From Sun Nov 16 10:45:09 2003
Date: Sat, 15 Nov 2003 11:21:54 -0600 (CST)
From: “Michael Givel” <>
Article: 168358
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

Development communities and improved social conditions for Roma of Ukraine

Round rable report, 5 November 2003

Objective of the round table was discussion on perspectives of Roma community development and improvement of social conditions of Roma in Ukraine from the point of view of adoption of state program “Social and cultural renascence of Roma”, signed by Vise Prime Minister of Ukraine D. Tabachnik.

Overall number of Roma in Ukraine, according to the latest census of 2001, is more than 48 thousand persons, though real number is 80 100 thousand. Roma in Ukraine live practically in all the regions. More compact they live in Donetsk, Dnipropetropvsk, Transcarpathian, Mykolaiv, Odesa regions. Roma of central, east and south regions differ little from other residents. They do not wear specific clothes, their appearance is not very different from those around. However, Roma of these regions preserve the spirit of selfidentification, and in a number of camps language of communication. Life of residents leaves its mark on the life of Roma. With worsening of economical situation in Ukraine life of Roma sharply worsened. Discrimination and racism against Roma do not exist de jure, but exist de facto. It worsens even more difficult situation.

About 30 persons were present at round table. Roma organizations were presented by Brovary (Kyiv region), Vinnitsa, Transcarpathian region, Izmail and Kiliya (Odesa region), Lviv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Chernigiv. Governmental structures were also represented Institute of Legislation of Verhovna Rada (Supreme Council) of Ukraine (Kyiv), Department of Nationalities and Migration (Kharkov and Odesa regional state administrations), Regional Center on Employment and Regional Center of Health (Odesa regional administration).

Nongovernmental organizations were also represented by German Society of Odesa region and Women's Information Consultative Center (Kyiv). The work of round table was covered by mass media of Odesa, and also journalists from Roma newspaper “Romani Yag” were present. In their presentations the participants addressed to different aspects of life of Roma in Ukraine. Particularly, Yaroslava Reznikova, deputy head of Department of Nationalities and Migration, noted that as long ago as 1999 the Council of National and Cultural Societies of Odesa Region was created in the region. 7 Roma organizations work in the region. Not long ago the governor of the region had a meeting with their representatives. At the meeting they discussed both perspectives of development of regional program of Roma communities' development and negative problems, which demand solution. Regional administration tries to meet the demands of solving these problems however absence of economical base decreases effectiveness of work. In the educational sphere, in particular, absence of manuals and programs for Roma Sunday schools is noticeable.

A case, which became known not only in Odesa region but all over Ukraine, was decision of gathering of Petrivka village (Ivaniv region) about expulsion of Roma. Office of Public Prosecutor abolished unlawful decision. Money was given (37 thousand hryvnas) for helping Roma families, which incurred losses, and family which suffered the most, got material help for purchasing a house.

Olena Semjorkina (Institute of Legislation of Verhovna Rada of Ukraine) told about necessity of creation integral conception of politics on Roma. Absence of certain laws and legal acts creates additional obstacles in solving practical problems. One of such gaps is absence of precise legal regulations on creating and existence of Sunday schools. Schools, which national societies establish, are different from those, established by religious societies.

Very important is still the problem of mechanism of Roma participation in governmental bodies, which are involved in issues of improvement of life of Roma community. This also regards to state program being discussed. Government puts all responsibility to city/town councils. They can solve some of the problems, but not great number of others.

Eleni Tsetseku, the coordinator of projects of the Council of Europe, noted that for the last years European community more and more often addresses to problems of Roma. This is connected with several aspects: protection of rights of minorities; struggle with racism, xenophobia and connected types of intolerance; elimination of social exclusion.

While elaborating recommendations for government, it's important to make a stress on active and leading role of Roma in the process of realization of state program. For this a special body should be created (coordinative council, advisory committee, working group or other structure).

Sergiy Ermoshkin, head of the regional Roma Congress of Odesa region, talked about importance to carry out selfcensus of Roma with the aim of defining their real number, in comparison with that defined by 2001 census, which is several times different from the real one.

Another important question, requiring attention, is recognition of Crimean Roma as deported people. Absence of such documents apart the state forces Crimean Roma to register as Crimean Tartars to obtain appropriate status and help from the state. This leads to assimilation and dilution among other nationalities.

All the participants expressed their vision of problems and ways to solve them with participation of the state. Besides, attitude to the adopted program was expressed. The participants said that they are not satisfied with the adopted program however they admit positive steps of the state for recognition of existing problem of situation with Roma in Ukraine. To change the situation it is necessary to get Roma community on the level of the program implementation with the aim of creating efficient mechanism of realization and monitoring of planned actions.

Such recommendations for state program were proposed:

At the end a resolution was made. It contains thoughts and ideas, expressed during the work of round table.