Racism in Russia
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Racism in Russia appears mainly in the form of negative attitudes and actions by Russians towards people who are not considered ethnically Russian. Traditionally, Russian racism included antisemitism, as well as hostility towards various ethnicities of Caucasus and Central Asia. The director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, Alexander Brod, stated that surveys show xenophobia and other racist expressions are prevalent in 50 percent of Russians. In 2006, Amnesty International reported that racism in Russia was “out of control” and estimated the number of Russian neo-Nazis at around 85,000 in 2008. But despite all this Russia is the second largest immigration receiver after the United States. Russia has also the second highest immigration rate in Eastern Europe after the Czech Republic while other European countries like Germany and Poland stay very homogeneous with lower openness for immigrants.
- 1 Public sentiments and politics
- 2 Racism by targeted group
- 3 Association football
- 4 Notable hate crimes
- 5 Decline of reported hate crimes
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Public sentiments and politics
On 24 October 2013, speaking during the Poedinok programme on the Rossia 1 television channel, the leader of Russia's extreme nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, known for his headline-grabbing outbursts, called for imposing limits on the birth rate in the Muslim-dominated North Caucasus region of Russia, and restricting the movement of people from that region across the country. These outbursts occurred shortly after the terrorist attack in Volgograd, which left several Russians dead. Zhirinovsky later apologized for his words. During the programme, there was a live population poll conducted via text messaging and internet. Zhirinovsky won that popular vote, with over 140 thousand Russians voting in favour of him.
Racism by targeted group
Attitude towards African people were generally neutral during the Soviet Union, because of its internationalist agenda. As a part of its support of decolonization of Africa, the Soviet Union offered free education for citizens of African states. African students (as well as other foreign students) were placed in many higher education institutions throughout the country, most famously at Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, then known as the Patrice Lumumba Peoples' Friendship University, after the Congolese revolutionary and prime minister.
In recent survey, Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy found that over half of Africans in Moscow had been physically attacked in the past. Attacks in Moscow Metro are common, and “Monkey” insults are so frequent that students have ceased reporting them.
In 2010, Jean Sagbo became the first black man in Russia to be elected to government. He is a municipal councilor in the village of Novozavidovo, 100 kilometres (62 mi) north of Moscow.
Peoples of the Caucasus
In Russia, the word Caucasian is a collective term referring to anyone descended from the native ethnicities of the Caucasus. In Russian slang, Caucasian peoples are called black, despite the fact that almost all of them are white-skinned, this name calling comes from their darker features (hair and eyes). Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the rise of the Muslim population in Russia and the Second Chechen War, many Russian radical nationalists have associated Islam and Muslims with terrorism and domestic crimes.
On 21 April 2001, there was a pogrom in a market in Moscow's Yasenevo District against merchants from the Caucasus. Racially motivated attacks against Armenians in Russia have grown so common that the president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, raised the issue with high-ranking Russian officials. In September 2006, major ethnic tensions between Russians and Caucasians took place in Kondopoga. In 2006, the crisis in Georgia–Russia relations resulted in the deportation of Georgians from Russia. Russian side explained the process as law enforcement towards illegal immigrants, whereas the Georgian government accused Russia of ethnic cleansing.
In December 2010, there was a massive outbreak of hostility towards Caucasians, culminating in nationalist protests at Manezhnaya Square in Moscow and in other cities. The trigger was the murder of Egor Sviridov, a Russian association football fan, in a street fight on 6 December. On 11 December, thousands of nationalist rioters, outside the Moscow Kremlin building, screamed racist slogans, cried for a “Russia for Russians” and a “Moscow for Muscovites,” attacked Caucasians and other minority groups who passed by, and some – including children as young as fourteen – made the Nazi salute. The next day, a similar riot was held in Rostov-on-Don, and afterwards, the city's government banned Caucasians from performing Lezginka, their traditional dance, in the city. Afterward, the police chief in Moscow said that civil liberties were a hindrance in security and that migration should be restricted. Vladimir Kvachkov, a major Russian nationalist leader of the organization People's Liberation Front of Russia (which says its major goal is to “free” Russia from Caucasian and Jewish “occupiers”), made the following statement: “We Russian nationalists, the initiators of the people's front, we are telling you that the events of Dec. 11 are the beginning of the revolutionary changes in Russia, the first outbursts of the approaching Russian revolution... You are the ones who can participate in it.”
