The Russia Federation reported to the ECHR on their efforts to combat discrimination against LGBT people

The Russian Federation has provided the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with answers to questions and comments regarding the attack on Dmitry Chizhevsky, which occurred on November 3rd, 2013. In its response, the Russian Federation requested the ECHR to not trust data on the LGBT discrimination in Russia, as it was provided by third parties (including the Russian LGBT Network), and reports that the preliminary investigation is still pending, while statistics on hate crimes against the LGBT community “will be evidence of violation of discrimination laws for a very obvious and justified reason”.

In July 2017, the ECHR notified Russia of a complaint submitted by Dmitry Chizhevsky, who lost sight in one eye as a result of a homophobic attack in 2013. The ECHR requested the representatives of Russia to deliver more information about this case. In particular, Russia was asked if there has been a thorough investigation of the attack, whether the authorities took into account the specifics of the case and a possible homophobic motive, and whether the applicant was discriminated against.

In a 9-page response, signed off by the Deputy Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation (authorised by the Russian Federation under the ECHR) Mikhail Galperin, it was reported that the criminal case, instituted on November 4th 2013, is still being investigated. The reply also indicates that the case was classified as intentional infliction of serious harm to health from hooligan motives.

At the same time, “the investigative body and operational units devised a version consisting of a possible involvements of the crime committing persons, relating to homophobic and nationalistic convictions”. However, “considering that at present the preliminary investigation has not been concluded and the perpetrators have not been identified nor questioned, the court concluded that there is no objective possibility to take a final decisions on their criminal actions.” It is interesting that after the ECHR communicated the complaint, the preliminary investigation was resumed.

Russia has stated that, in general, cases of crimes motivated by hatred “are not deadly”. However, the steps taken in gathering statistics do not provide the possibility of collecting data on crimes against LGBT people. Moreover, "the allocation of a separate parameter of statistical reporting of the crimes committed against the LGBT community would provide more evidence of the violation of discrimination laws for obvious and justified reasons”.

In another response, regarding the actions of third parties (Russian LGBT Network, Human Rights Watch, and ILGA-Europe), the Russian Federation expressed serious disbelief over the information provided by third parties, and recommended its dismissal. The Russian Federation also noted that the official statistics on hate crimes in the country are lacking a concrete measure of the total number of offences, and occur throughout various different social groups. For these reasons, Russian claims that the data provided by the Russian LGBT Network cannot be verified and most likely is merely “a subjective interpretation”.

The homophobic attack of November 2013 caused Dmitry Chizhevsky to lose vision in one eye. In his grievance, filed 17th August 2015, Chizhevsky had expressed that he has reason to believe that the authorities failed to conduct all necessary investigative actions to identify the attackers, and that is why he didn’t receive any information about what was done. Besides that, despite the defense efforts, the homophobic hate motive was not taken into account as an aggravating circumstance in the deliberation of this case.

As noted in the grievance, the victim had evidence that “the intrinsic nature of the LGBT hate crime was actually obvious to the authorities” and therefore, “the refusal to classify the actions of theattackers, although aware of their motives, indicates the unwillingness of the Russian authorities to effectively identify and investigate the violence against LGBT people, and officially demonstrate their acceptance and connivance”.