THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
Vol. 4, No. 37(118), 17 November 2010
Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland
I NEWS: 1 - 15 November 2010
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
III ANNOTATIONS OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS
[NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the homepage and the end of the text is truncated, scroll to the end of the message and click "Expand Messages." Only then, the whole text of the - otherwise truncated - issue will appear.]
I NEWS: 1 - 15 November 2010
Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin calls for in-depth discussion of Russia's political system
Interfax-Religion, November 3, 2010
Moscow, November 3, Interfax - Head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin urged the public to resume the discussion of the existing political system in Russia, because in his opinion the society had no such a chance before.
"I am convinced we need to hold a series of forums today together with the main political forces and mainstream society and main social groups existing in this country (including business community, trade unions, ethnic and religious communities and regions) to turn over a new leaf and begin the discussion of the ideological and political platform of the country's existing system," Father Vsevolod said Wednesday at a meeting of the United Russia club.
The priest believes that "in 1993, the basis of the constitutional system was under-discussed by different strata of society and parts of political spectrum" and "this factor renders the ideological background of all further economic and political reforms unconvincing and weak."
According to Fr. Vsevolod, the conditions for such discussions are most favourable at the moment: "We are living in a stable country with no emergencies of 1990s and 1917."
Patriarch Kirill urges Russian World countries to become centers of powerful civilization
Interfax-Religion, November 3, 2010
Moscow, November 3, Interfax - The Russian World countries are meant to develop integration cooperation and turn into a powerful force on the global arena, said Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
"Moscow, Kiev, Minsk, Chisinau and Astana must become centers of not just separate states but of the common powerful civilization on behalf of which they are capable to speak in full voice to other civilized powerful poles of the modern world," the patriarch said at the opening of a 4th Assembly of the Russian World in Moscow on Wednesday.
Whereas in the past the survival strategy of the Russian World was its socialization, today in the era of globalization "the optimal form could be integration cooperation between equal sovereign nations which organized their life in the Holy Rus space," he said.
"The Russian World countries have every opportunity to create a space which will have no first-degree or second-degree peoples, which will respect and nurture languages, cultures, religious traditions and build its public life on the basis of serving and helping the weak, which will protect the freedom and morality and implement the principles of fairness and lawfulness in life," the Primate said.
The Russian World must be "not so much a memory of the past as an effective beginning for building a better future for our countries and our people," the Patriarch said.
Gay activists attack Orthodox protesters in Moscow
Interfax-Religion, November 3, 2010
Moscow, November 3, Interfax - A group of male gay rights activists attacked members of the Orthodox youth movement Georgievtsy! outside the Council of Europe office in Moscow, who gathered against the European Court of Human Rights ruling declaring Russia's ban on gay pride marches illegal.
The Orthodox protesters have rallied outside the Council of Europe office since October 22, the day after the European court fined Russia for banning gay parades.
The attack occurred as the protesters were heading to the site on Tuesday evening.
The gay rights activists shouted, "Gay pride parade will happen in Moscow!" and "Freedom to gays," a Georgievtsy spokesperson told Interfax-Religion.
The attackers eventually fled after hitting some of the youth activists, with one injured in the head, who had to seek medical assistance. The incident was reported to the police.
October 2010. Monthly Summary
SOVA Center, November 03, 2010
In October 2010, one was dead and at least 16 people were injured in racist and neo-Nazi attacks (in October 2009, 4 people were dead and 28 injured). In all, from the beginning of 2010, 26 people in Russia were dead and at least 276 injured in such attacks.
In October, incidents of violence were recorded in Moscow and Moscow region (1 dead, 5 injured), St. Petersburg and Leningrad region (5 injured), Perm (at least 3 injured), and Sverdlovsk region (3 injured). In all, from the beginning of the year incidents of violence have been recorded in 42 Russian regions.
Still, Moscow and the region (13 dead, 108 injured), St. Petersburg and Leningrad region (1 dead, 40 injured), and Nizhny Novgorod (2 dead, 16 injured) face the highest level of violence. The number of victims in other cities is no more than 10.
Individuals from Central Asia remain to be the target of the majority of attacks (10 dead, 60 injured). The second-largest group of victims includes members of youth subcultures as well as participants of anti-fascist and leftist movements (3 dead, 59 injured).
In October 2010, at least 6 guilty verdicts were issued for racist hate crimes (two in Moscow and one in each of the regions as follows: the Republics of Adygea and Karelia, Primorsky Territory and Tyumen region). 28 people were convicted and only 4 of them received suspended sentences without any supplementary sanctions. The verdict that drew the widest public response was evidently that of the Moscow city court against Vassily Krivets and Dmitry Ufimtsev. They were convicted for 15 murders and received life sentence and 22 years of imprisonment respectively.