On 11 January 2006, Alexander Koptsev burst into Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue in Moscow and stabbed eight people with a knife. In March, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison. In 2008, allegations of blood libel appeared in posters in Novosibirsk. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia expressed their concern about a rising number of attacks targeting Jews, calling it part of “a recent surge in anti-Semitic manifestations” in Russia.
After it was announced that Russia will host 2018 FIFA World Cup, a head of UEFA FARE Monitoring Centre, Dr Rafał Pankowski accused the Russian Football Union of downplaying racist chants in stadiums, saying: “Nazi slogans are common in many Russian stadiums. Matches are often interrupted with racist chants aimed at black players.”
Cameroonian player André Amougou constantly suffered racism while playing for Lokomotiv Moscow. As Zenit Saint Petersburg kicked off their 2006/2007 Russian Premier League campaign against visitors Saturn Moscow Oblast, Brazilian footballer Antônio Géder was received with a chorus of monkey chants at Petrovsky Stadium. In March 2008, black players of French side Marseille — including André Ayew, Charles Kaboré and Ronald Zubar — were targeted by fans of Zenit Saint Petersburg. Zenit fans were later warned by police in Manchester not to repeat their behaviour ahead of the 2008 UEFA Cup Final. Zenit's coach Dick Advocaat revealed that when they attempted to sign Mathieu Valbuena, a Frenchman, many fans asked “Is he a negro?” Also Serge Branco, who played for Krylia Sovetov Samara, accused Zenit's staff of racism, saying: “Each time I play in St Petersburg I have to listen to racist insults from the stands. Zenit bosses do not do anything about it which makes me think they are racists too.” On 20 August 2010, Peter Odemwingie of Lokomotiv Moscow signed a 3-year contract with Premier League team West Bromwich Albion. Later, photographs showed Lokomotiv Moscow fans celebrating the sale of Odemwingie through the use of racist banners including the image of a banana with text “Thanks West Brom.”
On 21 March 2011, during a game away at Zenit Saint Petersburg, a banana was held by one of the fans near Roberto Carlos of Russian Premier League club Anzhi Makhachkala as the footballer was taking part in a flag-raising ceremony. In June, in a match away at Krylia Sovetov Samara, Roberto Carlos received a pass from the goalkeeper and was about to pass it when a banana was thrown onto the pitch, landing nearby. The 38-year-old Brazilian picked it up and threw it by the sidelines, walking off the field before the final whistle and raising two fingers at the stands, indicating this was the second such incident.
In October 2013, during the second half of the match, between Manchester City and CSKA Moscow, Yaya Touré, a star midfielder for City from Ivory Coast, walked up to the referee, Ovidiu Hategan, and angrily pointed at CSKA fans making monkey chants and shouting abuse toward him and his black teammates. The game continued and, according to Touré, so did the abuse.
Notable hate crimes
On 9 February 2004, a group of neo-Nazi skinheads stabbed a nine-year old Tajik girl, Khursheda Sultanova, to death in Saint Petersburg. In 2006, the Saint Petersburg Agency for Journalistic Investigations revealed suspected perpetrators among the members of the "Mad Crowd" gang.
On 14 June 2011, the Saint Petersburg City Court sentenced 12 members of the gang led by Alexei Voevodin and Artyom Prokhorenko for their roles in dozens of racist attacks.
