Victims of sexual and other violence within the home tend to confront hostility and skepticism similar to that experienced by sexual violence victims more generally. They experience difficulties when attempting to file complaints, during the investigatory process, and in securing the prosecution of their cases. Yet because of the particular contexts of family, intimacy, and the home, and the traditional notions that these contexts summon, victims of domestic violence also encounter problems unique to their situation. Perhaps the most glaring form of injustice that domestic violence victims face is the tendency by law enforcement officials to underestimate, or even reject, the seriousness or severity of the violence. With reference to domestic violence, for example, Igor Khamenov, of the Duma's Committee on Women, Family and Youth, stated, "Many of the Duma deputies think it is not an issue but a private matter that the state shouldn't touch."(1) Similarly, Olga Samarina of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection told Human Rights Watch that she considers domestic violence to be a problem dominated by social, rather than a criminal, factors. Perceptions such as these frame the state's failure to address adequately the problem of domestic violence.

Condoning Domestic Violence

A woman's reception at the station depends on the individual officer. If he has any supportive feelings, at least there's hope, otherwise there is none.

-Marina Pisklakova
Executive Director, Moscow Crisis Center for Women
April 10, 1997.

In the cities we investigated, female victims of domestic violence, crisis center staff, and activists all emphasized that women face extreme difficulty in getting the police to respond to their requests for help. According to Marina Pisklakova, executive director of Moscow Crisis Center for Women, "Very rarely do the police pursue a case. It used to be that murder or severe injuries [from domestic abuse] would be prosecuted. But now even murder is not punished or the punishment is very brief."(2)

We heard several accounts from activists and battered women of police refusing to respond to domestic violence. According to Yelena Potapova, the hotline director of the Moscow Crisis Center, in the six months from October 1995 to March 1996, ten women who contacted the crisis center did go to the police, but the police rejected all ten of their reports.(3) A women's rights activist in Nizhni Tagil told us that, when she was an ambulance driver, the police rarely came when the victim called. When the ambulance staff themselves called the police, she never saw them arrest the batterer, record the attack, or accept a complaint from the victim.(4) In a case in Nizhni Tagil, when a woman reported her husband's battering to the police, they told her, "What is so bad about it? He broke some dishes. Go home and you will be fine."(5)

Even if the police do not refuse a report outright, they often make the process of filing reports very difficult. For example, the police may reject a report because it does not follow proper format or include the required factual information. A volunteer attorney with a women's crisis center in Murmansk told us of a case in which a woman went to the police to report violence but was refused because she was unable to draft the report in the required format.(6) She said that women should always prepare two copies of the complaint: one for the police and one for herself, or else she will never be able to follow up on the case.

Even substantial evidence does not guarantee a report's acceptance. A thirty-six-year-old woman, T.A., who had been beaten regularly by her husband over their five years of marriage, told Human Rights Watch:

Last year [1995] in April, when I told [my husband] I was going to divorce him, he broke both my thumbs. He held me down on the bed and tried to rape me. He was holding me down by the thumbs and they broke when I was trying to get away.(7)

Because T.A. is a dentist, she was unable to work for two months while her thumbs were in a cast. When she contacted the police, they told her that it was a family fight and, if she did not have witnesses, she should file for divorce. Subsequent to her divorce, when she reported her ex-husband's continuing threats, the investigator told her, "He did not murder you" and refused to accept her complaint. Vinogradova told Human Rights Watch about a woman who collected from her neighbors written statements about her husband's abuse of her. In addition, she obtained a medical report of her injuries from a private clinic. When she first brought these documents to the police, the police officer refused them because they were not legal documents. Through her persistence, the police eventually accepted her report.

Even when police are sympathetic to the problem of domestic violence, they are reluctant to help. One woman called a crisis center in Moscow and said she had been repeatedly beaten by her husband, who over the years had broken her teeth and cut her eyebrow.(8) The hotline counselor suggested she speak with her local police officer and find out if he would be willing to accept her report. Although she found the police officer supportive, he did not start a criminal case until the husband also beat the woman's aunt.