In all, from the beginning of the year, at least 71 guilty verdicts have been issued for racist violence. 249 people were convicted, 85 of them received suspended sentences without any supplementary sanctions.
In October 2010, at least 5 sentences were passed for xenophobic propaganda. 6 people were convicted, 4 of them received suspended sentences without any supplementary sanctions. In four of the cases, the accused were convicted for hate incitement (article 282 of the Criminal Code) (in Astrakhan, Yoshkar-Ola, Kirov (combined with conviction for public justification of terrorism), and Kursk). The fifth sentence was passed in Yaroslavl for public calls for extremist activity and ideologically motivated vandalism (articles 280 and 214 part 2 of the Criminal Code). The sentence was issued against the vandals who organized a mass graffiti action this summer writing threats on the walls against judges and members of law enforcement agencies. In such a way, the vandals wanted to support a group of Yaroslavl neo-Nazi whose case reached the local court in October.
In all, from the beginning of the year, guilty verdicts for hate incitement (article 282) have been issued in 46 trials; 54 people were convicted, 26 of them received suspended sentences. In 5 trials 5 people were convicted for public calls for extremist activity (article 280); all of them got suspended sentences. In 6 trials 7 people were convicted under the sum of articles 282 and 280; 3 of them were given suspended sentences and 2 more escaped punishment because of the expiry of the period of limitation.
On October 14, the Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated and grew from 694 to 706 items. This time, certain materials of RussianAll-National Union (RONS), anti-Israel videos, and materials of the Caucasus separatists were included. As of October 14, four of the 706 items are withdrawn from the list with numbering maintained; 32 items are put in the list on inappropriate grounds because the court rulings blacklisting those materials as extremist were cancelled, and at least 47 materials are included in it twice.
The same day after a long pause the Federal list of extremist organizations was updated too. The joint Vilayat of Kabarda, Balkaria and Karachay and the Primorye regional social organization defending human rights called the Slavic Union (or the Slavic Union of the Far East as they call themselves) were banned as extremist. Thus, as of October 14, 2010, the list includes 14 organizations banned by courts and their activity can be prosecuted for under article 282-2 of the Criminal Code.
In the field of inappropriate enforcement of anti-extremist legislation, the trends of misuse remain the same.
Firstly, criminal and administrative prosecution of adherents of new religious groups such as scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Said Nursi's followers, etc., goes on. We should point out that the sanctions against scientologists are based on the court decision banning nearly 30 of Ron Hubbard's writings as extremist which was cancelled on October 12.
Secondly, the practice of persecution for political criticism as for inciting hate against `a social group of officials' or other `social groups' continues. The most striking event in this field was the ban of Yury Mukhin's People's Will Army (AVN) as extremist. According to the authorities' statements, the main claim against AVN is the organization's demand to change the Constitution in the way it would be possible to punish the officials up to death penalty if disapproved by the people.
Russia to mark Unity Day - symbol of country's revival
Itar-Tass, November 4, 2010
MOSCOW, November 4 (Itar-Tass) - Russia celebrates National Unity Day on Thursday. It is dedicated to the exploit of people's militia led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky who in 1612 liberated Moscow from Polish invaders. This event marked the end of the Great Troubles period, and marked the beginning of the formation of the Russian state.
The Orthodox Church has for almost 400 years been honouring on this day the Our Lady of Kazan Icon, which according to legend, helped the militia. Up to 1917 it was not just the triumph of the church, but also a public holiday declared by a decree of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.
Taking in 2005 its rightful place among the "red-letter dates" in the calendar, it in essence replaced the celebration of the October Revolution, which for nearly a century was celebrated on 7 November and turned into a "holiday of the civil society," Vladimir Putin said at the time.
The parliamentary majority party - United Russia, which in 2004 initiated the revival of the Day of National Unity, attaches particular importance to this date. This holiday "is a symbol of national unity and the revival of Russia," said acting secretary of the Presidium of United Russia's General Council Sergei Neverov. "Cohesion and consolidation help achieve a lot. This is evidenced by recent history of our country and the activities of United Russia," he said. "Only together, combining our efforts to meet the challenges of improving people's lives, the development of Russia, we were able to achieve positive change in health, education, social services," the politician said.
According to Neverov, UR today actually is the only political party that advocates sustainable development, is opposed to the ideas of chaos, revolutionary demolitions. "This position is shared by most people in our coutry," he said. "Today, Russia faces major tasks of modernisation of all spheres of public life," added Neverov. "And again, the same as many centuries ago, we all need to unite to fulfil them."