On 15 December 2008, Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky were sentenced to penal labour for 10 years each for the murder of 19 foreigners. They were placed on the list of people banned from entering the United Kingdom, remaining the only Russians on the list. The reason given is that they are “Leaders of a violent gang that beat migrants and posted films of their attacks on the internet. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting serious criminal activity and seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts.” A judge who conducted the trial, Eduard Chuvashov, was gunned down on 12 April 2010, four days after he added two years to the 20-year prison sentence of a member of their gang.
Murder of anti-fascist activists
- On 19 June 2004, Nikolai Girenko, a prominent ethnologist and adviser in 15 ethnic hate crime trials, was shot to death in his Saint Petersburg apartment. On 14 June 2011, members of neo-Nazi gang Mad Crowd were sentenced to jail for a number of killings including Girenko.
- On 13 November 2005, murder of Timur Kacharava, a Russian anti-fascist of Georgian descent took place. On 7 August 2007, Alexander Shabalin was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his murder.
- On 19 January 2009, while leaving a news conference, a human rights lawyer and journalist Stanislav Markelov was gunned down in Moscow. Anastasia Baburova, a journalist for Novaya Gazeta who tried to come to Markelov's assistance, was also shot and killed in the attack. On 6 May 2011, the court sentenced two radical nationalists, Nikita Tikhonov and his girlfriend Yevgenia Khasis, to life imprisonment and 18 years in prison, respectively.
- On 16 November 2009, Ivan Khutorskoy, former punk singer and head of security for anti-fascist shows, was killed in a suburb of Moscow. He was known for organizing self-defense classes for anti-fascists individuals and providing security at press conferences of Stanislav Markelov.
Cherkizovsky Market bombing
On 21 August 2006, a home–made bomb exploded in Moscow at the Cherkizovsky Market, which is frequented by foreign merchants. On 15 May 2008, eight people of Russian radical nationalist organization The Saviour were found guilty for their roles in the attack that left 14 dead. Semyon Charny from the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights says: “The fact that this case found its way to court, and the example of people sentenced to life for the Cherkizovo market blast shows that we are moving in the right direction – but there's still a lot to do.”
Execution of Tajik and Dagestani
"Execution“ of Tajik and Dagestani (Russian: „казнь“ таджика и дагестанца)) – is a video clip which was distributed in the Russian segment of the Internet in August 2007, that depicted beheading of a Tajik and Dagestani immigrants by Russian neo-nazis.
The video was posted on behalf of the Nazi Party of Russia (Russian: Национал-социалистической партии Руси) on the personal livejournal blog of Adygean college student Viktor Milnikov. After a few days, he was arrested and later sentenced to one year of corrective labour by Maykop court.
On 5 June 2008, scenes of decapitation on video were identified as authentic by the Russian Investigation Committee.
On the same day, one of the victims on the footage was identified by his relatives as Shamil Odamanov, a native of Dagestan.
Decline of reported hate crimes
The main outcome of 2009 was a clear reduction in the number of victims of racist and neo-Nazi motivated violence for the first time in six years of observation conducted by SOVA Center. To some extent, credit should go to the law enforcement agencies who suppressed the largest and most aggressive ultra-right groups in the Moscow region in the second half of 2008 and in 2009. However, despite all efforts, xenophobic violence remains alarming in its scope and extends over most of the Russian regions, affecting hundreds of people.—Galina Kozhevnikova, SOVA Center
The Russian Orthodox Church "believes it is vital for Russia to pursue anti-extremist campaign and develop a sustainable strategy." As a result, it has called for immigrants to be given jobs and the opportunity to learn more about Russian culture. In addition, it has called for skinheads to refocus their mission to legally preventing crime and immoral behavior.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Racism in Russia.|
- Non-governmental organizations
- Racism and xenophobia analyses by SOVA Center
- Report by Moscow Helsinki Group
- Information on ethnic discrimination by Memorial
- Intolerance and Discrimination in Today's Russia, a panel discussion at the CSIS
- From Russia With Hate, a documentary from Vanguard TV series