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Refusal of services for Russians in discriminatory – HFHR’s opinion

The Helsinki Foundation has issued an opinion on a refusal to provide services to Russians. According to the HFHR, such an action taken by a business organisation constitutes a violation of the principle of equal treatment and is prohibited by domestic and international laws.

The opinion was issued in response to media reports on cases of businesses refusing to serve Russian patrons because of the events unfolding in Ukraine. Authors of the report acknowledged a need for sympathising with victims of the conflict in Ukraine, but noted that any actions taken to pursue this goal must address individual perpetrators and be legal.

“We wish to underscore that no action of authorities or leaders of a given country may justify a discriminatory or stigmatising treatment of the entire nation. We cannot forget that among Russians are also human rights defenders, oppositionists or people who oppose the current policy of the Russian Federation”, reads the opinion.

The HFHR also reminded that Polish law prohibits discrimination in access to services based on an ethnic or national background which applies also to Russians, a national and ethnic group. The opinion also noted that businesses that refuse to provide services on the grounds of the national and ethnic affiliation of potential customers may be sued for compensation, and that such conduct is also a petty offence under the Code of Petty Offences.


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