. However, the nationalists still gathered in the capital for a rally and held a motor rally through the main streets.[296]

Lithuanian neo-Nazis are also involved in glorifying Nazi Germany. On 9 May 2020, Vilnius bikers dressed in Third Reich military uniforms attempted to enter the Antakalnis Cemetery, where the grave and the monument to Soviet liberator soldiers are located. The police stopped them to investigate, but soon let them go. After that they drove in circles around the Russian Embassy to the sounds of Nazi marches. None of the bikers had been arrested[297].

In 2020, several cases of desecration of graves of Soviet soldier liberators were reported. The vandals, however, were never found. In September, in the town of Žiežmariai (Kaišiadorių district), red paint was poured on a monument to fallen Red Army soldiers in the local cemetery, and offensive inscriptions were also made on it[298]. As of November, in Obeliai (Rokiškio district), while touring and cleaning military burial sites, local searchers found that a brotherhood cemetery of Soviet soldiers had been desecrated with swastika drawings. The tombstones were also splattered with red paint.[299]

Anti-Semitic manifestations continue to be reported. In June 2020, unknown persons spilled some sort of liquid on a monument (located on Zhidų (Jewish) Street in Vilnius) to Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, a rabbi, kabbalist, mathematician and public figure also known as the Vilna Gaon, considered one of the foremost authorities of Orthodox Judaism, who lived in the 18th century. Since Seimas declared 2020 the Year of Vilna Gaon and the history of Lithuanian Jews, the desecration of the monument looked particularly cynical. On August 2 of the same year, the monument was desecrated for the second time. Later, unknown people desecrated the sculpture of the Lithuanian doctor of Jewish origin Zemach Shabad, on Mėsinių Street [300] of the City of Vilnius in the same manner.

In February 2020, the Chairperson of the Jewish community in Lithuania, Faina Kukliansky, drew attention to the fact that yet unknown individuals had once again painted a swastika on one of the houses in the capital.[301] That same month, she was forced to file a complaint with the police in connection with anti-Semitic insulting remarks made against her in the Seimas during a commemorative meeting on the occasion of the anniversary of the events of 13 January 1991 in Vilnius.

In addition, over the same time period, unidentified persons in Vilnius threw and set fire to a jacket near the memorial to victims of the massacre of Jews[302]. In October of the same year, vandals overturned a memorial to Holocaust victims in Kaunas. The Lithuanian Jewish Community stated on this occasion that hate attacks in the country keep going[303]. It should be noted that on 23 September 2020, which is the Day of Commemoration of the Victims of the Genocide of Lithuanian Jews, the President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda acknowledged that Jews were killed by Lithuanians as well[304].

The official proclamation of Forest Brothers in Lithuania as "heroes of the national liberation struggle" is used by nationalist circles, the State Security Department (the main special service of the Republic of Lithuania) and the country's law enforcement agencies to harass all those who publicly declare their participation in the Holocaust and the mass murder of civilians. Criminal and administrative persecution of all dissidents who publicly challenge official interpretations of history continues.

Denial of the Lithuania’s characterization of the period when the country was part of the Soviet Union as an "occupation" risks persecution under Article 170 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania for "denial of Soviet occupation" that could lead up to two years in prison. In this connection, legal experts point out that Russian citizens Yury Mel and Gennady Ivanov, convicted on trumped-up charges in the criminal case on the "events of 13 January 1991 at the Vilnius TV tower", are denied the opportunity to express their opinions, as in this case they would automatically become subjects of the offenses described in the abovementioned Article 170 of the Lithuanian Criminal Code. On 27 March 2019, the Vilnius District Court sentenced 67 former Soviet Communist Party and government officials, task force soldiers and military personnel, most of them Russian nationals, to long-term imprisonment for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. On 31 March 2021, the Court of Appeals increased Yuri Mel’s and Gennady Ivanov’s sentences from 7 to 10 years and from 4 to 5 years respectively[305].

In October 2017, writer Ruta Vanagaite was targeted by the Lithuanian security services. About 20,000 copies of her book about participants of the Holocaust "Svoi" were withdrawn from bookstores. One of the leaders of neo-Nazis, a former employee of military intelligence Giedrius Gataveckas openly threatened R.Vanagaite. [306]

In January 2019, the Lithuanian writer M.Ivashkevicius faced harassment after being publicly accused by the organization of political prisoners and exiles of Lithuania of slandering the Lithuanian Forest Brothers in the novel "The Greens" for mentioning their participation in the mass murder of Jews.[307]

In February 2020, Lithuania’s Supreme Court rejected the appeal of Vyacheslav Titov, former member of the Klaipėda City Council, against the criminal prosecution for his political position on the issue of perpetuating the memory of the Forest Brothers leader Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas[308]. A year before that, the court ordered Vyacheslav Titov to pay a fine of 10,000 euros for being vocal against his glorification in 2018. His words were considered an "insult to the memory," "incitement to hatred" and "denial of Soviet occupation."

Shortly before the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, a number of public figures involved in the preparation of the holiday also faced repression. Alexei Greičius, chairman of the Juvenis youth organization and organizer of the Immortal Regiment in Klaipėda, was arrested for three months. The activist was charged with espionage, which could land him from 3 to 15 years in prison. Tatyana Afanasieva-Kolomiets, organizer of the Immortal Regiment in Vilnius, was searched and interrogated by officers of the State Security Department.

In April 2020, famous Lithuanian politician Algirdas Paleckis was released from prison into house arrest. He served over a year and a half in prison without conviction. On 27 July 2021, the Šiauliai District Court sentenced Algirdas Paleckis to six years in prison after finding him guilty of spying for Russia.

In 2020, the Lithuanian blogger Giedrius Šarkanas was first sentenced to restriction of freedom (analogue of a travel ban) for 10 months and correctional work on charges of public denial of the USSR crimes against Lithuania. However, as Giedrius Šarkanas violated the terms of his sentence, he was later sentenced to 3 months in prison. He received this punishment for publishing an article about the events near Vilnius TV tower on 13 January 1991. This case is unprecedented, as previously, the supporters of the "alternative" version of the events were merely fined.

A criminal case is pending against the human rights activist, co-chairman of the Socialist People's Front, Giedrius Grabauskas, (who has been ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation) on charges of insulting the memory of the dead and denying the Soviet occupation for his statements in the media about the crimes of the Forest Brothers. In October 2020, Giedrius Grabauskas left the territory of Lithuania seeking political asylum in Russia.[309] Earlier, in July 2020, he reported that the Lithuanian criminal police tried to arrest him.[310]

Miquel Puertas, a Spanish citizen, who lived in Lithuania in 2006-2016 and taught at Vytautas Magnus University of Kaunas, was detained when trying to enter the country in August 2020 and was placed in the Refugee Center and spent more than a week there. According to Vytautas Puertas, the Lithuanian authorities added him to the black list and banned him from entering the country until 2023. He believes that the reason behind that could be his critical remarks about the local national heroes, who cooperated with the Nazis during World War II, including criticism of the war criminal Jonas Noreika.[311]

In 2021, American journalist Silvia Foti's book "The Nazi's Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal" was published in the USA. The book talks about her grandfather Jonas Noreika and his role in the Holocaust. The journalist created a petition calling to strip him of all honors and insignia awarded by the Lithuanian government, but there was no reaction from official authorities of the Republic of Lithuania. [312]

In April 2020, The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania dismissed a petition of Grant Gochin, an American citizen of Lithuanian descent, to order the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania to revise its historic conclusion regarding the activities of Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika and ordered the plaintiff to pay court costs.[313]

In October 2020, the ultra-right National Union party took part in parliamentary elections in Lithuania. As a result, the party did not get into the Seimas, as it gained only 2.14% of the vote. As a slogan, the party used the motto "Raise Your Head High, Lithuanian!", which is the title of a book by Jonas Noreika that contains explicit anti-Semitic incitements.

Attempts to limit Russian media rights to freedom of expression continue. In July 2020, the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (RTC), which monitors radio and television broadcasting in the country, banned five TV channels of the Russia Today group from broadcasting in the country. The Commission based its decision on the erroneous conclusion that the media holding company was allegedly run by Director General of the Russian news agency Russia Today Dmitry Kiselyov, blacklisted by the European Union.[314] Vilnius’ measures to ban to broadcast Russian TV channels drew criticism from the Reporters Without Borders NGO.

In February 2021, the RTC threatened to suspend the Russian RTR‑Planeta TV channel from broadcasting after its Vesti news programme of 13 January 2021 featured a story dedicated to the January 1991 events in Vilnius. In April 2019, the Lithuanian Seimas granted the RTC the power to suspend the broadcasting of foreign TV channels without a court ruling.

In October 2020, the RTC had already made a decision to initiate the procedure to suspend free-to-air reception of the channel in the country. Back then, it was done under the pretext that a talk show broadcast on 17 September 2020 allegedly contained calls for war, promoted intolerance and national discord.

At the same time, on 12 May 2021, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania cancelled the 2018 RTC decision to ban broadcasting of RTR-Planeta TV Channel for 12 months. The grounds for this were the facts of violations by the members of the control body, some of whom were not entitled to take up their positions because they also worked in the media at that time. Thus, the ban was established without the required quorum of 2/3 of the RTC members.

Specialized international organizations have repeatedly documented persisting violations of the rights of Roma, as well as other national minorities, and certain social groups. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), in particular, pointed to the prevalence in Lithuania of biased attitudes towards members of vulnerable and minority groups, especially migrants, Muslims and Roma, "hate speech" and insults against them, including anti-Semitic statements in the media and on the Internet. The Concluding Observations also make recommendations to overcome discrimination against Roma in various spheres of life, adopt comprehensive legislation to protect the rights of national minorities, and improve the conditions of detention of refugees.

Issues related to the protection and promotion of the rights of national minorities are also highly politicised. Since the 1989 Law on National Minorities was abolished in 2010, efforts to develop new comprehensive legislation to protect minorities have not been successful.[315]

The Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (AC-FCNM) notes that the authorities' efforts to mitigate the negative effects of assimilation policies on minority language learners are insufficient. The 2011 Law on Education established Lithuanian as the only language of instruction in all schools and introduced uniform state language examination in grades 10 and 12. That created significant difficulties for children belonging to national minorities; the eight-year transition period started in 2012. Students of national minority schools who took this exam for the first time in 2013 had received 818 fewer hours of Lithuanian language instruction than their Lithuanian-speaking peers. At the same time, the level of minority language knowledge is not taken into account in final exams. It is only the results of examinations in the Lithuanian language, mathematics and one foreign language (usually English) that matter, while Polish or Russian can only be taken as an optional exam. Consequently, students from national minorities, who had lower final exam results, found themselves at a disadvantaged position in terms of access to higher education, as compared to Lithuanians. At present, the results gap is narrowing. Nevertheless, minority schools remain concerned as the end of the eight-year transition period is drawing nearer.[316]

The number of hours of the Lithuanian language lessons, as well as methodological guidelines and teaching materials, still have not been sufficiently adapted to the needs of children from families that mostly speak minority languages. Many first graders start learning the state language basically as a foreign language and are overloaded by the requirements of the uniform curriculum.

The situation remains difficult in the areas with a significant number of residents belonging to national minorities – Šalčininki, Trakai, Vilnius (Polish), Švenčionys (Russian and Polish), Klaipėda and Visaginas (Russian). Serious problems persist in rural areas.

The negative political and information background around the problem of education in the languages of national minorities in Lithuania has led to constant speculations about ideological influence of Russia on the Lithuanian population, to interrogations of teachers of Russian schools by the State Security Department in connection with trips of their students to Russian summer camps, as well as proposals by certain Lithuanian officials to close these educational institutions.

There is still a problem with authentic spelling of names in documents. The Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania provides that forenames, surnames and names of localities are to be written in documents in accordance with the Lithuanian language rules. This contradicts Article 11 of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. According to the AC-FCNM, the right to use a personal name in a minority language and to have it officially recognized is a central linguistic right, closely linked to personal identity and dignity.[317]

As a result, persons with foreign names (mainly Russian) face legal problems and have to defend their rights in court. At the same time, the Constitutional Court decision of 27 February 2014 gives a broad interpretation of the possibility of spelling personal names in non-Lithuanian characters in identity documents.

As a consequence, decisions of local government officials on the use of languages in interactions with administrative bodies and the spelling of personal and topographic names in minority languages are in the legal grey zone.[318]

The public debate on the issue is presently focused on persons who have acquired Lithuanian citizenship by marriage and children born in "mixed" marriages. In accordance with the decision of the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court of 2016, the surname and forename of a child born in a Polish-Lithuanian marriage may be written in both Polish and Lithuanian transcriptions. Unfortunately, draft laws submitted to the country's parliament do not take into account the needs of third-country citizens or persons belonging to other national minorities.

There has been absolutely no progress in the issue of using minority languages in topographical indications and private signs in areas with high proportions of national minorities. According to Articles 17 and 18 of the Law on the State Language, all public signs must be made in the Lithuanian language, with the exception of the names of organizations of ethnic communities.

In the Šalčininki district, the head of administration was fined 43,000 litas for allowing the use of street signs in the Polish language. A similar situation occurred in Vilnius, where the municipality started putting up street signs in foreign languages (English and Icelandic), as well as in national minority languages (Polish and Ukrainian). The AC-FCNM pointed out that the refusal to put up in areas traditionally inhabited by national minorities topographic signs in the languages of those minorities violates the obligations of the States Parties to the FCNM under its Article 11.[319]

Some municipalities allow citizens to submit written applications in national minority languages. Thus, the administration of the Šalčininki district allows applications to be drawn up in Polish and Russian, the Vilnius district – in English, Russian and Polish. Applications to the Visaginas district administration can be made in any language spoken by a civil servant.[320]

Among other human rights problems, international monitoring organizations note the existence in Lithuania of deeply rooted prejudices against vulnerable and minority groups, especially migrants, Muslims, Roma, and Jews. This has resulted in the widespread use of hate speech, particularly in the media, including Internet platforms, and in the political discourse.[321]

For instance, the AC-FCNM noted with concern that the media often refer to the ethnicity of alleged perpetrators if they are not Lithuanians, which often provokes a public debate leading to increased negative attitudes towards the minority group concerned. According to the Committee experts, the police should not disclose information about the ethnic origin of alleged offenders.[322]

Nevertheless, the number of reports of both hate speech and hate crimes received by the competent authorities remains low.[323] Moreover, the concepts of "colour" and "descent" are not listed among the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Law on Equal Treatment and in the Criminal Code of Lithuania.[324] That is what probably accounts for the fact that the specifics of such offenses are not always taken into account when they are registered and investigated.[325]

Furthermore, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania, most victims of hate crimes do not believe that the perpetrators will receive any punishment for their actions.[326]

The AC-FCNM in its submissions has cited a case where an anti-Semitic statement was made by the Ombudsman for Academic Ethics and Procedures. It should be noted that the Speaker of the Seimas and the Lithuanian Prime Minister reacted immediately to this incident by publicly condemning it. In March 2018, the Parliament voted by a qualified majority to remove this person from office.

Roma are still the most vulnerable group. The HR Committe, the CERD and the AC-FCNM noted with concern the persistence of discrimination against the Roma, particularly in the exercise of their rights to housing, health care, employment and education. Roma continue to suffer from social exclusion and are disproportionately affected by poverty.[327]

Action plans to integrate Roma into the Lithuanian society adopted for the periods of 2012–2014 and 2015–2020 were supposed to somewhat remedy the situation. The objectives formulated therein included, among others, the improvement of the situation of Roma women and the establishment of intercultural dialogue. According to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, the most recent document provided for 18 measures to achieve the desired effect. In 2019, however, the funding was only enough to implement five of them.[328]

The implementation of the Action Plans is supervised by the Department of National Minorities. In 2016, it reported that the share of Roma not having completed primary school decreased from 11 per cent in 2011 to 8 per cent in 2015. Over that period, the Lithuanian Ministry of Education created a network of teachers in schools attended by Roma children. However, the number of teaching assistants, social workers or mediators hired to support Roma in schools did not increase, despite the need clearly expressed by the community.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) working under the auspices of the Council of Europe commended the adoption by the municipality of Vilnius of a programme for the integration of the Kirtimai Roma community for 2016–2019. The difficult housing situation in the settlement is planned to be addressed in two ways: by providing its Roma residents with social housing or by subsidising rental costs for those who find alternative accommodation. Social housing accommodation was provided to six families in 2016, four families in 2017, and two families in 2018. In 2018, four more families moved into a municipal dormitory. Priority in the provision of social housing was given to families with a large number of children.
46 families (four in 2016, 18 in 2017 and 24 in 2018 – a total of 119 persons) benefitted from the rental subsidy scheme. Each family member received 72 euros to cover the cost of their new accommodation.[329]

According to the Roma Community Centre, after the illegally built houses in the Kirtimai Roma settlement in Vilnius were demolished, the authorities made no attempt to engage in dialogue with those affected by the demolition and did not provide them with any legal information. The Vilnius Division of the State Territorial Planning and Construction Inspectorate and the Ministry of the Environment did not offer the affected any alternative housing either, which eventually forced the Human Rights Committee of the Lithuanian Parliament to step in. Subsequently, the government asked the Vilnius Inspectorate to continue implementing the municipal Roma integration programme after 2019.[330]

In the opinion of the AC-FCNM, the deep-rooted prejudices and negative attitudes towards Roma in the Lithuanian society have manifested themselves in a number of incidents over the recent years.

Following the murder of a girl in early 2017, the media widely reported that the suspected perpetrators belonged to the Roma community, which provoked an anti-Roma public discourse.

Another example is a tour of the Kirtimai settlement organized by the Vaiduokliai agency, entitled Extreme Walk in a Roma Settlement. The tour advertisement included a recommendation not to carry any jewellery or money because it could be stolen. Having examined the case, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman found a violation of the Law on Equal Treatment and instructed the agency to change the information about the tour in order to prevent the negative stereotypes about the Roma community from being perpetuated in the public mind.

In 2017, a store put up an anti-Roma advertisement which could be interpreted to mean that Roma would not be served in this store. The Equal Opportunities Ombudsman had to look into this situation as well.

At the end of 2016, police officers raided the Kirtimai Roma settlement, damaging houses and using violence against minors. Lawfulness of the police action is under question.[331]

The AC-FCNM and CERD also shared concerns about the unsatisfactory conditions created in the foreigners' registration centres and the unreasonably long periods of detention of migrants (up to 18 months)[332]. Besides, CERD highlighted their insufficient capacity in terms of providing adequate accommodation for newly arrived asylum-seekers, in particular families with children. In addition, the country fails to take into account the special needs of applicants, in particular women and girls, who are not provided with safe places to stay.

Many asylum seekers are denied entry to the state's territory or denied access to asylum procedures, including the services of a lawyer. Those who have managed to remain in Lithuania still face difficulties in terms of fully integrating into the society and suffer from prejudices and discrimination in access to housing.

Taking into account all of the above-stated facts, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Republic of Lithuania is, undoubtedly, a leader among states where radical right ideologies are propagated with condonation and active participation of the official authorities. Creation of mono-ethnic state, artificial exacerbation of ethnic tensions, glorification of collaborators, rewriting of history – these are the Lithuanian Government’s major areas of action. At the same time, no progress shaped up in this area over the past few years, and all the recommendations and conclusions of specialized international institutions made in this regard are ignored by Vilnius.

Luxembourg

There is no open activity of neo-Nazi movements or organizations in the public space of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (hereinafter referred to as GDL). There are no facts of public propaganda of the ideas of Nazism and racial superiority. The glorification of the Nazi movement and former members of the Nazi SS organization and all its constituent parts, including the Waffen‑SS, in any form is also not observed.

Public demonstrations in order to glorify the Nazi past are not held. The construction of monuments and memorials dedicated to the Nazis and their collaborators are not erected. The ban on the image of the swastika and any other Nazi symbols is strictly observed. Recently, only one case of this kind was reported, when at the end of January 2020, a number of buildings, bus stops and road signs in the capital were painted with the image of the swastika, but, as the police found, it was not used to glorify Nazism, but for offensive purposes.

The importance of preserving the memory of the tragic events of the Second World War is declared by the authorities of Luxembourg at the highest level. The country's leadership is making efforts to promote the thesis of the heroic resistance of the country's population to the Nazi occupation during the Second World War. In 1940, despite its status as a neutral state, Luxembourg was occupied by Nazi Germany. The policy of Germanization began, and citizens were forcibly conscripted into the Wehrmacht. Many Luxembourg soldiers, unwilling to fight on the side of the Third Reich, voluntarily surrendered to the Red Army or Allied forces. On the territory of the Grand Duchy itself, resistance to the occupation turned into a General strike by 1942.[333] However, in general, the interpretation of the events of those years is ambiguous, which is also associated with the facts of collaboration. Accordingly, when discussing this topic, the scientific and journalistic community of GDL prefers to adhere to a certain degree of caution and self-censorship.

In this regard, it should be mentioned that 6 citizens of Luxembourg and their families continue to receive "Nazi pensions", appointed by A. Hitler for cooperation with the Third Reich or service in the armed forces of Nazi Germany. Pensions are paid by Germany, and the Luxembourg authorities refuse to disclose to the public the names of their recipients or the "merits" for which they were appointed.

There were no facts of desecration of military graves or damage to monuments and memorials dedicated to the Second World War. Such facilities are protected by the state, and local authorities maintain them in general in an exemplary state. In Luxembourg, the installation of new monuments and plaques in memory of the victims of Nazism and Fascism continues. So, in 2019, a new monument to the victims of the Holocaust was opened in the centre of the capital. At the moment, the issue of installing a monument to Soviet citizens forcibly taken to forced labor in Luxembourg during the Great Patriotic war is being considered. The agreement on the creation of this monument was reached during the official visit of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to GDL in March 2019.

Publications that call for racial or national discrimination or use hate speech are not allowed in Luxembourg's print media or online publications.

Events related to the struggle against the Nazi regime (first of all, the anniversary of the General strike) are solemnly celebrated at the state level. National Remembrance Day, celebrated on 10 October, is dedicated to the struggle of Luxembourgers against the Nazi occupation in 1940-1945. Every year on this day, the Grand Duke participates in the lighting of the Eternal Flame at the Luxembourg Solidarity monument.

Authorities also provide the necessary assistance in carrying out events dedicated to the Victory Day. Representatives of the relevant municipal administrations regularly take part in them.

In September 2019 GDL solemnly marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Luxembourg from Nazi occupation. In January 2020, the Grand Duchy was represented at the highest level during commemorative events in Poland and Israel on the occasion of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp and in memory of the Holocaust.

From 5 March 2019 to 3 March 2020, Luxembourg served as the chair of the International Alliance in memory of the Holocaust. During his presidency, in particular, Recommendations on teaching knowledge about the Holocaust were developed and approved. Also in July 2019, the GDL authorities approved the Alliance's "working definition of anti-Semitism".

In order to preserve historical evidence of Luxembourgers' participation in World War II, a special decree established the Committee to commemorate forced conscription into the Wehrmacht and the corresponding documentation and Research Centre in 2005. In addition, the World War II Memorial Committee was established which comprised members of veterans' organizations and representatives of a number of ministries. The tasks of the Committee include the protection of the rights and interests of citizens of Luxembourg forcibly conscripted into the Wehrmacht, and victims of the Holocaust. In addition, the Committee participates in the organization of celebrations dedicated to the Second World War, the search and identification of places of historical and memorial character, and conducts awareness-raising activities among young people.

On 27 January 2021, an agreement was signed between the government of Luxembourg and representatives of the local Jewish community, providing for an ambitious set of measures aimed at restoring historical justice. First of all, a landmark decision was made to compensate all Jews affected by Hitler's regime in the country for losses and confiscated property. To this end, a special restitution fund is being established, which will annually receive 120,000 euros from the State budget over a period of 30 years. Until now, compensation measures applied only to nationals (about a thousand people), while refugees and stateless persons, 3,000 or 4,000 people, were effectively outside the legal framework. An additional 2 million euros is being allocated for various research and archival work, and creation of a Holocaust memorial and educational centre is underway in the former Luxembourg Abbey of Cinqfontaines.

At the same time, it is worth noting that, while not shying away from condemning the crimes of the Nazi regime, Luxembourg, along with other EU member states, has consistently abstained from voting in the UN General Assembly on the draft resolution submitted annually by Russia, together with other co-sponsors, on "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance".

The official authorities, bearing in mind the harsh historical experience, strive to prevent the emergence of neo-Nazi movements on the territory of Luxembourg. Extremist and radical nationalist parties and groups of a racist and xenophobic nature are not popular or supported in Luxembourg. At the same time, law enforcement agencies do not exclude the presence of certain elements in the country that secretly sympathize with and share the ideas of neo-Nazism.

In addition, the legislation does not include provisions on recognizing as illegal and prohibiting any organization that incites racial discrimination. Moreover, the Law on Equal Treatment does not contain criteria of national origin, colour or descent, and racial background of a crime is not considered as an aggravating circumstance in Luxembourg.[334]

Public opinion polls on anti-discrimination issues, including pan-European ones (for example, the study "Being black in the EU" by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, conducted in 2019) show that Luxembourg is among the three countries lagging behind in a number of indicators. For example, among almost 6,000 respondents from 12 countries, 47 per cent of people from the African continent have experienced various forms of harassment in Luxembourg, mainly in employment. At the same time, for other countries that took part in the study, the average detected indicator is
39 per cent. A number of experts still note the existence of anti-Semitic attitudes in Luxembourg society. According to the EU coordinator for combating anti-Semitism, K. von Schnurbein, 13 manifestations of anti-Semitism were registered in the GDL in the period 2018-2019. It is a considerable number, taking into account the small number of the Luxembourg Jewish community of the GDL.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2014[335], the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2018[336] and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance in 2017 pointed out the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes, Islamophobia and migrant-phobia in Luxembourg, as well as the prevalence of discriminatory stereotypes in the media and on the Internet that contribute to prejudice against certain groups of the population.

Ethnic and racial profiling among GDL law enforcement officers is generally not practiced.

We noted the international monitoring mechanisms and the difficult situation with refugees in the Grand Duchy. According to many human rights defenders, the basic allowance assigned to them is clearly insufficient for life, and employment opportunities are limited. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women expressed concern that local language requirements act as barriers for foreigners and migrants in the labour market and in education.[337] The method of registering incoming refugee families also raises concerns – one dossier is created for the head of the family, which includes spouses and children, which preserves the ground for possible discriminatory relations.

At the administrative level, several institutions are involved in combating racial discrimination: the Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration and the Wider region, the Office of Reception and Integration of Luxembourg, the Ministry of Equal Opportunities, the Centre for Equal Treatment, the Committee of the Ombudsman for Children's Rights, and the Inspectorate for Labour and Mines. With regard to the fight against intolerance, in 2017 the government established a centre to combat radicalization.[338]

In order to promote cultural diversity and tolerance, as well as to promote ideas of inter-ethnic and inter-religious interaction, festivals are held in Luxembourg both at the national level and in individual communes, the largest of which, "CultiMulti", is organized on a regular basis.