At times, the police have offered to take the husband to jail and beat him, rather than charge him with a crime. Potapova told Human Rights Watch of a woman who called the police and asked them to come over because she and her two children had locked themselves into a room and her husband was trying to break the door down. He had beaten her several times in the past. When the police arrived, they offered to arrest the husband and beat him at the police station in such a way that he would never beat her again. The woman refused. She contacted the Moscow Crisis Center for Women because she wanted to prevent her husband from beating her without having him arrested. In the absence of a civil protection regime--which would allow a woman to procure restraining orders against those who are threatening her with violence(9)--and given the unavailability of alternative shelter, the only option that the Moscow Crisis Center could offer was a personal safety plan for her, which set out safe places for her to stay and people she could contact in case of further violence.

When police do take action against domestic violence, it is usually delayed and inadequate. Vinogradova told Human Rights Watch about a forty-four-year-old woman whose husband was placed on six months of probation--his only penalty-- at least twice for beating her.(10) Notwithstanding this supervision, his beatings of her became increasingly severe. Nonetheless, the police responded to her persistent attempts to report her husband's violence with sympathy toward her husband. The police told her, "It is no accident he is beating you, because you must be so hard to live with."(11) Ultimately, the police pursued the case and he was sentenced to a year in prison. In another case, recounted by Vinogradova, a woman lived with a man who beat her. She owned the apartment, and he did not have a propiska, an official residential permit, to live there. The woman contacted her district police office seven times about the abuse, but it never accepted her complaint. When she called the city police office, an officer came to her apartment and spoke to the man about his abuse but refused to accept her report or arrest the man. Only after he beat her so severely that he broke her ribs and she was hospitalized did the police act. He was convicted and sentenced to a month and a half of probation.

The police have arrested batterers, held them overnight, and released them without charge them in the morning; the men then have attacked their wives again. Those attacks often are quite vicious, as punishment for contacting the police. A woman in Murmansk, S.P., who had been beaten by her husband for over twenty years, and is now lame from the beatings, told us that she would go to the police every few months and report her husband's beatings and threats. The police repeatedly came to the house, detained him overnight, and released him in the morning. According to S.P., "The police never keep him for more than one night. Just for twelve hours." She continued, "When he comes back, I must apologize or else he will beat me again."(12) She said, "I haven't gone to the police in one year because there's no use in it. I have tried to remove all the knives, but when he gets drunk he still beats me." In another case, in Sergeyev Posad, after a wife was beaten three times by her husband, she went to the police, and they arrested him.(13) An hour after the arrest, the police released him, and he beat her even more severely. The police did not give her a reason for releasing him. The woman reported to the Sergeyev Posad Family Center that although the battering continues, she no longer seeks or expects help from the police.

In some instances, women who are unable to get police protection murder their batterers. Inna Veigardt, a psychologist at a women's prison outside of Nizhni Tagil, told us that women imprisoned for murdering their batterers constituted about 10 percent of her patients. According to Veigardt, these women had been unable to get any help from the police and believed it useless to seek such assistance.(14) Even more troubling was the fact that when these women killed their batterers, they were often unable to present evidence about the battering at their murder trials because testimony from witnesses was required in order to offer evidence of previous abuse.(15) A journalist in Murmansk also told Human Rights Watch of a woman who was battered for two years until she killed her husband.(16) She was unable to report to the police because her husband's mother worked for the police. According to the journalist, the man's first wife had tried several times to file reports with the police, but had been unable to do so.

Women who are married to police officers may have a particularly difficult time getting police intervention in domestic violence cases. Potapova of the Moscow Crisis Center told Human Rights Watch of one case in which the wife of a high-ranking police officer suffered violence for fifteen years. The wife contacted the Moscow crisis center, ANNA, after he broke two of her ribs.(17) He also threatened to get her evicted from Moscow through using his official position to revoke her official residence permit. She felt that she could not go to the police because he was the supervisor of the local station. He told her that if she went to the police, whatever she said would be used against her. Marina Pisklakova, executive director of the Moscow Crisis Center for Women, told us, "Many wives of police and military officers call my hotline. They are a special group, because it is almost impossible for them to get help."(18) Pisklakova is advising a police officer's wife with two sons. According to Pisklakova, "Her husband is a police officer in her district, so it is very hard for her to get help. When the police come to the house, they are her husband's friends. And he tells them that . . . they are just wasting their time."(19) Although the woman called the police several times and tried to call the city police, she was unable to get protection. The police arrested the husband only once, after he had harassed the officers. But even then, they released him once they arrived at the police station.

