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Domestic violence is a severe issue in Russia. According to Human Rights Watch, citing RIA Novosti, as many as 36,000 women and 26,000 children faced daily abuse at home in 2013.[1][2] According to official MVD data, in 2015 around 1060 people died of domestic violence in Russia. Of them, 756 were men and 304 women.[3] According to an independent study of 2,200 women in fifty cities and towns in Russia, 70% have experienced at least one form of gender-based violence in the home—physical, psychological, economic, or sexual.[4]

Alcoholism is often a factor, as Russia is one of the hardest drinking nations of the world, taking 26th place by alcohol consumption per capita in 2018.[5]

In January 2017, Russian lawmakers voted, 380–3, to decriminalize certain forms of domestic violence. Under the new law, first-time offenses that do not result in "serious bodily harm" carry a maximum fine of 30,000 rubles, up to 15 days' administrative arrest, or up to 120 hours of community service.[6]

According to recent research commissioned by the State Duma, domestic violence takes place in approximately one out of ten Russian families. Seventy percent of those surveyed report that they have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence: 80% are women, with children and elderly people coming behind. Moreover, in 77% of surveyed cases, physical, psychological and economic violence go together. More than 35% of victims did not go to the police for assistance, citing shame, fear and mistrust.

Death statistics

On October 30, 2019, during the hearings in the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, with reference to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the following figures were published: in 2018, 253 women were killed in family conflicts, and in general, over the past decade, this figure was about 300 people annually.[7]

The publication of Moskovsky Komsomolets in December 2019 supplemented the overall picture with the data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for 2016 and 2017. It also provides figures for the first half of 2019: 233 men and 115 women.[8]

Data on annual deaths of 14,000 women

At the same time, it is widely said and written that 14,000 women die annually from domestic violence in Russia[7] with a slight difference in wording: according to their different versions, women die at the hands of their husbands, at the hands of lovers, husbands and roommates, etc.[9]

For example, Human Rights Watch report from 1997 cites Ekaterina Lakhova and reports 14,000 killed women.[10] Lt. Gen Mikhail Artamoshkin in an 2008 interview again mentions same number,[11] as does ECHR, which cites Russian non-governmental organization ANNA[12] as do other sources.

Origin of the number

Marina Pisklakova-Parker, director of the ANNA Center, explained that the 14,000 annual victims (“statistics on the killings of women which many refer to”) is a figure published in 1995 in a report by the Russian Federation that was presented to the UN Committee on the Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Pisklakova-Parker believes that in 1993 this figure was true.[13]

Alexander Kovalenin, an opponent of the domestic violence law, agrees with Pisklakova-Parker that 14,000 is the figure from 1993, but considers it to be initially incorrect:

"This is the 1993 figure, an estimate of the total number of deliberate killings of women (not only in the family), inserted by someone from the Ministry of Labor into a Russian report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women."

This indicator, according to Kovalenin, was used again in 1999, in the fifth report, and was reproduced for 20–25 years without rechecking.[14]

Violent crime statistics

According to Rosstat, the number of victims of crimes involving violent actions against a family member in 2017 was (by sex) 25,700 women and 10,400 men.[15]

Number of victims of a family abuse
Year Total of them women Spouses Of them women Sons or daughters of them women
2012 34,026 24,231 12,954 11,640 7,345 3,697
2013 38,235 27,993 14,565 13,269 7,731 4,077
2014 42,829 31,358 16,671 15,246 8,871 4,722
2015 50,780 36,493 19,998 17,908 11,181 5,809
2016 65,543 49,765 29,788 27,256 12,314 6,419
2017 36,037 25,667 15,504 13,360 8,020 3,911
2018 33,235 23,518 14,722 12,516 7,142 3,584

When considering the data on violent crimes against family members, it is noticeable that until the beginning of 2017 the number of victims was growing, but in 2017 it unexpectedly dropped to 36 thousand (a year earlier it was 65.5 thousand). The decrease took place after the State Duma partially decriminalized beatings in January 2017, after which physical abuse without serious consequences for health during family conflicts became an administrative offense (not criminal)[16] in cases where it is not a relapse.