The overall situation in Luxembourg with regard to combating the spread of neo-Nazism, racism, xenophobia and other similar practices can be described as relatively good.

The Netherlands

Manifestations of neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism in the Netherlands are sporadic.

Such acts are primarily criminalized by the Dutch Criminal Code (CC), but there are no special provisions provided for by the legislation.

Article 137(c) of the CC criminalizes any public insult to groups of persons on the basis of race, religion, beliefs, sexual orientation, physical or mental disabilities in oral or written form, and Article 137(d) provides for liability for incitement to hatred or discrimination on a wide range of grounds.

The display of Nazi symbols as such (including badges, uniform attributes, greetings, etc.) is not a separate crime, but may be subject to criminal prosecution on the basis of general anti-discrimination provisions. Nor the criminal legislation of the Netherlands provides for separate elements that criminalize the denial of historical facts, including the Holocaust.

Therefore, falsifiers of history (as well as, for example, owners or administrators of sites where such materials are posted) may be held liable under the mentioned articles of the CC.

In practice, each specific action is considered in court in accordance with its context. Nazi salute as a gesture does not in itself entail criminal responsibility, but it may be punishable in cases where it is purposefully performed in public or during memorial services, accompanied by the voicing of Nazi slogans, etc. At the same time, the same Nazi greeting addressed to a particular person, and not to a group of people, is most likely to be qualified under Article 266 of the CC (as a general insult).

The judicial practice of the Netherlands in the fight against anti-Semitism is quite modest. As a rule, guilty verdicts in such cases are returned in exceptional cases. Provocative statements and acts are punishable only if their aims go far beyond "open, freedom of expression-based discussions in a democratic society".[339] However, there are also opposite examples. For example, in early 2017, several Dutch citizens were sentenced to community service and/ or fined for chanting anti-Semitic slogans and displaying the symbols of right-wing radicals "Combat 18" and "Defend Europe".[340] In early 2021, a Dutch national was sentenced to community service for posting racist and anti-Semitic material on the social networking site Vkontakte.[341]

A case in point of the application of anti-discrimination articles of the CC in relation to the use of Nazi symbols is, in particular, the case of a Dutchman that reached the Supreme court of the Netherlands in 2012 about 100 daggers with the image of the swastika, symbols of the Waffen-SS units and slogans of the Third Reich for the purpose of selling them (as a result, he was found guilty under Article 137(e) of the CC)[342]. There have been other similar cases. For example, in early 2020, a Dutch national was sentenced to community service for posting SS symbols on the Internet and calling for violence against members of Jewish and Muslim communities.[343]

One of the most high-profile anti-Semitic cases in the Netherlands was the naming of the world's largest special-purpose vessel after Pieter Schelte Heerema, a famous Dutch Nazi who was a member of the Waffen-SS during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Due to the negative reaction in public circles and the media, the management of the company "Allsis" announced the renaming of the ship from "Peter Schelte" to "Pioneer Spirit", retaining the original abbreviation.

The Dutch media periodically publish articles about cases of Dutch military personnel expressing support for the ideology of Nazism. According to journalists, for example, in 2018 it was revealed that the Dutch military exchanged extremist views via messenger, used swastikas and other Nazi symbols in their correspondence and expressed interest in the ideas of Hitler and his associates, as well as relevant literature.

In late March 2020, the media reported that the neo-Nazi movement "Feuerkrieg Division", created in 2018 and calling on its followers to commit acts of violence against people of African descent and representatives of the LGBT and Jewish communities, was partly run by subjects of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[344]

In the Netherlands, there is a political party that can generally be described as neo-Nazi – the "Netherlands People's Union" ("Nederlandse Volks-Unie"), founded in 1971. This organization is known for a number of radical appeals (it advocates a constitutional amendment stating that German-Christian culture should remain dominant in the Netherlands, introduction of the subject of nationalism in schools and stricter migration policy, and opposes the construction of new synagogues and mosques in the Netherlands, etc.). However, it has no real political power.

Furthermore, in late 2020 and early 2021 several scandals flared up in connection with "The Forum for Democracy", a popular party in the Netherlands (in the last parliamentary elections on 17 March 2021 it won 8 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives). For example, racist remarks from party leader T.Bode's WhatsApp correspondence (where he spoke of "white supremacy") were made public.[345] It also emerged that several young party members had been promoted despite their anti-Semitic remarks.[346] Finally, T.Bode also said that he considered the Nuremberg trials illegitimate, much to the annoyance of the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel.[347]

The attitude of the Dutch authorities to the memory of the feat of the Soviet people certainly deserves a positive assessment. The Netherlands budget allocated the necessary funds for the reconstruction of the memorial complex near Amersfoort, part of which is the cemetery "Soviet Field of Glory", where 865 soldiers of the Red Army who died during World War II in German captivity in the Netherlands and Germany are buried. Thanks to the efforts of the Dutch public organization "Soviet Field of Glory" Foundation, it was possible to intensify work on identifying buried Soviet prisoners of war and searching for their relatives.[348]

However, despite the Dutch authorities' respect for the memory of the Second World War, the Dutch delegation abstains when considering in the UN General Assembly the annual resolution submitted by Russia and other co-sponsors on "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance", following the position of the European Union on this issue.

At the same time, the international community continues to record acts of discrimination in the Netherlands against members of ethnic, national and religious minorities, including legal and naturalized migrants. Apparently the activity of right-wing Dutch politicians prepares the ground for the spread of such attitudes. In addition, there was a wide response in 2018 to the essentially xenophobic statement of the Dutch Foreign Minister, S.Blok, that there are no "peaceful multicultural societies" and that people are genetically wary of strangers[349].

Concerns about acts of discrimination are well founded: various statistics show an increase in complaints about unequal treatment, especially on the grounds of race. However, most experts say it is impossible to measure the real level of discrimination due to the complicated and covert nature of the phenomenon.

Problematic aspects of Dutch anti-discrimination policy were pointed out by the Human Rights Committee (in 2019), the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (in 2015 and 2021), the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, as well as European human rights monitoring mechanisms. The CERD highlighted in 2015 the tense situation with minorities in the Netherlands and, in particular, discrimination against Jewish and Muslim communities. Separately, the Committee addressed the issue of a Dutch Christmas celebration character called "Black Pete" in a negative context, describing it as "reflecting the negative stereotypes experienced by Afro-descendants as a relic of slavery". It was also noted that racist rhetoric is widespread in the country's media and on the Internet, the tone of which is set by a number of right-wing politicians.[350] These political forces also attack civil society activists speaking out against racism. Such actions are welcomed by some regional politicians.[351]

ECRI also pointed out that the xenophobic rhetoric is increasingly heard in public and political discussions in the Netherlands. Moreover, it was noted that such ideology is used not only by far-right parties, but also by some moderate politicians and officials who openly express their racist beliefs. There are also documented cases of such ideology being put into practice (for example, the launch of websites to file complaints against workers from Romania, Poland and Bulgaria, as well as asylum seekers, in 2012 and 2015 respectively (2015).[352]

ECRI also pointed to strict requirements for the integration of foreigners. The Commission, inter alia, called on the Netherlands to tighten civil, administrative and criminal legislation and ensure full independence of the competent authorities in this area.[353]

The CERD pointed in August 2021 to the growing importance of the migration issue in political discourse and the subsequent exacerbation of racial discrimination. The Committee also noted that people with ethnic minority and immigrant backgrounds face discrimination in such areas as education (among the claims are lower assessment, difficulties in obtaining internships and the inability to speak their home language in educational institutions), employment and health care (persons with low Dutch language proficiency are in the most vulnerable position).[354]

Yet another issue causing concern from the point of view of respect for human rights in the Kingdom of the Netherlands is the situation with illegal migrants and asylum seekers.

Human rights community remains concerned over inhumanity of Dutch policy towards this category of persons, including minors, including unjustified detention, ineffective protection of the rights of foreigners in detention, failure to provide them with necessary health care, lack of flexibility of the residence permit system, as well as ineffective protection of the rights of rejected asylum seekers subject to deportation.

The Committee against Torture has pointed to such problematic aspects of treatment of illegal migrants and asylum seekers, as unfair handling of asylum applications, lengthy detention periods and harsh conditions in accommodation centres[355]. Despite the attempts to improve the quality of migrant detention through legislation (such an initiative appeared in late 2017), according to the NGO Amnesty International, the regime still resembles a "prison" one. The accommodation centres are overcrowded (27,000 people as of the end of 2019, lack of staff in the competent authorities to deal with applications, etc.). In addition, according to the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, the asylum application process is limited to eight days for all, but this is preceded by a waiting period of several months. Due to the large number of asylum seekers, the latter are housed not only in reception centres but also in temporary shelters. The COVID-19 pandemic has apparently aggravated this situation. The Human Rights Committee pointed with concern to the same range of problems, noting that substantial numbers of asylum cases and family reunification cases were pending decisions.[356]

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance also noted a number of problems in the treatment of migrants. The Commission, for example, pointed out that burden of integration was shifted onto migrants themselves, while sanctions were introduced for failure to comply with these measures (failing in the exams). In addition, individual integration measures targeting some of the most vulnerable groups were abolished. Such policy, according to the ECRI, resulted in discrimination and exploitation of migrants, and in migrant and Antillean children constituting the majority of students in specialized educational institutions. The ECRI also pointed to the fact that most migrants do not know who they can turn to when their rights are violated or for advice. They are more likely to be checked by the Dutch police than persons of European appearance. Migrants experience higher unemployment rates.[357]

HRC special rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief[358] and on contemporary forms of racism[359] also pointed to discrimination against migrants.

According to the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, E. Tendayi Achiume, the Dutch society is facing a threat of the spread of racist ideas due to a rise in nationalist populist rhetoric that the country has seen over the recent years. In her statement on the visit to the country in early October 2019, she highlighted that the Netherlands political landscape was highly polarized and characterized by the rhetoric of intolerance. The expert also noted that in the public consciousness there is a popular stereotype that a real Dutch citizen is a person of European origin, while people of African or Asian descent, even those holding Dutch citizenship and living in the country for multiple generations are still perceived as an alien element[360]. The Special Rapporteur believes that this means that race, ethnicity, national origin, religion and other categories determine who is considered and treated as fully Dutch. The government has been recommended to "remediate socioeconomic gaps between racial and ethnic minorities and ethnic Netherlanders", as well as improve the education system.

Cases of racial profiling by the law enforcement agencies continue to be documented in the country. Members of ethnic minorities are most likely to be subjected to identity checks and searches. According to experts, such misuse of powers is provoked by weak control over the activities of law enforcement agencies. A 2016 study commissioned by the government revealed that the police used proactive investigatory stops to disproportionately target ethnic minorities, and that in 40 per cent of the cases there was no objective and reasonable basis for such actions.

Racial profiling by the Dutch police experienced by ethnic minorities was pointed out by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination[361], the Human Rights Committee[362] and the HRC Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism. These negative trends have also been reflected in the results of various public opinion surveys. Such negative practices increase mistrust in the actions of the Dutch authorities and, in particular, in the efforts of the police, and also lead to a decrease in the number of reports to law enforcement agencies and, consequently, to underreporting of the offenses detected[363].

The HRC Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, A.Shaheed, noted the same negative trends following his visit to the Netherlands in March-April 2019. For example, he pointed to the normalization in Dutch society of discourse that advances a "superior" Dutch national identity and stigmatization of certain religious communities. In this context, Islam and "Dutchness" or the "Western European way of life" are commonly characterized as being incompatible. Calls from political parties, for example, for Muslims to recognize and assimilate into the dominant Dutch or European culture are not uncommon According to the expert, this may contribute to further polarization of religious communities. The Special Rapporteur is also concerned about attempts to introduce legal regulation of religious practices of such communities. This includes draft legislation which attempts to limit funding from "unfree countries" used to "buy undesirable influence" and "abuse Dutch liberties".[364]

The CERD also noted the same negative trends pointing out feelings among some members of ethno-religious minorities in the Netherlands, in particular Muslims, of isolation, based among other things on the provisions of the citizenship law and partial ban on wearing traditional clothing.[365]

Anti-Semitism is still a problem. Second Study of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights shows that 71 per cent of respondents in the Netherlands see anti-Semitism as a fairly big problem. It is especially evident on the Internet, including social networks, in public places and the media.[366]

Various studies show that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the Netherlands in general remains at about the same and a fairly high level.

According to the official statistics, there were 768 antisemitic incidents recorded in 2019, which included 148 incidents of vandalism, 498 incidents of verbal abuse and 45 incidents of violence.[367]

According to the annual report of the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (Centrum Informatie en Documentatie Israel, CIDI), the country registered 182 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 (135 in 2018, 113 in 2017, and 171 in 2014).[368] The authors of the report usually link the growth and fall of indicators from year to year to Israeli military operations. In addition, in 2017-2018, there were multiple cases of anti-Semitism registered on the Internet (at least 127 additional incidents of this kind). According to the Dutch police and prosecution service, in 2019, 40 per cent of cases of discrimination reported to and dealt with by the competent authorities involved allegations of anti-Semitism.[369]

In the context of the recent disclosures about the cooperation of the Dutch authorities with the Nazis during the Second World War (including assistance by municipal authorities in certain cities in identifying undesirable persons and assistance by the Dutch railway company Nederlandse Spoorwegen in transporting Jews, Roma and other "second-class nations" to Nazi concentration camps) and reparation efforts in relation to Holocaust victims and their relatives, as revealed by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, it is noteworthy that the Jewish community remain sceptical about the willingness in Dutch institutions to tackle anti-Semitism. It was also noted that many of the interlocutors highlighted police failures to recognize anti-Semitic slurs along with failures to accurately identify anti-Semitic incidents.[370]

Anti-Muslim sentiment is quite widespread in the Netherlands. So far, despite the policies and programmes the Government has put in place, there has been no decrease. According to official statistics, places of worship and members of Muslim communities experience an estimated 88–91 per cent of the hate crimes documented by the police (192 in 2017 and 197 in 2018, compare to 2015 (439) this is almost half the number). Research demonstrates that Muslims rarely report such incidents. In addition, Muslims are often being portrayed as terrorists in Dutch media. This community has been targeted by the Party for Freedom, which won 13.3 per cent of the seats in the last parliamentary elections. Its leader G. Wilders has publicly stated that he deems Islam "the biggest problem in the Netherlands". In the run-up to the 2017 parliamentary elections, party activists also called for all mosques to be closed.[371]

The consolidation of Islamophobia in the Netherlands was also highlighted by E.Tendai Achiume, HRC Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, who noted with concern the significant tolerance of Islamophobic sentiment in society, including among human rights defenders.[372]

Discrimination against Muslims in employment, in particular lower recruitment rates, is also noted in the 2020 FRA report.[373]

This problem is related to yet another set of concerns to the human rights community. The experts note, for example, that when it comes to the prevention of terrorism, the Dutch authorities are increasingly focusing on administrative measures which do not provide sufficient guarantees of judicial review or appeal. Concerns have also been raised about amendments to the Citizenship Act (Temporary Administrative Counter-Terrorism Measures Act) that allow for deprivation of citizenship in the interests of national security and when a person is suspected of being involved in terrorist activities – that is, based on assumptions rather than established fact of an offence.

The fact that just over a dozen people have been stripped of their citizenship since the provision came into force (the decision is often challenged in court) has not helped to address the concerns[374]. This aspect has been highlighted by the Human Rights Committee, the HRC Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, and the NGO Amnesty International.

The HRC Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism also pointed out that citizenship-stripping procedures disproportionately affect people of Moroccan and Turkish descent, which leads to stereotypes associating terrorism with certain ethnic groups[375].

The Netherlands, as well as other European States, still witness tensions over the return of former terrorist fighters, their wives and children. The Dutch are leading efforts to establish a tribunal for foreign terrorist fighters to administer justice in States of the Middle East region (especially in Iraq and Syria, which is not under the control of official Damascus). By early 2020, an agreement on the administration of justice against the ISIS members had been reached, but then stalled because of the spread of coronavirus. Such an approach has raised many questions and, first of all, regarding the legislation and the body to bring justice. Experts expressed fears that in the context of this process, the Netherlands could hardly ensure human rights, in particular, the rights to fair trial. It was also noted that by organizing such trials, the Hague postpones in the long term the resolution of the very problem related to the Dutch supporters of the Islamic State terrorist organization (prohibited in Russia).

In general, the return of the children of the ISIS combatants from Syria remains a serious challenge for the Netherlands. It is reported that at least 170 children of Dutch origin remain in the Syrian Arab Republic.

At the same time, the Dutch approach to this complicated issue is quite different from that of other States. Official Hague not only turns a blind eye to violations of their compatriots’ rights and refuses to help them, but also tries to deprive them of the Dutch citizenship, if possible.

Moreover, the Netherlands decided to legitimize this policy with appropriate judicial practice. In 2019, the Hague Court reversed the lower court's decision to allow 23 women and 56 children to return from Syria and ruled that the government had no obligations towards those individuals. According to the verdict the final decision rests with the cabinet of ministers and represents an issue of political expediency, rather than that of the law. In June 2020, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands reaffirmed that solution and put an end to the case. Human rights defenders therefore say that the authorities are clearly not willing to return the people who, in their opinion, could be further radicalized and call for active measures[376].

The cynical attitude towards its citizens on the part of the Dutch authorities, who express concerns about the destiny of individual human rights "defenders" and "activists" in foreign countries, was confirmed in early April 2021, by the decision of the Hague Court of Appeal which upheld the decision of the Netherlands to refuse repatriation of the Dutch national staying in a refugee camp in the north of Syria. However, the court acknowledged that the woman, suffering from a severe disease and seriously injured, was held in harsh conditions, without enough food and water. Her return was considered impossible because in order to make it possible, it would require to send Dutch experts to Syria, which is "absolutely out of question in the context of risks to their life and security". Another aggravating aspect is that the Netherlands has no formal ties neither with Syria's official government, nor with the forces controlling the north of the country.

The main problems faced by the Roma community remain unresolved, i.e. poverty, unemployment and social exclusion. In addition, the per centage of Roma in the Netherlands with an education is low. Roma children have poor knowledge of the Dutch language, they hardly ever attend preschool institutions, and when it comes to secondary school they, along with migrants, make up the bulk of students in specialized schools. There is also a high dropout rate from primary and secondary school, as well as absenteeism.[377]

New Zealand

On the whole manifestations of neo-Nazism and glorification of Nazism in New Zealand are sporadic and are tremendously opposed by the population and are publicly condemned by both the mass media and the civil society.

The only recent instance of neo-Nazism was registered in March 2020 when somebody distributed leaflets containing neo-Nazi and supremacy slogans and calling on people to join the new extremist group, in the premises of the Oakland University. Later, the administration of the University said that all the materials were seized. The incident was strongly condemned by the students and was extensively covered by the mass media. No open source has mentioned whether the perpetrator was found and punished.

The Jewish community of the country, in particular the New Zealand Jewish Council and the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand make significant contribution to the fight against glorification of Nazism. As a recent example of their successful efforts one can cite a petition initiated in August 2020, which resulted in the official ban on memorialization of former member of Waffen‑SS Willi Huber. Mountt Hutt had named a ski slope and a cafe after him. There had also been a corresponding commemorative plate. He is considered to be the founder of the local ski resort. The leading New Zealand's media outlets the Newshub and the Stuff widely publicized the case.

There have been no cases of desecration or dismantling of monuments to anti-Nazis and victims of World War II in the country. The attitude to historical heritage, including to memorials honouring war heroes, is generally that of respect.

However, New Zealand abstains from voting in the UN General Assembly on the draft UN General Assembly resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" co-sponsored annually by Russia and a number of other states.

At the same time, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service's annual report published in March 2021 confirms that the spread of extremist racist and white supremacist ideologies, which gained prominence after the terrorist attack in Christchurch in March 2019, remains a pressing internal security issue. Manifestations of intolerance are encountered by persons of non-European background, including foreign citizens, as well as indigenous Maori population. According to the intelligence services in 2020 over 50 per cent of counter-terrorist investigations involved white supremacy propaganda. It is notable that this threat is posed mainly by individuals adhering to radical ideas rather than by organized groups, which makes it much harder for the security agencies to identify and suppress them. They believe that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased time spent online, the number of people engaging with extremist ideologies and conspiracy theories online may increase.

However, there is no strict regulation of the activities of groups adhering to radical ideologies at the national level. What is more, the list of 26 organizations banned in New Zealand features exclusively foreign groups recognized as terrorist organizations by the international community, first and foremost under the UN Security Council resolutions. At the same time, experts believe that some 60 or 70 associations (with Action Zealandia being most visible one) and some 150-300 individual activists promoting right and ultra-right ideology are acting in the country.

In its report published in March 2021, the New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission states that migrants encounter overt and subtle racism in their everyday life, in all spheres and at all levels of public life (institutional, personal, within their own ethnic group and from the members of their own race). In addition to racial supremacy and the privileged status of population of European background, the drivers of racism include fear and ignorance and colonial mentality. It is also noted that the government’s involvement in addressing this issue has been insufficient.

Coexistence of the white colonists’ descendants and indigenous Maori population remains a pressing issue. According to public opinion surveys, about 93 per cent of Maoris experience intolerance and social injustice on the grounds of race. The level of unemployment among this indigenous people has reduced over the recent years, however, it still exceeds considerably the general unemployment rate in the country, being 7.7 per cent as compared to 3.9 per cent among New Zealanders of European background. This issue was previously highlighted by the Human Rights Committee (HRCtte)[378], Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)[379], and the Committee on the elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)[380].

In addition to that, indigenous population has considerably – about 7 years – shorter life expectancy. The experts believe that this is explained by major difficulties in accessing basic medical services, encountered by Maori population. Furthermore, there still remains a pay gap between Maori and medical staff and that of European background[381]. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also expressed criticism of New Zealand's authorities due to the fact that indigenous population have higher rates of chronic diseases, experience higher disability rates and are negatively overrepresented in suicide and mental health statistics[382].

Furthermore, disparities persist in the enjoyment of the right to education. International monitoring bodies note in this context that Māori and Pasifika students, notably at secondary school and university levels, achieve lower outcomes than those of European background and experience higher rates of stigma and disciplinary measures at schools[383]. They stress deteriorating level of command of their spoken native languages by indigenous population. This explained by a small number of Maori speaking teachers[384].

It is noteworthy that the share of indigenous population among the prison inmates is high. In its concluding observations on the regular periodic report of New Zealand, the Committee against Torture noted that while making up 15 per cent of the State’s population, Maori comprised 45 per cent of arrested individuals and over 50 per cent of prison inmates, and, moreover, that more than 60 per cent of female inmates were Maori.[385] CEDAW cited more exact data and stated that 65 per cent of female inmates were Maori.[386] HRCtte also expressed concern over disproportionately high rates of incarceration and overrepresentation of Māori and Pasifika, particularly women and young people, at all levels of the criminal justice process.[387]

Total number of inmates of penitentiary facilities reached about 10 thousand people, which brought about overcrowding of penitentiary institutions designed to hold 9 thousand inmates. In this context in 2019 the authorities announced an additional NZD 98 million-worth plan titled Maori Pathways intended to reduce reimprisonment rates and targeting first and foremost this particular indigenous people.[388]

In connection with the above and due to the media criticism of cases of groundless questioning of minor Maori citizens and the entering of their photographs and contact data in the police files, in early 2021 the New Zealand Police engaged with the New Zealand Institute for Security and Crime Science: Te Puna Haumaru (NZISCS) and the University of Waikato to launch a research project in order to ensure equal approach to citizens and suspects and identify possible unconscious biased attitude towards Maori on the part of law-enforcement officials.

So far, the authorities have been unable to find a comprehensive solution to these issues. At the same time, some experts believe that the root cause of these issues is excessive authorities’ focus on this particular group, which brings about a "vicious circle", in which the expansion of the government support already in place (including material support) produces a reverse effect, causing discontent among the people of European background over the government’s Maori favouritism. As a result, in practice ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples is perceived as infringing the rights of the rest of New Zealanders
(in business, appointment to posts, including the existence of Maori quota in the Parliament, etc.).

This tendency is reciprocal. The Maori believe their rights being infringed and require more attention from the government, while the rest of the country’s population point out it is indigenous people who regard non-indigenous peoples as outsiders and who are the source of most manifestations of everyday racism.

These issues have been recognized by the country’s authorities. In particular, they were stressed by Minister of Justice Andrew Little in January 2019, when the country was undergoing the Universal Periodic Review under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council.

Furthermore, the issue of racism in the country also exists on a larger scale. New Zealand is one of the OECD countries with widest ethnic diversity, with population including representatives of over 200 ethnic groups speaking more than 160 languages. The number of immigrants increases by 50 thousand a year, with the majority coming from China and India. In addition to that, the country annually receives one thousand refugees based on the current quota[389].

Despite the above issues, crimes on the grounds of racism, intolerance, or adherence to Nazi ideology are not considered as separate crimes. The Human Rights Act criminalizes inciting racial disharmony and envisages a sanction of imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or a fine not exceeding NZD 7,000 for the perpetrators, yet so far there has been only one reported case in which this provision has been invoked. Back in 1979, the ultra-right activist was convicted for spreading Judophobic pamphlets. Committing a crime on the grounds of racial hatred is not considered an aggravating circumstance either. Nevertheless, under the Sentencing Act the judges are allowed to deem such illegal actions as grounds for harsher sentences.

Furthermore, criminal legislation to combat hate speech is also insufficient. The Human Rights Act criminalizes publishing materials inciting racial disharmony, however, such cases never become subject of criminal proceedings and are examined by the Human Rights Commission instead.

Matters of combating manifestations of discrimination in the New Zealand’s society fall within the competence of Ministers for Ethnic Communities, Maori Development, Maori Crown Relations, Pacific Peoples, and Whanau Ora. Human Rights Commission continues to operate, and Race Relations Commissioner has been appointed. Furthermore, the government maintains continuous contacts with five major ethnic organizations, consulting them on matter of its social policy. Those are Multicultural New Zealand, New Zealand Chinese Association, New Zealand Indian Central Association, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, and the African Communities Forum Inc.

One can conclude that in general, such phenomena as glorification of Nazism and neo-Nazism are not typical of New Zealand. At the same time, due to the perception of the privileged status of the white race deeply embedded in public consciousness since colonial times, much remains to be done by the government in order to eliminate racism and xenophobia. Structural discrimination against Maori remains the thorniest and the most pressing issue. So far, New Zealand’s authorities have failed to bring its solution closer.

Norway

The Norwegian legislation lacks the concepts of Nazism and neo-Nazism. Thus, these political and social movements are not prohibited by law. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has repeatedly criticized Oslo in this respect, most recently in December 2018[390]. Meanwhile, almost all possible manifestations of Nazism and neo-Nazism are set forth in the Norwegian Criminal Code (§§ 77, 185, 186) and prosecuted as "hate speech" or "discrimination" as to race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual identity, etc., and are also considered as aggravating circumstances. This also applies to cases of displaying Nazi symbols. They are not prohibited by law, however, their use in the context of "hate speech" against specific groups is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 years.

