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08KYIV2243, ANTI-XENOPHOBIA UNIT: OFF TO A SLOW START

November 13, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV2243 2008-11-13 15:00 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKV #2243/01 3181500
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131500Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6713
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 002243 
 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI UP
SUBJECT: ANTI-XENOPHOBIA UNIT: OFF TO A SLOW START 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Colin Cleary for reasons 
1.4 (b,d). 
 
Summary 
-------- 
 
1.  (C) The Security Service of Ukraine's (SBU) Department to 
Combat Xenophobia has been in operation for about a year, 
investigating 120 cases.  Officials highlighted the 
achievement of three criminal convictions (for inciting 
ethnic hatred) during that time.  Extremist groups have 
contributed to an increase of hate crimes during the past two 
years.  However, The Deputy Head of the department dismissed 
some incidents against minorities as mere "hooliganism" and 
not racially-motivated.  The department appears under-funded 
and off to a somewhat slow start.  End Summary. 
 
First Anniversary 
----------------- 
 
2.  (C) On November 6, the Embassy's Regional Affairs 
Officer, Legal Attache, Regional Security Officer, and Human 
Rights Officer met with the Yaroslav Savchin, deputy chief of 
the SBU's Department to Combat Xenophobia, to learn more 
about the department's organization and activities.  The 
department was established by order of President Yushchenko 
in October 2007 after a series of highly publicized violent 
anti-Semitic incidents.  Savchin explained that the 
department's two main tasks were to investigate 
manifestations of xenophobia and violations of Article 161 of 
Ukraine's Criminal Code, which makes inciting ethnic hatred a 
criminal offense.  He confirmed that the department was 
established in response to the increase in incidents over the 
past two years involving people of Jewish, African, and 
Middle Eastern descent.  He said that since its inception, 
the unit has investigated 120 incidents, which fit into three 
general categories:  hooliganism, vandalism and physical 
attacks; damage to buildings owned by religious groups and 
NGOs; and destruction to cemeteries and cultural monuments. 
He contended that the number of such incidents in Ukraine was 
low in comparison with its neighbors. 
 
Extremist Groups 
---------------- 
 
3.  (C) Savchin explained that perpetrators of racially 
motivated incidents tended to be from extremist groups, 
including: skinheads, the Ukrainian National Labor Party, 
Group 82, Patriot of Ukraine, and Svoboda (Freedom).  He 
added that many of the neo-Nazi and skinhead groups have 
connections to groups in Europe and the U.S.  The SBU's 
department has its headquarters in Kyiv and a network of 
regional offices, he explained.  The department's main areas 
of responsibility included preventive measures, investigative 
assistance to the Prosecutor General's Office and Ministry of 
Interior, and efforts to reduce the overall trend of hate 
crimes. 
 
SBU Monitors University-Based Anti-Semitism 
------------------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Savchin noted that the SBU regularly investigates the 
activities of the Inter-regional Academy for Personnel 
Management (MAUP), Ukraine's largest commuter university and 
purveyor of roughly 90 percent of Ukraine's anti-Semitic 
publications.  He noted the number of cases involving 
manifestations of anti-Semitism involving MAUP (primarily 
publications and academic conferences) had dropped 
significantly during 2008.  He mentioned that the SBU had 
forwarded recommendations to the Ministry of Justice to 
improve the effectiveness of Article 161 of the Criminal 
Code, which makes inciting racial hatred a criminal offense. 
He added that it was under review by the ministry and 
unlikely to be reviewed by the Rada anytime soon. 
 
Hate Crime Convictions 
---------------------- 
 
5.  (C) Savchin highlighted three cases that his department 
was involved in which led to convictions under Article 161. 
These cases were: vandalism of a monument to the Holocaust 
and a Jewish cemetery in Odesa in March 2007; the publication 
of an inflammatory article by the editor of an Odesa 
newspaper in 2008; and distribution of anti-Semitic leaflets 
in Odesa in December 2007.  He added that his department had 
helped to ban U.S. white supremacist David Duke from entering 
Ukraine, after he visited the country several times to appear 
as guest speaker at events hosted by MAUP.  He said that the 
SBU was continuing to monitor hate crimes and had met with 
representatives of international human rights NGOs such as 
Amnesty International and representatives from the German and 
Israeli diplomatic missions in Ukraine.  He also expressed 
interest in exchanging experience with U.S. law enforcement 
in combating hate crimes. 
 
"Hooliganism" 
------------- 
 
6.  (C) Savchin explained that cooperation between the SBU 
and the Ministry of Interior, while poor, had been improving 
over the past several months.  When asked about the increase 
in attacks against minorities, Savchin stated that the 
increase was, in part, the result of the growing presence of 
migrants in Ukraine.  However, many recent incidents were 
acts of "hooliganism" -- disorderly conduct -- and not 
racially motivated.   When asked about public outreach 
efforts to highlight and prevent the problem of xenophobia, 
Savchin said that the SBU did not have a
budget for public 
outreach but that it does address the issue during its daily 
activities and made efforts to highlight cases with the 
media.  When asked how many people worked in the department's 
main office in Kyiv and regional representation, Savchin 
evasively replied "enough." 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
7.  (C) The SBU's establishment of the department was a step 
forward -- although it took them a year from issuance of the 
Presidential decree ordering the department's creation to get 
it up and running.  We came away from the meeting with 
Savchin with a sense that the department was a relatively low 
priority for the SBU and short on resources.  Savchin was 
knowledgeable about the problem of racially motivated 
violence and hate groups.  However, his comment that violent 
incidents against minorities and foreigners were often 
isolated acts of hooliganism and not racially motivated 
struck us as overly sweeping.  While doing some useful work, 
the department has gotten off to a modest start.  We will 
continue to track its evolution. 
TAYLOR

Wikileaks

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