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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Duma Wants Ethnicity Off Case Papers

The Moscow City Duma on Wednesday voted to send an appeal to the Constitutional Court asking it to review the constitutionality of forcing those accused of crimes to indicate their ethnicity in official case documents.

The initiative, sponsored by United Russia faction, is aimed at mitigating ethnic hatred in society, Duma Speaker Vladimir Platonov said Wednesday.

Under current laws, those suspected of committing crimes are required to indicate their ethnicity in official documents related to their case, though the Constitution states that citizens have a choice whether to do so.

The infamous "fifth clause" in Soviet passports required citizens to indicate their ethnicity and was closely linked to official anti-Semitism and the role of the internal passport in daily life.

Platonov defended the appeal by citing last year's ethnic riots in the Karelian town of Kondopoga as an example of how an "ordinary drunken fight turned into an ethnic conflict that lead to repercussions across the country."

Only Communist deputies argued against the appeal. Deputy Vladimir Lakeyev said that in the Soviet Union, people of different ethnicities were all Soviet citizens, but that in today's Russia there is not the same "friendship of peoples" as there was before.

The appeal comes after a United Russia-sponsored bill was approved last month that would ban the media from referring to a suspect's ethnicity. The bill has been sent to the State Duma.