In Norway, due to historic reasons, there is no favorable ground for the growth of popularity of neo-Nazism. In 1940-1945, the country went through the fascist occupation and the collaborationist regime of Vidkun Quisling. Human losses amounted to more than 10 thousand people. Northern Norway where the Nazis used the scorched-earth policy during the retreat, was particularly affected.

The depth of the trauma inflicted on the Norwegian people by the occupation is evidenced by the harsh attitude towards the collaborators after the war. Up to 2% of the population was subjected to various forms of repression, which is one of the highest rates among the countries that went through the stage of post-war purges. According to various estimates, up to 7,000 Norwegians fought on the Nazi side, including up to 6,000 Norwegians on the Soviet-German front in the SS Divisions Wiking and Nordland, in particular the Regiment Norway, the Norwegian SS Ski Battalion and the Norwegian SS Legion, which lost about 900 people. After the war, the Norwegian SS men were mostly sentenced to various terms of correctional labor and temporarily deprived of their civil rights.

Throughout the entire period of occupation of Norway by the pro-Hitler regime, a high level of employment was maintained in the country. According to various sources, from 200 to 500 thousand Norwegians worked in jobs created by the Germans. In the first post-war years, the active participation of Norwegians in providing for the economic needs of the Reich was not basically considered reprehensible, and subsequently it was kept secret for a long time
(in particular, by destroying archives indicating the use of prisoners of war in the construction of key infrastructure facilities).

The Norwegian authorities were also ambivalent about the "unofficial" resistance movement, which served as an alternative to the "official" underground Milorg organization (Military organization) headed by the "exiled" government that left together with the Norwegian Royal family and settled in London. One of the main reasons for such an attitude was the cooperation of members of the "unofficial" resistance movement with the Soviet military. As a result, not only were they not adequately rewarded for their contribution to the fight against fascism, but they were often viewed by the authorities in the post-war period as "unreliable elements" and potential "Soviet spies", being subjected to persecution, surveillance, and restrictions on promotion.

Gradual recognition of the merits of the Norwegian partisans were started only by the end of the Cold War. In 1983, King Olav V laid wreaths in honor of the partisans at the memorial steles in Kiberg and Berlevåg (Northern Norway), and in 1992, the partisans were "exonerated" by King Harald V, who laid a wreath at the monument in Kiberg saying: "I'm afraid, we have unfairly brought significant personal burdens to some individuals in the realities of the Cold War, ... with respect, I lay a wreath at the monument to the partisans" (an apology for the previous persecution was never made, although many people in Norway interpret these words this way).

At the same time, according to law enforcement agencies[391], since 1970s, right-wing groups espousing ideas of national and racial exclusivity had periodically emerged in Norway. As a rule, they were short-lived and small. The most famous ones were Boot Boys, Norwegian Front, National People's Party, German Army of Norway, Cells of Armed Aryans, Terror of White Aryans, Viking, Zorn 88, etc. By the mid-1990s, the number of active supporters of right-wing radical ideas reached its peak. By some estimates, back then there were about 200 supporters.

Later on, there was a clear anti-immigrant bias in the right-wing milieu, which increased as the influx of refugees and displaced persons from Asia, Africa and the Middle East grew. Today, right-wing extremists almost do not advocate the ideas of "classical" anti-communism, having replaced it mainly with anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic rhetoric as well as with criticism of the left-wing Norwegian political forces aimed at improving the situation of migrants.

Despite the official rejection of neo-Nazi ideology, in practice the Norwegian authorities adhere to a fairly liberal policy towards neo-Nazi movements and organizations, which, for reasons of respect for freedom of expression (freedom of speech), are given the opportunity to hold public events and marches, including demonstrations of Nazi symbols. There were cases when the police did not prevent unauthorized marches of the far-right in order to "avoid violence", however, used force against protesters, referring to the fact that the allegedly "aggressive" behavior of anti-fascists threatened public order.

Norwegian far-right organizations are highly fragmented. Low-active cells are found throughout the country with the majority of supporters of the right-wing extremism concentrated in the southern part of the country – in the region around Oslo (up to 70%, while in Oslo itself this figure amounts to less than 10%) and along the southern coast. The portrait of an average right-wing extremist in Norway is as follows – it is a man of 30-40 years of age with a low level of education, often from a small town located rather far from the administrative, cultural, etc. center, burdened with problems in his personal life (single, unemployed) and social vices (alcoholism, drug addiction, criminal record), often with mental disabilities.

In general, law enforcement agencies believe that the process and mechanisms of radicalization of the right-wing extremists and Islamists are largely similar, while right-wing radicals are distinguished by an older average age.

The most organized neo-Nazi group is the Norwegian branch of the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) led by T.Olsen[392] and registered in 2011. The movement is coordinated from Sweden (where it is most active) and is also represented in Finland, Denmark and Iceland.

The NRM has a strict hierarchy and strict internal structure with membership fees and an age limit (16 years). Its ideology is based on the theory of the "world Jewish conspiracy". Its adherents consider themselves national socialists. The organization advocates the establishment of the national socialist state within the borders of the Nordic and, if possible, Baltic countries, the purity of the "Nordic race" and is against "globalist structures" including NATO, EU, the European economic area, it calls to combat "the Jewish-Zionist conspiracy" and also professes the cult of self-sacrifice and healthy life style. In 2020-2021, anti-vaxxing became a new element of the NRM ideology – the organization's supporters have been spreading conspiracy theories about coronavirus, opposing the introduction of severe restrictions against the pandemic and vaccination with "untested" drugs.

According to a rough estimate, the "core" of the NRM activists in Norway consists of 30-40 people aged 20 to 60 years (in comparison, in Sweden, the NRM supporters amount to up to 300 people), most of them are known to law enforcement agencies for their participation in other radical groups in the past, they have were tried for various criminal offences.

The NRM members participate in neo-Nazi demonstrations (mainly in Sweden and Finland, with demonstrations usually involving activists from all country offices, regardless of their location), are engaged in pasting up posters and distributing leaflets, organize joint trips and training to "improve" and rally participants. There is active propaganda aimed at young people: according to reports posted on the website of the NRM Norwegian branch, its members regularly distribute leaflets and post posters calling for joining the organization near high schools.

Meanwhile, activists of the movement act publicly and do not hide their identity, they avoid clearly violent methods of combating (although they do not completely abandon them). Similar to political parties, the NRM organizes "educational" and "family" events, summer camps for young people. According to law enforcement agencies, some increase in the NRM activity is not excluded in the future (mainly due to the anti-migrant factor), as a result, the group will act in a more aggressive way.

Despite quite aggressive rhetoric (calls to "join the fight", the use of paramilitary terms when describing the hierarchy of the organization, accusations of "falseness" by the authorities, etc.), most of the NRM actions are formally carried out within legal framework, which limits the ability of law enforcement agencies to counter them. The activists appeal to the principles of freedom of expression and assembly in order to hold demonstrations and distribute propaganda materials. Any attempts by law enforcement agencies or ideological opponents to disrupt their events are declared "gross violations" of freedom of speech and disrespect for pluralism of opinions.

The NRM actions are often provocative, however, due to the "tolerance" of the Norwegian legislation they rarely end up with court judgements. For example, on the anniversary of the beginning of the German occupation of Norway on 9 April 2018, activists in several cities hung banners and leaflets with the image of swastikas and the text saying "We are back!". Three NRM members, including T.Olsen, who participated in an action in Kristiansand were found guilty of inciting hatred by the trial court and sentenced to pay fines, however, after appealing the verdict, all charges against them were dropped.

In August 2019, the most radical participants separated from the NRM due to disagreements over working methods used by the NRM and established a new organization called "Nordic Force" with H.Forvald, the former head of the Norwegian NRM, as one of its leaders. The organization advocates a "return to the roots", i.e. the refusal of parliamentary methods of promoting their ideas. The exact number of participants is unknown. In the future, the organization is planning to make it possible for those supporters who for some reason cannot act openly under their own names to become "anonymous members". Throughout 2020-2021, the activity of the "Nordic Force" has been low compared to the NRM which has been more active significantly.

Recently, Stop Islamization of Norway organization (Stopp islamiseringen av Norge, SIAN) has been active in the country, opposing the growing migration to Norway, especially from the Muslim countries. The organization has been operating since 2000, having changed several names during its existence (SIAN – since 2008). Its leader is L.Thorsen[393].

The SIAN ideology is based on the idea of countering the spread of Islam and its ideas in Norway under the pretext that this religion is "a political ideology in religious guise and poses a threat to the peace and freedom of Western countries". Meanwhile, the organization objects to classifying itself as a Nazi one, stating that it distances itself from racism, that it is committed to democratic and humanistic values, and that its "opponent" is not Muslims who are the "first victim of Islam" themselves, but its political and religious ideology. At the same time, the public and most representatives of the major political forces in Norway consider SIAN a far-right radical organization.

The SIAN does not disclose the number of its members. Although the organization's Facebook page has more than 10,000 subscribers, experts believe that the actual number of its active members does not exceed 400. The majority (over 40%) of the SIAN supporters support the most right-wing parliamentary party in Norway, the Progress Party, a slightly smaller proportion (about 30%) support even more radical, marginal anti-migrant parties Democrats, the Independence Party, and the Alliance.

Similar to the NRM, the SIAN seeks to "legitimize" its views by appealing to the principle of freedom of expression. The organization conducts regular demonstrations, mainly in the cities located in the south of the country, distributes leaflets, and conducts active information work on social networks. Most SIAN demonstrations provoke its opponents who seek to interfere with holding actions in every possible way (for instance, by surrounding the venue and trying to "shout down" the SIAN representatives who are speaking). Occasionally, there are clashes against this background. The most notorious episodes are related to the SIAN actions in 2019-2021 during which the organization's activists burned the Quran and spat on it, and tore it apart.

In 2019, a similar provocation was followed by a harsh reaction from the authorities of Turky (the Turkish Foreign Ministry published a press release on its website condemning the provocation), Iran and Pakistan (heads of Norwegian diplomatic missions were summoned to the Foreign Ministries of the two countries) and a series of demonstrations in a number of Turkish and Pakistani cities with the burning of Norwegian flags. After that, the authorities had to take public steps. Minister of Justice J.Kallmyr and State Secretary of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry J.F.Holte distanced themselves from the SIAN actions, having called them provocative while at the same time regarding them "a legal manifestation of the freedom of speech". The Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor, which provides mobile communication services in Pakistan, also issued a press release condemning the action.

In August 2020, during the SIAN demonstrations in Oslo and Bergen, the organization's opponents held counter-demonstrations, during which, among other things, they attempted to attack activists, police officers protecting them and special police vehicles (they threw stones and other objects at vehicles and police officers; one police officer was injured by a blow to his face with a stick). As a result, the police repeatedly used tear gas against the SIAN opponents, and several of them were detained for "inciting unrest" and resisting the police. At the same time, a number of politicians (mostly opposition ones) and activists criticized law enforcement officers for "too harsh a response" and the use of tear gas in densely populated areas where demonstrations were held.

In light of the recent outbursts of violence that have accompanied the SIAN rallies, consideration is being given to banning these actions in crowded places, primarily in residential neighborhoods.

To give the organization additional "democratic legitimacy", the SIAN made several attempts to embed itself in the political process by participating in prestigious national political events (for instance, it tried to take part in the Arendal week which is a series of socio-political and business seminars, discussions, and speeches by prominent cultural figures, held every August and in many ways setting the tone for the new political season), however, each time after a negative public reaction it was rejected.

Other existing right-wing groups are mostly marginalized and inactive, the most prominent ones are Soldiers of Odin, Pegida, Vigrid, Norwegian Defence League, Fatherland Party, Norwegian People's Party, Stop Migration, White Electoral Alliance, Patriots of Norway, Democrats, the Alliance. At the same time, there is a growing popularity (especially among young people) of international ideological movements such as the "identarists" ("the new right") and the "alternative right" in Norway.

Despite the low popularity of the national socialist ideology in Norway and a small number of local neo-Nazis, the authorities are concerned about their activities. In its 2021 report, the Police Security Service draws attention to a likely increase in the number of right-wing extremists in 2021, attributing it to the availability of propaganda on the Internet, socioeconomic hardship, and increased isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the intelligence service noted an increase in the number of Norwegians expressing support for right-wing terror attacks. There is an increase in right-wing extremist sentiment which depends on the number of refugees and immigrants from the Muslim countries (today, their number has decreased) and there are signs of increased cooperation between representatives of the neo-Nazi environment in Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

Norwegian law enforcement agencies are particularly concerned about the trend of neo-Nazi and racist ideology moving "to the grassroots level", where isolated individuals are radicalized on the Internet and, often using encrypted messages on closed sites, are virtually untraceable. The classic example is the neo-Nazi A.Breivik, who in 2011 committed the largest terror attacks in the history of Norway in Oslo and on the island of Utøya, in protest against the "excessively soft" migration policy of the Norwegian authorities (77 people killed and more than 150 injured). Before the attacks, he distributed a 1,500-page Manifesto outlining his views that he continued promoting duringthe public trial. The court found him sane and sentenced him to 21 years in prison.

In August 2019, his follower Philip Manshaus, a fan of V.Quisling, who was about to join the NRM, killed his half-sister of Chinese origin for racist reasons and attempted an attack on a mosque in the suburbs of Oslo. In June 2020, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison and about $80,000 in restitution.

After the high-profile crime committed by Ph.Manshaus, the Norwegian security services began to consider right-wing extremism as one of the main terrorist threats to Norwegian society along with radical Islam (up to June 2019, attacks by right-wing extremists were assessed as "unlikely)". In this regard, an Action Plan to Combat Racism and Discrimination on Ethnic and Religious Grounds and a special Action Plan to Combat Discrimination and Hate against Muslims were presented.

Incidents involving the use of Nazi symbols in the public sphere have recently taken place in Norwegian public life. In February 2018, the use of the image of the Torah rune in the uniform of the Norwegian ski team caused a media outcry. Photos of team members in this uniform were published. It was reported that the manufacturer of the uniform decided to ignore the fact that this symbol was used by the Norwegian NRM branch and had previously been used by German Nazi structures. The Norwegian Ski Federation stated that the uniform would not be changed and suggested that the players themselves choose whether to wear it or not.

One of the illustrative examples of Norway’s tougher approaches to right-wing radicals is the detention and deportation from Norway in November 2019 in the interests of "preventing the radicalization of the population" of the American nationalist G.Johnson, who planned to speak at the conference on "Human Biodiversity" held by the right-wing organization Scandza Forum (based in Bergen) in Oslo (in July 2017, he freely took part in a similar event held by Scandza Forum in Norway; previously, he expressed sympathy for A.Breivik).

Despite the increased attention of law enforcement agencies to manifestations of right-wing extremism (since 2015, the number of cases prosecuted for related offenses has more than tripled), this phenomenon is far from being eradicated. According to available data, Norwegian society still has negative attitudes toward members of certain nationalities and ethnic groups. For example, up to 20-30% of the country's population would not like to have Roma or Muslims as their neighbors.

In general, the attitude towards manifestations of neo-Nazism in Norway remains negative. The society continues to reject fascism. The authorities of the country do not allow the glorification of Nazism, former members of the SS, including the Waffen-SS.

Norway officially emphasizes the principle of non-participation in any actions to search for and rebury the remains of the Norwegians who fought in the Wehrmacht. The Norwegian Red Cross initiative put forward in 2017 to open a "place for remembrance" of the Norwegian Waffen-SS legionnaires in the country at the expense of the state under the pretext that the Geneva Conventions for the Protection of War Victims provide for the obligation to facilitate the access of relatives of the deceased to the places of their burial, have not found support from the public and authorities.

The country does not accept, especially at the official level, the desecration or destruction of monuments to the fighters against Nazism and its victims[394], the authorities support the building of new monuments[395]. Numerous graves and memorials to Soviet soldiers who died in Nazi concentration camps in Norway (12,678 people) are maintained in decent condition at the expense of the state. Where necessary, restoration and modernization work is carried out. On a regular basis, especially on the anniversaries of the Victory over fascism, ceremonial events with the participation of local authorities and the public are held near the memorials. The care for Soviet monuments is particularly noticeable in Northern Norway which was liberated by the Red Army in 1944. In October 2019, the 75th anniversary of this event was solemnly and widely celebrated. The King of Norway and the highest political leadership of the country participated in the events. Russia was represented by Sergey Lavrov. In May 2020, for the first time in many years the Norwegian Foreign Minister took part in a joint wreath-laying ceremony with the Russian Ambassador at the monument at the grave of Soviet soldiers in Oslo.

To "restore justice", the authorities have, in fact, exonerated such a phenomenon of the occupation times as love affairs between numerous Norwegian women and Hitler’s soldiers.

In 2018, Norwegian Prime Minister E.Solberg made an official apology on behalf of the government for the postwar persecution of the Norwegian women who had relations with German soldiers during the occupation. E.Solberg called such actions "unlawful" and contrary to the basic principle of the rule of law, according to which no one should be considered a criminal without trial or tried outside the law.

According to Norwegian estimates, about 40-50 thousand Norwegian women had relations with Germans, which is about 10 per cent of the entire Norwegian female population aged 18-35. As a result of such contacts, about 10-12 thousand children were born.

After the War, society's attitude towards these women was sharply negative: they had often had their hair publicly shorn off and they were led through streets in disgrace. Many of them were arrested and placed in internment camps for forced labor. The country experienced a wave of layoffs and suicides. The women who had married German men during the occupation were deported, mainly to Germany (a practice that continued until 1947), and for a long time they were deprived of the right to return. In addition, the deportees were deprived of their Norwegian citizenship, which was a unique case in Norwegian history for it was a measure that had never been used before and has never been used later.

At the same time, while declaring all extremist ideologies, including neo-Nazism, unacceptable, Oslo does not change its approach to the Russian resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance". The Norwegian delegation has been traditionally abstaining from voting on this document at the UN General Assembly.

In May 2020, the Norwegian parliament ignored the appeal of the Federation Council to foreign parliaments to support the initiative to recognize the Victory over Nazism as the global heritage of humankind, and monuments to the fighters against Nazism in all countries as a common universal memorial to humanity.

In November 2020, during preparations for a vote on Russia's resolution on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, Norway was among the states that succeeded in having the reference to the "inadmissibility of desecration or destruction of monuments erected in remembrance of those who fought in that war on the side of the United Nations" removed from its text.

The theses about the alleged equal responsibility of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union for the outbreak of World War II, about the fact that the Eastern European countries actually lost their independence as a result of the war, that "the end of the war in Europe could be celebrated only with the fall of the Berlin Wall," and that "real freedom came after the collapse of the totalitarian Soviet project" are becoming more and more widespread in Norway (such ideas are promoted, for example, by the management of the Resistance Museum in Oslo).

On the Norwegian Liberation and Veterans Day which is celebrated on May 8, officials in their speeches have been more often shifting the emphasis to praising NATO, Norway's participation in international military operations, including bypassing the UN, and calling to "strengthen the transatlantic link" (with Russia being implied as the "source of threat").

In Norwegian school textbooks there is a primitivization of military history (the role of the USSR is reflected in a "compressed form," with only the Battle of Stalingrad and the Normandy landing mentioned as "breakthrough" Allied offensives). The liberation of Western Europe by U.S. and British forces ("brought democracy") is contrasted with the Soviet Union's liberation of Eastern Europe (after the suppression of fascism, "the influence of another totalitarian current that threatened democracy grew").

In April 2021, the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK aired a four-part documentary about the Norwegians who fought on the Eastern Front for the Axis countries. It was co-produced by the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Culture and the Norwegian Film Institute. The film tells the story of seven Norwegian SS men who fought against the Red Army as well as with the Yugoslav partisans, with first-person accounts of their "battle merits" accompanied by artistic inserts with a "reconstruction" of wartime events. The "front-line men" who appeared in the film denied participating in executions of civilians and shootings of prisoners of war, claimed that they "defended Norwegian interests," fought against "the expansion of Bolshevism rather than for Hitler," and spoke contemptuously of the Red Army soldiers. The historians who participated in the film also called "not to condemn but to try to understand the motives of the front-line soldiers," in fact justifying their joining the Nazi forces by the political context – the prewar "fear" of communists, "the totalitarian regime of Lenin and Stalin," the "repressions" of the NKVD in Poland, the Soviet-German "partition" of Europe, and deeply rooted anti-Semitic attitudes "in the East".

The film's release provoked a barrage of criticism from experts and the Jewish community, with even historians who had participated in the project joining in, claiming that their remarks had been "taken out of context". The filmmakers and the NRK were accused of "humanizing" war criminals and propaganda for Nazism, "dehumanizing" the victims, ignoring evidence of Norwegian complicity in Nazi crimes, lacking critical context, and paying insufficient attention to uncovering the nature of the Holocaust and Hitler's invading plans. The NRK disagreed with the accusations, stressing that one of the goals of the film was to stimulate "further discussion".

Based on the Norwegian historical experience, the authorities continue to pay special attention to monitoring and curbing manifestations of anti-Semitism[396]. For a long time, the deportation of Jews from the country remained a taboo subject. During the occupation about 50% of Norwegian Jews (760 people) with the assistance of local police were deported to Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Poland and 25 returned home alive after the war. This fact was completely hushed up until the early 1980s.

In the 21st century, the interest of historians and the public in the Holocaust and Norwegian involvement in it has grown considerably, allowing to reveal new facts of persecution during World War II. For instance, in 2019, Aftenposten published a series of articles about V.Quisling's role in the extermination of Norwegian Jews. With references to archival sources, they argued that V.Quisling was highly likely aware of Nazi plans for them, however, deliberately took no action to protect them. During the trial after the War, he denied any involvement in the arrests and deportations of Jews to Germany, shifting the blame exclusively to the Germans, and was acquitted on this point of the charges (found guilty only of "unintentional assistance to murder").

There is a government program to combat anti-Semitism with a focus on prevention in schools, on social media, and in the media (in particular, experiments with electronic tools for detecting anti-Semitic sentiments are being conducted). In January 2021, another plan under this program for the period 2021-2023 was adopted, with additional funding for Jewish community outreach and greater Norwegian input into relevant international efforts to combat anti-Semitism. Structures that study the history of the occupation, anti-Semitism in Norway and its current trends (the Oslo Center for Holocaust and Religious Minorities Studies, the Falstad Center for Memory and Human Rights) have been established with official support and have been operating. The authorities estimate that the measures taken, albeit slowly, are having an effect: the level of anti-Semitism in Norway is gradually decreasing (by 4% in the period 2012-2017).

The country is facing an increase in hate speech, including on the Internet. Manifestations of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are not uncommon.

According to a 2019 report by the Oslo Police Department, there has been a 58% increase in the frequency of hate speech since 2016, and the number of statements targeted at those practising Islam has increased by a factor of 1.5.

In January 2020, the Supreme Court of Norway convicted for the first time the use of hate speech on social media, electing a suspended sentence of 24 days in prison as the penalty.

At the same time, as a result of Islamisation caused by the migration inflow of population and stronger anti-migrant sentiment, the population's attitudes towards certain religions have been deteriorating in general and the religious legislation in particular has been tightened. For instance, in June 2018, the Parliament endorsed the amendments to the Law on Education of 1998, which introduced a ban on wearing face-covering headgear for kindergarten staff and teachers and professors at schools and universities during lectures.

The poll results presented in the report by the Norwegian Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research "Attitude to Discrimination, Equality and Hate Speech"[397] show that 25 per cent of Norwegians consider representatives of certain races "more cultured", 39 per cent believe those coming from Somalia will never become "true Norwegians", 22 per cent say the same about Swedes, while 16 per cent say that about black people. 33 per cent of the respondents fear of passing by a group of Muslim-looking people, 35 per cent believe that a woman wearing a hijab cannot expect to be treated equally. 38 per cent of the respondents would not like to have Gypsies as neighbours and 16 per cent say the same about Muslims.

Surveys conducted by the Center for Holocaust Studies in 2017 showed that 75 per cent of Norwegian Jews fear discrimination and hostile actions. 8.3 per cent of respondents display prejudice against Jews, among Norwegian Muslims this figure is 28.9 per cent.

The situation with exercising the rights of the indigenous people of the country, the Sami, who compactly live in three Northern counties – Finnmark, Troms, and Nordland – is complicated. In June 2019, the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation of Norway submitted a report on the state of the Sami language, culture and social life to the Storting[398].

The report revealed numerous negative trends in the Sami community which have not yet been overcome by the authorities. Thus, the population in the areas of compact settlement of the Sami remains relatively stable[399]. However, the proportion of older persons in these areas is higher than in the rest of Norway and the population is maintained due to the inflow of migrants of non-Sami origin[400]. The pure Sami population is expected to keep declining up to 2030.

Among the Sami, especially among men, the per centage of persons who have received higher education is lower than national average. The same trends are applied to the secondary education (not all of the Sami people complete their education).

The level of violence in the Sami community is high. Surveys show that up to 45 per cent of Sami have at some point been subjected to violence (compared to 29 per cent in the rest of Norway).

Figures showing the level of Sami discrimination in different spheres are even worse. According to Sami sources, it is 10 times higher in comparison with the discrimination of the Norwegian population (35 per cent vs 3,5 per cent). Sami face negative attitude on social networks and in the media.

A separate chapter of the report is devoted to the state of and trends in the development of the Sami language[401]. The report states its weaker positions as the languages are gradually being eroded by the Norwegian "inclusions". The small number of native speakers of the Sami language is also noted. The report also shows that linguistic problem affects social sphere, for instance, health care, social care, etc. Even in Sami areas, there is a lack of correct diagnosis of diseases due to insufficient training of medical staff in using professional terminology in the Sami language.

Concerning the situation on the whole, human rights defenders note that although the authorities make significant efforts to "redeem themselves" in the eyes of Sami and national minorities (Kvens/Norwegian Finns, Jews, Forest Finns, Gypsies/Roma, Tater/Romani) that became "victims" of Oslo policy on their assimilation, recently, the Sami rights have often been violated, especially in relation to industrial projects in their traditional territories.

The NIM reports[402] have repeatedly noted that representatives of national minorities, especially women and children, are still facing the manifestations of discrimination. Gypsies feel disadvantaged on the housing and labour markets, they complain about the lack of opportunities to study their native language. For Jews, statements inciting to hatred and other manifestations of anti-Semitism are the main problem. Kvens/Norwegian Finns face difficulties with getting education in their native language and with a lack of published media in it, while Forest Finns have difficulties with the preservation of their culture on the whole.

On the other hand, Norway takes certain measures to support the languages, cultures and ways of life of national minorities. In 2018, the Storting set up a Commission to investigate the "Norwegianisation" (or assimilation) policy that was practiced towards Kvens/Norwegian Finns and Sami, which is due to submit a report on this issue by 1 September 2022. In February 2020, public hearings on amendments to the Sami Act aimed at enshrining in a separate chapter the responsibility of the authorities to consult with the Sami Parliament on issues related to the indigenous people, were completed.