In 2008 a representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Lt. Gen Mikhail Artamoshkin expressed his concerns over the country's crime rate, that had doubled in the five years between 2002 and 2006. He emphasized that also domestic violence had increased so that up to 40 percent of all serious violent crimes were committed within families.[citation needed]

About two-thirds of premeditated murders and grievous bodily harm was done in intimate relations or within families. The violence in one form or another was observed in almost every fourth family. The reasons for domestic crimes were different and included quarrels and scandals, hostile relations on the basis of families' problems, housing and domestic conflicts, which were often of long-lasting character.[citation needed]

As the main causes over the whole population Artamoshkin referred to "low morale" and income problems, while in wealthy families crimes happened also due to jealousy and avarice. High unemployment frustrated people and led to the abuse of alcohol and violence towards women, children and adolescents.[citation needed]

Artamoshkin stated that the police officers of districts had started to work with families, in co-operation with child protection officials; and that, as a result of the preventive work, the annual cases of domestic violence had decreased by 25–30 percent. Another factor is the decline in alcohol consumption, with alcohol consumption down 40% since the early 2000s according to the World Health Organization.[17][18]

In a 2003 press release, Amnesty International claimed that 36,000 women in the Russian Federation were beaten by their husbands or partners every day.[19]

The situation was exacerbated by the lack of statistical data on violent crimes, which took into account the nature of relationship between the offender and the victim as well as gender breakdown,[20] and by the attitude of law enforcement officers that did not regard such violence as a serious crime, but rather, as a "private matter" between the spouses[21][22] and avoid to "interfere with family scandals".[23]

A 2008 article published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence regarding domestic violence among Russian college students found that "High prevalence rates were found for all types of violence, aggression, and [sexual] coercion. Consistent with previous research, male and female students were about equally likely to be victims and perpetrators of all violent and aggressive actions."[24]

Police statistics

Official statistics from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) for 2008:[25]

According to the official data from Russian Police, 1,060 people were killed in their own families in year 2015. 304 of them were women, 756 – men and 36 children.[citation needed]


According to figures reported by the western media in 2013, women's deaths due to domestic violence had not been markedly diminished in a decade. BBC reported information from a Russian interior ministry that 600,000 women were physically or verbally abused at home.[26] Yelena Mizulina, a member of the Federation Council, cited much lower figures for 2015, reporting that around 300 women per year died at the hands of husbands or other relatives and accusing feminists of inflating the figures.[27]


In July 2016, Ukrainian activist Anastasia Melnichenko published a post on Facebook in which she recounted her personal experience of sexual abuse and repudiated the idea that she was somehow to blame. She included the Ukrainian-language hashtag #яНеБоюсьСказати, which translates to #IAmNotAfraidToSayIt or #IAmNotAfraidToSpeak in English; #яНеБоюсьСказать in Russian. Her post was widely shared, and soon afterwards women in Russia and Ukraine began posting their own stories of sexual harassment and assault. Many said it was the first time they had spoken of the incidents. By August 2016, almost 200,000 people had expressed support or shared their stories on social media using her hashtag.[28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35]

The responses were mixed. Some who commented were supportive, but many others, including journalists, psychologists, and Orthodox Christian representatives, claimed the stories were fabricated, exaggerated, misandrist, or "undermining traditional values."[36]

According to a 2016 report from Global Information Society Watch, "gender-based violence in Russia is an everyday affair."[36] As the Soviet Union lacked any sort of gender violence-preventing legislation, sexual assault has continued not to be taken seriously in the countries that emerged after its collapse, especially in Russia under Vladimir Putin. Even the most egregious rape cases, which at one time would have been universally condemned, often result in no punishment for the perpetrators.[37]