Police argue that they are reluctant to accept complaints of domestic violence because many women withdraw such reports. Many women who have suffered beatings by their husbands have told us that the police refused to come to their house unless they promised to press charges.(20) According to a police officer in Murmansk, 70 percent of women filing domestic violence reports later withdraw them.(21) But this officer did state that the police would keep a record of this family as a family at risk, and that eventually the state could prosecute under Article 113, the criminal code article covering bodily harm brought on by the victim's conduct. Although women frequently do withdraw reports of domestic assault several times before being emotionally and financially prepared to pursue a complaint, that is not a legitimate reason to reject women's reports of domestic abuse.(22) Further, our interviews indicate that the police have decided that domestic abuse is not an important enough crime to command already scarce resources. According to Potapova, "Police tell us that they have many cases of murder and burglary, so they cannot bother with the women."(23)

Our interviews also indicated that Russian law enforcement views on marriage and marital roles strongly influence their reluctance to punish domestic abuse. For example, although the police are generally more likely to respond to sexual violence outside the home than to domestic assault, law enforcement officials with whom we spoke told us that marital rape, which is criminalized under Russian law, is rarely prosecuted. A prosecutor in St. Petersburg told Human Rights Watch that her office does not release men arrested for sexual violence on bail, except in cases of marital rape.(24) In addition, according to a prosecutor, Yelena Stepanova, in the Krasnoselsk region, a suburb of St. Petersburg, her office will start domestic violence cases only when husband and wife are divorced or separated.(25) Nikolaevna also told us that she would take subsequent marriage between the complainant and the accused into account when determining the penalty.(26)

This attitude toward marriage and family life also affects how law enforcement agents view the credibility of women who report domestic violence. Olga Samarina, an official in the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection who had expressed frustration with the nonprosecution of rape complaints, nonetheless subscribed to the notion that a "victim can provoke violence," in domestic situations.(27) Stepanova further told us that it was the responsibility of law enforcement officials to protect the rights of men because women have too much power. When asked what percentage of women reported violence to the police, Stepanova told us that only delicate intellectual women who were mentally disturbed would not report violence. According to Stepanova, Russian women were strong and would file a report, and then withdraw if they got a sufficient bribe.(28)

Lack of Civil Remedies

As noted above, criminal sanctions are the only legal protection available to battered women. Despite requests from women's rights groups, neither the Russian federal government nor any municipalities we visited provides a civil protection regime for victims of domestic violence, and none is provided by the draft family violence code. In addition, as described above, most women are unprotected by criminal sanctions because police frequently reject reports of such abuse. The police's failure to act has particularly harsh consequences for Russian women because, without an adequate civil option, they have no other means of seeking protection. They are thus left at the mercy of their batterers.

Even if Russian law enforcement officials diligently applied criminal sanctions to domestic assault, a civil protection regime would still offer critical protection to domestic violence victims. Many women hesitate to file complaints against their husbands for reasons other than police inaction. The terrible conditions in Russian jails, for example, discourage women from filing complaints against their husbands and/or fathers of their children. Many women, who are dependent on their husbands' incomes in part because of continuing employment discrimination, also fear the loss of economic support due to incarceration. Any money for criminal fines, moreover, comes from the family budget.