On 12 May 2020, the Norwegian Ministry of Culture submitted a draft Language Act to Parliament. It should be noted that the current legislation has already suggested a more detailed determination of the position of the Sami languages in relation to the Norwegian language. However, it is the first time they will receive an official clarified status of "indigenous languages" at the national level. The draft Act emphasises the equal status of the Norwegian and Sami languages. Kven, Finnish, the Gypsy language and Romani will receive an official status of "minority languages". It is also suggested that the Norwegian Sign Language (unlike the International Sign Language) be established as a "state sign language".

Experts and representatives of relevant NGOs agree that the document is "positive" in this respect. The new requirement to use an accessible, 'non-bureaucratic' language in law-making and communication with the public, which takes into account the target audience of the document, is also welcomed. According to the authorities, this regulation should increase public awareness of the Norwegian legislation and help digitalize public services and the transition to electronic document management.

Recently, in Norway, there have been occurring manifestations of negative attitude to the immigrants from Russia. Russian origin can be the ground for the denial of admission to military service to the citizens called up for duty, ignoring employment application forms, unreasonable searches, detentions and deportations, and offensive treatment in public places[403].

The above facts show that xenophobia and intolerance are currently among the problematic aspects of the Norwegian human rights record. This is largely due to the dissatisfaction among the population with the policy pursued by the official authorities in the field of migration. It is precisely Islamophobia and migrant-phobia that lie at the heart of the ideology of right-wing radical groups operating in the country, which, despite official statements about the rejection of Nazism, are still not banned by law.  

Poland

Warsaw pursues an intensive campaign focused on rewriting history, denying the decisive contribution of the Red Army in the defeat of Hitlerite Germany and eliminating the Soviet/Russian memorial legacy in Poland. In line with this logic, measures are taken to erase the memory of the decisive role of the Red Army not only in liberating Poland, but also in saving the Polish people from physical destruction by the Nazis from public consciousness. The idea of Poland as the main victim of "two totalitarianisms" and equal responsibility of the USSR and Hitlerite Germany for the outbreak of the Second World War
(a relevant resolution was even adopted by the Polish Sejm for these purposes) is promoted. The main emphasis is made not even on the attack of the Third Reich on Poland on 1 September 1939, but on the "Soviet invasion of Poland" on September 17 1939 that allegedly led to the final loss of independence and partition of the Polish state. In 2020, Polish President Andrzej Duda made the following statement speaking at the events commemorating this date: "81 years ago, a free and independent Poland was destroyed, 81 years ago, German and Soviet invaders destroyed the existence of the Polish state."[404]

At the same time, efforts are undertaken to glorify members of the Polish armed anti-Soviet and anti-communist underground resistance movement "Cursed Sodiers"[405] operating in 1944-early 1950s as heroes of the "national liberation struggle"[406], whose remembrance day is celebrated on 1 March. The idea is promoted, including at the State level, that these "underground heroes" played a major role in achieving the freedom and independence allegedly gained by Poland only at the turn of the 1980s-1990s[407]. Speaking at the events commemorating this day in 2021, Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak said the following: "…we are remembering the heroes, without whose determination, unbreakable will and loyalty we would not have a sovereign, truly free and independent Poland today."[408]

 In addition, the "fighters against communism" who compromised themselves by collaborating with the Nazis and being involved in war crimes and the murder of civilians are openly glorified. In August 2020, Warsaw held commemorative events dedicated to the founding of the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade of the Polish National Armed Forces.[409] The voivode of the Masovian Voivodeship took part in the celebration as a representative of the Polish Prime Minister.[410]

For the past six years, the town of Hajnówka (Podlasie Voivodeship) has been hosting a march commemorating the Cursed Soldiers organized by Polish nationalists every February. Participants of the march praise Romuald Rajs ("Bury" or "Brown") and Józef Kuraś ("Ogień" or "Fire")[411] chanting nationalist slogans. Residents of Hajnówka (overwhelmingly ethnic Belarusians) severely condemn such events. In 2017 and 2019, the town authorities unsuccessfully tried to ban the march (the court overturned the relevant decisions of the town authorities referring to the Law on Public Meetings).[412] In February 2020, Hajnówka hosted the fifth such march.[413] In February 2021, nationalists planned another one, but the social activists booked all possible dates and places that could be used to host it for other events.[414] The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly denounced the plans to organize the march on 27 February 2021 in its statement, saying, in particular, that "right-wing events held in the areas densely populated by ethnic Belarusians in Poland are an open and cynical insult to the memory of the victims of the Cursed Soldiers gangs and an undisguised pandering to the glorification of Nazism".[415] One of the so-called heroes, captain Romuald Rajs, who led the attacks on the villages inhabited by the Belarusians near Bielsk Podlaski 75 years ago, causes particular indignation. "He is responsible for hundreds of killed and wounded civilians, whose only fault was being Belarusian," reads the statement.[416] In February 2021, representatives of Belarusian diplomatic and consular missions in Poland along with representatives of local authorities and the public laid wreaths in remembrance of the Belarusian victims of Brown (namely in Hajnówka) killed in 1946.[417]

Nevertheless, nationalists organized a motor rally from Hajnówka to the nearby village of Narewka and placed flowers at the Cursed Soldiers memorial sites along the way.[418] On 28 February 2021, Jerzy Timofeyuk, Consul of the Republic of Poland in Brest (Republic of Belarus) took part in an event commemorating the Cursed Soldiers arranged by representatives of non-governmental and youth organizations associated with Poland, including the Brest Forum of Polish Local Initiatives. The Brest Prosecutor’s Office opened a criminal investigation into the event glorifying war criminals.[419] The Belarusian authorities expressed their outrage at the actions of the Polish consular officer that had violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and suggested that he leave the Republic of Belarus.[420] Warsaw claimed that the response of the Belarusian authorities was unjustified.[421]

On 1 March 2021, the march commemorating the Cursed Soldiers held in Warsaw gathered several dozens of people chanting "Not red, not rainbow but national Poland, first with a sickle, then with a hammer, hit the red rabble".[422]

The Polish authorities continue their "war" against the monuments and memorials of gratitude to Soviet soldiers becoming a "leader" in this anti-Russian campaign to destroy monuments. These actions are presented as implementing the law "On the Prohibition of Propaganda of Communism or Other Totalitarian System" of 1 April 2016 (with subsequent amendments).[423] In accordance with its provisions, monuments to Soviet liberators are removed from public space as "symbolizing communism" or "propagandizing" this system. Around two dozen monuments were destroyed from 2019 to the first half of 2020. Thus, Poland continues to violate its international obligations arising from the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Poland on Friendly and Good-Neighbourly Cooperation of 22 May 1992, the intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in the fields of culture, science and education of 25 August 1993, and on war memorials and places of memory of victims of war and repression of 22 February 1994. The monuments are removed not only through demolition, but also through their depersonalization (i.e. by removing references to the Red Army soldiers in whose honor the monuments were erected) or changes to their appearance and nature. In 2020, it came to light that 5 Soviet memorials located outside the burials in Leszno, Szamotuły, the Rzeczyn and Sokołowo villages (Greater Poland Voivodeship) and Wieluń (Łódź Voivodeship) had been destroyed.[424] 10 acts of vandalism against the Soviet burials in Jelenia Góra and Wrocław (Lower Silesian Voivodeship), Gniezno, Poznań and Wolsztyn (Greater Poland Voivodeship), Chełmża and Brodnica (Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship), Kędzierzyn-Koźle (Opole Voivodeship), including two cases in Starachowice (Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship) were reported. Two cases of vandalism against the Soviet monuments in Ogrodzieniec (Silesian Voivodeship) and the Kunovice village (Lubusz Voivodeship) were registered in 2020.

The inventory of Soviet monuments located outside burials in Poland carried out by the Russian Embassy in 2020-2021 revealed 9 more monuments allegedly destroyed in 2019-2021 (i.e. after the previous inventory taken in 2018). Monuments in the Baszków village (Greater Poland Voivodeship), the Bińcze and Radowo Wielkie villages (West Pomeranian Voivodeship), Wrocław and Ścinawa (Lower Silesian Voivodeship), Krzanowice (Silesian Voivodeship), the Patrzyków village (Łódź Voivodeship), and the Wilków settlement and Józefów (Lublin Voivodeship) were demolished or depersonalized.

Therefore, since the late 1990s, Poland has destroyed most memorials to Soviet soldiers, leaving just over 100 monuments out of 561.

In December 2020, the voivode ordered to rename a street[425] in Inowrocław (Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship) previously named after Guard Lieutenant Ivan Aleinikov (Iwan Alejnikow in Polish), Hero of the Soviet Union, commander of the T-34 tank of the First Tank Battalion of the 66th Vapniarka Red Banner and Suvorov Guards Tank Brigade (12th Guards Uman Red Banner and Suvorov Tank Division, Second Guard Tank Army, First Belarusian Front), who was killed in January 1945 in the battles for the city.

In the early months of 2021, it was reported that monuments to the soldiers-liberators in Wysokie Mazowieckie (Podlasie Voivodeship) and Lesko (Subcarpathian Voivodeship) had been destroyed.

The Polish authorities do not impede the holding of events commemorating the Red Army, nor do they usually take part in them. Given that the events of World War II are interpreted in the spirit of a theory of "equal responsibility of the Soviet and German totalitarian regimes" and "two occupations", the liberation of Poland by the Red Army during World War II is never spoken about.

The resolution of the Polish Senate (upper house of the Parliament) of 13May 2020 includes a paragraph with a distorted interpretation, according to which "On 8 May 1945, World War II, the largest and bloodiest military conflict in the history of humanity waged by two criminal totalitarian regimes, the German Nazism and the Soviet communism, came to an end."[426]

On 14 May 2020, the Polish Sejm (lower house of the Parliament) adopted a resolution on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe that states, among other things, that the Second World War was unleashed by "two totalitarian regimes, the Nazi Germany and the communist Soviet Union… Despite the fact that in 1945, the entire world celebrated the defeat of the Hitlerite Germany, the end of World War II did not bring freedom to the Central and Eastern European States, but new dependency and communist slavery".[427]

The activities of private Polish entities add extra touches to the distorted picture of history. For example, in September 2020, it became known that Polish company DDay Miniature Studio, which produces figurines of soldiers of the First and Second World Wars, presented a new collection of figurines titled "Red Storm over Europe". It depicted Soviet soldiers as marauders. That collection caused an outrage among the Russian public.

"These toys seem harmless, but they add extra touches to the distorted picture of history painted by the West. They are on a par with the 2019 European Parliament resolution, wall calendars with pictures of the leaders of the Third Reich, the mockery of monuments to Soviet warlords and soldiers-liberators in Poland and the Czech Republic, and irresponsible statements of political leaders," said Alexander Shkolnik, Deputy Secretary of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and director of the Victory Museum in Moscow.[428]

The situation is also aggravated by occasional products with Nazi symbols or publication of works of the Nazis. For instance, January 2021 saw the second edition of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf published in Poland (the first was published in the early 1990s) under the guise of an academic edition. This fact aroused indignation in Poland itself. In an interview to Zvezda TV channel, head of the KURSK association Jerzy Tyc said that the publication of Hitler's banned autobiography Mein Kampf in Poland is a crime and a mockery, stating the intention of his organization to refer this matter to the competent Polish authorities. He noted that Poles were willingly buying the book, bragging about that on social media.[429] The two-volume book contains 5,000 commentaries by experts and historians.[430] It is decorated in the colors of the Nazi symbols. The entire print run of two thousand copies was sold out almost as soon as it went on sale. Afterwards, the owner of the XXL publishing house, which had prepared the Polish version of the book, announced that they were thinking about printing more copies. In addition to that, Polish law does not allow withdrawal of the book from circulation. For example, in Poland, public advocacy of fascism is punishable by imprisonment, but the Polish prosecutor could intervene only if Mein Kampf were sold by an organization propagating Nazi ideology. The XXL publishing house is not such an organization.[431] According to media reports, the authorities of the federal state of Bavaria, which formally owns the copyright to the book, are making efforts to combat attempts to publish Hitler's works abroad. The German Foreign Ministry assists Bavaria in this endeavor. German diplomatic missions in the countries where Mein Kampf is to be published are exploring ways to prevent the publication or distribution of the book.[432] Similar action is reportedly being taken in this case as well.

Given Warsaw’s policy to glorify Nazi henchmen, the number of extremist and nationalist organizations in the country is on the rise. The Polish mass media quoted the data that the intelligence agencies know around
200 "dangerous neo-Nazis" and the number of neo-Nazi movement activists is estimated at about 600-700 persons. Meanwhile, Polish non-governmental organization Never Again (Nigdy Więcej) cited the figure of several thousand fans of fascism and Nazism and more than 10,000 people under the influence of this ideology. [433]

There are several dozen nationalist organizations operating in Poland that maintain links with kindred entities in other European countries. The largest associations officially registered in Poland include the National Radical Camp (ONR), the All-Polish Youth and the National Movement (RN).[434] Their members maintain close contacts with nationalist organizations in Europe and advocate Poland's exit from the EU, a return of Polish society to traditional values and a strict migration policy.

The ONR held regular firearms training and hand-to-hand combat sessions for Polish youth in special camps until 2019.[435] Radical nationalists from Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary also took part in them. Some of them were subsequently expelled from the country by the Polish Internal Security Agency because of their involvement in extremist and terrorist organizations. That said, such actions are often cited by the Polish authorities as examples of a preventive fight against neo-Nazism.

The ONR activists maintain contacts with Belarusian nationalists who promote the idea of a "common Polish-Belarusian historical heritage" and Polish foundations that promote Polish traditions, culture, history and language in Belarus. Members of the ONR create communities on social networks, in which they urge residents of the western regions of Belarus to indicate their Polish origin in all official documents.

As for Ukrainian nationalists, the Polish right-wing forces have diverging opinions. Most of them (ONR, All-Polish Youth) do not cooperate with Ukrainian radicals due to disputes on historical issues (including the glorification of Ukrainian Insurgent Army fighters in Ukraine).[436] At the same time, there are different attitudes within the country towards certain groups. Some of them have been accused of collaborating with the Russian intelligence agencies that allegedly use nationalists to incite Polish-Ukrainian hatred[437] Meanwhile, in the case of other organizations, there is evidence of their active cooperation with Ukrainian radicals, including participation in the events on Kiev’s Maidan in 2014.[438]

Polish nationalists (ONR, NR, All-Polish Youth) have created an extensive network of Internet portals (including nczas.com, wolnosc24.pl and narodowcy.net) with a total number of approximately 12 million monthly visits and social media communities (mainly on Twitter and Facebook with approximately 1.8 million followers) and use that to spread their ideas and influence within the country, as well as for anti-EU propaganda and promotion of extreme right-wing ideas abroad (in Germany, France, the Netherlands, etc.).[439] For example, the European media have accused Polish nationalists from the NR of creating and sponsoring far-right French Internet portal France Libre 24[440], which is sympathetic to France's National Rally and discredits the EU's migration and climate policy.

A PR agency Cat@Net, run by NR members, spreads misinformation about migrants' crimes against Europeans and the failure of EU migration policy through an extensive network of Internet bots. Such projects are financed by the About Time Foundation[441], which is supported mainly by private donations. According to media reports, Polish agency 6S Media, which produces video content for Polish nationalist Internet news portals and is used, among other things, to spread misinformation, is also associated with the NR.

Poland, however, makes some effort to counter radical nationalists. According to the Polish media, in June 2020, officers of the Internal Security Agency detained four people suspected of manufacturing items (clasps, crosses, banners, stamps, patches, dirks, medals with SS and NSDAP symbols and Hitler images) promoting Nazism.[442]

With reference to the information provided by Maciej Wąsik, Deputy Minister of the Interior and Administration of Poland, the Polish media reported in August 2020 that the police had detained a 26-year-old man who was making a Nazi salute at the anti-LGBT march held in Katowice (Silesian Voivodeship).[443] The detainee was reported by the media with reference to the police statement to have repented.[444] According to the Polish Criminal Code, public propaganda of fascist or other totalitarian regimes is punishable by a fine, or the restriction or deprivation of liberty for up to two years.[445]

Efforts are also made by the civil society. On 28 February 2021, the Supreme Court of Poland issued a ruling in the 4-year proceedings between the ONR members and Robert Koliński, activist of the Left Together (Lewica Razem) party who expressed opposition to a march of Polish neo-Nazis in the city of Elbląg. The radicals filed a lawsuit against Mr.Koliński for his publications stating that the ONR openly referred to its links to a similar pre-war, fascist, antisemitic and racist entity. In the end, the Court rejected the claims against him. It was noted, in particular, that today’s ONR "uses the same symbols and name… [as a] pre-war organisation that was openly fascist". It was also noted that today’s programme of the organization calls for Poland to be "ethnically homogeneous", which is "an important element of fascist views". Accordingly, the Court concluded that Robert Koliński had the right to think so based on the ONR activists’ behavior, slogans, clothes and symbols they used. The activists himself, however, considers it only a partial victory, since the courts did not rule on whether the ONR is fascist or not, just on whether he had the right to call it such. He believes in the need for a further ruling clearly recognizing the ONR as a fascist organization and leading to its banning.[446]

Polish news portal "Polsat News" reported, with reference to German newspaper "Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung", that, according to the German intelligence services, 58 extremists wanted in Germany are hiding in other countries, mainly in the EU, most of them in Austria and Poland.[447]

Public nationalist and neo-Nazi events are still held in Poland. On 11 November 2020, Warsaw hosted the tenth Independence March as part of the Independence Day celebrations[448] (despite the sanitary restrictions). According to Polish news portals "OKO.press" and "Notes from Poland", the demonstration saw clashes with the police and an apartment arson.[449] OKO.press journalist Michał Danielewski noted on Twitter that during the march one could hear shout-outs to Léon Degrelle, Belgian fascist and SS Standartenführer.[450] He made similar observations with regards to the neo-Nazi march organized on the occasion of the Warsaw Uprising anniversary[451] on 1 August 2020.[452]

Furthermore, neo-Nazi entities organize private events. In November 2020, the Polish media reported[453] about a far-right organization called "Club 28" that was part of the Blood and Honour / Combat 18 international network. Its members arrange neo-Nazi music festivals and celebrate Hitler’s birthdays across the world. According to the Polish media, over the past 10 years, this club has organized at least ten such concerts in Poland arranging them in secrecy in small premises.

There are prominent cases involving public and political offices revealed to be held by members of the far-right. On 22 February 2021, President of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN)[454] Jarosław Szarek announced the resignation of Tomasz Greniuch, acting head of the IPN branch in Wroclaw, who had been appointed to that post around two weeks earlier.[455] According to the Polish media, Mr. Greniuch was a former member of a radical nationalist organization, the National Radical Camp. Pictures were found of him giving a Nazi salute.[456] According to Mr. Szarek, Tomasz Greniuch had "apologized repeatedly for that gesture several years ago and considered it a mistake".[457] On 11 February 2020, shortly before his resignation, the Israeli Embassy in Poland went on Twitter to express its surprise and invite Mr. Greniuch to visit the Auschwitz Birkenau Museum[458] designed to "remind the entire world about the dangers of Nazi ideology".[459]

Radicals’ activities in Poland draws the attention of international human rights bodies. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed particular concern about racist organizations in Poland in August 2019.[460]

The continuing climate of intolerance, racism and xenophobia was also pointed out by the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in January 2020. It was also noted that representatives of national minorities believe that both local and central authorities are insufficiently responsive when dealing with statements and acts of violence by extremist groups. In their view, the Polish authorities’ treatment of a particular ethnic group is contingent on Poland's relations with the respective countries.[461]

In 2018, Poland's National Prosecutor's Office stopped publishing statistics on crimes motivated by racial and other intolerance, arguing that such documents contain information for internal official use only. According to a number of human rights activists, the aim is to cover up the sharp increase in such crimes. In August 2019, the Committee against Torture, citing a survey report on the nature and scale of unreported hate crimes produced by OSCE ODIHR and the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed concern about Warsaw's gross underreporting of hate crimes and called on it to take measures to address this situation and to combat discrimination on racial, national and other grounds.[462]

In November 2019, Polish human rights NGO Never Again presented its own annual report (without relevant statistics) on hate crimes committed in 2019, mentioning state and nationalist media, such as TVP Info, Republika Television, Mysl Polska, Radio Maryja and several others, as platforms for spreading chauvinistic and anti-Semitic views. In January 2019, amidst the harassment of the opposition mayor of Gdańsk Pawel Adamowicz by such media, a high-profile tragedy took place: the mayor was murdered by a mentally unstable citizen of Poland.

A shadow monitoring study on the use of hate speech on social media, prepared by Never Again in cooperation with OpCode, noted that a serious problem in Poland is not only the spread of hate speech on social media platforms, but also the lack of response to such manifestations by media giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Statistics show that most reports on hate speech on social media are left unanswered and not properly evaluated by companies, and that such content is not removed.[463]

In March 2021, this human rights organization announced a partnership with Poland's largest advertising platform OLX (owned by South African technological corporation Naspers) to monitor and delete sales of racist, Nazi, fascist and anti-Semitic propaganda items. It is reported that in the first weeks of the partnership, OLX, acting on the recommendations of the Never Again NGO, removed over 600 offers of neo-Nazi products, including Hitler signs and SS badges, as well as anti-Semitic publications.[464]

Furthermore, xenophobia and intolerance against migrants are on the rise in the country. Polish and international human rights NGOs attribute this to the Law and Justice (PiS) national conservative party coming to power in October 2015 and its reforms. These trends are confirmed by data from social surveys. The survey about Poles’ attitude to other nationalities and ethnic groups conducted by the Polish Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS)[465] in February 2021 reveals that 42 per cent of Polish citizens dislike Roma. 46 per cent of respondents confessed their antipathy towards Arabs. The CBOS stresses that sympathy towards Ukrainians, Belarusians and Jews (43 per cent, 47 per cent and 38 per cent respectively) prevails over the antipathy (expressed by 26 per cent, 17 per cent and 29 per cent of respondents respectively). At the same time, there is a decline in antipathy towards Arabs (by 9 per cent), Belarusians (by 8 per cent), Russians and Ukrainians (by 7 per cent), as well as Jews (by 1 per cent) compared to March 2020.[466]

Despite the above-mentioned decrease in antipathy towards certain ethnic minorities, the overall situation in this field remains alarming. Provocative manifestations against the Belarusian national minority continue. On 23 February 2020, in celebration of the Cursed Soldiers Day, national radicals once again held a march in Hajnówka (Podlasie Voivodeship), where a significant number of Orthodox Belarusians live, whose ancestors were victims of the Polish anti-communist underground movement in the postwar period, despite protests from local residents. In February 2021, unable to hold a march on a similar occasion due to the actions of activists, the radicals arranged a motor rally.

On 9 February 2020, seven locals in Torun beat up five citizens of Belarus, Poland, Russia and Ukraine for speaking Russian. This incident is largely a consequence of the Russophobia cultivated by the political elites in the Polish society.

Due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Poland, aggression against East and South-East Asians has increased. In May 2020, the Never Again NGO published a report listing the most egregious cases. For example, on 28 February 2020, wedding dress shop assistants in Warsaw refused service to two female customers from Indonesia for fear of being infected. On 1 March 2020, in Wrocław, priest Leonard Wilczynski said during a service that "the Chinese are unclean, they eat bats and dead fetuses". On 8 March 2020, a group of locals in Wrocław beat up a Polish citizen of Chinese descent who had lived in the country for 25 years and is a well-known chef in the city.

A survey[467] conducted for the World Economic Forum by international research firm Ipsos in February 2021 showed that 32 per cent of the Poles believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on national minorities. Almost half of the Poles indicated noted that during the pandemic, members of these groups experienced more discrimination in various areas of life, including social services (52 per cent), education (47 per cent) and employment (56 per cent). At the same time, 31 per cent of respondents from racial and ethnic minority groups mentioned limited access to employment, while 29 per cent and 31 per cent had faced difficulties in education and social services respectively.[468]

There is still a high level of anti-Semitism in Poland. According to the Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration, the level of anti-Semitism in the country rose significantly from 30 recorded incidents in 2010 to 179 in 2018, before dropping slightly to 128 incidents.[469] It should also be noted that the fact that anti-Semitic attitudes are spreading in the country is acknowledged in the Polish society itself. According to the 2018 study by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights on "Experiences and Perceptions of Anti-Semitism", the survey on discrimination and hatred against Jews in the EU indicated that 89 per cent of Polish respondents of Jewish descent considered racism in the country a "very serious problem". About half of those surveyed said they had encountered some manifestations of anti-Semitism in the past five years. 70 per cent of non-Jewish respondents said that "Jews have too much power in Poland". However, they admitted that the level of anti-Semitism had significantly increased over the past five years. At the same time, Poland has the highest level of distrust in the actions of the authorities in this area: 91 per cent of respondents considered the efforts of the Polish authorities to combat anti-Semitism insufficient and ineffective.[470] According to a study by the Anti-Defamation League NGO, the share of the population recognized as anti-Semitic in Poland reaches 48 per cent.[471]

These indicators are manifesting themselves in practice. Anti-Semitic rhetoric was heard during the campaign leading up to the 2020 presidential election. In July 2020, leader of the ruling PiS party Jaroslaw Kaczynski in an interview to a Polish Catholic newspaper accused Duda's opponent, Warsaw mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, of supporting the idea of paying compensation to Polish Jews for the property lost during World War II.[472] The criticism was picked up by Polish state TV channels. Experts point out that such tactics were aimed at gaining the support of extreme nationalists and indicate the danger of such a step.[473]

Vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and religious sites also continues. In late January 2021, for example, unknown persons painted swastika signs and SS runes on the walls of a Jewish cemetery in Oświęcim near the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, which had been founded at the site of the infamous concentration camp.[474]

Anti-Semitism in Poland attracts the attention of even foreign political figures and social activists, as well as international human rights organization. According to the Polish and foreign media, on 15 September 2020, two U.S. senators, co-chairs of the Senate’s Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, wrote a letter to the President of Poland saying: "We are alarmed by growing anti-Semitic discourse in Poland… Specifically, during Poland’s 2020 presidential campaign".[475] The OSCE election assessment mission drew similar conclusions with regard to the election campaign stating that it was marked by "homophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric".[476]

In July 2020, Polish Ombudsman Adam Bodnar forwarded the request to the Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council regarding the actions against hate speech and manifestations of anti-Semitism in mass media. The Ombudsman cited the statement made by journalist Rafal Ziemkiewicz during the "W tyle wizji" TV show broadcasted on TVP Info on 23 June 2020, in which he, according to the Ombudsman, attributed responsibility for the Holocaust to Jews themselves claiming: "…it was not the Poles who put these Jews into the wagons, caught them, escorted them from the ghetto, but other Jews, the Jewish police, on the basis of lists prepared by Jewish Judenrat[477] that managed it all."[478] Following the inquiry, the National Broadcasting Council concluded that the opinion expressed by Mr. Ziemkiewicz did not violate the Broadcasting Act of 29 December 1992.[479]

On 15 June, the state TV channel released a report claiming that if the main rival of the incumbent president won the election, he would use state funds to "pay compensations to the Jews" and that such position was "not grounded in Poland’s interests".[480] On 18 June, Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich and the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland issued a joint statement saying: "We must all speak against the use of anti-Semitism or hatred of any other group for political purposes."[481]

International human rights organizations have expressed concern about the situation of Roma in Poland. For example, in August 2019, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted the continuing harassment of this ethnic group, low primary and secondary school attendance rate among Roma children, their underrepresentation in higher education, as well as discrimination in employment. The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities also expressed similar concerns about the situation of Roma.[482]

In December 2020, the Polish Ombudsman submitted a complaint[483] to the Polish Council of Media Ethics on behalf of the Association of Roma in Poland regarding the continuing dissemination by the media of certain materials disclosing the ethnic background of a perpetrator if they were of Roma origin. According to the Ombudsman, the dissemination of negative stereotypes about Roma creates a belief in the public consciousness that members of the Roma community have certain negative traits. Bodnar’s statement also points out that such recounting of the events, where the circumstances have nothing to do with the national or ethnic background of those involved, invites the labeling of minority members. The Council of Media Ethics expressed the view that this leads to discrimination and cements a negative perception of minorities in the public consciousness.

