13.05.2021

How the Roma and the state went to stabbing

On the one hand, most of the journalists and human rights activists have taken the position of protecting the rights of the affected members of the national minority. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is in a hurry trying to protect the “camps” that were set up in many cities by representatives of people who love traveling, the Security Service of Ukraine is looking for a Russian trace. Meanwhile, part of the population demonstrates a clear sympathy for those who talk about the “gypsy problem” and try to solve it with their own methods, far from the law.

To top it all off, Ukraine received a negative international reaction: the EU representative in our country and the Council of Europe made relevant statements. Against this background, representatives of Roma communities managed to declare the persecution of national minorities in Ukraine. Today it can be argued that the localization (not to mention the solution) of the problem will be expensive and risky: both from the point of view of finances, other resources, and from the point of view of politics. The paradox of the situation is that there wouldn’t be anything like this, fulfill the state its basic functions.

We do not notice each other – as the Roma and the state went to stabbing

The problem of the Roma minority, which has been actively discussed over the past few weeks, has been ripening for years. After gaining independence, the young Ukrainian state was not up to the Roma – the economic and political crises of the 90s posed completely different tasks. The situation was not something special – state policy in relation to national minorities, by and large, does not exist until now. Linguistic and other laws on national cultures came down to the struggle against Russian influence, leaving “behind the brackets” problems of representatives of other nationalities, the possibility of their interaction with the state.

Ukraine recalled that different nationalities live on its territory either before public holidays (for example, to record a video “haven’t died” in national languages), or when conflicts arose that outgrew the regional level. The rest of the time, the state tried not to notice national minorities. But, if you do not work with your citizens, others begin to work. Hungarians, Romanians, Poles and even Belaruses are closely engaged in work with the diaspora. Some (for example, Hungarians) took control of the education system, local authorities in places of compact residence, others (Belarus) used national organizations as a means of promoting their goods on the Ukrainian market, while others, without “national enclaves”, simply prepared the population for emigration – compensate for labor shortages.

Naturally, each of the states among other things, it promoted in the minds of its “compatriots” an ideological and historical agenda favorable to it. This is normal – after all, Ukraine has been doing the same in recent years, albeit chaotically, not in an organized manner. The problem is that in the places where Ukrainians live, the state “fights for the minds”, pursues its integration policy – this creates a balance of influences. There was no politics in Ukraine. Therefore, when the crisis with the Hungarians of Transcarpathia began, it was obvious that “there will be more” – after all, there are still many national groups in the country. pursues its integration policy – this creates a balance of influences. There was no politics in Ukraine.

How a series of mistakes made the Roma problem a problem for the Ukrainian state

Therefore, when the crisis with the Hungarians of Transcarpathia began, it was obvious that “there will be more” – after all, there are still many national groups in the country. pursues its integration policy – this creates a balance of influences. There was no politics in Ukraine. Therefore, when the crisis with the Hungarians of Transcarpathia began, it was obvious that “there will be more” – after all, there are still many national groups in the country.

On this we will return to the Roma. They do not have their own national state – that means there was no external influence. The Ukrainian state “did not notice” this national group. The gypsies, who were forced to settle in the late USSR, reciprocated Ukraine: they stopped “noticing” the state and returned to the traditional way of life, especially since the Soviet government was not able to destroy it.

The problems with work experienced by representatives of all Ukraine were aggravated by the traditional division of professions into desirable and undesirable from the point of view of the traditional way of life.

The problem could be solved by stimulating the emergence of certain businesses (metal, souvenirs, jewelry, the same automotive service), but the state was not up to it. A part of the Roma on this background took up the usual thing: wandering from city to city in search of money, begging, and trading.

Naturally, when a group of people comes to your city, whose behavior contrasts sharply with the usual and “normal” for the region, there is a misunderstanding, in some places fear and tension. If at the same time this group is closed in itself, does not make contact with local people, reacts sharply to possible discontent, sooner or later conflicts begin. Take even the dirt example around Roma tents in the woods, the destruction of trees. Alas, this is a common and familiar practice for many citizens of the country, regardless of their nationality. You can be convinced of this by taking a walk through the suburban forests, or the resting places of Ukrainians. Or, here’s a fresh sample – some of the inhabitants of Transcarpathia (non-poor settlements, including tourists) use local rivers as trash – they don’t conclude agreements on the export of household waste, considering which is easier to throw in the “little thread”. Then the mountains of “Ukrainian garbage” block rivers in Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. But with the Roma, the situation is simpler – there is a group of people that are easy to identify, who are not part of the local community. Accordingly, their behavior and the results of their residence cause irritation and aggression: what would be forgiven the Ukrainians would not be forgiven “the camp of gypsies”.