A civil protection regime, either federal or regional, would allow a person experiencing violence at the hands of a family member or person with whom she has an intimate relationship to get a legally enforceable order from a court based upon medical records and oral testimony, without any police help and with a lower standard of evidence than criminal charges. Such an order could prohibit the batterer from, inter alia, beating, threatening or contacting her and her children. It could also require that an allowance be subtracted directly from the batterer's wages and given to his dependents. This order would be enforced by the police, and violations could be subject to criminal penalties. A woman would thus be able to secure protection for herself and her family without relying on the police or prosecutors for initial action, jeopardizing her economic support, or choosing to put a husband or partner in prison. The creation of such a regime would be an important step in preventing women from being beaten by intimate partners. The effectiveness of the regime, of course, would still rely on the police's diligence in enforcing the orders and the willingness of judicial officers to issue them.

In 1997 Russian women began to pursue civil cases for damages against their batterers. This trend is mostly the result of women's rights groups training interested attorneys to represent battered women.(29) One case that went to court in April 1997 involved a divorced woman with three children who still lived in a three-room apartment with her ex-husband. Although he had consistently abused her in the past, the police refused to press charges against him. However, when he struck his fourteen-year-old son in the chest, she sued him for thirty million rubles in damages (U.S.$5200). The court fined him four million rubles (U.S.$693), which the defendant paid to the court, not the plaintiff. Although this is a welcome additional tool to fight domestic violence, going to court in these cases is not only difficult in terms of getting legal representation but also because settling issues in court in Russia is considered shameful.

Lack of Shelter

I have never seen a battered woman without a housing problem.

-Lyudmilla Yaklontova
Psychological Crisis Center for Women
St. Petersburg, April 29, 1996

The lack of battered women's shelters and permanent housing options in Russia significantly exacerbates the problem of domestic violence. The difficulty, and sometimes impossibility, of finding safe places to live means that many women are unable to flee situations of abuse. Women's rights activists in St. Petersburg, Nizhni Tagil, and Murmansk related many accounts of women forced by circumstance to live with their batterers and remain in situations of physical endangerment. Olga Smotrina of Nizhni Tagil, for example, told Human Rights Watch about a divorced woman who still lives in the same apartment with her batterer ex-husband because he refuses to divide the apartment; he continues to beat her on a regular basis. According to Smotrina, when she told the woman to go to the police, the woman replied, "Of course I went to the police, but they just laughed at me."(30) Frustrated in their efforts to secure safe shelter and thereby protect themselves and their families from their batterers, women throughout Russia remain vulnerable and at risk to continued violence within the home.

The most immediate housing problem for victims of domestic violence is the absence of safe places that they may flee to in life-threatening emergency situations. Many battered women and their families cannot seek shelter with friends and relatives, who, due to a severe housing shortage, often already live in overcrowded apartments. Most of the women have no other options. As of May 1997, there were only two shelters for battered women in Russia, one in St. Petersburg and the other in Langepas, a town of 200,000 persons in western Siberia 2,000 kilometers from Moscow.(31) There were no shelters in Moscow. Although shelters are not a permanent housing solution for domestic violence victims, they provide a crucial resource for women facing immediate situations of danger at home.

Because subsidized housing is so scarce and the cost of rent is very high relative to Russian salaries, it currently is almost impossible to establish a shelter without financial and logistical support from the government. Russian federal and local governments, however, have been slow to provide such support. According to Marina Aristova, for example, she and her colleagues began trying to establish the St. Petersburg shelter in 1992, and for two years their interaction with the mayor's office ranged from minor to major bureaucratic blockage. Originally the city offered a list of ten potential locations for the shelter, all of which were occupied at that time. The city did not offer their current space, which still requires substantial renovation, until September 1995. Aristova told us, "Now we have space, but no money."(32) The shelter is responsible for paying for rent, water, and heating. Marina Pisklakova, the executive director of the Moscow Crisis Center for Women, has been trying to open a shelter for battered women in Moscow for several years.(33) She found a space in 1995 in a former kindergarten that was offered rent-free by the local government. City officials, however, then demanded rent that the Center could not afford. She remains hopeful that the shelter will be established because funding for renovations has been offered by several European governments. Operating expenses, however, remain unfunded. As of June 1997, Pisklakova was still searching for a space.