Portugal

The problem of the resurgence and glorification of Nazism in Portuguese society is not a hot-button issue. During the Second World War official Lisbon adhered to a policy of neutrality, there were no hostilities in the country. At the same time, the local population has been directly influenced by the ideology of Nazism and racial superiority and is firsthand familiar with their manifestations through the prism of the dictatorial regime of Salazar-Caetano, which existed in the country since the mid-thirties of the twentieth century for almost four decades.

In recent years a number of extreme right-wing movements and cells of such organizations have been quite active in Portugal. These include Group 1143, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Portuguese Order, the National Front, Hammerskins-Portugal and the National Renewal Party. The largest and most active is the New Social Order. This movement interacts with the Greek Golden Dawn party and the German Alternative for Germany and receives funding from abroad.

The far-right Chega! ("Enough!") party founded in Portugal in April 2019, which won seats in the country's supreme legislative body as a result of the regular parliamentary elections on 6 October 2019, continues to strengthen its position. Its only representative in the Assembly of the Republic, the leader of the association André Ventura has been repeatedly criticized for racist and sometimes extremist statements. Despite the sharp negative reaction of the main political forces, he has managed to concentrate a part of the protest electorate around him, significantly increasing the ranks of supporters and fellow party members (about 28 thousand people). The elections to the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of the Azores in October 2020 were a breakthrough: for the first time in 24 years the Socialists did not gain an absolute majority, and when forming a new government the main opposition Social Democratic Party formed a coalition with Chega! The results of the race for the presidency in January 2021 also testify to its growing popularity: André Ventura won 11.9 per cent of the votes and took third place among the candidates. In September 2020, the Chega! party organized a march in Evora against the anti-racist discourse conducted in the country (500 members and sympathizers took part), while demonstrations against that party were held in the same city.

On the whole, there are no attempts at the State level to justify the crimes of the Nazis or to glorify Nazism. The country's leadership does not question the fact that Nazi Germany unleashed the Second World War.

The Portuguese authorities do not impede the holding of commemorative events to mark the victory of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition in the Second World War. In recent years, for example, the Lisbon mayor's office has assisted in holding the Immortal Regiment event in one of the capital's squares. In 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the campaign was successfully held online on the compatriots' Facebook platform.

Every year on 27 January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Portugal hosts rather large and significant events. On 29 January 2021, the Assembly of the Republic unanimously endorsed a document commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, confirming the historical truth about the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the troops of the Soviet Army. On 5 April 2021, the first Holocaust Museum on the Iberian Peninsula was opened to the public in Porto.

However, on 16 December 2020, at the plenary session of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly on the resolution submitted annually by the Russian Federation "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance", Portugal, as in previous years, following the general guidelines within the EU, abstained from voting along with the other Member States of the union.

Since the democratic Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and ideas of national superiority have not been widely spread. This is particularly due to Portugal's special relationship with its former colonies, cooperation with which within the Community of Portuguese Language Countries Lisbon still regards as a foreign policy priority. According to the legislation in force, permanent residents from these States have virtually the same rights and obligations as Portuguese citizens.

Discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin is prohibited by law. There is a Commission for Equality and Against Racial Discrimination.

Although there are no systematic manifestations of intolerance in Portugal, there are isolated cases of hate speech based on race and nationality and manifestations of xenophobia. In 2020, 655 complaints were submitted to the Commission for Equality and Against Racial Discrimination, twice as many as in 2019. Experts attribute the increase to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting socio-economic crisis in the country. Cases of intolerance against people of Asian origin have been recorded.

The assault of a Brazilian national by a police officer during carnival celebrations in the Portuguese capital was widely reported. She was struck on the head with a truncheon in contravention of established rules on the use of force (such actions are considered "last resort" under Portuguese law).

In March 2020, the death of a Ukrainian national was recorded at the Lisbon airport detention centre. Three inspectors from the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service have been placed under house arrest as part of the ongoing investigations into the suspected murder.

Aware of the potential for further deterioration in that field, the Portuguese Government has developed a National Plan to Combat Racism and Discrimination.

Due to the restrictive measures in place on Portuguese territory since March 2020 in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, including public events, the protest activities of anti-racist organizations have been actually frozen. On 21 March 2021, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, about a hundred people attended a rally against racism, xenophobia and discrimination in Lisbon.

In February 2020, a number of organizations protesting against racism and violence by law enforcement agencies held demonstrations in Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra, with more than 700 participants. During the procession, there were calls for the authorities to make public the results of the investigation into police actions opened by the Portuguese Ministry of Internal Administration. In this context, various examples of law enforcement officers’ arbitrariness were mentioned, the most high-profile of which led to the death of a Cape Verdian student in Braganza on 31 December 2019.

The murder of black actor Bruno Cande in July 2020 caused a wide public outcry. The racist crime was committed by a 76-year-old colonial war veteran.

Racist rhetoric has been heard from numerous associations of Portuguese football fans and the skinhead movement. In February 2020, Moussa Marega, a Malian player for FC Porto, had to leave the pitch during a match due to ethnic insults from fans. All such situations in Portugal are closely monitored and publicized in the media, including through the non-profit organization SOS Racismo, which is active here.

Portuguese society in general is very stereotypical about Africans and people of African descent, people of Roma origin, migrants and Muslims. Hate speech and racist behaviour against persons belonging to these minorities have been reported, including in sports, the media and the Internet.

Statistical data on the number of incidents of hate speech on the Internet are not available, but a report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), functioning within the Council of Europe, points to hundreds of posts on Internet forums of the extreme right aiming to incite hatred against the abovementioned groups. Only some of the media moderate comments before publication on their websites and weed out those that contain hate speech.[484]

Human rights activists note that there are no programmes that specifically address the problems of people of African descent. They also express concern that discriminatory and stereotypical illustrations against them may be found in school textbooks.[485]

According to the ECRI report, people of African descent have a much higher unemployment rate (33 per cent in 2015), are three times more likely to take jobs that do not match their qualifications and earn on average 103 euros less per month. Often representatives of this part of the Portuguese population work without employment contracts, risking exploitation. Very few of them hold public office.[486]

Some people of African descent were relocated as part of the social housing programmes that started in the 1990s. In practice, however, this led to spatial segregation, as most construction took place away from urban centres. However, migrants who arrived after the 1990 census, which formed the basis of these programmes, were not included in them and continue to live in slums and areas of very poor quality housing under the constant threat of forced eviction without prior notice, without the possibility of legal remedies and without decent housing provided by the authorities.[487]

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination as well as the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) noted that the Roma community in Portugal faces discrimination in almost all areas of life. A large number of them live in substandard conditions in informal settlements in barrack-type premises or in tents, often in remote areas with little or no access to drinking water, sanitation, electricity and transport. In addition, many Roma are not eligible for social housing under the Special Resettlement Programme as applicants were also identified on the basis of the 1993 census of informal Roma settlements.[488] As a result, many of them continue to live in slums or in crowded conditions, with several families living in the same apartment, often without access to electricity and sanitation facilities.[489]

Such living conditions are one reason why the vast majority of Roma children living in these areas drop out of school after the fifth grade at the age of only 10-12, and do not obtain professional education.[490] The Committee on the Rights of the Child[491] and CESCR[492] have also expressed concern about the low enrolment rates of Roma children in schools. Many are still enrolled in segregated schools or classes and are discriminated against. Traditional activities for Roma families, such as street vending, have become increasingly difficult to carry out due to stricter legal regulations.[493]

A 2019 study on racism carried out by the country's parliament highlighted the need to build relationships of trust between different groups in society, especially with the younger generation of national minorities. The document, for example, recommends the recruitment of police officers of African or Roma descent.[494]

A major study on discriminatory practices in Portuguese judicial proceedings was launched in 2018 by the Research Centre for Justice and Governance of the University of Minho, together with the Anthropology Research Network. The first results of the project, called "Inclusive Courts", were published in June 2020 on a specially created, freely accessible internet portal[495]. The research focused on some 650 court decisions by local courts since 1976. The results showed that judges often use unflattering and negative descriptions of certain social groups in their procedural documents. For example, epithets such as "poor beggars", "filthy", "subsidy addicts," and "traitors" are used in relation to Roma. Some ironic comments are included in the texts of decisions regarding members of religious minorities, particularly Muslims. As part of the project, a series of interviews with judges and prosecutors is planned in order to gain a better picture of the extent of the problem. The initiative has reportedly already received positive feedback from public authorities, including the Superior Council of Magistracy, the Superior Council of Public Prosecution and the Judicial Studies Centre under the Ministry of Justice.

It can thus be ascertained that the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism, xenophobia and intolerance are not among the key issues in the human rights record of Portugal. The trend of spreading extremism, characteristic of some EU countries, traditionally does not enjoy widespread support from the Portuguese population. Although occasional manifestations of racially or nationally motivated hatred do occur from time to time, the overall situation can be characterized as stable.

Romania

The Romanian authorities try to pay attention to counteracting the spread of extremist, anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi manifestations in society. Local NGOs, such as the Centre for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism and Elie Wiesel National Institute for Holocaust Studies, also work in this area.

An appropriate legal framework has been developed and continues to be supplemented. Anti-Semitism, racism, fascism and other manifestations of xenophobia are forbidden by law in Romania (Government Decree No. 31/2002 and Law No. 107/2006) and their manifestations are criminalized. In July 2015, Law No. 217 amending and supplementing the Government Decree No. 31 of 2002 on prohibition of fascist, racist and xenophobic organizations and symbols, as well as promotion of the cult of persons guilty of crimes against peace and humanity, entered into force. It introduced a definition of "Holocaust in Romania" ("the systematic extermination and destruction of Jews and Roma, with the support of the Romanian authorities and public institutions, between 1940 and 1944") and introduced responsibility for its denial, justification or belittling of its consequences. Legionary movements ("organizations that operated in Romania between 1927 and 1941 under the names of the Archangel Michael Legion, the Iron Guard and the All for the Country party") and their contemporary followers are automatically equated with fascist organizations and are subject to prohibition.

In July 2018, Law No. 157 "On Certain Measures to Prevent and Counteract Anti-Semitism" entered into force, providing for prison sentences of 3 months to 10 years for promoting anti-Semitic rhetoric and involvement in relevant organizations.

The tightening of the legislation has led to once officially registered public organizations preaching the ideas of the "legionary movement" being forced to curtail or minimize their public activities and operate within the framework of the law.

Meanwhile, a number of far-right organizations in the country continue their propaganda activities "from the underground", using social media platforms. They are few in number, have a limited circle of followers and operate outside the legal framework. Among them are the registered New Right party and the non-legal Legionary movement, the Archangel Michael Legion.

More influential, numerous and active is the civic platform Action 2012, comprising more than 40 NGOs (Actiunea 2012). The organization aggressively promotes the ideas of "Romanian unionism", advocating the revision of borders, suggesting the "return" of Moldova, Ukrainian Bukovina and some districts of the Odessa region into the "bosom of the Motherland" of Romania. In regularly organized actions and marches across the country, along with revisionist slogans, ultranationalist and openly Russophobic rhetoric is often heard. The "Romanian Unionist" movements are actively involved in attempts to falsify history, including the desire to lay the blame and responsibility for the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century, the Second World War, equally on Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

Leaders of these movements aspire to whitewash the war crimes of Romanian henchmen of Nazis – dictator Ion Antonescu and others, masking their brutal acts with slogans of "national liberation struggle" of the Romanian people "to save historical territories" from the "red plague".

In March 2020, for example, vandals sprayed paint on an outdoor photo exhibition commemorating the liberation of Europe from fascism by Soviet troops on one of the central streets of Bucharest.[496] The above-mentioned Action 2012 platform published a statement of praise regarding this illegal action on its Facebook page, accompanied by anti-Soviet and anti-Russian comments.[497] In response to a protest note from the Russian Embassy in Bucharest, the police opened a criminal case, but no one was prosecuted.

Moreover, in the general parliamentary elections, the activists of this civic platform, under the banner of the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) party created in 2019, were elected to the Parliament (44 mandates out of 466), receiving about nine per cent of the vote.

In February 2021, a senator from AUR party Sorin Lavric made a speech in the Romanian Parliament on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the theologian Valeriu Gafencu, an active member of the pro-fascist Iron Guard, known for his anti-Semitic and Russophobic views (he was sentenced to 25 years of hard labour). Lavric called Gafencu a "holy prisoner" and a "symbol of Christian sacrifice", which angered not only his colleagues but also the National Institute for Holocaust Studies in Romania.

In practical terms, various neo-Nazi manifestations and cases of Nazi glorification are encountered in violation of Romanian law. According to the Centre for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, in December 2019 and April 2020, unknown persons painted swastika images and Nazi slogans in the car park of the Unirea central department store in Bucharest.

In April 2019, many central media outlets reported that more than 70 tombstones and monuments in the Jewish cemetery in Huși (Vaslui County) had been destroyed.

According to the Romanian newspaper Adevarul[498], a local confectionery manufacturer Ro Star used the image of Adolf Hitler in an advertising campaign for Dita biscuits on Facebook on 31 March and 2 April 2019 under the pretext of holding a historical competition.

In Romania, geographical and administrative sites that bear the names of war criminals convicted of crimes against the Roma and Jewish population are still preserved. The streets in Bechet (Olt County), 1 Decembrie (Ilfov County), Rîmnicu Sărat (Buzau County) and Mărăşeşti (Vrancea County) bear the name of a war criminal and Hitler's associate Marshal Ion Antonescu. A street in Cluj-Napoca is named after the commander of one of the units of the pro-fascist Legionary Movement, Radu Gir-Demetrescu (condemned in June 1945 for war crimes). Streets in Bucharest and Aiud, and the College of Technology in the Romanian capital were named after Mircea Vulcănescu, the Deputy Minister of Finance of the Government of Ion Antonescu (condemned on 9 October 1946 for war crimes). The memory of the Minister of Propaganda of the government of Ion Antonescu – Nichifor Crainic (condemned on 4 July 1945 for war crimes) is imprinted in the name of a street in Pitesti. The information about the violation of the Law No. 217 of 2015 is published by the Szekler Monitor website.[499]

Many members of the Romanian ruling and intellectual elite sympathize with the figures of Nazi Germany's collaborator Marshal Ion Antonescu and founder of the Legionary Movement Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. In September 2019, historian Valentin Chepeneag, who was then head of the Constantin Brâncuși Museum in Târgu Jiu[500], and in 2020, Florian Bikir, a lecturer at the National Military University[501], wrote similar posts on Facebook.

In 2020, Adevărul, one of the largest newspapers in the country, promoted and distributed through its distribution network the memoirs of war criminals close to Ion Antonescu published by Paul Editions in Bucharest: the head of his secretariat, Colonel Gheorghe Magherescu (The Truth about Marshal Antonescu), General Constantin Pantazi (With Marshal till Death) and Commissar Radu Lecca, who was responsible for the "resolution of the Jewish issue" (A Conflicting Game: Between the Fuhrer, the Marshal and the Jews in Romania). And the book by the latter is an attempt to play down his own responsibility and Ion Antonescu's role in the organization of the Holocaust in Romania. Jurnalul Național newspaper promotes the book Romania with and without Antonescu by Romanian Holocaust denier Gheorghe Buzatu.

More and more often there are attempts to suppress the criminal nature of the actions of Romanian collaborators of Nazi Germany and to highlight their "other achievements" in the field of culture and science. On 1 April 2021, on the initiative of the town hall in Iași, a bust to the former prime minister (1937-1938), poet and playwright Octavian Goga was unveiled. Octavian Goga's government, which included the chief ideologist of Romanian fascism Alexandru Cuza, pursued a nationalist, pro-fascist course with an orientation towards Hitler's Germany in its foreign policy. It was Octavian Goga's government that issued a decree depriving Romanian Jews of their citizenship.

In January 2020, the Tribuna magazine, financed by the Cluj County Council, published a laudatory article about Radu Gyr Demetrescu[502] as a "martyr of communist prisons" without mentioning his legionary past or the fact that he had been recognized as a war criminal.[503]

In 2018, Mircea Vulcănescu's daughter initiated proceedings to recognize the "political nature" of the 1946 tribunal decision recognizing her father as a war criminal – a decision in her favour in this case would have meant, in effect, the rehabilitation of a member of Ion Antonescu's government. In 2019, the suit, which was granted at first instance, was dismissed by the Bucharest Court of Appeal.

In December 2020, Radu Mihaiu, the mayor of Bucharest's 2nd district and representative of the Save Romania Union party, with the support of anti-Russian media, launched a campaign to rename a park in the Romanian capital, named after Marshal of the Soviet Union Fyodor Tolbukhin, arguing that the Russian commander "did not only liberate Romania from fascism", but that "the army under his leadership made a decisive contribution to the establishment of the communist regime". Earlier in 2017, Dan Cristian Popescu, deputy mayor of the National Liberal Party, had made similar appeals, calling Fyodor Tolbukhin "an occupier and an invader".

In March 2019, 28 parliamentarians from the ultra-liberal "pro-Soros" party Save Romania Union proposed a bill "banning communist organizations and symbols".

The legal succession of the Democratic Forum of the Germans of Romania (DFGR), which represents the interests of the German national minority living in the country, raises serious questions. A court ruling in Sibiu on 28 May 2007 recognized the DFGR as legal successor to the Romanian branch of the Nazi ethnic-German group that had been banned and closed down by King Mihai Decree No. 485 of 7 October 1944. On the basis of the court ruling, the DFGR has started restitution of property lost after 1944. More than 100 properties in Sibiu County are to be returned.[504] The process is being carried out with the direct support of the country's president, former DFGR president Klaus Iohannis (Romanian president since 2014). Despite the fact that the DFGR does not belong to radical and extremist organizations, the implemented property transfer scheme using such a legal mechanism may be applied to former activists of the legionary movement and members of Ion Antonescu's government. This could set a dangerous precedent for the restitution of property confiscated on the basis of allegations of war crimes by former owners.

This issue has attracted the attention of the Romanian public. In an open letter, Romanian political scientist and economist Radu Golban[505] draws attention to the dangerous precedent of de facto recognition of Nazi organization in Romania. According to the author of the letter, expert analyses carried out by Swiss lawyers show that the decision of Romanian judicial authorities to recognize the legal succession of the DFGR to the German Ethnic Group ("Deutsche Volksgruppe in Rumänien") is in fact the recognition of a Nazi group and a violation of Bucharest's obligations under the peace agreements signed after the Second World War.

The situation of Romania's ethnic minorities raises certain concerns among human rights defenders. Hate speech against Roma, members of the Hungarian and Jewish communities and Muslims has been recorded in the media and on the Internet.[506]

The issue of spreading extremism and nationalism in the predominantly Hungarian inhabited Сounties of Transylvania, whose ethno-cultural rights are systematically denied by the Romanian authorities, remains a particular concern for Bucharest. A number of NGOs in the region maintain close contacts with far-right parties and organizations in Hungary (Jobbik, Hungarian National Guard, etc.) and under their influence advocate extremist and revanchist ideas, including about the injustice of the Trianon Peace Treaty and its consequences. The Hungarian nationalist Sixty-Four Comitates (Counties) Youth Movement has its own cells in Romanian Transylvania.

Racist manifestations have also been recorded in Romania. A case of racial intolerance was recorded in January 2020 in the commune of Ditrău in Harghita County, inhabited mainly by Székely Hungarians. Outraged at the hiring of two Sri Lankan nationals to work in a local bakery, the commune residents organized a rally with the use of racist and xenophobic slogans.[507]

A controversial gesture was made by the then Romanian prime minister Mihai Tudose, who promised during a television programme in January 2018 to "hang Hungarians involved in the use of the Székely flag on the same poles". The National Council for Combating Discrimination issued a warning to the politician in this regard.

The president of the Romanian Union of Ciscarpathian Ruthenians M. Lauruk regularly draws attention to the pressure on the Ruthenian community by the Romanian authorities. This means a whole series of facts of unfounded persecution to which the organization's activists have been subjected for their pro-Russian positions. In fact, Bucharest shows indulgence to the forced Ukrainization of the Ruthenian national minority. There have also been cases of inaction on the part of the authorities regarding the raiding of property and business assets belonging to the Ruthenians.

There have been some complaints against the Romanian authorities regarding the possibility to receive education (from primary to complete secondary education) in their native language by historical compatriots from the Russian-Lipovan Community of Romania and Ciscarpathian Ruthenians. It is reported that Russian-Lipovan children are only provided with mother tongue teaching as an optional subject, while most national minorities can receive primary school education (grades 1-9) entirely in their mother tongue.

Discrimination against members of the Roma minority is not uncommon. Human rights activists point out that the Romanian Roma community is the one that faces the most systematic social discrimination of all ethnic minorities, including in education, employment and health services. Experts of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance have noted that anti-Roma sentiments in Romania are "commonplace". In January 2020, the mayor of Târgu Mureş, Dorin Florea, was heavily criticized by human rights organizations for ethnic hate-inciting speech against local Roma.[508]

According to the findings of the 2019 monitoring, Romania's 2014-2020 National Roma Integration Strategy has been "extremely superficially implemented". Denial of public services, access to health care and social protection systems, and equal employment conditions for Roma continues to be frequent. In April 2021, the NGO Salvați Copiii stated that ethnic segregation of Roma children in schools persisted.[509] In 2019, in Zalău, a Roma woman and her child were beaten with a mop by a minibus driver in an attempt to chase them away from the vehicle, and the emergency services she sought help responded with insults[510]; in April 2020, a video surfaced on social media of Roma being beaten by a law enforcement officer in Bolintin-Vale in Giurgiu County[511].

Against the background of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Romanian segment of social networks was marked by the appearance of publications blaming the Jewish[512] and Roma[513] communities in the country for the spread of the infection.

The problems faced by Roma communities in Romania have been highlighted by the Human Rights Committee[514] and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women[515], as well as the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)[516] and the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM).[517]

North Macedonia

The differences in the assessments of the history of the Second World War in the Republic of North Macedonia are linked to the ethnic confrontation between the peoples living on the territory of this country and fit into the general context of contradictions between the titular Macedonian nation and the largest national Albanian minority. It is among the majority of its representatives that an "alternative" view of the events of the war years prevails. Examples of mass collaboration between Albanians and the Italian and German invaders are interpreted by them as 'situational cooperation', which had a temporary character and represented a national liberation struggle for the unification of the 'ancestral Albanian lands'. Thus, the creation of the protectorate in the Balkans by the Axis countries, and later of a puppet state – the Albanian Kingdom (1939-1944), which included most of the territories of the modern Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija, the western part of North Macedonia and the southern regions of Montenegro, is regarded as the implementation of the "Great Albanian" project, allegedly fully justifying complicity with the aggressor.

The anti-communist nationalist movement Balli Kombetar (National Front), founded in 1942, openly collaborated first with Fascist Italy and then with Nazi Germany. Its units were involved in the fight against partisans and in punitive operations against the Serbian and Macedonian population. At the same time it actively cooperated with the collaborationist military units of Vulnetari and the 21st SS division Skanderbeg, which were also composed mainly of Kosovo Albanians.

The most prominent representatives of this movement are considered to be J.Hasani and A.K.Rechani, who served the Italians and Germans, and led armed raids against partisans in Gostivar, Debar, Kichevo, Tetovo and other areas. A monument to J.Hasani was erected in the village of Simnitsa in 2006, and to A.K.Rechani in Gostivar in 2015. Both busts were erected with the assistance of the then Mayor of Gostivar, N. Beyta, a representative of the largest party of Macedonian Albanians, the Democratic Union for Integration.

G. Sadikario, the chief executive director of the Macedonian Holocaust Fund of Jews, repeatedly pointed to the difficulty of qualifying tendencies in the Albanian community such as the glorification of Nazism or the glorification of its supporters. According to him, the episodes of collaboration with the Nazis are glossed over by Albanian historiographers, who highlight the "national liberation aspect" in their activities. One of the main Albanian researchers of this subject, S. Asani, head of the Institute of Albanian Cultural and Spiritual Heritage, holds similar views.

Historians have followed the recent changes in the education system with concern. They say that schools in the country are now studying the events of the Second World War quite superficially. Thus, the period connected with the Macedonian people's resistance to the Nazi occupation is presented in a compact form, the role and significance of the Red Army in the liberation of Europe from the "brown plague" is levelled. Furthermore, with the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Good-Neighbourliness and Cooperation with Bulgaria (2017) and the Prespa Agreement with Greece (2018), the educational literature used here can be "qualitatively" revised to take into account the wishes of the neighbouring countries. Under pressure from Sofia and Athens, established special bilateral commissions on education and history will apparently adjust the content of textbooks in order to "improve the image of the neighbours" by removing unsightly facts of Bulgarian and Greek collaboration with Nazi Germany during the Second World War, and above all the seizure by Bulgaria of most of the territory of modern North Macedonia and the forced "Bulgarianization" of its population.

A trend common to European countries is becoming characteristic of North Macedonia: an increasing interest among young people in the ideas of the right-wing extremist "subculture", the skinhead movement. This is most noticeable among groups of sports fans. As a rule, they are quite mobile, highly active and have a pronounced propensity for violence. Against this background, the Ballist group, consisting of fans of the Shkendija football team and claiming "continuity of ideology", i.e. adherence to the views of the Balli Kombetar organization, stands out.

An incident involving the Albanian group Sverceri is illustrative. In November 2019, members of this group, during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of its foundation, carried out a pogrom in the Macedonian National Theatre, causing noticeable material damage to the building.

At the same time, radical manifestations are also characteristic of Macedonian supporters. In June 2019, members of the Komiti group, while celebrating their victory at the European tournament of the Vardar handball club, chanted: "Death to the cursed Shiptars", "A good Shiptar is a dead Shiptar"[518].

In July 2018, a Comiti representative was murdered. According to human rights organisations, the crime was directly linked to animosity between the fan communities. Its coverage was accompanied by a surge of nationalist rhetoric on social media.

The issue of neo-Nazism among the new generation is being discussed by the Union of Fighters of the Macedonian National Liberation War of 1941-1945 and its successors, the main veterans' organization in North Macedonia. Its representatives emphasize the topicality of this issue, pointing out the need to address it and prevent it within the framework of the State youth policy being implemented.