A similar situation is in other areas of earnings. A child asking for alms “will be regretted”, the Roma will be frightened. A woman of “Slavic appearance” who came up with an offer to talk or a request for help can count on compassionate citizens (for example, crowds of professional beggars on approaches to churches), they will shy away from a gypsy.

The specifics of trade is even more complicated: in the regime of “mutual disregard” by the Roma minority and the state of each other, the enforcement of laws has been and remains fantastic. This applies to both the assortment (everything is sold, including prohibited goods), and the banal payment of taxes. Does not pay taxes, by the way, a significant part of Ukrainians. But the attitude to “their own people” – in the family is not without a freak – no one focuses on the Ukrainian (Belarusian, Russian, Hungarian or other) nationality. If dealers live in the “Roma quarter”, they talk about “gypsy drug dealers,” although many people sell drugs in Ukraine.

The growth of the problem and the first “pogroms”: everything is in the gain

So, over the years of independence, a situation has developed when groups of people wandered around the cities of the country, who were easy to identify by ethnicity, and who led an asocial (from the point of view of local residents) lifestyle, often engaged in illegal forms of income.

Since 2014, when state institutions (with the exception of perhaps the army) have weakened even more, the problem of Roma travel around the country has grown in scale both in the number of travelers and in the aggressive reaction of local residents. The tension grew and sooner or later it would end in a big bang.

The saddest thing is that the state could prevent the problem using existing tools:

Creating opportunities

  • The state is able to stimulate the development of a particular type of activity. In the end, to regulate the legal status of artisans (these are not FOPs – a craftsman can not always earn even a single tax)
  • To envisage a program for integrating Roma communities into local life, to study the experience of other countries in solving similar problems
  • In the end, through local authorities (or centrally) to resolve the issue with the location of such tourists. That is, to allocate land on which to camp, on which you can make fire at any time of the year, which, in the end, is cleaned. Yes, it is possible to introduce a fee for use – you can make money on it.

Using the power of law

  • garbage near settlements, asocial behavior. Tabor can be forced to leave his place by simply using the capabilities of the administrative code. No one canceled the articles for violation of the rules of improvement, destruction of green spaces, petty hooliganism. The police could just come and start compiling reports. The person says that there are no documents – detention until identification. Does not pay a fine – administrative arrest. Three patrol visits during the day, coupled with the protocols (written out in the case) will force any camp to be removed.
  • begging and behavior of the camp on the street. This is even easier to work with. In gypsy culture, there is a cult of mother and family. But for inducing a child to illegal actions, asocial behavior, you can demand through the court the deprivation of parental rights. I am sure that a few cases brought to a logical conclusion would significantly reduce the number of guests in the cities of the country.
  • in the hot season there is a very simple solution to the problem of camp in the forest. There are times when it is simply forbidden to visit forests and forest parks, and even more so to make fire there. Such a period has come – asked to curl up. They don’t go – according to the Code of Administrative Offenses, a fine and then an administrative arrest.

But, alas, the “hands of the state” did not reach the solution to the problem. On the one hand, it is impossible to create unique “programs for Roma people” – this will be discrimination against other national minorities that do not have such. On the other hand, the state still has no answer to the question: what is the long-term strategy of working with people of non-Ukrainian nationality in the country. Therefore, the “creation of opportunities” boiled down to the fact that instead of the word “gypsies” they began to use the word “Roma”, although this is not without an anecdote – today a huge banner hangs at the Bolshevik Palace of Culture in Kiev, which hosts the “National Gypsy Theater”.

If we talk about the repressive apparatus, then it is even more difficult. Put yourself in the place of the patrolman who detained the Roma (even better than a Roma child) to determine his identity. After 30 minutes, the entire camp will be near the site. As a result, a working day “down the drain.” If you bring the matter to court, the result will be doubtful. And then your bosses will “bicker” you for contacting the gypsies. This is troublesome.

Visits to the camp and attempts to punish for the same felling of trees or forcing them to leave the forest park during the fire hazard period require effort, nerves, time. As a result, you will find yourself guilty – human rights activists accuse of persecuting citizens of the country on a national basis, repressions against Roma. Again, get scolding from the authorities.

The state chose the tactic of “not noticing the problem,” but the state “noticed” the problem. If the system does not work, ordinary citizens tend to look for solutions by the methods available to them. Right-wing organizations appear in the arena. One pogrom, with the demonstrative expulsion of “strangers from our forest (city, village, courtyard)” adds to their public support, gives new members to the organization. Such actions are unbeatable from the point of view of public relations – witch hunters also played on the fear of a near audience.