Member of the General Council of the party, chairman of the Duma Committee on Education Grigory Balykhin expressed confidence in an interview with Itar-Tass that "this holiday unites generations." "It is becoming increasingly popular, it is celebrated not only by young people but also by their parents," the parliamentarian noted. "We must remember that history is not just textbooks, it is occurring before our eyes. Today' s celebration has become both one of the personifications of our history, and part of it," he said.
Director of the Institute of Russian History, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) Andrei Sakharov told Itar-Tass earlier that National Unity Day is demanded by Russians as a symbol of national success in defending their interests. "This day in fact symbolises the preserved unity of the country, the unity of the people, the unity of faith," he believes.
Regional offices of United Russia on Thursday will organise numerous celebrations in Moscow and regions. So, in Suzdal, a wreath laying ceremony will be held at the monument to Dmitry Pozharsky. Activists of loyal to the authorities youth movements will hold their "Russian March" and promise to gather for it several times more participants than the nationalists.
The Liberal Democrats also plant to mark the holiday by their traditional meeting in Pushkin Square. Incidentally their leader - State Duma Deputy Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky - in 2004 was one of the developers of the bill to establish a new holiday. The slogans for rallies will be topically-political: "Only the Liberal Democratic Party to stop corruption!" "Tycoon, the economy is in Russia, not in London!" and others. According to a forecast of the LPDR, more than 1,000 people will take part in the rally. Everyone will be able to enjoy buckwheat porridge and a cup of tea - a field kitchen will be working in Pushkin Square.
The Communists, as always, will ignore National Unity Day. They call on their supporters to " take part in a festive demonstration and rally of the patriotic forces" in Moscow to commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the October Revolution.
Far right hold largest Moscow rally in years
Reuters, November 4, 2010
MOSCOW, Nov. 4 (Reuters) - At least 5,000 Russian nationalists rallied for curbs on immigration in Moscow on Thursday in one of the largest far-right demonstrations in years in the capital.
Activists shouted "Russia for the Russians," and carried banners calling for "White Power" and "Orthodox Faith or Death" in a march held with official permission in a suburb in the south of the capital to mark the Day of People's Unity holiday.
"The immigrants spit in our faces. I'm fed up with all this," said Anatoly Krovtov, a 65-year-old pensioner. Some teenaged skinheads made Nazi salutes and shouted "Glory to Russia."
March organisers and anti-racist groups said the march was the largest in the capital in at least five years. Police said there were no reports of violence.
Around 50 percent of Russians voiced sympathy for the slogan "Russia for the Russians" in a poll by state-run Levada Center last year and rights activists warn that the far-right has the potential to become a major force in Russian politics.
But the groups remain on the fringes and will almost certainly fail to win any seats at parliamentary elections next year.
The number of participants at the annual "Russian March" was up by one-third on last year mainly because of a performance by a popular far-right rock group, said activist Galina Kozhevnikova, whose anti-racist SOVA Centre monitored the march.
SOVA says the level of xenophobia in Russia is high but stable.
The number of racist murders in Moscow had actually fallen in recent years in the wake of a police crackdown after the slogans of far-right groups became more critical of the Russian government, Kozhevnikova said. A significant minority of the protesters at Thursday's march chanted anti-Kremlin slogans.
The march was held to coincide with the Day of People's Unity holiday, introduced in 2005 to celebrate the defeat of Polish invaders in 1612 and replace a communist celebration of the 1917 revolution.
At least 10,000 activists of the Pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi held a rival rally in the centre of Moscow, also dubbed "Russian March," in which a mainly teenage crowd chanted pro-Kremlin slogans.
At an estimated 10 million, Russia hosts the world's second largest number of migrants after the United States, according to the United Nations.
Unity Of Objectives To Help Russians Keep On Track, Says Patriarch
Itar-Tass, November 4, 2010
MOSCOW, November 4 (Itar-Tass) - Right at this moment, Russia has an historic opportunity to continue moving along the pathway of a victorious nation, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I said Thursday as he addressed the opening of a major Russian Orthodox exhibition in Moscow's downtown Manezh exhibition center.
The exhibition is devoted to the 65th anniversary since victory in World War II and its slogan says "The Victor Nations: Together in History, Together into the Future."
As Kirill I recalled the Soviet Union's victory in World War II and the Russian volunteer guards' military successes in the campaign to drive the Polish-led invaders out of the country in 1612, he said: "Our peoples raised the upper hand in fighting with the enemy and that is why they should be together."
The events of 1612 form the basis of the National Unity Day, a relatively new public holiday Russia observes November 4.
