Moscow “leads” on number of neo-Nazi attacks
Attacks on people from the Caucuses and Central Asia are becoming more serious. This was the view of participants in a press conference on xenophobic attitudes among Russian youth held in Moscow to mark International Day against Racism on 21 March.
The participants included representatives of the Association of Youth of the Union of Armenians of Russia, the Centre for Inter-ethnic Cooperation, the St Petersburg Anit-Discrimination Centre “Memorial”, the Sova Centre and the Youth Human Rights Movement.
All pointed to a significant increase in xenophobic attitudes in Russian society, especially among young people. They said that people with non-Slavonic appearance are increasingly likely to be beaten up on the street. Adolescents, starting from as young as 12, are being drawn into neo-Nazi gangs. Propaganda of hatred is increasing rapidly on the Internet. People using nationalistic rhetoric are trying to get into power using local and federal elections.
Natalya Yudina said that Sova Centre data indicates that racially-motivated attacks are becoming more serious. Neo-Nazis no longer just try to beat up their victims, but actually kill them. The “leaders” as far as such attacks are concerned are St Petersburg and Moscow. Here during the winter months in 2007-2008 neo-Nazis have killed 24 people from the Caucuses, Central Asia and China.
Olga Abramenko from the St Petersburg Anit-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” noted that the pseudo-patriotic rhetoric from the authorities was fuelling xenophobia in society. Looking for “an enemy model” like the anti-Georgian campaign of 2006, statements by the main people in government about “defending the native population” do not contribute to inter-ethnic harmony in the country.
Levon Mukotian from the Association of Youth of the Union of Armenians of Russia commented that the Soviet Union had collapsed specifically when the authorities had played the “nationalist card”. He belives that the Russian Federation is a multi-national state and the rise of Great Russian chauvinism is leading to an increase in separatism in the national republics, with the people living there understanding that in “Russia for the Russians”, there can be no place for people from the Caucuses, Tatars, Bashkiris.
Yelena Dudykina from the Youth Human Rights Movement spoke of how the Youth Centre against Racism and Intolerance was trying to fight fascism in Russia through awareness-raising. The first Russian March against Hatred took place in Voronezh in 2004, and such marches are now taking place throughout Russia. The Youth Human Rights Movement shows anti-fascist films and publishes relevant literature. The movements activists glue or paint over xenophobic graffiti on the street.
The press conference aroused a lot of interest from both the Russian and foreign media.
Reports continue to come of attacks and killings in Moscow of people from the Caucuses committed by young people with nationalist ideology. The law enforcement agencies speak of a new wave of skinhead activity.
For example, on 24 January a group of five adolescents attacked a 20-year-old man originally from Armenia. One of them stabbed him in the heart and he died later in hospital.
On 9 December 2007 four adolescents knifed to death a young man from the Caucuses. The Sova Centre reports the attack to have been carried out by Neo-Nazi skinheads.
“Caucasian Knot” reports that attacks in Moscow have become particularly frequent against people from Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Four youths were detained at the beginning of February and are accused of involvement in more than 20 racially motivated murders,