Victims of domestic violence encounter difficulties securing not only temporary shelters in emergency situations but also permanent housing solutions. The overwhelming majority of urban Russians reside in apartments provided free by the government during the Soviet era.(34) Typically overcrowded, approximately 20 percent of the apartments in St. Petersburg are communal or shared by two or more families.(35) During the Soviet era, people waited for years for government apartments; the current Russian budget crisis and the resultant sharp decline in public spending has led to an even longer wait for subsidized housing. Because of the tremendous shortage of housing and the restricted ability to relocate under the propiska, or official residence permit, system,(36) many battered women continue living with their batterers, even after they have divorced and remarried.

Housing remedies purportedly available under Russian law that appear useful to domestic violence victims prove illusory.(37) Under Article 98 of the housing code, a tenant in a state-owned apartment may be evicted when it is impossible to live in the same apartment with that individual and all warning measures and community actions have not improved that person's behavior. Although the government has applied this provision to evict tenants in some situations, its application has been limited, and rarely has it been invoked on behalf of battered women.

Although the language of this law clearly could apply to situations of family violence, it was drafted to provide an out for people living in communal apartments with abusive individuals not related to them and has not, to our knowledge, been interpreted to apply to domestic violence situations.

Another potential remedy under Russian law that could be helpful to domestic violence victims is division of the apartment. A government-provided apartment may be divided voluntarily or pursuant to a court order by its occupants, who would create two apartments of half the size of the original apartment. Yet this rarely occurs, because of cost and complexity.(38) Even when the procedure is undertaken voluntarily, it is an extremely complicated and time-consuming process to divide an apartment through government channels. Private services that facilitate apartment divisions, moreover, usually charge high fees.(39)

Victims of domestic violence living in municipal apartments granted to employees of certain state organizations, such as the police, are even worse off: these apartments may not be split. Yaklontova of the St. Petersburg Crisis Center for Women told us about a woman whose ex-husband, a police officer, continued to live in the apartment with her and their son. He beat her constantly, threatened her, and broke household items. She reported to the police several times but never filed an official report. According to Yaklontova, "She was worried that if her husband were sent to jail then she would lose the apartment. She was not persistent with the police because of the apartment. I think if she was, her reports would have been accepted."(40) Because of her fears for the safety of herself and her child, the woman is now living in a room in a boarding house.

Because Russian law does not provide for the eviction of violent persons from private apartments, the privatization of Russia's housing market further weakens women's ability to protect themselves.(41) If both partners lease or own an apartment, neither may be evicted absent an order from the housing court. If only one partner owns or officially leases an apartment, however, the official lessee may evict his or her partner from the apartment: as apartments are usually in the man's name, a woman is more likely to be forced to leave.(42) Even if a woman individually owns an apartment, it may be difficult for her to evict a batterer. Vinogradova told Human Rights Watch about a woman in Nizhni Tagil who owned her apartment. Her partner, who was regularly beating her, had no legal interest in the apartment and no propiska.(43) Even after he was convicted for breaking her ribs, he was permitted by the police to spend his month and a half sentence in the apartment. He continued to beat her, but the police neither arrested him nor removed him from the apartment.


U.S. Policy

Since her appointment, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has emphasized that promoting human rights and, in particular, combatting violence and discrimination against women are pillars of U.S. foreign policy. In the case of Russia, this commitment has been translated into an initial and potentially significant--though curently small-scale--effort to use U.S. assistance to Russian law enforcement to improve the latter's biased and obstructive response to violence against women.

In September 1996, the U.S. Congress directed that $1 million be made available by the U.S. Department of State to support efforts by Russian health and law enforcement officials to combat violence against women. Both the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department have initiated projects.

The State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Matters (INL), responsible for providing technical support to Russian law enforcement, first turned its attention to violence against women with an April 1997 seminar on organized crime and the "exploitation" of women and children. Although it allowed Russian NGOs to present U.S. and Russian officials with their concerns, the seminar wholly avoided confronting government responsibility for mistreating and ignoring female victims of violence. Since then, however, INL has supported a pilot program to train Russian police and law enforcement in the importance of and ways to respond appropriately and effectively to violence against women. Model programs in Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod are working to bring local women's crisis centers into a program that targets federal and regional government officials, police, judges, and prosecutors for improving the treatment of female violence victims. Also in 1997, John Shattuck, deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, expressed concern over the extent of and lack of response to violence against women in Russia in bilateral meetings with his Russian counterpart, Teymuraz Ramashvili. Ramashvili dismissed the problem in a meeting with U.S.-based NGOs and asserted that Russian women are well protected by law. However, in late 1997, Ramashvili offered to host a 1998 Moscow conference on violence against women.

