After calling domestic violence ‘sufficiently exaggerated,’ Russian Justice Ministry comes out in support of domestic violence bill
In October 2019, Deputy Justice Minister Mikhail Galperin responded to a series of questions from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the case of four Russian women who had suffered from domestic violence. He said the following:
As for the alleged violation of Article 14, the Government emphasize that yet the phenomenon of domestic violence is regrettably widespread all around the world and do exist in Russia as well as in any other county, the scope of the problem of violence within family and household as well as the gravity and extend of its discriminatory effect on women in Russia is sufficiently exaggerated.
Following press reports about that response, a group of Russians whose family members had been killed by their domestic partners sent a letter to the Justice Ministry criticizing Galperin’s comments and asking that his fitness to serve be evaluated. The organization “Zona Prava” (“Rights Zone”), which received a response to the letter from Andrey Fyodorov, Galperin’s chief of staff, relayed the Justice Ministry’s words to Meduza and Kommersant.
In his letter, Fyodorov claimed that his boss’s response to the ECHR simply claimed that “the serious problem of violence is common to many countries and is present [in Russia] as well” and that “the government is obligated to provide unconditional protection from violence regardless of who the victim of that violence is.” He added that the new bill on domestic violence that is currently being considered in Russia has the Justice Ministry’s “full support.” That claim directly contradicts another assertion in Galperin’s ECHR response, which argued that there is “no particular need” to pass new legislation on family violence in Russia.
Fyodorov’s letter did not respond to the families’ request for an examination of Galperin’s fitness to serve. It also did not clarify which version of a domestic violence law the Justice Ministry would support. The latest draft of the law received widespread criticism from women’s advocates who said it had been watered down to the point of being “largely useless.” The Russian Orthodox Church nevertheless claimed the bill should not be passed due to its “obvious anti-family orientation.” The legislation is now under revision.