"People of different ethnic identities and religious backgrounds made up a united nation, a nation of victors, and scarcely anyone knows all the woes and griefs that befell it," Patriarch Kirill said. "In a certain sense, ours is a martyr nation, and yet there wasn't a single most sinister disaster that our people wouldn't emerge victorious out of."
"Today, this country /the Russian Federation/ and the entire historical Rus is faced with huge tasks related to a change in the mode of life and to laying the tracks into the future," Kirill I said. "It's important not to get lost, to abide by the historically correct path, by moving along which we have always managed to maintain our self-consciousness, self-identity, faith, and national life."
As he mentioned the outcome of World War II, His Holiness Kirill I said this country does not have a habit of reminding the world all too frequently about the price it had paid for rescuing humankind from fascism.
"It was our nation that paid 27 million lives for saving Europe and the whole world but we speak too seldom about the fact somehow, even in the situations where others try to call into question the role this country and its people played in elminating fascism," he said.
"Maybe, one of the reasons for this is our inborn shyness that prevents us from saying in public not a single other nation has ever paid so huge a sacrifice or has suffered so much grief as our people did," Kirill I said.
He urged Russia's entire society "to work hard for the sake of a flourishing Russia."
The Russian Orthodox exhibition in Manezh will be open for five days. Its itinerary includes public debates and presentations that will fill the visitors in on various aspects of nowadays spiritual life in the Russian Orthodox community.
Russia's Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev and a deputy chief of the Presidential Administration Staff, Alexander Beglov took part in the opening ceremony.
Head of the Synodal Department suggests to get back to discussion over bases of Russian political system
Interfax-Religion, November 8, 2010
Moscow, November 8, Interfax - Head of the synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin suggests filling the "gap in legitimacy" in Russian state system that has formed in result of the October revolution.
"Bolsheviks who seized power in 1917 made it impossible to hold a constituent assembly that had to choose a form of governance for the country. This gap in legitimacy still questions the succession of our state system, accord with people's will and the choice that was made without it," Father Vsevolod said at a round table held during the Orthodox Russia exhibition forum in Moscow.
He further said that discussion over the optimal for Russia state system was not seriously developed in 1993 when the acting Constitution was adopted.
"It's easy to understand why such discussion was not detailed: then the society had not learned to live in freedom and some of the discussions resulted in the armed clashes in downtown Moscow and some led to chaos. So we can understand the authorities when they didn't welcome such a discussion and didn't contribute in its development," the priest said.
The lack of the discussion and "the fact that all existing options of the country's development" have not been considered" today, according to the Church official, "impoverish our prospects."
"Thus the discussion over ideological bases of our state system, over the ways for people and various elites to participate in building our shared home is not over, it's just begun," the priest said.
Russian people shouldn't feel shy to say they saved the whole world from fascism - Patriarch Kirill
Interfax-Religion, November 8, 2010
Moscow, November 8, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on the Day of People's Unity opened the ninth church and public exhibition-forum Orthodox Rus in Moscow Manege.
The forum will last till Monday and is dedicated to the topic Nations-Winners: Together in History, Together in Future.
"As to the Great Patriotic War, it was our people who sacrificed 27 million lives to save Europe and the whole world," the Patriarch said greeting the guests.
"We don't speak much about it, and even when somebody doubts the role of our country and people in victory over fascism, perhaps thanks to our inborn modesty, we don't mention that no one has never in human history offered so many victims as our people did," the Patriarch stressed.
According to the Primate, "our peoples won a victory as they were together." The same thing happened in "menacing years" of the Time of Troubles when on November 4 Minin and Pozharsky's forces liberated Kitay-Gorod, the Kremlin, Moscow and then the whole Russia from foreign invaders.
"Always and everywhere we have been together - people of different ethnoses and even belonging to different religious traditions. We have made one great nation, the winner-nation," Patriarch Kirill stressed.
He called Russian nation "a nation-martyr" and pointed out that "there have never been any even most terrific catastrophes that our people did not managed to overcome with victory."
Today our country and the whole historical Rus' face "great tasks connected with changing lifestyle, finding new ways into the future" and it is important not "to get lost on these ways, not to lose right historical path on which we have always preserved our national identity, originality, faith," the Patriarch said.
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
A Fascist in Our Midst: Alexey Belayev-Guintovt and the Kandinsky Prize Scandal
By: Max Seddon (Moscow)
ArtMargins, 04 May 2009
The few hundred practitioners and enthusiasts of Contemporary Russian art like to think of it as a collective activity. With talk of "our art, our artists, our pavilion in Venice," the myopic and occasionally Lilliputian Moscow scene exhibits unusual solidarity when it comes to fighting for a place under the sun. But last December, when amid cries of "Disgrace!" and accusations of fascism, ultranationalist painter Alexey Belyaev-Guintovt beat out Sots Art legend Boris Orlov and Marxist Dmitry Gutov to win the 2008 Kandinsky Prize, a deep, bitter division broke ranks from within, and the word "them" added itself to the equation.