USAID funds training for lawyers working with crisis centers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Murmansk, and Saratov on ways to combat violence against women through the legal system. The training emphasizes both how to use extant laws to provide victims with redress and how to initiate and implement legal reform. USAID is also supporting an analysis by the Moscow Center for Gender Studies to assess the impact of Russian laws on employment, reproductive rights, mass media, and migration on respect for women's rights. Attempting to respond to women's long-ignored health needs, USAID supports women's wellness centers at twelve Russian hospitals. The centers provide, among other things, clinical and counseling services to improve the diagnosis and care of female victims of violence.

In late 1997, Congress expressed its intent again to target a portion of INL's money for Russia toward improving the response to violence against women. This continued prompting by Congress has forced the State Department to begin incorporating concern for women's human rights into its assistance to Russian law enforcement. These resources, however, are still limited and have done little to change high-level indifference to the brutality Russian women endure without recourse.

European Policy

In October 1997, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held its first-ever seminar on the promotion of women's participation in society. Member states that participated in this seminar identified a wide range of concerns--from widespread employment discrimination based on sex to trafficking of women and girls to violence against women in conflict situations--almost none of which have been addressed by OSCE activities. If the OSCE is to promote effectively the status and rights of women in the region, it must move beyond preparing a seminar report. OSCE member states began in late 1997 to debate ways to ensure the integration of women's human rights into OSCE operations and policy decisions. A key proposal would establish a high-level coordinator, based in Vienna, with a mandate to ensure that women's human rights are incorporated into all relevant OSCE operations.

1. Katy Daigle, "Anya's Story: Fearing to Fight Domestic Abuse," Moscow Times, January 15, 1997.

2. Interview, Marina Pisklakova, Moscow Crisis Center for Women, Washington, D.C., April 10, 1997.

3. Interview, Yelena Potapova, Moscow Crisis Center for Women, April 23, 1996.

4. Interview, Olga Shestakova, Nizhni Tagil, May 8, 1996.

5. Interview, Natalia Tashinova, counselor, Nizhni Tagil Center "Lana," Nizhni Tagil, May 7, 1996.

6. Interview, Irina Paikova, attorney, Murmansk Crisis Center, Murmansk, May 5, 1996.

7. Interview, T.A., St. Petersburg, April 29, 1996.

8. Yelena Potapova, Moscow Crisis Center for Women, Moscow, April 23, 1996.

9. Under a civil protection scheme, a person who is facing violence from a family member or intimate parties may, on her own initiative without police support, get a legally enforceable order from a court that prohibits her batterer from, inter alia, beating, threatening, or contacting her. Violations of such an order may result in criminal penalties.

10. Interview, Nina Vinogradova, Nizhni Tagil Center "Lana," Nizhni Tagil, May 8, 1996.

11. Ibid.

12. Interview, S.P., Murmansk, May 6, 1996.

13. Interview, Larisa Voytkova, Family Center, Sergeyev Posad, April 26, 1996.

14. Inna Veigardt, psychologist, women's prison, Nizhni Tagil, May 8, 1996.

15. There are rarely any witnesses to domestic assault, and even if there were witnesses, as mentioned above, people in Russia are very reluctant to testify in court.

16. Interview, journalist, Murmansk, May 6, 1996.

17. Interview, Yelena Potapova, Moscow Crisis Center for Women, April 23, 1996.

18. Interview, Marina Pisklakova, Moscow Crisis Center for Women, April 10, 1997.

19. Ibid.

20. Interview, Yelena Potapova, Moscow Crisis Center for Women, April 23, 1996.

21. Interview, Irina Semenistina, police officer, Murmansk, May 5, 1996.

22. Some women also withdraw reports because of harassment by their husbands or partners. A woman in Murmansk, for example, told us about her daughter who was severely beaten and raped by her husband after she left him and moved in with her mother. Her daughter's medical exam indicated that she had been severely bruised and had suffered damage to her kidneys. After she filed a report, her husband told her he would kill her if she pursued a complaint. When she informed the investigator of the threat, he told her he would be unable to protect her, so she withdrew her complaint. Interview, Murmansk, May 1996.