No cases of desecration of monuments to fighters against Nazism or victims of the Second World War have been recorded in North Macedonia. However, in a number of communities, their condition leaves much to be desired, many of them requiring restoration. At the same time, there have been occasional incidents involving the painting of swastikas and other similar symbols on the walls of houses and urban infrastructure. As a rule, measures are taken by the municipal authorities to remove them. Most often the initiators of such offences are minors, whose actions are qualified by law enforcement agencies as hooliganism.

Neither the authorities nor individual political forces in North Macedonia impede the holding of events on the occasion of Victory Day and other commemorative occasions. Moreover, the local authorities assist in their organization, including during the spread of the coronavirus infection. In compliance with the regulations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, all those who were interested willingly took part in last year's 9 May rallies.

Despite the authorities' publicly declared rejection of the ideas of Nazism, neo-Nazism and hate ideology, North Macedonia follows the common position of the EU Member States and abstains year after year in voting at the UN General Assembly on the resolution initiated by the Russian Federation and other co-sponsors "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance".

Moreover, the Criminal Code of North Macedonia still lacks articles punishing the glorification of Nazi ideology. A bill proposed by the local Jewish community to criminalize Nazism is currently under consideration by the country’s Government.

The problem of crimes motivated by ethnic hatred remained significant. They are mostly recorded by law enforcement agencies as domestic crimes. Human rights and international organizations, such as the local Helsinki Committee office and the OSCE Mission to Skopje, have repeatedly pointed to this fact in their reports, but the trend has continued despite amendments to the Criminal Code of North Macedonia, which have made hate crimes a separate offence.[519]

Human rights organizations record up to several dozen cases of ethnic, racial, religious and other forms of hate speech each month, mostly among young people. In 2019, the online platform Hate Speech recorded 214 reports of hate speech (in comparison, in 2018 there were only 84 such cases).[520]

The situation worsened with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic: in March-May 2020, amid strict restrictions imposed by the authorities, which further aggravated the psychological climate in society, such manifestations began to number in the hundreds. Hate speech was mostly used on the grounds of rejection of other people's ethnicity (about half of all cases), political convictions and social status. There have also been expressions of hostility towards citizens of North Macedonia who have contracted the coronavirus infection: in an attempt to stigmatize them as "a danger to society", individuals have begun to post their personal data in the public domain.

Inter-confessional relations also remain tense. In the domestic environment, this is manifested, for example, in the rejection of the appearance of representatives of other religions. For example, in September 2018 there was an incident at a catering facility in Skopje when staff refused to serve a woman wearing a traditional Muslim headdress (hijab). Following an investigation into the incident, the Commission for Protection against Discrimination confirmed discrimination on the basis of religious affiliation. A similar case was recorded in March 2019 in Prilep against persons of Roma nationality.

The latter also constitute the most vulnerable part of the population in North Macedonia in general.[521] Many of them still lack identity documents (about 700 persons) and ownership certificates for the premises they occupy, lack access to educational and health services and the employment market, and live in the poorest "ghettoized" areas. In addition, their places of residence are largely excluded from urban planning and social housing is distributed to them on a leftover basis.[522]

The problematic situation of the Roma community in North Macedonia has been highlighted by UN human rights treaty bodies, in particular the HRCtte[523], CERD[524], CESCR[525] and CEDAW[526]. Among the problems they noted were low levels of participation in public life; cases of abuse and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials; poverty and unemployment; segregation in education; low life expectancy, etc.

A clear illustration of the situation of the Roma community in North Macedonia is the issue around the spontaneous settlement at the foot of a city fortress in the center of Skopje. As a result of the clearance operation by the authorities in 2016, the houses located there were dismantled without new housing provided to their inhabitants. Only by November 2017, 112 persons were accommodated with related institutions of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. Meanwhile, about 50 persons continue to live still in their improvised dwellings, basically, without access to communal services.

Another illustration of the neglect of the Roma minority could be the incident that occurred in February 2020 in Skopje: a Roma man was ill-treated on public transportation by conductors who, despite his ticket, forced him off the bus.

Nevertheless, the official authorities are taking certain measures to provide the widest possible integration of the Roma minority into the country’s social and political life. FRA’s 2020 Report notes several significant anti-discrimination provisions in the Macedonian legislation. Thus, North Macedonia adopted a new law on primary education, which explicitly prohibits discrimination, encourages interethnic integration and envisages educational mediators for Roma children from socially vulnerable families. A similar mediation procedure for Roma exists in the field of healthcare, facilitating access to medical institutions and services. In addition, FRA reports about the drafting of legislation dedicated to the issues of non-citizenship and the lack of official documents. This act, if adopted, will allow persons without identity documents or birth registries to register as citizens. North Macedonia has a revised operational plan for active programs, employment measures and labor market services for 2019. It includes measures encouraging employers to hire Roma, supporting Roma entrepreneurship and improving skills[527]

In summary, the following can be stated: in Northern Macedonia, the Albanian community commemorates members of Nazi and other movements under the pretext that they allegedly used their cooperation with the Nazi authorities to address the ethnic agenda and defend national interests. Furthermore, at the official level, there are attempts to resort to historical revisionism in order to improve the country's bilateral relations with Greece and Bulgaria. As for the various forms of intolerance, the key problems are the ongoing confrontation between Macedonians and Albanians, which takes the form not only of hate speech in social networks, but also, as in the case of sports fans, physical aggression; tense interreligious relations; and systemic discrimination and marginalization of the Roma population.

Slovakia

The authorities of the Slovak Republic (SR) and civil society generally recognize the need to combat the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other forms of xenophobia and related intolerance. The state maintains a respectful attitude toward the memory of the soldiers-liberators, fulfills its international legal obligation to maintain Soviet war graves and monuments, and regularly allocates funds for their maintenance and repair.

Vandalism against Soviet memorial sites is rare. The most recent case was reported in January 2020, when bas-reliefs depicting a hammer and sickle were torn from a monument dedicated to the Soviet Army in Košice (Eastern Slovakia). Subsequently, the missing elements were restored at the expense of the Slovak side.

Today, within the constraints imposed by the epidemiological situation, Slovakia holds commemorative events devoted to the country's liberation from Nazi invaders, including those with the participation of state leaders. A responsible approach to the historical truth about the events of World War II in Europe prevails in the country in general.

The attitude of Slovak society to the memory of the Deed of the Red Army, which liberated the countries of Europe from Nazism, was clearly manifested in the perception of the dismantling of the monument to the USSR Marshal, twice Hero of the Soviet Union Ivan Konev, who commanded the 1st Ukrainian Front from May 1944 until the end of the war. This blasphemous action has a strong resonance in the Slovak media. In an interview with Sputnik news agency, the former Prime Minister of Slovakia, Jan Carnogursky, supported the placement of the dismantled monument in Russia, meanwhile he noticed that the public organization he headed back in December 2019 proposed to purchase a monument from the Prague authorities so that it could be erected in Slovakia.

After the demolition of the Prague sculpture, the Charter 2015 and Slavitsa public organizations in Slovakia launched a flash mob called "Slovak Challenge – I am grateful" with an appeal to the public to publish on the Internet their photographs taken until 9 May at the burial sites of the Red Army soldiers or memorials devoted to them in all liberated countries, including Slovakia and the Czech Republic, in order to recall the Deed of the Red Army. The dismantled Prague monument to Ivan Konev was chosen as the emblem of the project. In addition to personal user accounts, it was proposed to use other social networks and the websites of organizations-authors of the project as sites for placement.

Against this background, experts draw attention to the desire of a number of officials to abandon in their speeches the reference to the decisive role of the Red Army in liberating the country from the Nazi occupiers, which is already becoming a trend. There are also attempts to distort history. They are mainly carried out through the national media controlled by Western media conglomerates.

An amendment to the Act on the Immorality and Illegality of the Communist System, which came into force on 1 December 2020, banned the placement on monuments and memorials of texts, images and symbols that glorify, promote and defend a regime based on Communist ideology or its representatives (does not apply to Soviet symbols on existing monuments, graves and memorials).

In the international arena, Slovakia adheres to the consolidated position of EU countries, traditionally abstaining from voting on the draft UNGA resolution titled "Combatting glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" prepared by Russia and other co-sponsors.

According to estimates of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Slovakia, extremist and nationalist groups number about 2 thousand people, are highly organized and effectively use legal forms of work – through the establishment of public associations ( "Slovak Public", "New Free Slovakia", "Slovak Society for the Preservation of Traditions" and "Slovak Youth Union", etc.). Their actions, including because of the pandemic, are sporadic with an emphasis on social media as a tool for propaganda. Local law enforcement agencies actively use modern information technology to automatically analyze Internet traffic with a view to detecting and suppressing manifestations of religious intolerance and calls to extremism.

The register of political parties and movements of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Slovakia[528] officially registered only one party that professes extremist ideas with elements of racial hatred and, in particular, actively uses anti-Roma rhetoric – the People's Party Our Slovakia (LSNS)[529]. The orientation towards the creation of a national and socially-oriented state (national socialism), which is modeled on the pro-fascist Slovak Republic of the Second World War is among its basic principles. Its leaders, including President Jozef Tiso, who was sentenced to death for crimes committed, are revered in the LSNS as outstanding political figures who made an "invaluable contribution" to the formation of national statehood. The party keeps in touch with far-right associations of the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Spain, Italy, Serbia and Croatia.

Law enforcement authorities repeatedly detained the leader of the LSNS, Marian Kotleba, for chanting nationalist slogans during mass events, but in no case the charges have been brought against him. In 2014, he was elected for one term as the Chairman of the Bansko-Bystrica region. During the 2016 elections campaign, the LSNS passed to the National Council (Parliament) of the SR, having gained about 9 per cent of the vote. In the spring of 2018, in response to the appeal of the Prosecutor General of the SR, Jaromir Ciznar, the Supreme Court of the SR recognized the activities of the LSNS as not being contrary to the law. In the presidential election on 16 March 2019, the leader of the LSNS, Marian Kotleba, took the 4th place (10.4 per cent of the vote). Following the parliamentary elections in February 2020, the party received 7.97 per cent of the vote, thus securing 17 parliamentary mandates (out of 150) and once again forming a full parliamentary faction in the National Council.

In public and political circles in Slovakia, the LSNS is explicitly called Nazi and regarded as disreputable. Its popularity has fallen to 5 per cent in the year since the elections, it is experiencing a serious split, and Marian Kotleba was sentenced to 4 years and 4 months in prison by the Special Criminal Court in October 2020 for the propaganda of extremist ideas. This decision was appealed to a higher court, and now it is up to the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic to put an end to the case. According to some Slovak experts, the chances of the LSNS leader escaping justice are very low.

The legal basis for combating neo-Nazism, racism and racial discrimination is the Criminal Code of the SR. The list of extremist crimes is prescribed in Article 140A. It includes, in particular: acts related to the creation, support and promotion of movements the actions of which are directed against fundamental rights and freedoms; production, storage and distribution of extremist materials; denial of the Holocaust, criminal political regimes and crimes against human beings; oppression of certain nationalities and races; incitement to national and racial hatred; apartheid and discrimination against certain groups of citizens (Articles 421 – 424). In addition, the criminal's hatred towards the victim, which is explained by the actual or alleged belonging of the victim to a specific race, nation, national or ethnic group, in accordance with the definition of special motives (Article 140), is considered as an aggravating circumstance requiring the application of more severe punishment. The criticism of the European Commission for Combating Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) under the Council of Europe has been aimed at the lack of criteria for citizenship and language in Slovak criminal law among the characteristics of potential victims of racist behavior and racial discrimination[530].

In addition, the state has the Anti-Discrimination Act. However, according to ECRI, this act is not properly applied, since the National Human Rights Centre of Slovakia, which is responsible for monitoring its implementation, does not have the necessary independence[531].

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Slovak Republic, the number of crimes committed in the country under the article "Racially Motivated Extremism" in 2020 was 115 (85 in 2019 and 159 in 2018). The average crime detection rate of such criminal cases is about 35‑37 per cent[532].

The Slovak authorities are taking practical steps to counter the growth of radical sentiments in society. In particular, in 2017, the investigation into criminal cases with signs of extremism was entrusted to the office of the Special Prosecutor's office, whose staff was significantly expanded by the government's decision, as well as to the Special Criminal Court. The Ministry of Justice of the SR has established an expert Council for Social and Human Sciences dealing with extremism. Its absence was an obstacle to a thorough detection of the relevant criminal offences. The new expert Council works in two thematic areas: political extremism and religious extremism[533].

The activities of far-right associations are kept in the field of view of the Slovak Information Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the SR. Since 2012, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Slovakia has a Crime Prevention Department, which has formed a so-called monitoring group for Internet resources in order to detect calls for extremist or terrorist activities. The law enforcement agency has signed a contract with Altamira Company to develop a special software product that can analyze content in automatic mode. This IT tool was later improved to recognize manifestations of religious intolerance and calls to extremism in the Internet space of States bordering Slovakia.

In 2017, a national counter-terrorism unit was established. It consists of four branches (Bratislava, West, Center and East) and supplements the center for extremism monitoring. Employees of these bodies also actively monitor extremist organizations throughout the Internet space.

In order to debunk myths and refute false information regarding minorities, the "Anti-Hate" website[534] was created within the framework of the project of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Slovak Republic titled "Effective Monitoring, Investigation and Suppression of Violent Extremism in Cyberspace".

To counter the spread of the influence of the LSNS on the younger generation, specialized agencies are stepping up explanatory work among children and young people, including by expanding the program for teaching the history of World War II in secondary school. The state-supported NGO "Slovak Union of anti-Nazi fighters" is doing a lot of work in this area with the support of the National Ministry of Education.

Educational activities and programs aimed at preventing manifestations of anti-Semitism, racism and extremism, as well as the radicalization of society, are carried out by the Holocaust Museum in Sered established within the framework of the Slovak National Museum.

The issue of racial intolerance has been repeatedly raised in the Slovak media space, especially among radically-minded youth and usually as a reaction to another hate crime. Among such high-profile cases was the murder of a citizen of the Philippines Henry Acorda in the center of the Slovak capital in June 2018. A citizen of Slovakia, who is a right-wing extremist, was sentenced to six years in prison for committing this crime. The appeal filed by the prosecutor to impose stricter punishment was denied by the court.

The issue of racism in Slovak society has been noted by international monitoring bodies. Thus, experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) [535] and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)[536] expressed concern about persistent hate speech in the media and on the Internet, the use of racist political discourse among politicians against ethnic minorities, particularly Roma, Muslims and non-citizens. Court proceedings in cases of racial discrimination continue to be excessively lengthy.

It is noted that a great many hate crimes go unreported to the authorities, partly because victims do not trust the police[537].

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted that a general atmosphere of hostility towards persons considered to be alien as opposed to the majority of the population contributed to the erosion of tolerance in society and led to violations of the rights of minorities and vulnerable groups[538].

In its sixth report on the situation in the field of combatting intolerance and racial discrimination in Slovakia, published in December 2020, ECRI noted an escalation in hate speech against other groups, particularly Jews, Muslims, migrants, Roma and black persons. Traditional and electronic media outlets disseminate and amplify this hate speech by overrepresenting negative themes and showing inappropriate images. Very little hate content is removed from the Internet[539].

The human rights situation of Roma people remains the most pressing issue for Slovakia. This ethnic minority is the second largest in the country. According to the Slovak Statistical Office, the total Roma population in the country is 106,000 (2 per cent of the population). However, their actual number is significantly higher. As of 2019, it amounted to over 417,500 (about 9 per cent of the population). This ethnic group has been and remains the most discriminated against in the labor market, education, healthcare and housing. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern about the situation of the Roma people and their continuing structural discrimination in Slovakia[540].

The CRC criticized the Slovak authorities for using police raids in Roma settlements to gain the support of the neighboring population. Cases of excessive use of force and ill-treatment by law enforcement officers during operations, including against minors, were noted[541].

A prominent example was the news, widely covered by the national media, on the alleged beating by the police of five Roma children who violated quarantine regime on 27 April 2020 in Krompachy settlement. This situation became the focus of the Union of Gypsies in Slovakia, as well as the Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Roma Communities and the Slovak National Center for Human Rights that called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and personally the head of police to conduct a thorough investigation of the case. The president of Slovakia Zuzana Čaputova, who had regularly advocated for the rights of minorities and addressed the issue on numerous occasions during her electoral campaign, and the Council of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Human Rights, Minorities and Gender Equality called for "consistent respect of human rights and freedoms during state of emergency in the country".

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance stated that the investigations into police brutality were not thorough enough. At the same time, the Commission stated that Slovakia had managed to put an end to large-scale police operations in Roma neighborhoods. It was also noted that in the country the use of body-cams was promoted as a means of preventing violent acts by the police[542].

The segregation of Roma children in educational institutions provokes the sharpest criticism. Most such cases are reported in the region of Eastern Slovakia (Stará Lubovňa, Medzilaborce, etc.). Slovakia is condemned for the excessively high per centage of Roma minors enrolled in separate classes or special remedial schools. According to statistics, almost 90 per cent of students in those schools are Roma children. According to a report by the Slovak Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education, Roma pupils are seven to eight times more likely to repeat a school year – and eight times less likely to enter university.

To improve the situation, in June 2015, the National Council of Slovakia approved an amendment to the Act on Upbringing and Education, setting up legal mechanisms for the protection of children socially from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In 2019, the Slovak Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport organized 60 two-day seminars for 1,211 teachers and school staff on desegregation. They led to the development of 117 desegregation plans for schools.

Starting from September 2021, Slovakia introduces compulsory preschool education for 5-year-old children. This initiative aims to increase the preschool participation of Roma[543].

In addition, the Bulletin of FRA on fundamental rights implications of the pandemic provides data from a survey carried out by the Institute of Educational Policy in Slovakia showing that almost 50,000 children – mainly from poor localities, many of them inhabited by Roma – did not participate in distance learning at all during the first wave of the pandemic[544].

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in addition to the above-mentioned problems faced by the Roma population in Slovakia, pointed out that the Roma, especially those living in segregated settlements, did not have permanent access to clean drinking water[545]. Moreover, Roma people often become victims of human trafficking, although the number of such cases is decreasing. According to the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights, the National Program to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings (2019–2023) currently includes 30 persons (45 in 2017), mostly Roma from the Eastern Slovakia Region.

National and local authorities give priority to solving Roma issues. The Government has adopted a comprehensive Roma Integration Strategy up to 2020 (updated in February 2017), appointed a commissioner for Roma issues and implemented numerous programs aimed at involving and integrating members of this minority in public life. One of the most striking examples is the project for the "Horehronie" Multifunctional Centre in the village of Valaská-Piesok (Central Slovakia Region), where opportunities have been created for education, training, employment, participation in sports and cultural events for the Roma people and other socially disadvantaged groups. In settlements with large Roma communities, special "Roma civil patrols" have been introduced to monitor public order together with the local police. Special health centers have been established in Roma enclaves. Significant funds are allocated each year for projects in that area, including from euro funds.

However, no fundamental change in this area has been achieved so far. According to the monitoring of the Roma Inclusion Strategy conducted by the Slovak MIA, in 2019 the former government of Peter Pellegrini put into practice only 26 measures of the 121 contained in the document to support this population group.

In 2020, FRA expressed its concern regarding the insufficient protection of Roma from the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, due to the self-isolation regime introduced by the government, many representatives of this national minority lost their sources of income, and their underage children (about 60 per cent) lost access to education. According to Agency estimates, under the pretext of countering the spread of COVID-19, the discrimination of the Roma population intensified and the persecution continued in Slovakia and a number of other European countries[546].

In 2016, a member of the extreme right political party Kotleba – People's Party Our Slovakia Milan Mazurek made racist remarks about Romani people on a radio program. In particular, he spoke about the alleged "inadaptability" of ethnic Roma in association with the committing of vandalism and violence, insulted them, and also said that Islamic migrants are associated with danger. A first-instance court found him guilty and fined him EUR 5,000.

On appeal in September 2019, the Supreme Court of Slovakia increased the fine to EUR 10,000. The politician also lost his seat in Slovakia’s Parliament[547].

Thus, the situation in the field of combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other similar practices in Slovakia has not changed significantly during the reporting period. Official Bratislava strongly opposes a number of radical organizations that seek to whitewash the activities of the leaders of the pro-Nazi Slovak state of World War II, and pursues a policy aimed at suppressing their activities. The official authorities are also seeking to improve the hostile attitudes of Slovak society toward ethnic minorities, especially Roma, but this work is far from over. 

Slovenia

Manifestations of neo-Nazism in Slovenia are not systematic. Slovenian society reacts negatively to attempts to spread aggressive nationalist ideologies. There have been no instances of neo-Nazi marches or torchlight processions in the history of independent Slovenia. Cases of ideologically motivated attacks on persons of a different nationality, faith or belief are rare.

Meanwhile, there is still a split in society caused by the attitude to the results of World War II. The territory of modern Slovenia in 1941 was occupied by Hitlerite Germany, Nazi Italy and Horthist Hungary. Some of the young people were forcibly mobilized by the occupiers, while others joined the partisans. Many hierarchs of the Catholic Church supported the invaders, seeing for themselves the main threat in the spread of communism. There are still certain forces in Slovenia that openly sympathize with the "domobranci" and "armed anti-Communist militia" – units formed by the German and Italian occupiers in the Slovenian territory during World War II.

Official authorities made no attempt to declare Slovenian collaborators as "participants in national liberation movements". Their political followers do not make any obvious attempts to glorify Nazi collaborators, but try to whitewash their activities in every possible way, to declare all those who died in battles with anti-Nazi partisans as victims of revolutionary violence, and some of them – as true fighters for the Catholic faith.

Veteran organizations enjoy great authority in Slovenia, including the largest of them – the Union of Veteran Associations in Support of the Values of the People's Liberation Struggle in Slovenia 1941 – 1945 (SOVNOB). The organization has more than 40 thousand members, including both veterans of anti-Nazi resistance (they now number about 6 thousand people), and representatives of the following generations, whose aim is to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of the partisan movement and to prevent the justification of the crimes of fascism and Nazism, as well as the spread of related ideology in today's world. SOVNOB, together with other specialized public associations with military and memorial orientation, is a member of the Coordination Committee of Veteran and Patriotic Organizations of Slovenia, which plays a significant role in the socio-political life of the country.

No cases of prosecution of anti-Nazi veterans have been recorded. Attempts of the right-wing forces to ban the symbols of the Slovenian anti-Nazi movement (and, indirectly, the USSR or the Red Army) in the 1990s and in 2005 – 2008 were unsuccessful.

By contrast, the rise of right-wing political forces to power in Slovenia is invariably accompanied by a certain increase in right-wing radicalism. For example, in 2012 – 2013 the right-wing government adopted a decision (later overturned) to ban the use of the red star as a symbol of the anti-fascist resistance of Slovenes during World War II at official ceremonies (these restrictions did not apply to Russian/Soviet monuments and events) and did not allow representatives of veteran organizations with partisan banners to attend Statehood Day celebrations on 25 June 2012. The right-wing government that came to power in March 2020 declared the use of Slovenian partisan flag with a five-pointed star at the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Slovenian independence (celebrated on 25 June 2021) unacceptable, resulting in a boycott of the event by SOVNOB, several other veteran organizations with an anti-Nazi agenda, as well as some left-wing politicians.

Another example is the revitalization of the Slovenian Identity Generation, a local branch of a pan-European movement of right-wing young people, a few months before the 2018 parliamentary elections. The community promoted nationalist ideas, such as Holocaust denial, and carried out actions against migrants and the Islamization of Europe, etc.

The neo-Nazi groups in Slovenia are generally marginal. They are not officially associated with any influential political forces. Scattered radical associations, among which experts include followers of the European neo-Nazi organization "Blood and honor", as well as groups "Here – Slovenia", "Bounty Hunters", "Autonomous Nationalists of Slovenia" and others, have refused to run public actions in recent years. They use social networks (primarily Facebook) to promote their ideas and maintain contacts. Shielding themselves with pseudo-patriotic slogans, these organizations oppose migrants, Muslims, Roma, immigrants from the former republics of Yugoslavia, as well as their ideological opponents.

Some electronic and print media of the country publish materials glorifying collaborators as fighters against communist evil, and the topic of identification of communism with fascism and Nazism is raised as well. Since 2009, representatives of the country's right-wing forces have made unsuccessful attempts to pass through parliament a document "in support" of the European Parliament resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism[548]. Slovenian European Parliament Deputies supported the resolution of the European Parliament on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe and appealed to the State Assembly (parliament) of Slovenia to accept its position as a guide to action.

At the same time, within the framework of the UN General Assembly, the Slovenian delegation, in line with the common position of the EU member states, traditionally abstains in the vote on the resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance".

The pseudo-scientific historical work of a right-wing politician, the mayor of the municipality of Radenci Roman Leljak, who made a documentary in 2018 and published a book "The Myth of Jasenovac," is noteworthy. In his works, referring to alleged archival documents, he tried to expose "propagandistic manipulation" of the number of victims in the Croatian death camp Jasenovac, created in 1941 by the fascist Ustasa regime and the German occupation administration for the genocide of Serbs, Jews and Roma. The Slovenian expert community, media and civil society representatives strongly condemned Leljak's attempt to rehabilitate Nazism. Croatia perceived Leljak's actions as revanchism and mockery of the memory of the victims of genocide and banned him from entering the country.

In 2021, the Slovene Journalists Association filed a complaint with the police against Norma Brščič, wife of right-wing politician Bernard Brščič and TV host of the political talk show "Faktor" on the Slovene TV3 channel, for publicly inciting hatred and intolerance. During the show, the host made racist remarks, including on Holocaust denial.

Cases of desecration of monuments to anti-Nazi partisans who fought the Italian and German invaders during World War II are not uncommon in Slovenia. For example, in early September 2021 in Ljubljana, a monument to the 24 hostages – victims of shootings carried out by the Nazi occupiers on 13 October 1942 as a response to the murder of the political activist and collaborator Marko Natlačen was vandalized. A memorial plaque with the names of the victims and a vase near the monument were destroyed. The bronze statue of the hostage on the pedestal was left untouched[549]. On the night of 3 July 2019, six different monuments commemorating the heroes and victims of the Yugoslav People's Liberation War were desecrated in different parts of the capital. The monuments were painted with counter-revolutionary and anti-Yugoslav inscriptions. This act of vandalism was condemned by the President of Slovenia Borut Pahor and representatives of the country's Ministry of Culture. In general, such acts are always followed by a negative public reaction and protests on the part of center-left forces[550].

At the same time, no cases of desecration or destruction of monuments to Soviet soldiers who died on the territory of Slovenia during World War II have been recorded in the last decade. The memorials are maintained in good condition. The Disabled, War Veterans and Victims of War Directorate of the Ministry of Labor, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of Slovenia as the lead agency, as well as the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture of Slovenia are responsible for this.

