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Members of Russian National Unity group in a street parade in the center of Moscow

Racism in post-Soviet Russia appears mainly in the form of negative attitudes and actions towards people who are not considered ethnically Russian. Traditionally, this included antisemitism, as well as hostility towards various Caucasian and Central Asian ethnicities (whether of Muslim faith).

In May 2006, Amnesty International reported that racially motivated killings in Russia were "out of control" and that at least 28 people were killed in 2005.[1]In 2006, Amnesty International registered 252 victims of racist crimes, of which 21 died. In February 2007, President Vladimir Putin asked the Federal Security Service to combat racism,[2] but hate crimes still increased. From January 1 to July 31, 2007, Amnesty International registered 310 victims of neo-Nazi and racist crimes in Russia; 37 of those victims died as a result of attacks. Amnesty International criticize Russian police for not doing enough to combat racist crimes, and for often ignoring reports from civilians about threats and crimes.[3] According to the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, from January to March, 2008, 49 people were killed in assaults by radical nationalists, 28 of them in the greater Moscow area, and an estimated 118 people in total were killed in the whole of 2008.

The number of Russian neo-Nazis is estimated at around 85,000, "half of the world's total", according to western news agencies.[4][5]. The director of the Human Rights Bureau, Alexander Brod, stated that surveys show xenophobia and other racist expressions are prevalent in 50 percent of Russians.[6]

Contents

Rise in reported hate crimes

Survey conducted by the Levada Center in the years 2001–2009 in which participants are asked how they feel about the phrase "Russia is for Russians".[7]

In May 2006, Amnesty International reported that racist killings in Russia were "out of control" and that at least 28 people were killed in 2005.[1] In 2006 Amnesty International registered 252 victims of racist crimes, of which 21 died. In February 2007, President Vladimir Putin asked the Federal Security Service to combat racism,[2] but the number of reported hate crimes still increased. From January 1 to July 31, 2007, Amnesty International registered 310 victims of neo-Nazi and racist crimes in Russia; 37 of those victims died as a result of attacks. Amnesty International criticized Russian police for not doing enough to combat racist crimes, and for often ignoring reports from civilians about threats and crimes.[3]

According to the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, from January to March, 2008, 49 people were killed in assaults by radical nationalists, 28 of them in the greater Moscow area.[4] The alarming figures have motivated authorities to take a tougher stance. More crimes are being investigated as racial attacks, and more are going to court. In May, 2008, eight skinhead extremists were found guilty of a 2006 explosion in the Cherkizovo market that left 14 dead and 47 injured, most of whom were immigrants from the North Caucasus and East Asia.[8] Semyon Charny from the Moscow Human Rights Bureau 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.” Recently, many videos have sprung up on the internet depicting skinheads attacking immigrants and non-whites. This is reportedly is becoming a new trend among neo-nazis, contributing to an increase in hate-crimes.

Hostility towards Caucasians

In Russia, the term Caucasian is a collective term referring to anyone descended from the native ethnicities of the Caucasus. In Russian slang, Caucasian people and Central Asians fall into the category of black. This is not associated with skin colour but with hair colour and non-Slavic facial appearance.[9]

Several pogroms, directed particularly against Caucasian merchants and migrants have been reported in the Russian capital, Moscow, and in other Russian cities.[10] There was a pogrom on April 21, 2001 in Yasenevo Market in Moscow against merchants from the Caucasus, and well-organised attacks on Caucasian businesses and migrants in the eastern Russian town Ekaterinburg.[10] Racially motivated attacks against Armenians have grown so common that the president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, raised the issue with high-ranking Russian officials.[11]

Hostility towards Central Asians/Muslims

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rise of the Muslim population in Russia and the Second Chechen War, many Russians (including government authorities) have associated Islam and Muslims with terrorism and domestic crimes.[12][13][14][15] In August 2007, a video of 2 ethnic Russian neo-Nazis beheading two Muslim men, one from Dagestan in the Caucasus and one from Tajikistan appeared on the internet.[16] Three years earlier, a nine-year old Tajik girl was stabbed to death in Saint Petersburg by suspected far-right skinheads.[17][18]. In December 2008 an email, containing a picture of the severed head of a man identified as Salekh Azizov , was sent to the Moscow Human Rights Bureau . It was sent by a group called Russian Nationalists' Combat Group and has led to protests from the Tajik Government.[19]

Hostility towards Jews

In March 2008, allegations of blood libel appeared in posters in Novosibirsk.[20] 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.[21]

Hostility towards Chinese

Russian attitudes towards the People's Republic of China have focused on the fear of Russia (especially the Russian Far East and Siberia) being overwhelmed by Chinese migrants, because of China's much larger population.[22] It is also noted that there is illegal immigration coming from China into Southeastern Russia, especially after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.[23]

Hostility towards Africans

In Saint Petersburg, three Africans have been killed in hate-crime attacks since the mid 2000's. "Monkey" insults and non-lethal assaults are so frequent that students have ceased reporting them[24][25].

Negative attitude towards Africans traces back to the days of the Soviet Union, in spite of its internationalist propaganda. As a part of its support of decolonisation in 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 Patrice Lumumba.