In February 2017, with the support of the Russian Orthodox Church, Russia decriminalized domestic violence in cases where it does not cause "substantial bodily harm" (such as broken bones or a concussion)[38] and does not happen more than once a year.[39] Some forms of domestic violence and of other cases of battery against relatives became an administrative offense.[40] As a result, domestic violence increased[41][42] while reporting declined sharply, and police began to refuse to investigate domestic violence cases.[4]

Marina Pisklakova-Parker, director of the Anna Centre, an organization that helps domestic violence victims, said decriminalization has proven "very dangerous to the safety of thousands of Russian women."[42] In December 2018, Russia's top human rights official, Tatyana Moskalkova, called decriminalization a "mistake" and said new legislation was needed to combat domestic violence.[43]

NGOs filed a complaint with the United Nations in 2013 on behalf of Shema Timagova, a Chechen woman whose husband attempted to murder her with an axe. A Chechen court effectively cleared the husband, finding that the woman had "provoked" him into attacking her. In April 2019, in the UN's first ruling on domestic violence in Russia, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) ruled in Timagova's favor and ordered Russia to pay her "adequate financial compensation." CEDAW further stated that Russia must amend its laws to criminalize gender-based violence and properly investigate allegations of violence against women. Russia was given six months to submit a written response detailing the steps taken with regard to the case.[41][42]


Further information: Alcoholism in Russia

A 1997 report published in the Journal of Family Violence, found that among male perpetrators of spousal homicide, 60–75% of offenders had been drinking prior to the incident.[44] A survey conducted by the Scientific Research Institute of the Family, 29% of people responding to the question "Why are children beaten in families with which you are acquainted?" reported that the violence was carried out by drunks and alcoholics.[44]

In a 2004 study of domestic violence in the Central Black Earth Region of Russia, 77% of offenders of violent crime (towards family members) were frequent drinkers – 12% engaged in regular binge drinking (three or four times a month), 30% three times a week or more, and 35% every day or almost every day.[44]