Nevertheless, in January 2021 in Ljubljana, unidentified hooligans damaged the Eternal Flame gas burner installed at the monument to the Sons of Russia and the Soviet Union located in the Žale memorial complex.

Since 2016, under the auspices of the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Guardians of the Spoon project has been implemented to increase awareness of Nazi atrocities in Slovenian territory and prevent distortion of history. The project website provides information about Slovenians imprisoned in Nazi and Fascist concentration camps during World War II and contains their recollections.

International monitoring human rights mechanisms are concerned about acts of hatred. The Human Rights Committee stressed that despite the adoption by Slovenia of legislative acts prohibiting racially motivated discriminatory hate speech, racist and xenophobic language against persons belonging to minorities, as well as migrants, refugees and Roma was noticed in public statements of some politicians. In particular, the OSCE ODIHR expressed concerns that the pre-election campaign before early parliamentary elections on 3 June 2018 was tainted by negative campaigning and intolerant rhetoric against minorities, migrants and refugees by some contestants. The Slovenian Human Rights Ombudsman also pointed to the frequently low level of ethics in public discourse in Slovenia.

Hate speech, particularly against migrants, Muslims and Roma, on the Internet and online fora was also indicated. The project spletno-oko.si (Web Eye hotline), a public anonymous reporting system of hate speech cases and other illegal content spread via the Internet, has recorded for the period 2007 – 2017 16,685 reports of hate speech, 541 of which were transmitted to the police for possible prosecution[551].

In 2020, the Slovenian Ministry of Culture completed public consultations on the new Mass Media Act that were aimed at bringing it in line with the new digital media reality by introducing provisions on combatting hate speech in the media, including on the Internet. Slovenia began to make the relevant amendments to the law as early as in 2019 to ensure, among other things, the financial development of independent media serving the public interest.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) highlighted several cases of religious intolerance in Slovenia. Thus, for example, the construction site of the country's first Islamic cultural center and mosque in Ljubljana was vandalized several times. The government, NGOs and religious communities issued statements condemning the desecration and calling for greater tolerance and respect for cultural diversity. Some Christian shrines were also desecrated. Unknown individuals vandalized the St. Nicholas Catholic Cathedral in Ljubljana.

However, ECRI welcomed some reactions to manifestations of hostility and the use of hate speech, in particular towards migrants and asylum seekers, in Slovenian society. In 2017, the Municipality of Nova Gorica reacted to the distribution of stickers with an offensive slogan against refugees in town by ordering their immediate removal. In May 2018, some hundred people attended a peaceful demonstration in Ljubljana against the increasing dissemination of hate speech in the electoral campaign[552].

According to international human rights monitoring mechanisms, the situation with the Roma community remains one of the most pressing human rights challenges in Slovenia. The last census (held in 2002) showed that there had been 3,246 Roma living in Slovenia. According to various state, public and non-governmental organizations there are between 7 and 12 thousand representatives of this ethnic group currently living in the country. The absence of more relevant information was indicated, in particular, by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its concluding observations on the combined eighth and eleventh periodic reports of Slovenia on the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination made in December 2015[553].

Experts of Slovenian and international human rights organizations welcome the existence of a legal framework in the country (status and special rights of the Roma community are defined by Article 65 of the Slovenian Constitution, the Roma Community Act of the Republic of Slovenia (2007), the Local Self-Government Act (2009)) which vest the Roma with the rights to participate in the public administration process at the municipal level, as well as institutions (Council of Roma Community in Slovenia) and the National Program of Measures for Roma for the period 2017 – 2021 adopted by the government of Slovenia in May 2017.

However, it is stressed that Ljubljana has not made any significant progress in improving the situation with this ethnic group yet. It is indicated that the majority of the Roma still have a low social status and are subject to various forms of discrimination.

The Human Rights Ombudsman of Slovenia, Peter Svetina, in his 2019 report once again stressed the need for a more active interaction between the State and the local authorities in dealing with the issues of the Roma situation. In addition, the Ombudsman pointed out the problems regarding the regulation of their settlements and providing them with housing and community conditions, including electricity and access to drinking water and sanitizing facilities.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination draws attention to the fact that the enrollment of the Roma children in the education system is below the national average, the Roma still have restricted access to employment and healthcare services. According to human rights organizations, the unemployment rate among this ethnic group is an average of 95 per cent[554].

The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in its Report 2020 notes that Roma children continue to be overrepresented in special schools designed for children with mental disabilities. This is the case although the Slovenian strategy of education of Roma formally abolished school segregation in 2004 and Roma-only classes had already been abolished in 2003.

A positive achievement in Slovenia is the implementation of large-scale horizontal programs by national employment agencies for training, career orientation, developing job seeking skills[555].

The problem with the "erased", the citizens of the former Yugoslavia who had a permanent registration in Slovenia but were removed from the list of permanent residents in February 1992 under the Aliens Act, is still present on the human rights agenda. Amendments to the country's legislation, adopted in 2010 at the request of the Council of Europe and international NGOs, enabled to restore the status of 12,000 persons on the list. Human rights activists estimate that there are more than 25,600 of such persons.

While considering the application of the group of "erased" in 2012 (case Kuric and others v. Slovenia), the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that Slovenia violated Article 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (prohibition of discrimination in the exercise of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention), as well as the rights to private and family life and to effective legal assistance. The ECtHR indicated that the Slovenian government should, within one year, set up a compensation scheme to the "erased" persons.

Pursuant to the decisions of the ECtHR and the Slovenian Constitutional Court, the relevant act was adopted and has been in force since 18 June 2014. Over EUR 15.5 million of compensations were paid for the entire period.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe monitoring the implementation of the ECtHR decisions stated that by adopting the aforementioned law Slovenia had fulfilled all its obligations imposed by the ECtHR. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights welcomed the steps taken by Slovenia in this direction, as well as a public apology by the President of the National Assembly of Slovenia in respect of the "erased" persons.

However, concerns were expressed about the social and economic rights of this segment of the population. In particular, Slovenia was recommended to expand the scope of the law, adopted in 2010, regulating the status of the "erased" persons to cover the children born outside the country, provide the "erased" persons with the possibility to recover their legal status without administrative restrictions, ensure full reparation, as well as access to education, professional training and employment.

International and national human rights organizations and institutions also point out that these groups in Slovenia are still facing great challenges, including housing problems, the amount of compensation, the legal status of the next of kin, etc.

Thus, Slovenia faces certain difficulties in eradicating xenophobic attitudes. In general, the official authorities do not ignore the recommendations of international monitoring bodies and make incremental efforts to rectify the situation in this area.

USA

There are increasingly cynical attempts in the USA to rewrite the history of World War II and its outcome. The desire for global leadership is becoming so obsessive of the USA that in recent years it has become characteristic of American political rhetoric and the media to emphasize only the role of the USA and its Western allies in the victory over Nazism and not to talk about the key contribution of the USSR in the defeat of Hitlerite Germany.

Crude attempts to distort the results of the defeat of Nazism and to blot out the decisive contribution of the USSR did not stop in Washington, even during the solemn celebration of the 75th anniversary of the victory. On the eve of May 9 2020, the administration of American President D.Trump on his official page on the Instagram social network posted a video recording Trump laying a wreath at the World War II Memorial, accompanied by the video with the caption "On May 8, 1945, the USA and Great Britain defeated Nazism". This publication is contrary to the statement adopted on April 25, 2020 by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and USA President D.Trump on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the meeting of soldiers of the USSR and the United States on the Elbe River[556]. At the same time, it should be noted that there are some precedents of contemporary American officials, including at the highest level, recognizing the Soviet Union’s contribution to the Victory.

"Historical" works aimed at falsifying history and shifting the emphasis on the "crimes" of the Soviet Union under the leadership of "Soviet dictator Stalin" are published. These are the goals pursued by the revisionist work of Sh.McMeekin "Stalin’s War: A New History of World War II", published in April 2021. The publication "The American Conservative" aptly noted in relation to this book that it fits perfectly into the world in which it is now fashionable to hate Russia[557].

The relevant materials are also published in the media. The Washington Times, in its August 14, 2020 publications "Pledging Guilt" by H. Pirchner and "The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact: A Bad Deal" on August 15, 2020, attempted to place responsibility for starting World War II equally on Hitler’s Germany and the Soviet Union. Journalists do this by using techniques that have become "traditional": one-sided interpretations of the political and military realities of the pre-war period and distortions of historical events.

Articles revealing unsightly facts about the history of USA cooperation with the Nazis are rather an exception. Thus, CNN reports that the USA tainted itself with cooperation with the Nazis, made a "deal with the devil"[558]. After the Second world war, about 120 scientists from the Third Reich worked on NASA’s rocket programs. Many collaborators had friendly relations with high-ranking officials and even USA presidents. In the fight against the Communists, they say, the end justified the means.

Monuments to Nazi criminals are installed in the States of Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin[559]. The authorities still do not consider it necessary to condemn the installation in 2019 of a memorial to Nazi henchman A. Ramanauskas-Vanagas, a Lithuanian, in a Chicago suburb (on private territory). The American media bypass this shameful fact. Criticism from the Simon Wiesenthal Center is ignored[560].

In addition, some American diplomatic missions are also seen in efforts to distort history. For example, the USA Embassy in Hungary has begun selecting projects and programs with the common theme of "Remembering World War II and its Aftermath – The Long Walk to Freedom". According to a document published on the website of the American Embassy, American and Hungarian organizations and individuals are required to "carefully follow the instructions" when preparing an application for participation. Among other things, the American side demands that the authors of the projects focus on stories that would describe "cruelty and collaboration in the midst of the Holocaust and World War II, as well as under the tyranny of the Soviet Union"[561].

Such a position of the United States is clearly not conducive to improving the situation inside the country, combating racial discrimination, xenophobia and the legacy of the "brown plague".

The human rights situation in the USA remains a matter of serious concern and is constantly deteriorating. This is recognized even by non-governmental organizations loyal to Washington.

According to an article published on the Pew Research Center website on November 13, 2020, studies conducted by the think tank illustrated "the increasingly stark disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on the economy, racial justice, climate change, law enforcement", etc. And the 2020 presidential election only served to highlight these divides. The authors have also reported that a month prior to the election, about 80% of surveyed registered voters in both camps "said their differences with the other side were about core American values", and roughly 90% of respondents from the two parties expressed concern "that a victory by the other would lead to lasting harm to the United States"[562].

In addition to the escalated political confrontation between the two main political forces and the significant social stratification, racial discrimination is increasing. Systemic racism remains a problem plaguing American society, it affects all spheres of society. All these negative manifestations affect ethnic and racial minorities to the greatest extent. Their situation was further aggravated by the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to an article published by the Pew Research Center in January 2020, majority (i.e. 61%) of adult Americans said that there was "too much economic inequality in the US". Approximately a quarter (23%) stated the country had "about the right amount of inequality" and 13% believed there was "too little inequality". Across income groups surveyed, the public was pretty much "equally likely to say there" was too much economic inequality. Still, more "upper- (27%) and middle-income Americans (26%)" opined that there was "about the right amount of economic inequality" compared to lower earners (17%). And lower-income adults were "more likely than those with" average to high earnings to say there was "too little inequality"[563].

A study, published in December 2020 by researchers at University of Chicago and University of Notre Dame, reported that poverty in the United States had risen from 9.3 to 11.7% (i.e. by 2.4%) during the June to November 2020 period. At the same time, the poverty rate among black Americans increased by 3.1 %. According to an article published by USA Today on June 29, 2020, home ownership among African American and white families was 44% and 73.7%, respectively, in the 1st quarter of 2020. In October 2020, ABC News published a story stating that 15.7% of Latinos in the United States had lived in poverty in 2019, a number more than double that among their white counterparts[564].

In January 2021, 24 million American citizens reported food shortages due to lack of livelihood, which is 5 million more than the same figure in August 2020. 45% of families with insufficient food supply belong to the low-income population. At the same time, two-thirds of them are African Americans and immigrants from Central and Latin America[565]. Back in may 2020, the media noted that the number of applications for unemployment benefits exceeded 40 million[566].

Against the background of a significant increase in the number of unemployed (since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, 74.4 million Americans have lost their jobs), the situation of the affluent has improved. The total income of American billionaires (651 people) has increased by 36% since March 2020, by more than $ 1 trillion. The Washington Times newspaper notes in this regard the so-called pandemic paradox: while many millions of Americans were out of work due to the "coronacrisis", the rich stratum of the population actively increased their own financial well-being[567].

Expert circles are extremely alarmed by the situation with the spread of extremist ideology in the United States. The seriousness of the problem is increasingly drawn to the attention of senior American officials and legislators.

As of 2020, there are 838 functioning "hate groups" in the USA[568]. Among them there are the notorious Ku Klux Klan (47 "cells"), neo-Nazis and "skinheads" (59 and 48 "communities"), other adherents of the "ideology of superiority of the white race" (391 organizations), as well as anti-immigrant and Islamophobic movements (20 and 84, respectively). Despite the reduction in the number of such organizations compared to 2019 (about 940 such structures), this does not mean that the problem becomes any less urgent[569]. On the contrary, the activities of radicals are becoming more coordinated and covert – the correspondence is carried out in closed groups in social networks using end-to-end encryption technology. According to surveys, about 29 % of all Americans personally know someone in their orbit who adheres to the idea of "white supremacy"[570].

The activities of such odious neo-Nazi organizations as The Base, Feuerkrieg Division and Atomwaffen Division (its cells operate in the states of Washington, Virginia, California, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Florida)[571] as well as the right-wing radical Proud Boys, which is believed to act as a first step in drawing new members into organizations based on misanthropic ideas, are of serious concern to human rights activists. According to a study by "Die Zeit" (2021), the influence of this organization is so great that many neo-Nazis, not included in this structure, are guided by its leader J.Mason[572]. In addition, the structure has expanded its activities to the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the Baltic States. It is stated that as of mid-2019, 35 Americans left the United States for Ukraine in order to participate in hostilities.[573]

Neo-Nazi demonstrations and marches in the United States are usually held under the protection of law enforcement agencies, which see their main task only in preventing riots due to clashes between extremists and their opponents.

In addition, the authors noted that many extremist ideologues were "not formal members of any organization". After all, online platforms allowed "individuals to interact with hate and antigovernment groups without joining them, as well as to form connections and talk with likeminded people"[574].

Accordingly, the number of ideological materials distributed by extremists has increased in recent years. For instance, ADL’s (Anti-Defamation League, an NGO) Center on Extremism (COE) "tracked a near-doubling of white supremacist propaganda efforts in 2020". Their research showed that more than 5000 incidents, including "the distribution of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ fliers, stickers, banners and posters", had been reported. Patriot Front, New Jersey European Heritage Association and Nationalist Social Club were the most active in spreading propaganda (92 % of all activities)[575].

On an almost daily basis, neo-Nazis publish materials inciting hatred and enmity. Experts note in this regard "Black and Silver Solution", "Daily Archives", "Tennessee Shield Wall Network", "Daily Stormer", "Nazi Central", "Universal Order", "14First the Foundation", "White Nationalist Defender", "Rise Above Movement", "Keystone United", "Kommandant Base 211", "Joey Faust", "National Policy Institute", "Woman for Aryan Unity", "new Jersey European heritage Association", "the Church of Jesus Christ Christian – Aryan Nations", "the white nationalist defender" and many others.

New structures are emerging to glorify Nazism and deny the Holocaust. Thus, in 2019, Iron Youth and Folksfront were established. In July 2020, members of the disbanded Atomwaffen Division announced the creation of a new organization called the National Socialist Order.

Many radical organizations claim to participate in the political life of the country. Among them – "American Freedom Party", "Racial Nationalist Party of America", "American Identity Movement" and "Proud Boys"[576].

Under the "umbrella" of the first amendment to the constitution on freedom of speech, such organizations feel unpunished. Law enforcers, on the other hand, intervene in the most extreme cases, when it is often too late.

In 2021, amid an accelerated U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, experts expressed concern that neo-Nazis, hoping to provoke an "inevitable race war" that would lead to a whites-only state in North America and Europe, expressed admiration for the ideology of the Afghan Taliban Movement for its anti-Semitism, homophobia and severe restrictions on women’s freedom[577].

The negative trends of the rise of neo-Nazi and other radical organizations are confirmed by statistics. Human rights activists have pointed to an increase in hate speech against minorities against a backdrop of rising white nationalism and an increase in violent crime across the country. According to crime data released by the FBI in 2019, 57.6 per cent of the 8,302 hate crimes reported by law enforcement were motivated by the race or ethnicity of the victims. More specifically, 48.4% were "victims of crimes motivated by offenders’ anti-Black or African American bias"; 15.8% – by perpetrators’ anti-White bias; 14.1% were victims of anti-Hispanic or Latino bias, and 4.3% were targeted due to anti-Asian bias. And "among the 4,930 victims of racial hate crimes, as many as 2,391 were of African descent"[578].

For 2020, the FBI also recorded a high rate of hate crimes – 7,759 cases, of which 4,939 were motivated by racial or ethnic hatred and 1,174 had religious overtones. In recent years, attacks on African Americans have increased from 1,930 to 2,755, and on people of Asian descent from 158 to 274. There were 773 attacks on whites[579].

Based on results of the poll published by the Military Times in February 2020, "more than one-third of all active-duty troops" and over "half of minority service members" said they had personally "witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideologically driven racism within the ranks in recent months." Respondents "reported witnessing incidents including racist language and discriminatory attitudes from peers." The problem is that membership in a white nationalist group among US servicemen was not prohibited, but active participation in such an organization "could lead to an administrative discharge". In February 2020, US defense officials told a hearing of the House Armed Services subcommittee that membership in a white nationalist group would not be enough to keep a man or a woman out of the military[580]. They also said that there was "no reliable data on how many service members had been administratively discharged for espousing white supremacist ideology."[581]

In May 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the "Strategic Intelligence Assessment and Data on Domestic Terrorism" report that acknowledged the "threat posed by international and domestic threat actors" had evolved significantly since 9/11. In 2019, the FBI and DHS assessed that Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVEs), "primarily those advocating for the superiority of the white race", would likely continue to be the most lethal DVE (Domestic Violent Extremist) threat to the Homeland. According to the report, the greatest terrorism threat to the United States was "posed by lone offenders". In addition, 2019 was the most lethal year for DVE attacks since 1995, "with five" such attacks resulting in 32 deaths, 24 of which occurred due to actions of RMVEs "advocating for the superiority of the white race."[582]

The authors of the report also discussed radicalization online and mentioned non-US actors by defining a lone offender "as an individual motivated by one or more violent extremist ideologies who, operating alone", supported or engaged "in acts of unlawful violence in furtherance of that ideology or ideologies" that could "involve influence from a larger terrorist organization or a foreign actor". It is also important to note that despite the focus of US authorities on the threat posed by right-wing extremists, in reality, double standards are commonly applied to such individuals and organizations. A number of US experts and lawmakers have pointed out the danger posed by far-right groups active in Ukraine who have been "responsible for a rising number of violent attacks in recent years". Such organizations have reportedly established ties with US-based extremist groups, such as Atomwaffen Division. In the US military, incidents involving racist language and discriminatory attitudes remained a problem. In fact, "Defense Department officials tracked at least 27 reports of extremist activity by active-duty troops from 2013 to 2018". The Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) has been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, some have questions the decision as not much information about this organization and its ties to foreign groups is available. Meanwhile, infamous Ukraine-based white supremacy groups, such as Right Sector, the Azov Battalion and S14, whose members have reportedly perpetrated acts of violence, were not included in the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list.

Starting in year 2020, as the Coronavirus began to spread throughout the nation, xenophobia has been on the rise. Asian Americans have been subjected to harassment and discrimination in public venues. There have been instances when they were barred from entering commercial locations and using public transport. Assaults on persons originating from Central Asia that year increased by 150%[583] compared to 2019. According to the NGO Stop AAPI Crime, there were 9,081 incidents between March 19, 2020 and June 30, 2021 (of which 4,548 occurred in 2020 and 4,533 occurred in the first half of 2021). The majority (63.7%) were insults, 16.5% were intentional avoidance, 13.7% of cases were physical attacks, and 11% were workplace discrimination, denial of service, etc., 8.3% were cases of insults on the Internet. A large per centage of incidents took place "in public streets and parks" (31.6%) and in businesses (30.1%). Women made up the majority, i.e. 63.3%, of all victims[584]. According to a 2020 report on the USA by The China Society for Human Rights Studies, one in four young Asian Americans is the target of racially motivated harassment[585].

In March 2021, the widely publicized killing of 8 people, including 6 Asian women, in Atlanta, Georgia sparked nationwide discourse. An armed white man went on a shooting spree in three spas that resulted in the death of employees and visitors.

Islamophobia is widespread in the country (there are 72 radical anti-Islamic organizations[586]) and anti-Semitism. There are many cases of attacks on mosques and synagogues and their parishioners.

Based on survey results reported by ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) on March 31, 2021, American Jews continued "to face significant fear and anxiety from the threat of anti-Semitic or other hateful attacks and harassment". 63% of Jewish respondents in the United States "either experienced or witnessed some form of antisemitism in the last five years". 56 % of American Jews "heard anti-Semitic comments, slurs or threats targeting others" in the same period, while 9% of respondents said they had been "physically attacked in the last five years" on account of being Jewish[587].

In 2020, the Anti-Defamation League NGO recorded more than 120 facts of applying images aimed at praising Nazism. About 90 acts of vandalism were committed. There were more than a hundred cases of verbal threats against Jews, about 20 attacks[588].

In the same year, the FBI recorded 676 offences based on anti-Semitism (a decrease compared to 2019 – 953). The Anti-Defamation League NGO, using a broader definition of hate incidents that includes non-criminalized incidents[589], recorded 2,024 incidents of assault, harassment, and vandalism against Jews in the United States (this figure is also 4% lower than the 2019 figure, but it is still the third highest in the history of monitoring since 1979)[590].

On February 26, 2020, four extremists operating in Seattle, Tampa, Houston and Phoenix were arrested on charges of conspiracy to endanger the lives of journalists and nongovernmental organization activists. The affected persons were Jewish Americans and African Americans. Images of Nazi swastika, weapons and Molotov cocktails were sent to them by mail.

In 2021, manifestations of anti-Semitism became more frequent against the background of the escalation of the armed conflict between Israel and Palestine in May. The figure jumped from 127 cases two weeks before the clashes to 222 two weeks after. In New York City alone, home to the largest Jewish community outside Israel, police had received 80 reports of anti-Semitic crimes by May 2020 (62 reports during the same period in 2019). Law enforcement officers intensified patrols in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods. Anti-Semitic incidents included an attack by a group of people carrying Palestinian flags on Jews dining outside in Los Angeles, aggression against Orthodox Jews in New York, and the desecration of a synagogue in Alaska with Nazi symbols. Pro-Palestinian protests and acts of vandalism in synagogues were also reported in Arizona, Illinois, Florida and new York, as well as in salt lake city, where an unknown person painted a swastika on the door of the synagogue[591].

In addition, there are also recorded desecration of a memorial to the victims of the Jewish genocide on February 24, 2021 in Oklahoma, an armed attack on March 31, 2021 in New York City against a Jewish family with a young child[592].

Another incident occurred in Florida at the end of March, 2021. A car belonging to a Holocaust survivor was marked with two swastikas[593].

CBS journalists noted that since 2016, there have already been more than 2.1 thousand incidents related to attacks, vandalism and insults to the Diaspora[594].

International systems of human rights monitoring and civil rights NGOs have pointed out that racism, xenophobia as well as ethnic and religious intolerance continued to spread in the United States. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report, entitled "The Year in Hate: Rage Against Change" published by this legal advocacy organization on February 20, 2019, the number of hate groups in the United States tracked by SPLC rose by 30% over the past four years, starting in 2014. The total number of such organizations increased in 2018, "up about 7 per cent from 2014".[595]

In its August 2014 concluding observations, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed its concern about the prevailing challenges due to racial discrimination in US society; the lack of prohibition of racist hate speech, and the practice of racial profiling used by law enforcement agencies. The document also included numerous recommendations on eliminating discrimination faced by minorities in other aspects of life.[596]

According to official statistics, over the past 40 years, the number of people detained in prisons has increased by almost 700 %, with the number of convicted Americans exceeding the mark of 2.3 million people[597]. The number of prisoners by the end of 2020 was 1.814 million. According to the human rights NGO "Vera Institute of Justice", there was a slight decrease in this figure compared to 2019. (2.115 million people)[598]. Both human rights activists and scientists agree that this is a temporary phenomenon[599]. The decline is explained by the release of convicts due to the spread of the coronavirus or the replacement of a measure of restraint or punishment. At the same time, representatives of the "colored population" are much more likely to be arrested and imprisoned than "whites".

As inmate populations increased, conditions in penitentiaries started to deteriorate. And jail officials often failed to protect prisoner rights. Black men and women were found to be "imprisoned at higher rates compared to all other age groups", with the highest rate being for Black men aged 25 to 39[600].

According to the "Death Penalty Information Center" NGO, the majority of those sentenced to capital punishment are African Americans, Latinos or representatives of other ethnic minorities[601]. The NGO indicated, in particular, that African Americans accounted for 34.1 % of those sentenced. At times, innocent people are sentenced to death due to mistakes made during trial proceedings and other factors. According to the Amnesty International NGO, a total of 156 people were sentenced to capital punishment "without justification". In addition, capital punishment was applied disproportionately against people of color and the poor.

In June 2021, the media learned that the authorities of the state of Arizona purchased toxic substances for use in gas chambers. The resonance was caused by the fact that such toxic substances were used by the Nazis during the Holocaust[602].

The situation with Russian citizens in detention facilities in the United States is a matter of concern. Currently, about a hundred Russians are detained in American prisons and Interrogation rooms. Most of them are serving sentences for non-violent crimes (such as violations of immigration laws, fraud, theft, etc.). There is a lack of accurate information about the number of Russians languishing in US penitentiaries, because the US side does not always let Russian authorities know that an individual has been released from jail.

Reportedly, Russian citizens face discrimination from US judicial staff and law enforcement officers. Allegedly, some of them have been subjected to psychological harassment. At times, intimidation has been used to extract confessions and/ or to force suspects to make deals with the prosecution despite lack of evidence against them. A number of articles have said that Russians in US penitentiary facilities lacked access to adequate medical care. And the spread of the Coronavirus infection has made their lives even harder.

In addition, Russian citizens are still being arrested in countries, other than the United States, at the request of US law enforcement agencies. They have also been extradited against their will to stand trial in the USA. Since 2008, more than 50 Russians have been arrested abroad.

Of particular concern is the situation of Russian citizens K.V.Yaroshenko, V.A.Bout, R.V.Seleznev, and O.V.Nikitin, who are serving prison terms in American prisons. Their conditions of detention do not comply with any standards. Despite their chronic diseases, they do not receive adequate medical care or are provided with a significant delay. Concern about their health only increases the spread of COVID-19 in American prisons.

