28.04.2009 | Galina Kozhevnikova

How to provoke a pogrom


Ask me how to provoke a pogrom? I imagine intuitively perhaps most of us having anything to do with the media know this, and instructions aren’t needed. The question is only whether it’s done consciously or not.

At the beginning of April on one of the numerous Nazi websites a text declaring 5 May “Day of Rage” was posted. There is no sense now trying to decide whether the text represents anything significant since within a few days one of the most popular Moscow newspapers came out with a whole rant along the lines of “what a horror, what a nightmare! Skinheads are going to kill on 5 May”.

I don’t know how popular the Neo-Nazi site was before that article, but I’m convinced that since the middle of April its popularity has risen dramatically.  And I am absolutely convinced that the journalist, writing about a possible pogrom, whether or not he wanted to, gave those Neo-Nazis who had not read the site, information allowing them to turn the intentions of a marginal number into an entirely real all-Russian action.

What the journalist was thinking of when he wrote the article, I can’t say. I’m even quite prepared to allow for the possibility (although here my conviction is not so firm) that this person was sincerely trying to warn his readers of a danger which he considered real, and not do a banal PR job for a Nazi group he liked. Be that as it may, the real hysteria started precisely after this article, and in no way after it was posted on the website.  And if before the article and its reprinting, dozens at top whack knew about the planned pogrom, after it there were already hundreds. And all those home-grown “warriors for a pure race” poised themselves at the starting point, just waiting for a signal.

If it was just that it wouldn’t be so bad. However literally a few days after the warning of the pogroms in the media, a headline in the press caught the eye: “Tadjik knives three skinheads!” Clearly lots of publicity, the information is immediately reposted and related. However, reading carefully, you realize that you’re dealing with a crime committed more than a year ago. And for all my criticism of the work of the police, I don’t believe that they established who the suspect was not a year ago, nor even half a year, but only just now.  So where’s the news then? Why did the information about this person appear specifically now just when a large number of Neo-Nazis are impatiently waiting for the announced pogrom? Who threw in this information, who decided that this was the best moment for publishing what, at the end of the day, is not an event at all, but only it’s echoes?  I won’t even ask what was in the minds of the journalists when the media spread this news everywhere. You can justify the article about a pogrom on 5 May through its “urgency”, but what kind of “urgency” can you be talking about in last year’s news? Except that you need it definitely to go out on the eve of Hitler’s birthday.

The situation in contemporary Russia is extremely bad. It is so bad that even the showing of an anti-fascist film is banned on the pretext that provocation is feared from Neo-Nazis. So, dear writers and readers: is it really so difficult to think about the fact that an article about a “migrant” killing three “skinheads” during days when comrades of the latter are already preparing themselves for attack, and possibly coordinating their plans is an open cry “They’re killing out people”? I wouldn’t say it’s hard to understand that this is a recipe for a pogrom.

And there is something particularly cynical in the fact that a person killed literally the day after these publications was killed in the courtyard of the prosecutor’s office. Are you surprised? I’m personally surprised that they only killed one person. I’m sure that they killed and maimed more, but it’s just that for now nobody knows about it.

Those who fed out information, and those who published it without thinking for a second about the consequences, do they not have that blood on their hands?

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