Rumblings of a scandal began after Belyaev's surprise nomination a month before, after critic Ekaterina Degot led a discussion entitled "Could an ultra-right nationalist win the Kandinsky Prize?" While she worried Belyaev would donate the 40,000 prize to "some fascist party," Moscow State University professor Andrei Kovalev claimed "the ruling class's fascizoid tendency has become clear - it's all a lot like Germany in 1933," and prize jury member Andrei Erofeev suggested, "they should give him the Leni Riefenshtal prize."
Belyaev, whose website divides its links page into "Us and Them," is the official stylist for the Eurasianist Movement of Youth, a bizarre, somewhat incoherent and quasi-mystical following based around the notorious philosopher Alexandr Dugin, who was at the center of the last "fascism" scandal in Russian art a decade before when Neoacademist leader Timur Novikov began to associate with him. Since then, Eurasianism has largely abandoned its calls for "fascism as limitless as our lands, and red as our blood" in favor of a broadly pro-Putin stance, but Belyaev himself still calls for a "union with our great Eastern neighbors" and portrays this nationalism entirely unironically in his work. The prize-winning paintings, Brothers and Sisters and Daughterland, come from a longer series of the latter name in which Belyaev combines Stalinist imagery with traditional Russian motifs and a very heavy dose of gold leaf to create a stark, grandiose vision of a future where homogenous Eurasian supermen march across Red Square.
By the time of the awards ceremony, the vitriol had become so overblown as to turn the ceremony into a referendum on Belyaev's political views, and his victory seemed to be the logical conclusion for an evening that began with a picket against him. Belyaev took to the stage to a bizarre mixture of rapt cheering, mild applause, and stunned silence and managed to get all of one sentence out before tension gave way to bedlam. The 2007 winner Anatoly Osmolovsky leapt to his feet, screaming "Disgrace! Disgrace!"; nominee Dmitry Gutov refused to include his work in the planned prize exhibitions in Kiev and London; and the Moscow art world wandered away shaken, confused, and wondering what will happen next.
Wild accusations flew in the aftermath amid the myriad of conspiracy theories aiming to explain the jury's 4-3 vote. Particularly outlandish was Osmolovsky's claim that Belyaev's Russian supporters on the jury - the St. Petersburg New Museum's Alexandr Borovsky and historian of the Russian avant-garde Ekaterina Bobrinskaya - were Eurasianist sympathizers. Others posited that Deutsche Bank representative Friederich Hutte and Guggenheim curator Valerie Higgins were too ignorant of the Russian context and the political consequences of their vote to make a fully informed decision, a fact which, given Degot's earlier confrontation with Higgins over those very same issues of context and consequences at Art Basel Miami Beach the week before seems equally unlikely. Still others cast suspicion on the Triumph Gallery, which represents Belyaev, and Shalva Breus, the organizer of the prize and publisher of ArtChronika, allegedly having struck a murky backroom deal somehow to do with the latter's reliance on the former's advertising.
Breus took strong offense to the latter theory, but otherwise kept a far more level head. Despite his vote for Orlov, a number of Orlov's works contained in his private collection, and his ready admission that Orlov is his favorite artist, Breus explained, "[a]t first I didn't understand the jury's choice, but it makes a lot more sense if you look at it from the contemporary angle. We all agreed Orlov's work was the best, but you can't say so readily that he's a contemporary artist." Indeed, Orlov's place in the canon is already all but assured - his nomination was in fact for his retrospective at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. "With Belyaev, on the other hand," Breus continued, "there's no doubt."
Doubt, however, clouds the intentions of former Pompidou director and Orlov supporter Jean-Hubert Martin, who awarded Belyaev 9 out of 10 at the initial stage of judging, missed the second round due to illness, and after the ceremony complained, "I don't understand how works as uninteresting and lacking any innovation as these could win a prize like this." For his part, Erofeev had not only exhibited Belyaev previously in Paris but had given him the same score for the same works at the same stage before his public volte-face.
Degot described the prize's "contemporary" criteria as the "logic of the supermarket" whereby all is at the whim of "consumer demand." In that sense, Belyaev was already doing rather well: Daughterland all but sold out immediately after its premiere in March at the profit-obsessed Triumph. Amid reports that Belyaev's prices have risen a further 30% since his victory, Triumph's co-director Emeliyan Zakharov crowed, "When I ran into her after the scandal started I told her, "Thank you, Katya! You've just handed Lesha Belyaev-Guintovt his first prize!"
