Treatment of ethnic Russians [TMT32579.E]

Information on the situation and the treatment of Russians and on the human rights situation in general in Turkmenistan is scarce.

Indeed, according to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) World Report 1999:

Under the dictatorship of president Saparmurat Niyazov, the government of Turkmenistan in 1998 continued to deny its citizens nearly every civil and political right. With no political opposition, no freedom of assembly, no opportunity for public debate, and a Soviet-style secret police, very little information on human rights abuses was available.
Furthermore, a 4 February 1999 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

(RFE/RL) report states that Alexandr Petrov sent on 29 January 1999 to Turkmenistan on a human rights fact finding mission by the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch (HRW) was expelled from Turkmenistan on 3 February 1999.

With regard to ethnic Russians, a 10 April 1999 Noviye Izvestia report states that 400,000 ethnic Russians live in Turkmenistan, a country of 4 million people. The report also states that although Turkmenistan was the second Commonweath of Independent States (CIS) country, after the pro-Moscow government of Tajikistan, to sign an agreement with Russia on dual citizenship, President Nyazov of Turkmenistan decided recently to "withdraw from the Bishkek convention on visa-free space within the CIS and called for an end to visa-free arrangements within the Commonwealth...", a move that received the support of Uzbek President Islam Karimov. However, according to the report, "ethnic Russians living in Turkmenistan are able to obtain Russian passports, which will alleviate, to a certain extent, the problem of trips to visit relatives should a visa requirement be introduced with Russia."

A January 1999 report published by the Moscow-based SEU Times, the newsletter of the Moscow-based Socio-Ecological Union (SEU), stated that officers of the Committee for National Security of Turkmenistan (KNS) had arrested Vyacheslav Mamedov, the leader of Turkmenbashi city Russian community and charged him with defamation for an interview he gave to Mayak, a Russian Radio Station. Mamedov was soon released after pressure was made on his behalf by the international community. Mamedov was also arrested in December 1998 upon his return from a trip to Moscow and was interrogated for several days by officers of the KNS.

A 18 February 1998 Moskovskiy Komsomolets report states that Russian newspapers had been banned in Turkmenistan for more than three years and that the only external medium available to both Turkmen and ethnic Russians was the Russian Public Television channel to which access could be ended at anytime. The report also mentions that both ethnic Russians and Turkmens live under the poverty line and that ethnic Russians would not be able to afford to move to Russia even if they sold all what they owned in Turkmenistan. The report also says that Russians "are not forced to communicate in the Turkmen language."

No additional information on the treatment of Russians in Turkmenistan could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Human Rights Watch (HRW). 1999. World Report 1999. [Accessed 1 Sept. 1999]

Moskovskiy Komsomolets [Moscow, in Russian] 19 February 1998. "Russian Daily Examines Personality Cult." (BBC Summary 28 Feb. 1998/NEXIS)

Noviye Izvestia [Moscow]. 10 April 1999. Igor Sinyakevitch. "'Iron Curtain' Uzbek-Style" (Current Digest of Post-Soviet Press 19 May 1999/NEXIS)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 5 February 1999. Fiona Dunne. "Human Rights Worker Deported From Turkmenistan." http:/ [Accessed 1 Sept. 1999].

The SEU Times [Moscow]. January 1999. Issue 1. "Activists Prosecuted in Turkmenistan" [Accessed 1 Sept. 1999]

Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International. 1999. Report 1999. London: Amnesty International Secretariat.

Human Rights Watch reports on Central Asia.

Derechos -Human Rights Website.

Electronic Sources : Internet, IRB databases, WNC.

Human Rights Watch (HRW). World Report 1999. Internet.

_____. Reports on Central Asia.

Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity (INCORE) Website.

Minority Electronic Ressources (MILRENES). Directory of resources on minority human rights and related problems of the transition period in Eastern and Central Europe. Internet.

Organization for Security and in Europe (OSCE), Office for

Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Internet.

Soros Foundations Network Website.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Website.

REFWORLD. January 1999 version.

Resource Centre's Country Files: Turkmenistan.

Russia Today Website.

Transitions Online Website.