In recent years, the pressure of the American authorities on the representatives of the Russian media in the USA has increased, they have repeatedly become the objects of violence and cruelty. M.Turgiyev, Yu.Olkhovskaya, V.Arkhipov and others were subjected to harsh actions on the part of the American law enforcement officers in the course of coverage of certain events in the country. Journalists G.Olisashvili and M.Katayev, who were subjected to the robbery, were faced with indifference and disinterest of the police officers in the investigation of the incident.

More frequent cases of provocations on the part of the American intelligence services drew attention to themselves. For example, on October 15, 2020, at the airport of New York City, federal customs and border guards interrogated RT journalist K.Rozhkov for hours. The Russian flew to the USA to make a documentary about America on the eve of the presidential elections. The security services were unhappy with his intention to cover current events in the country for the RT channel, which is listed as a "foreign agent". The reporter was required to open access to all available electronic media, as well as to clarify correspondence related to journalistic activities. The incident clearly went beyond the normal procedures for ensuring public safety.

On October 23, 2020, Rossiya Segodnya spokesman D.Zlodorev was questioned by a representative of the Baltimore office of the FBI for a considerable period of time by telephone.

The Russian Embassy sent notes of protest to the USA Department of State regarding these and similar incidents, demanding a thorough investigation into each of the incidents and to report the results. So far, no response has been received to the relevant official appeals.

Media giants have also been found to have violated the rights of the Russian press. In July 2020, the YouTube video hosting blocked the accounts of the Tsargrad TV channel and the Two-Headed Eagle Historical Society. The formal pretext was called "violation of the terms of the platform and export legislation."

In addition, despite appeals by several human rights activists, recommendations by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the fact that our citizens are convicted of non-violent crimes or have already served more than half of their sentences, appeals to release our compatriots on humanitarian grounds are ignored by USA authorities.

Members of human rights community have repeatedly expressed concern about the increasingly tough measures taken by US authorities in order to "resolve" the immigration crisis facing the country. In 2019, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) were launched, and under the program "certain foreign individuals entering or seeking admission" to the United States from Mexico – illegally or without proper documentation – could be returned to Mexico to wait outside of the US "for the duration of their immigration proceedings".

The practice of artificially creating queues at southern border crossings has been documented, resulting in life-threatening consequences for thousands of migrants and refugees forced to violate USA law and cross the border at inappropriate locations. The impact of the program on children of asylum seekers and border crossers was particularly negative.

US authorities often separated families seeking asylum in the United States once they crossed the US-Mexico border. According to the ACLU (a nonprofit organization), minors were routinely separated from their families[603]. They were then transferred to various immigration facilities. Reportedly, over 2,500 immigrant children were separated from their parents or caregivers. "1033 of them were under the age of ten when they were detained, including 185 under five".[604] According to the organization, as of August 2020, 678 children have been separated by the authorities under the pretext of "parental criminal records." By August 17, 2020, the organization had "filed 400 legal actions against the Trump administration", with one filing (a class-action lawsuit) aimed at blocking "the removal of children seeking asylum at the border."[605] According to a report published by Physicians for Human Rights on January 12, 2021, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency that runs immigration detention facilities, had "long been accused of human rights violations, physical and psychological abuse, inadequate medical care," etc. More than 40% of the respondents formerly detained by ICE surveyed "reported experiencing acts of intimidation and retaliation after their complaints" about facilities and their treatment[606]. In 2018-2019, about 2,600 teens were in custody, 5 died. As of March 2021, 4,200 juveniles were incarcerated.

The Washington Post reported on an incident in which 10-year-old asylum seeker W. Obregon was deported to Mexico by authorities and then kidnapped by unknown assailants. Reporters are convinced that there are thousands of such incidents[607].

Experts also criticized the living conditions of migrants – in tent cities or overcrowded "barracks" type rooms, in rooms without heating and access to basic hygiene products. Frozen foods, including expired ones, are in the diet[608]. Among other problems, analysts note unemployment and the criminal situation. There are known cases of refugees settling in religious buildings and places of worship. Migrants’ children are not given the opportunity to attend educational institutions, nor are proper measures taken against the spread of serious infectious diseases, including HIV.

The "Stay in Mexico" program introduced in the USA has been heavily criticized by human rights activists. It is alleged that its rules have led to large-scale violations of fundamental freedoms. Nearly 70,000 people who sought asylum in the USA were in border towns on the Mexican side[609]. Many migrants were victims of crime, including sexual exploitation and human trafficking[610].

The coronavirus pandemic also violated the right of asylum seekers to a fair and timely trial. Hearings for applicants were postponed indefinitely, further endangering their lives and health[611]. Since the start of the "Stay in Mexico" program, only 615 people (less 1 % applicants) received positive decisions to grant them asylum in the USA[612]. In total, approximately 400 thousand people are expected to respond to such requests in 2020[613].

The policy of not allowing migrants and refugees from Mexico into the United States has been repeatedly challenged in local courts as contrary to the principles of humanity. Despite the fact that one of the Federal instances ruled that such measures were unlawful[614], the USA Supreme court subsequently rejected that ruling[615].

Asylum seekers have faced rejection of their applications, unjustified expulsions to countries where they face danger or even death (according to Human Rights Watch NGO, 138 expelled Salvadorans have died since 2013). Conditions in American deportation centers also did not stand up to criticism – overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.

In April 2020, over 120 organizations (including human rights ones) urged the US Department of Homeland Security in a letter to halt expulsions at the nation’s southern border. The document said that turning asylum seekers and vulnerable children away at the border "without even the veneer of sham MPP hearings" violated "US refugee, immigration and anti- trafficking laws" and "US treaty obligations to protect people at risk of return to persecution and torture", and that such actions were "completely contrary to child welfare standards". Reportedly, "at least 400 children – from Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico" – had already been expelled to Mexico. In some cases, minors ended up in the care of adults "whose relationship to the children has not been checked, placing children at risk of trafficking". Such incidents occurred in part because DHS instructed border patrol agents to "rapidly expel individuals encountered at the border, including unaccompanied children".

Human rights activists point out that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation. The victims were mainly from Latin American countries. Mortality among this population group reached 38.4 % – much higher than among the white race[616]. African Americans-27.9 %[617] accordingly. In particular, the administration of migrant detention centers showed disregard for the people who were there, their medical care, and their living conditions. Results of the aforementioned study, conducted by "Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) staff and Harvard Medical School faculty and students", showed that the number of people per month who tested positive for COVID-19 in ICE detention "between April and August 2020 was between 5.7 to 21.8 times higher than the case rate of the US general population during that same time". According to interviews with migrants from 22 of these institutions, dangerous living conditions existed and safety measures to prevent the spread of the disease were ignored. Nearly all respondents were "unable to maintain social distance throughout the detention" facility and 42% of participants "reported not having access to soap at some point". In addition, interviewees said they had faced "prolonged wait times" (on average of approximately 4 days) "before being able to see a medical professional", with one person forced to wait for 25 days for an appointment[618].

Data from analysts at Harvard University, using the Otay Mesa detention center as an example, demonstrates the disregard for COVID-19 sanitation and hygiene regulations, as well as the WHO recommendations[619]. The following data is given[620]: there are on average 8 people per 23 m2, which contradicts the norms of social distancing for the prevention of transmission of the virus. At the same time, the sick persons are kept in common rooms of approximately 90 persons per room.

Testing for COVID-19 was carried out in extremely limited quantities. Thus, out of almost 26 thousand persons detained in such institutions, only a quarter was checked for the presence of the disease. Tests for the disease conducted in individual centers, however, revealed positive results for coronavirus in over 70% of those who were there. Human rights activists also point to the fact of possible concealment of the real situation of morbidity in such institutions. Many detention centers never released statistics on the spread of the coronavirus, or stated that there were no cases.

In February 2021, a number of organizations (including human rights ones) again sent a coalition letter to the US Department of Homeland Security urging the latter "to reject the use of expedited removal and immigration detention," as such policies "effectively eliminated humanitarian protections at the border in violation of US law and treaty obligations". They expressed grave concerns "with the expedited removal process"[621].

Indigenous people in the United States are still some of the more socioeconomically disadvantaged members of society. There have been reports on the impact of socioeconomic and income inequality on Native Americans living in reservations. In 2015, "nearly one-quarter of Alaska Natives" lived below the poverty line. As of 2013, Native Americans, as a race, faced "significant income and social inequalities", with their median household income being 25% below the national average for the US, and the unemployment rate 60% higher than the average for all races[622]. A range of adverse social consequences stem from these indicators. Research also showed that "the incidence of unemployment, alcoholism, sexual abuse and suicide among Indians living in reservations" was higher than in any other racial or geographical category in the United States.

In 2014, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed its concern about the obstacles faced by indigenous peoples "to effectively exercise their right to vote, due inter alia to restrictive voter identification laws" (e.g many reservation residents have non-traditional addresses), district gerrymandering, and state-level felon disenfranchisement laws. For Native American living in rural areas, distances can create difficulty when it comes to "registering and voting". Hence, some members of indigenous communities do not take an active part in elections.

Human rights advocates have pointed out that there were not enough consultation with indigenous peoples on matters of interest to their communities. Lengthy legal proceedings and high costs of litigation can also negatively impact Native American communities that try to defend their rights. The problems of protecting indigenous peoples’ sacred sites from desecration, as well as pollution or destruction due to the activities of extractive industries or the construction of their transportation facilities, tourism development, or the dumping of toxic waste were noted. The restriction of access of indigenous peoples to sacred areas that are essential for the preservation of their religious, cultural and spiritual practices also worried the committee members.

Another example of the inappropriate treatment of Native Americans by USA authorities is the operation of the largest pipeline from the North Dakota Oil Basin, Dakota Access, which was built in 2014-2016 against the long and vehement protests of the Sioux Indians. The pipeline runs from an oil field in western North Dakota, down the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and under Lake Oahe on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, through South Dakota and Iowa, and ending in Patoka, Illinois. On its way, the facility, designed to pump 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day (and its capacity is planned to increase to 1.1 million barrels per day; now it is already 750,000 barrels) affects not only the Indian reservations, but also the crop fields, ancient Indian burial grounds, as well as rivers and lakes that provide drinking water for thousands of Indian families. Protests by community activists in 2014-2016 against the construction of the pipeline were severely suppressed by the authorities. Attempts by tribal residents of the two Standing Rock and Cheyenne River reservations to prevent the transfer of oil through a pipeline already built have been rejected through the courts. The Indians fear that the main source of drinking water for the 10,000-strong Sioux Nation would be threatened if an oil spill caused by pipeline damage or even small leaks were to occur. At the same time, the media reported that there had already been cases of oil leakage at the pipeline[623].

In 2020, the US District Court for the District of Columbia revoked a key environmental permit for the pipeline and ordered an additional environmental study (to be completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in February 2022). However, as early as September 20, the pipeline operator asked the USA Supreme Court to reconsider the need for this additional environmental review. On September 22, activists in the Standing Rock Sioux community sent a letter to Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Works at the USA Department of Defense H. Pinkham, urging the federal government to abandon the ongoing environmental review of the pipeline and begin anew, because serious mistakes had been made in its implementation. Including withholding key project information from Indian activists and ignoring the technical and cultural information they provide[624].

The oil company’s actions target one of the most vulnerable Native American communities. The situation of the Indians living at Standing Rock is quite depressing. More than 40 per cent of the reservation’s population has a per capita income below the so-called federal poverty level, which is 13.8 per cent of the median personal income in the USA. As of 2013, Standing Rock’s unemployment rate was 86 per cent. The vast majority of the Sioux do not have electricity, running water, sewerage[625].

The media also reported that the Dakota Access pipeline was originally planned to take a different route, which was changed because it was supposed to pass through an area inhabited by the white community[626].

At the same time, there are also examples of victories of indigenous peoples and environmental activists over oil companies. In June 2021, it became known that the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline leading from Canada to the United States has officially stopped. This was done after President J.Biden revoked the key permission of the White House, necessary for the completion of the construction of the American section of the project with a length of almost 2 thousand kilometers[627]. The construction of the pipeline through the states of North and South Dakota was also the cause of long-running controversy and also drew criticism from indigenous peoples and farmers, as did the construction of Dakota Access.

Excessive use of force by law enforcement against suspects remains a serious problem in the USA. USA law enforcement officials often use force and use firearms and other means of restraint or abuse, regardless of the real need to prevent threats to their lives by intruders.

In 2015, The Washington Post started to log every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the United States. In 2019, more than one thousand people were shot and killed by the police, while in 2020, the number decreased somewhat to 967[628]. At the same time, the End Police Violence NGO points to more than 1.1 thousand murders committed by American police officers in 2020.

Racial profiling is closely linked with this problem since police abuse of power disproportionately impacts non-white members of US society. African Americans, who make up less than 13% of the population, are the ones who die most often: in 2019, the death rate of African Americans at the hands of police officers (1,512 deaths per 42 million people) is 2.5 times higher than the death rate of white Americans (2,890 deaths per 197 million people)[629]. The newspaper reported that the overwhelming majority of people shot and killed by the police were male (over 95%), and more than half the victims were between 20 and 40 years of age. Journalists of "ABC" also noted that according to statistics black USA citizens are victims of such incidents 2.5 times more often than whites[630]. The Washington Post reported that Hispanic Americans were also killed by law enforcement officers at a disproportionate rate (27 per million).

The infamous murder of George Floyd in May 2020 was not the only example of excessive use of force by police officers against African Americans. Other high-profile cases of gratuitous use of lethal force by police officers include the following.

On October 12, 2019, police officer Aaron Dean shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson in her own home in Fort Worth, Texas[631]. He and another officer were responding to a non-emergency call by a concerned neighbor who had noticed "the home’s exterior doors were open at that late hour". Prior to the shooting, the victim had been playing videogames with her eight-year-old nephew. Body camera footage showed that Aaron Dean had yelled out a warning before firing his gun without identifying himself as the police.

On January 28, 2020, William Green, who had been taken into custody on suspicion of drunk driving, was shot dead while handcuffed by a police officer in Temple Hills, Maryland[632]. Corporal Michael Owen Jr, a police force veteran, shot the victim seven times while the latter had been sitting in a patrol car.

On March 13, 2020, police officers fatally shot Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, by mistake in Louisville, Kentucky[633]. The raid was carried out as part of a narcotic investigation but the victim was not found to be involved in the drug operation.

On September 1, 2020, an African American cyclist was shot dead by police in Los Angeles, allegedly violating traffic rules. After the suspect was stopped, a scuffle ensued in which he was shot and killed.

On April 11, 2021, a female police officer killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. During a press conference, the local police chief said that the policewoman had "intended to deploy her stun gun" but accidentally shot the young African American man instead. The incident was followed by riots with pogroms and arson, including the Dollar Tree department store. The security forces responded with tear gas and stun grenades[634].

On April 20, 2021, a law enforcement officer fatally shot 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant after a call alleging assault to the police had been made in Columbus, Ohio. The incident occurred on the same day the verdict in the trial over the death of George Floyd was announced. The jury found policeman D.Shovin guilty on all charges (the verdict was passed at the end of June).

On April 21, 2021, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, an African American man, E. Brown, Jr. North Carolina, an African American man, E.Brown, Jr. was killed in a shooting opened by deputy police chiefs.[635] The incident also caused large-scale riots in the city, which led to a curfew.

At the same time, experts note that the responsibility of law enforcement in the USA for unlawful and unreasonably harsh actions against alleged offenders and prisoners is very rare. According to ABC News, there were only 16 convictions in such cases between 2004 and 2020. The most recent high-profile verdict in 2021 was a June court decision imposing a 22-and-a-half-year prison term for police officer D.Shovin, who killed African American George Floyd in Minneapolis during a May 2020 arrest.[636] Another case of prosecution was noted in May 2021, when law enforcement officer B. Palkowitz was sentenced to 6 years in prison for excessive use of force against the African American man he arrested, F.Baker. During his arrest, F.Baker was beaten and a police officer let a service dog down on him, although he offered no resistance[637].

The systemic abuses of USA intelligence agencies, which engage in widespread mass surveillance of citizens, also show signs of racial profiling. According to an article published by the ACLU on June 24, 2020, "at least one quarter of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States" had access to such technologies[638]. "Over half of all American adults are" in a driver’s license database that are searched using facial recognition. Human rights activists have repeatedly pointed to the inadequacy of such systems and their bias against members of racial and religious minorities, particularly African Americans[639]. The report also stated that facial recognition technologies were being used for criminal investigations, and in some states, for immigration enforcement too. Another drawback of such systems is that they are costly to install, maintain and update.

An example is the use of facial recognition. According to Amnesty International, the equipment used in this area discriminates against members of national minorities. When identifying appearances, the relevant software often fails. In April 2021, for example, Detroit resident R.Williams was detained by police for more than 30 hours for allegedly stealing from a home The police believed that he was connected with the crime because a face recognition search "found similarities between grainy surveillance footage of the theft and Mr.Williams’ driver’s license photo". After comparing the photo of the intruder and R.Williams, it turned out that he was incorrectly identified by the security cameras and facial recognition system used by city law enforcement[640].

In July 2020, a similar incident occurred again in Detroit, Michigan. Michael Oliver, a Black man, was arrested for allegedly reaching into a person’s car, grabbing a mobile phone and damaging it. "Facial recognition flagged" him as a possible suspect. However, the perpetrator, captured on the footage, did not look like Michael Oliver, as the latter had tattoos on his arms unlike the person in the video. After a more detailed comparison of M. Oliver’s images with the real perpetrator, the police concluded that the misidentification[641].

Once Detroit Police Department’s use of facial recognition technology gained national attention after human rights advocates and journalists had brought to light the aforementioned cases, its chief admitted that the software used misidentified individuals "96% of the time."[642]

At the beginning of 2021, Amnesty International expressed concern about the use of facial recognition technologies not only by law enforcement agencies, but also other organizations and businesses. The Nelson Management Group, the landlord of Atlantic Plaza Towers in Brooklyn, "sought state approval for the introduction of" facial recognition cameras in July 2018. From 2018 to 2019, residents of the Black majority complex "successfully resisted attempts at installing" such equipment in their apartment buildings. They had initially learned about the plan in the fall of 2018 by accident ("as a result of chaotic mail delivery"). "By collaborating with civil society, legal, technology and media organizations", the residents’ pushback received significant attention. And by November 2019, "Nelson Management announced that they would not be pursuing the installation of facial recognition cameras in the apartment complex."[643]

International human rights organizations have been aware of the issue of racial profiling by US law enforcement agencies for some time now. Back in August 2014, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed its concern about the practice of racial profiling targeting minorities by federal, state and local law enforcement officials. The document also mentioned the disparate impact on African Americans due to "brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials".[644]

Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (established by the Commission on Human Rights in 2002), citing the aforementioned data collected by the Washington Post, pointed out that "black people, despite being 13% of the United States population, accounted for 26% of those that were killed by police in 2015, 24% – in 2016 and 23% – in 2017". And "in the first half of 2018, black people made up 20%" of all individuals killed by law enforcement officers under all conditions.[645]

The protests that followed the May 2020 shooting of African American George Floyd[646] by white police officers in Minneapolis highlighted the systemic problems with racism in the United States, both against African Americans and against other racial and ethnic minorities. Experts estimate that about 26 million people took part in the demonstrations provoked by this high-profile murder in June 2020 alone.[647] Many protesters faced unjustified police brutality[648].

Many reporters opined that American authorities handling these demonstrations violated US and international legislation. First and foremost, criticism was directed against law enforcement officers for unjust and disproportionate use of force against mainly peaceful protesters and journalists reporting about them. Civilians were subjected to mass arrests, and the police used rubber bullets, tear gas, stun grenades and other measures against demonstrators.

In response to the rapidly worsening situation in the United States, the African Group called for the Urgent Debate on current racially inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality against people of African descent and violence against peaceful protests to be held during the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, which resumed after the COVID-19-enforced break.

In its formal statement published on June 12, 2020, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), acting under its Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures[649], expressed its concern about "the continuing practice of racial profiling, the brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials" in the United State against persons belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, including unarmed individuals. The CERD also criticized the "excessive use of force" against peaceful protesters across the country. The Committee urged the United States of America to submit "its combined tenth to twelfth periodic reports", which were overdue since November 20, 2017, and include information on the measures taken to address the issues, such as racial discrimination, highlighted in the statement[650].

The leading UN entity on human rights also addressed the situation in the United States. In her June 3, 2020 statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged the US leadership "to condemn racism unequivocally", to hear "the voices calling for an end to the endemic and structural racism" that blighted US society and "to take actions" to truly tackle inequalities.

The serious threat posed by racism and abuses of power by the police to the fabric of US society drew attention of the special procedures of the Human Rights Council (HRC). On June 5, 2020, independent experts of the Special Procedures of the UN HRC published a statement on the protests against systemic racism in the United States. It condemned state-sponsored racial violence and urged US and other leaders to "address structural forms of racial and ethnic injustice".

Racism is closely tied to another large-scale problem in the USA: the circulation of firearms in the country.

As you know, the United States ranks first in the world in both absolute and per capita firearms ownership – about 390 million in 2020.[651] In fact, there are not sufficient regulations on "acquisition, possession and use" of firearms in the country. Hence, the number of incidents involving guns in the US has remained high. In 2011, data collected by the FBI showed "that firearms were used in 60 per cent of murders" and "21 per cent of aggravated assaults nationwide". Based on recent statistics, over 8,500 hate crimes motivated by intolerance towards certain groups in society per year involve the use of a gun[652]. Curiously, US federal law does not currently "require universal comprehensive background checks with each and every transfer or purchase of a firearm in the USA".

In 2019, there were more mass killings in the United States "than any year dating back to at least the 1970s". A database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University showed records of 41 mass killings, defined as "4 or more people" killed excluding the perpetrator(s). Most of these (i.e. 33) involved gun violence[653]. Reportedly, there are approximately 100,000 "non-fatal firearm injuries in the United States each year."

This high level of gun violence has increased in 2020. Major shooting incidents occurred approximately every 73 days. The Washington Post noted, citing research by experts from the University of Cleveland, that on average more than 100 Americans are injured daily in shootings across the country, including fatally[654]. According to USA Today, in 2020, USA law enforcement recorded 611 instances of firearms use in crowded places, in which 513 people were killed and 2,543 were injured[655]. According to the Firearms Incident Archive, 20,000 Americans (including nearly 300 minors) died from injuries in 2020, an increase of 3,600 cases from 2017.

The coronavirus pandemic has played an important role in exacerbating the problem of violence. The researchers see the reason in total self-isolation, as a result of which social and educational programs were curtailed. An additional "irritant" was the high-profile death of African American George Floyd in May 2020. As a result, public distrust of law enforcement has only increased. Some urban settlements refused to obey the security forces at all. "Autonomous zones" free from police were created[656].

The situation in this area has also been exacerbated by an increase in the circulation of weapons. In 2020, the Americans purchased more than 23 million units of this type of weapons – 64 % more than in 2019.[657]

African Americans often suffer from the use of firearms.

At the same time, a number of experts note that members of minorities in America themselves take part in the shootings. According to the Gun Violence Foundation NGO, 37% of homicides are committed by African Americans
ages 15-34[658].

Human rights organizations have tried to highlight the serious nature of the issue for quite some time now. For instance, members of the Human Rights Committee (HRCtte) and of CERD have expressed their concern about "the continuing high numbers of gun-related deaths and injuries" in the United States and "the disparate impact of gun violence on minorities, women and children". The HRCtte also pointed out "the discriminatory effect of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws", which, in the opinion of the Committee, were "used to circumvent the limits of legitimate self-defense in violation of the State party’s duty to protect life".[659]

At the same time, the problem of systemic racism has increasingly been used as an element of internal political struggle. Many Americans saw the "root of all evil" in the actions of the previous administration. The statements of the former president and his supporters on social networks allegedly provoked an increase in violence, culminating in the "takeover" of Congress on January 6, 2021.

The massive censorship of Trump and his supporters on social networks was justified by the need to prevent violence, but the politicization of the problem did not help to solve the urgent problems inside the country and did not change the depressing situation in the USA. In fact, political preferences and personal opinions of citizens were subjected to discrimination. Recently, any alternative opinion in social networks has become subject to censorship. The "liberal" public tries to portray those who express such opinions as spreading "fakes" and conspiracy theories. No one wondered why extremist websites of all kinds continued to operate unimpeded.

After the Democrats came to power, the law enforcement and intelligence agencies launched a massive campaign to persecute the participants in the "hijacking," who were labeled as "domestic terrorists". More than 2,000 charges were brought against the FBI alone. Hundreds of permits have been requested through the courts to search and summon suspects, and about 500 people have been detained. The media noted that those taken into custody were subjected to torture and psychological pressure[660]. With the help of such methods, as well as "processing" of relatives and friends of "domestic terrorists," the investigation achieves the "necessary" testimony.

Members of the Republican party also noted that their supporters were being persecuted. Thus, Congressman P.Gosar pointed out that "law-abiding Americans who support Donald Trump have become the victims of overt, based on lies and propaganda, persecution by the intelligence services. The FBI shamelessly searches the homes of veterans and citizens without criminal records. Restricts the fundamental liberties of those who have never been charged with a crime."[661].

It is noteworthy that amidst the "persecution" of conservatives, the authorities prefer to turn a blind eye to the left-wing radicals who have carried out pogroms across the country during protests in support of racial justice[662]. Law enforcement authorities regarded the actions of Democrat supporters solely as a manifestation of freedom of speech and assembly, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the USA Constitution. This is despite the fact that the riots caused at least $1 billion in material damage to the property of American citizens[663].

However, law enforcement officials did not investigate the murder of unarmed American woman E.Babbitt, who broke into the congressional building on January 6, 2021.

Despite the above negative facts, the USA continues to "accuse" other countries of human rights "violations". To present themselves as the "chief champion" of freedoms in the world, even though they have long ago lost any moral right to be considered as such.

Not only has Washington relentlessly voted against the Russian draft Resolution of the UN General Assembly against the glorification of Nazism, but it has also consistently initiated the vote on the document, and has tried to pressure other countries to prevent broad international support for the initiative. Along with Ukraine, they remain the only States in the world that oppose the very concept of the document. According to American representatives, the glorification of Nazism and any other hate speech is an exercise of the right to freedom of expression ("freedom of speech") and assembly, which contravenes, among other things, Washington’s obligations under The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, including its Article 4 (the US reservation to this article was qualified by CERD as incompatible with the object and purpose of this international treaty in the meaning of Article 19 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties). In this regard, the serious rise of racism within the country is not surprising.

Ukraine

In Ukraine, the entire range of manifestations of the state policy of the glorification of Nazism and Nazi collaborators of World War II, recognized as criminal by the decision of the Nuremberg Tribunal, have been recorded. To this end, the Kiev authorities are pursuing a policy of falsification of history, whitewashing collaborators and systematically taking measures at the level of the country’s leadership to erase memorable dates from the history of the Ukrainian people, such as May 9 – the Day of Victory of the USSR over German Nazism. Distorted interpretations of historical events are aimed at growth of a nationalistic mood among the General population.

In line with the attitude of total justification of the crimes of collaborators, Ukraine, together with the United States, remain the only UN member states to vote against the annual Resolution of the UN General Assembly "Combating glorifica