Although Zakharov went on to posit that Degot deserved a four-year libel conviction for a later radio interview in which she claimed Belyaev made a Nazi salute from the stage, he ultimately exuded satisfaction from his place in the winners' circle. "It's like in the Krylov fable. I'm the big elephant walking down the street, and Katya Degot? She's the little dog running yapping alongside, trying to keep up."
The blatant disregard for basic etiquette shown by leading professionals such as Degot - in the absence of any photographs, video evidence, or supporting accounts hers is difficult to take seriously as anything except an allegory - or Erofeev gives credit to Belyaev's analysis of the reaction as fueled by fear. Indeed, the liberal artistic intelligentsia's virulent reaction seems to be less of an aesthetic or even a political one than just sheer horror at having their turf swept from under them. Belyaev raised no eyebrows as a follower of Novikov in the 1990s, when the latter was daubed with the other F-word and the former showed with Regina and XL. Those galleries are two of the four pillars of "Us," the turbulent, unforgiving wasteland of a decade with no infrastructure, no art market, and no money that Russia's critics still bear like a scar. Triumph is "Them", the nouveau-riche offspring of Putin's gilded age that stormed the art market with, depending on whom you ask, some much-needed money or a flood of glossy, surface-heavy and meaningless art.
Bobrinskaya saliently noted that the only criticism anyone has made of Belyaev's work on artistic grounds is for his use of gold, which seems to raise ire less for his aestheticization of Eurasianist ideals ("black gold" is Russian oil, "red gold" is Russian blood, you get the idea) than for making his works tacky by their mere presence. And if there's any long-running battle to be traced from the Kandinsky affair, it seems less to do with the influence of Novikov, the association with Dugin, or indeed the art itself, than with the glamur of the jet-setting oligarch class to which the liberals have ceded power.
Six months later, the name Alexey Belyaev-Guintovt has become just another battle scar, a source of pride covered under the critic's sleeve but sore as hell if ever touched, and best forgotten. But the skirmishes in the war with glamur continue. Bile flew once again in March over an exhibition of Tanatos Banionis, an anonymous group under the "curation" of Triumph co-director Dmitry Khankin. The show was unanimously ravaged in the press for its purported militarism, sexism, and glossy baseness, but Zakharov was untroubled. "With these liberal critics it's just jealousy, pure and simple," he glowered. "They think a galerist should drive a Volvo, or an Audi - or even take the metro. But I drive a Bentley!"
And Belyaev's star is still in the ascent. Since then, two earlier works formed the centerpiece of Triumph's stand at Art Dubai without raising an eyebrow; he is now apparently working on a fifteen-painting series depicting "a Eurasian parade of the future" due to be out next year and a Stalinist restoration of Tskhinvali, because "Stalinist architecture is the emanation of the sun." The golden dawn over Eurasia - whatever his critics may have to say about it - fans out regardless.
(Max Seddon is the art critic for the Moscow Times, and frequently contributes to a number of other publications.)
Biases, Borders, and Biohazards: Misconstruing Migrants as a Public Health Threat in the Russian Federation
By: Masha Udensiva-Brenner
THE HARRIMAN INSTITUTE, October 28, 2010
"There are all sorts of reasons to think that migration would be good for public health, but migrants in Russia are portrayed as a big health threat," stated Cynthia Buckley, Program Director of the Social Science Research Council. Buckley recently spoke at Columbia University as part of a seminar series co-organized by the Harriman Institute and the Global Health Research Center of Central Asia.
After the United States, Russia is the second largest migration destination in the world. It is also in the midst of a serious health crisisfacing a low birth rate, high alcoholism, a mortality rate that is significantly above the global average, and widespread malnutrition due to impoverishment. Since the 1990s, Russia has experienced an "incredibly drastic decline in male health and a fall in life expectancy not seen in any country except during war time," noted Buckley. The Russian government has responded to the health crisis by scapegoating labor migrants. "There is a politics of blamethis idea that Russia's health crisis can be deflected and put on the backs of migrants."
In reality, migrants arrive in Russia with better health habits than the native population. "They drink less, they smoke less, they exercise more and they eat healthier food." Buckley explained that "migrant selectivity" is a global trend"healthy people migrate." Migrants must arrive in relatively good health because they will have to handle the grueling jobs that no one else wants. "They are relegated to dirty, dangerous and demeaning workwhat we call 3D employment," stated Buckley.