23. Interview, Yelena Potapova, Moscow Crisis Center for Women, April 23, 1996.

24. Interview, Tatyana Nikolaeva, prosecutor, St. Petersburg, April 30, 1996.

25. Interview, Yelena Stepanova, prosecutor, Krasnosels region, April 30, 1996.

26. Interview, Tatyana Nikolaeva, prosecutor, St. Petersburg, April 30, 1996.

27. Interview, Olga Samarina, Moscow, May 8, 1996.

28. Interview, Yelena Stepanova, prosecutor, Krasnosels region, April 30, 1996.

29. Interview, Yelena Potapova, Moscow Crisis Center for Women, Moscow, May 9, 1997.

30. Interview, Olga Smotrina, Nizhni Tagil, May 7, 1996.

31. Genine Babakian, "At Long Last, a Shelter for Women," Moscow Times, March 8, 1996, p. 1.

32. Interview, Marina Aristova, St. Petersburg, April 30, 1996.

33. Genine Babakian, Moscow Times, October 7, 1995.

34. Article 40 of the constitution of the Russian Federation, passed in 1993, guarantees a right to housing. Article 40 provides:

(1) Everyone shall have the right to a home. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of a home.

(2) State bodies and organs of local self-government shall encourage home construction and create conditions for the realization of the right to a home.

(3) Low-income or other citizens, as defined by law, who are need of housing shall be housed free of charge or for affordable pay from municipal or other housing stocks in accordance with norms proscribed by law.

35. According to the 1989 census, 6.8 percent of all Russians lived in communal apartments, with 8.7 percent of all urban Russians living in communal apartments. Current estimates indicate that communal apartments house 8 to 10 percent of Muscovites and approximately 20 percent of St. Petersburg residents.

36. Under the propiska system, all Russian residents must carry an internal passport that conveys a stamp stating where they legally live. In 1991 the USSR Constitutional Court ruled that these restrictions on movement violate international protections, and these restrictions were formally revoked throughout the Russian Federation on July 17, 1995. But, authorities in large urban areas have perpetuated a de facto shadow residence permit regime that is at least as restrictive and punitive as its predecessor. For an evaluation of the propiska system, see Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, "Moscow: Open Season, Closed City," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, vol 9, no. 10(d), September 1997, pp. 7-11.

37. The special rapporteur on violence against women has emphasized the importance of providing access to alternative housing when crafting effective measures to prevent domestic violence. She has recommended that states adopt "provisions for the removal of the abuser from the shared home and allow the victim-survivor to retain her present housing, at least until formal and final separation is achieved." Report Submitted by the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, U.N. Document E/CN.4/1996/53, February 5, 1996, p. 39.

38. Interview, Lyudmilla Yaklontova, attorney, St. Petersburg Psychological Crisis Center for Women, St. Petersburg, April 29, 1996.

39. Ibid.

40. Interview, Lyudmilla Yaklontova, Psychological Crisis Center for Women, April 29, 1996.

41. As of February 1996, 36 percent of apartments in Russia were privatized. In the places we visited the numbers were: Moscow, 41 percent; St. Petersburg, 29 percent; Murmansk province, 37 percent; and Sverdlosk province, 39 percent. Goskomstat Rossii, Sotsial'naya sfera Rossi, Statistichiskii Sbornik (The Social Sphere in Russia: A Statistical Handbook) (Moscow: 1996), pp. 149-50.

42. Interview, Zinaida Batrakova, prosecutor, Moscow, April 22, 1996.

43. Interview, Nina Vinogradova, Nizhni Tagil Center "Lana," Nizhni Tagil, May 8, 1996.