See also


  1. ^ "Russia: Bill to Decriminalize Domestic Violence". Human Rights Watch. 2017-01-23. Retrieved 2021-02-22.
  2. ^ Тимаков, Алексей (2013-01-29). "Домашнее насилие в России". РИА Новости (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-02-22.
  3. ^ "Domestic violence victims will be protected from offenders by law (In Russian)". 11 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b Chamusco, Bianca (2017). ""If He Beats You, It Means He Loves You" : Domestic Violence and Women's Rights in Russia". University of Chicago Law School Chicago Unbound.
  5. ^ "Total consumption, three-year average with 95%CI by country". World Health Organization.
  6. ^ Chamusco, Bianca. ""If He Beats You, It Means He Loves You" : Domestic Violence and Women's Rights in Russia".
  7. ^ a b "The law "on domestic violence" – psychological violence against Russia". Regnum. 14 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Experts assessed the likelihood of the adoption of the law on domestic violence". 20 December 2019.
  9. ^ "About women "dying in Russia", or How to manipulate statistics". EurAsia Daily. 25 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Interview of the Acting Head of the Department for the Protection of Public Order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, Lieutenant General of Militia Mikhail Artamoshkin, to the newspaper "Shield and Sword"". 24 January 2008. Archived from the original on 2010-07-12.
  12. ^ "Case No. 41261/17 "Volodina v. Russia"". European Court of Human Rights. 10 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Why is the first reaction not to believe a woman?". Kommersant. 11 October 2016.
  14. ^ "An expert exposed figures on "domestic violence" in Russia (In Russian)". Regnum.
  15. ^ Bugakova, N.S.; Voronina, I.V.; Maksimova, M.V. (2018). Women and Men of Russia (PDF). Moscow: Rosstat. p. 218. ISBN 978-5-89476-459-7.
  16. ^ "Russia: the situation with domestic violence is getting worse". eurasianet. 18 December 2018.
  17. ^ "МВД: ежегодно около 14 тысяч женщин погибает от рук мужей". 24 January 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Интервью исполняющего обязанности начальника Департамента охраны общественного порядка МВД России генерал-лейтенанта милиции Михаила Артамошкина газете "Щит и меч"". Министерство внутренних дел Российской Федерации. 24 January 2008. Archived from the original on 12 July 2010.
  19. ^ "Russian Federation: Violence against Women – time to act". Amnesty International UK. 5 March 2003. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017.
  20. ^ ANNA National Centre 2010, p. 17.
  21. ^ "Concluding Observations: Russian Federation". Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. 2002.
  22. ^ ANNA National Centre 2010, p. 4.
  23. ^ "Domestic Violence". Moscow Helsinki Group.
  24. ^ Lysova A.V., Douglas E.M. (2008). Intimate partner violence among male and female Russian university students. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23(11), 1579–1599 DOI: 10.1177/0886260508314320
  25. ^ "Комитет ГД по охране здоровья". Archived from the original on 21 April 2021. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  26. ^ "The silent nightmare of domestic violence in Russia". 1 March 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  27. ^ 405 заседание Совета Федерации (in Russian). Москва: Federation Council (Russia). February 1, 2017. Event occurs at 4:03:20.
  28. ^ "A Revolution Has Started Against Rapists in Ukraine and Russia". The Daily Beast. August 11, 2016.
  29. ^ "Russian women speak up about sexual abuse". Arizona Daily Star. Associated Press. July 20, 2016 – via
  30. ^ "My story of sexual abuse is changing perceptions in Ukraine". BBC. August 29, 2016.
  31. ^ "Russian and Ukrainian women's sexual abuse stories go viral". The Guardian. July 8, 2016.
  32. ^ "Organizer of #IAmNotAfraidToSayIt explains meaning behind hashtag". Women in the World. July 13, 2016. Archived from the original on May 5, 2019. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  33. ^ "I Am Not Afraid to Speak: Russian Online Flash Mob Condemns Sexual Violence". The Moscow Times. July 11, 2016.
  34. ^ "#IamNotAfraidToSay: Victims of sexual assault in Ukraine and Russia break taboo". DW News. July 27, 2016.
  35. ^ "The woman who wasn't 'afraid to say it' Anastasiya Melnychenko explains her campaign to get Ukrainians and Russians talking about sexual violence". Meduza. July 8, 2016.
  36. ^ a b Manshina, Daria (2016). "Russia: Gender-Based Violence and the Realisation of Socioeconomic Rights" (PDF). Global Information Society Watch: 194–197.
  37. ^ Aripova, Feruza; Johnson, Janet Elise (September 2018). "The Ukrainian-Russian Virtual Flashmob against Sexual Assault". The Journal of Social Policy Studies. 16 (3): 487–500. doi:10.17323/727-0634-2018-16-3-487-500.
  38. ^ "What happened after Russia decriminalised domestic abuse: Despite a chronic domestic violence problem, a new law has made punishing abusers even harder. Where does Russia go from here?". New Humanist. June 11, 2018.
  39. ^ "Russia parliament votes 380-3 to decriminalize domestic violence". USA Today. January 27, 2017.
  40. ^ Otto D. 25. Gender, violence and human rights // Handbook on Gender and Violence. – p. 357.
  41. ^ a b "UN Committee Sides Against Russia in First Domestic Violence Ruling". The Moscow Times. April 12, 2019.
  42. ^ a b c "Domestic Violence Victim Wins Case Against Russia at UN". Transitions Online. April 15, 2019. Archived from the original on May 7, 2019. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  43. ^ "Decriminalization of Domestic Violence Was a 'Mistake,' Russian Official Admits". The Moscow Times. December 3, 2018.
  44. ^ a b c "Interpersonal Violence and Alcohol in the Russian Federation" (PDF). World Health Organization. 2006. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 14, 2010. Retrieved May 12, 2010.