Most labor migrants come to Russia from the near abroadCentral Asia or the South Caucasus. Buckley explained that there is a dichotomy between the way that labor migrants view Eurasia, and the way the Russians view it. "Labor migrants see Eurasia as all one space with a shared history." People in the Russian Federation on the other hand, see the people of the Central Asian Republics and the Caucasus as intruders. "Really what this boils down to is a conflict between real and imagined communitiesour migrants constantly tell us that they imagine this as one big space where they can move around. People in the Russian Federation see this as one big space where they would like to keep everyone out."
In March 2010 the Levada Center conducted a survey on restricting migration in the Russian Federation, and 97% of respondents agreed that they would like to tighten borders against migrants. In April the group repeated the survey but added the phrase "from the CIS," 96% responded affirmatively. "So not only do Russians not want migrants, but they don't even want them from the near abroad," commented Buckley.
"There are a lot of regional issues and many of them center upon borders. This used to be the Soviet Union, what were once national borders are now international borders and many of them are extremely contentions." Buckley explained that the situation is particularly toxic on the Tajikistan and Uzbekistan borders "these have been singled out by the Russian Federation as drug-running corridors."
Public opinion in the Russian Federation is becoming increasingly xenophobic, but Russia needs migrants in order to supplement its declining population. "Russians only want 'their kind' of migrants," Buckley informed. "They want ethnic Russians to return." Pundits, government officials, and the mass media have expressed their dissatisfaction with the types of migrants that come to the Russian Federation. "One of the ways they talk about it is by reframing migration as a bio threat."
Although there are no statistics to support these accusations, migrants are blamed for bringing infectious diseases into the Russian Federation. Since migrants perform the most dangerous jobs, "they are often times in environments that provide health risks. So yes, over time they might have some elevated incidences of infectious diseases. The assumption here is that they are bringing them in, as opposed to getting them in Russia and bringing them back home."
A law in the Russian Federation mandates the deportation of internationals tested positive for HIV. "As the Minister of Health explained to me, this is because they 'believe so strongly in human rights.'" There is a joint agreement between the Russian Federation and CIS countries that the latter will provide anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment to anyone tested positive for HIV. Buckley related a conversation with Russia's Minister of Health; he said that it would be "incomprehensible and morally repugnant to keep a migrant in Russia where we don't have an obligation to give them ARV's." Officials tend to amplify health-related deportation cases, but there have not been many of themonly 187 out of 12 million migrants have been deported for HIV, and 864 for other health issues, "ranging from anything like tuberculosis to a broken leg."
Officials also blame migrants for the high rates of tuberculosis cases in Russia. "And not just Russian officials, someone very high up in the WHO said that multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDRT) is driven by migrants coming into Russia. There is no data to back this up, and I have to say it has highly racist implications," asserted Buckley. "From what we know, the rates of MDRT are higher in the Russian Federation than they are in either Central Asia or the Caucasus. So if you're just going to play the odds, then you would bet that migrants are contracting MDRT in Russia and bringing it back to their own countries."
The "reframing of migrants as a bio-threat" has affected both policy and data collection. "I still can't get the tuberculosis rates for the 86 administrative regions out of the Ministry of Health because they just don't want to release that information. They are more than happy to tell me how many of all the cases involve migrants, and if I want I can even get the migrants by oblast, but they will not give me the locals."
Buckley, a recipient of a National Science Foundation MINeRVA grant, has been in the field collecting data about public health in Eurasia. "The data we do have shows that migrants have good health. They are not healthier but they are not less healthy." Buckley admitted that she was surprised by theses preliminary resultsshe had expected the data to show that the migrant population was in much better health than the natives. "Part of this might be because we didn't target unregistered labor migrants in this survey, so we are probably getting people who are registered and might have been in the country for a while."
Statistics have demonstrated that migrants across the globe tend to have better health when they first arrive in their destination countries; Buckley explained that this tends to change with the progression of their stay. "We found that not only do people who stay longer develop bad health habits, but the cumulative effect of social marginalization can adversely affect people's health."
Either way, the results demonstrate that migrants are not bringing bad health into Russia. "If anything there is a health protective effect of being foreign-born," stated Buckley. "We found that non-Russian speakers have better health than Russian-speaking nativesif you speak another language you are two times as likely as a native Russian speaker to perceive yourself as healthierand if you feel healthy then you will live longer."
As anti-migrant sentiment rises in Russia, there has been a shift in health policy"What we see is an increasing tendency at the macro level to focus on health in Central Asia as a security interest as opposed to a development issue." The government has reallocated its resourcesputting money into the monitoring of migrants and taking it away from hospitals and public health programs. These counter-productive health policies are wasting valuable resources and in that sense contribute to the larger health crisis in Russia.