Murder of Anti-Racism and Anti-Fascist Activists

Nikolai Girenko, a prominent ethnographer and anthropologist, was shot to death in his St. Petersburg apartment. Girenko was a key adviser in 15 ethnic hate crime trials.[26]Timur Kacharava, a Russian antifascist of Georgian descent and a fourth year philosophy student at St. Petersburg State University, was stabbed to death by a group of young skinheads. Kacharava had been known for antagonizing neo-Nazis in the streets.[27] The main defendant in the trial that followed almost two years later was 14 years old.[28]

On 19 January 2009, while leaving a news conference in Moscow less than half a mile from the Kremlin, Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer and journalist was gunned down. Anastasia Baburova, a journalist for Novaya Gazeta who tried to come to Markelov's assistance, was also shot and killed in the attack.[29][30][31]

On 16 November 2009, Ivan Khutorskoi, former punk singer and head of the security during concerts of antifascist has been killed in a suburb of Moscow, two bullets in the head. He also was known for organizing self-defense classes for antifascists individuals, whom are prone to attack for distributing anti-racist leaflets. Khutorskoi sometimes provided security at press conferences of Stanislav Markelov.

References

  1. ^ a b "Putin faces up to racist scourge" (9 May, 2006) BBC News. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  2. ^ a b FSB Told to Stop Political Extremism
  3. ^ a b RACISME IN RUSLAND Amnesty International. Accessed 15 February, 2010 (in Dutch)
  4. ^ a b Peter Finn. "Moscow Killings Blamed on Racism" Washington Post. April 8, 2008.
  5. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Story?id=3718255&page=1
  6. ^ Russians Concerned about Xenophobia and Racism[1] Latin American News Agency.
  7. ^ Levada Center Survey - Russia for Russians? Levada Center Retrieved on January 4, 2010
  8. ^ "Authorities declare war on racist gangs" Russia Today. Published May 18, 2008. Retrieved on May 28, 2008
  9. ^ Some surface features of ethnic hatred in Russia, chapter 18 of Imagining Russia: ethnic identity and the nationalist mind by Daniel Rancour-Laferriere, 2000
  10. ^ a b [2]
  11. ^ Yerevan Pressing For Tougher Action Against Anti-Armenian Racism In Russia - Eurasia Daily Monitor
  12. ^ "Islamophobia in Russia". Pravada. (16 October 2003). Accessed 15 February, 2010.
  13. ^ Glasser, Susan B. (13 June, 2002). "More Racism in Russia" Accessed 15 February, 2010.
  14. ^ [3]
  15. ^ Mosnews.com
  16. ^ "Russian held over 'deaths' video". BBC News. 2007-08-15. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6946810.stm. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Girl killed by Russia 'racists'"BBC News. (10 February 2004). Accessed 15 February 2010.
  18. ^ Rodgers, James. (4 May, 2006). "Racist attacks that stain Russia". BBC News. Accessed 15 February, 2010.
  19. ^ "Tajik alarm after Moscow murder". BBC News. December 12, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7780468.stm. Retrieved 2008-12-13. 
  20. ^ Goodenough, Stan. (21 March, 2008). "Old-style antisemitism alive and well in Russia". Jerusalem Newswire.
  21. ^ Pfeffer, Anshel. (20 March, 2008) "In Russia's third largest city, the blood libel is resurfacing". Haaretz.
  22. ^ Gelbras, Vilya. (18 May, 2005)."Chinese Migration in Russia". Russia in Global Affairs. Accessed 15 February , 2010.
  23. ^ Illegal immigration in Russia, Russian illegal immigration on RussiansAbroad.com
  24. ^ Jackson, Patrick. (24 February 2006). "Living with race hate in Russia". BBC News. Accessed 15 February, 2010.
  25. ^ "Student murder in Russia 'racist'". BBC News. (7 April, 2006). Accessed 15 February, 2010.
  26. ^ Zarakhovich, Yuri (1 August, 2004) "From Russia With Hate" Time. Accessed 15, February 2010
  27. ^ Young anti-fascist killed in St. Petersburg, Russia, by anonymous, Indymedia, November 17, 2005
  28. ^ Bigg, Claire. (7 August, 2007) "Russia: Seven Sentenced In Killing Of Antiracism Campaigner" RFE/RL
  29. ^ "Human Rights Lawyer, Journalist Killed in Moscow" Associated Press via Yahoo News (January 19, 2009)
  30. ^ Schwirtz, Michael and Graham Bowley. (19 January, 2010). "Chechen Rights Lawyer and Journalist Shot in Moscow". The New York Times Retrieved 01-19-2009
  31. ^ Schwirtz, Michael (January 20, 2009). "Leading Russian Rights Lawyer Is Shot to Death in Moscow, Along With Journalist". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/20/world/europe/20chechnya.html?th&emc=th. Retrieved 2009-01-23. "A prominent Russian lawyer who spent the better part of a decade pursuing contentious human rights and social justice cases was killed on Monday in a brazen daylight assassination in central Moscow, officials said. The lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, had just left a news conference where he announced that he would continue to fight against the early release from jail of Yuri D. Budanov, a former Russian tank commander imprisoned for murdering a young Chechen woman." 

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