Paradoxically, for the Roma, there are pluses in such a development of events (if there were no casualties). On the one hand, this strengthens ties, mutual support within the group, while maintaining the autonomy of the Roma community within Ukraine. The thesis “Ukrainians do not like us, therefore they must stick together” becomes dominant. On the other hand, such excesses are noticed by workers of charitable foundations. And that means there will be more grant money, they will bring another portion of humanitarian aid. If the problem has reached a sufficiently high level, we can expect a reaction from the state, which, according to the usual scheme, instead of searching for reasons, will document and issue portions of social assistance, subsidies, payments.

Such is the win-win tactic of the pogroms. The right-wingers also receive theirs; the Roma also receive theirs. The state suffers because:

  1. it appears that the state system shows an inability to solve even a primitive problem – the whole system is powerless in front of a group of citizens who spit on laws and foundations;
  2. the state loses its monopoly on arbitration and violence – citizens are convinced that solving problems is easier and faster on their own, not according to the law but according to concepts;
  3. with a critical increase in the number of pogroms, the win-win tactics fail and the Roma may think about forming their own self-defense units and retaliatory actions
  4. the state is finally forced to react, but in a situation where no one believes it, no one takes it seriously.

If you look at the headlines of the newspapers over the past couple of years, it is obvious that we have requested all 4 points. The state machine is forced to intervene, but from the position of a loser, since it does not have the strength and ability to stop the activity of the right, and attempts to soberly understand the situation and try to punish representatives of the Roma communities for the offense will be seen as a continuation of repressions. As a result, the National Police, according to Mr. Knyazev, will look for locations of camps throughout the country and take them under protection:

  • Do not understand the legality of the campsite, how much the results of the life of the camp harm (or vice versa) forests – to protect;
  • Protecting the Roma, it is possible to respond to their complaints about local behavior, but not to respond to possible complaints and statements by local residents against representatives of the Roma camp.

Such an approach destroys the authority of the police, obtains the authority of the state and, in the end, strikes the morale of the police themselves: if instead of, in their opinion, more important cases, they are forced to protect the Roma who are complained by the locals.

Alas, the situation with the Roma today partly casts doubt on the ability of the Ukrainian authorities to control the situation. As with the Hungarian minority, the lack of timely work (which would not take a lot of time and resources) leads to high costs amid emerging foreign policy problems.

What to do with it?

The answer to the question should be divided into two parts:

  1. The reaction to the killings and pogroms
  2. Policy making.

If we talk about killings – there should be an investigation and punishment of those responsible. But, at the same time, there should be a check of the Roma camps identified (I hope the national police have executed the instructions of their superiors to search for nomadic camps) and, if there are violations of the Code of Administrative Offenses, punishment of the guilty. Simply put, if a representative of the people suffered from a criminal offense, this does not exempt other representatives of the people from punishment for administrative offenses.

From a policy point of view – the main approaches described above.

On the one hand, the state should create the conditions for the development of employment among the Roma minority (taking into account the specific culture), but the measures taken should be equally useful to the rest of the population. For example, craftsmanship as an activity can remove some illegal workers from the shadows and can stimulate the development of employment in some regions. Creation of places for camps within cities (there are forest parks in most settlements) will make it possible to streamline the placement of “wild” tourists and may give additional income to local authorities.

But just a “carrot” will not give the desired result. This is true without reference to a specific nationality – if there is a group to whom I offer opportunities, but do not talk about responsibility, there will be no result.

Therefore, the second side of the coin is the repressive apparatus of the state. The key here is the operation of the system without adjustments for nationality. Roughly speaking, both residents of Transcarpathian villages who shit in their own river and residents of the camp in the Goloseevsky park of Kiev, who dirtied the place of rest of Kiev, should be punished for environmental pollution. Theft, begging, illegal trade do not have a nationality – there are specific performers who are lacking in any nation.

Representatives of the Roma people may not like the work of social services, guardianship authorities, but there are laws of the country and raising children in the spirit of disrespect for them, inciting children to illegal actions is punishable. If, as a result, the key values ​​of the Roma – family and motherhood (as they are understood) are under attack – these are the problems of the Roma, not of the laws. But, and here I emphasize again – similar actions should be taken in relation to representatives of other nationalities. A bad mother, a bad father, raising a potential criminal does not have a nationality – they are bad parents.

The main thing is to stop hoping that the problem will resolve itself and, finally, to at least study the life of national minorities in the country. Ideally – to develop their own, Ukrainian agenda, decide how to integrate them into society, how to convey to them that Ukraine is their state. Otherwise, the problems will be repeated. There were Hungarians, now Roma, in Ukraine still lives a lot of relatively closed ethnic groups. It’s time to stop stepping on the same rake.

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