Remembering Russia's past: Medvedev drags his feet
By: Catriona Bass
Prospect www.prospectmagazine.co.uk, 3 November 2010
This time last year, in a video blog commemorating the victims of Soviet repression, President Medvedev impressed upon the Russian people the importance of remembering the political repression of the Soviet era. Memorial museums were needed to ensure it was never forgotten, he affirmed.
This was no empty rhetoric. He had just signed an initiative, from the human rights organisation Memorial, to create Russia's first national memorial museum complex in the Kovalevsky Forest outside St Petersburg, where around 4,500 victims of the Red Terror, the first victims of the Bolshevik regime, lie in still unmarked mass graves.
But now, one year on, the working group behind the Kovalevsky Memorial Museum, headed by the director of St Petersburg's Hermitage Museum, Mikhail Piotrovsky, has gone public on the project in the hope of pushing the president and the Russian government to follow through on its commitment.
The memorial complex was intended to be the Russia's equivalent of the holocaust museum at Auschwitz or, as Mikhail Piotrovsky suggests, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. But despite the fact that none of the federal ministries nor the local government departments who examined the proposal has raised any objection, no mechanism has been worked out to implement it, or even to give the site legal status as a memorial.
The danger now, as the cultural historian and supporter of the memorial museum, Alexander Margolis, points out, is that the whole burial site could simply disappear under new housing as the Russian ministry of defence plans to hand over the land to the local government.
This is a familiar story for Memorial's Research and Information Centre team in St Petersburg. They uncovered the Kovalevsky site and have spent the last two decades trying, against the odds, to ensure that such sites all over the former Soviet Union are commemorated and kept in the public memory.
Indeed, it is symptomatic of a broader problem where declarative statements by Russia's leaders founder in the lack of political will to implement them. Today, despite Medvedev's insistence that the memory of this tragic past should be "passed on from generation to generation," the archives have become more restricted and none of the memorials that exist is funded or has legal status.
In fact, Hare Island, on which the Peter and Paul Fortress stands (one St Petersburg's major tourist attractions), is the focus of a battle between Memorial and the local government over the discovery of another mass burial site. The government refused to examine the site or to commemorate it, and a road has already been built over the graves as part of a planned car park. However, after a public outcry earlier this year, work has temporarily stopped and archeologists are excavating the territory, but without government funding.
The Peter and Paul fortress was known in Soviet times as Russia's Bastille; after centuries as a tsarist prison, its doors were flung open by the Bolsheviks and it was never to be used again. Today, tour guides still tell the Bastille myth and avoid discussion of the recent discoveries, although it is becoming clear that throughout the 1920s Soviet citizens were shot in the fortress in their hundreds or even thousands (only a third of the territory has been examined so far).
This week, Memorial has sent an open letter to Medvedev asking him to intervene in developments at the fortress. In it they offer a list of concrete measures that they hope will help push the president to act upon his pronouncements about the importance of historical memory. At the same time, they are trying to stimulate public discussion both over the fortress and the Kovalevsky Memorial Museum.
Given the perpetuation of Soviet myths by many institutions all over the country, Alexander Margolis argues that major memorial projects like Kovalevsky are critically important. "Indeed," he says, "our young people should not still be learning when they visit the Peter and Paul fortress that it was a Russian Bastille. They should know that the island fortress on which they are standing is, as it's now clear, the first island in the Gulag Archipelago."
Political Economy: May Solzhenitsyn Help You
By: Andrey Kolesnikov
Vedomosti, November 3, 2010
Just as governors would be photographed for billboards with Vladimir Putin, which greatly raised their reputation, so did the national leader like to pose with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and today with the edition of "Arkhipelag GULAG" (Gulag Archipelago) that is abridged for schoolchildren.
The premier was already insisting on this edition in the summer of 2009 when he met with Natalya Solzhenitsyna. It is true that it seemed that the verb Putin used, to "propagandize" Solzhenitsyn's creative work, grated on her. But be that as it may, already in September of that same year "Arkhipelag" was added to the state educational standard. And the result is wholly and completely positive. After all, the school version of "Arkhipelag" is edifying in every sense.
There is nothing mysterious in the fact that the KGB colonel extolled Solzhenitsyn for so many years, fell down before him as a living source, listened, visited, and so forth. It is not a matter of the dichotomy KGB-GULAG, it is the ideological platform on which Putin as national leader must rely. And the support that any Russian politician needs. Aleksandr Isayevich presented a readymade platform and with his authority sanctified Putin's political pretensions to a long and happy rule over the country.
In the absence in the country of moral authorities such as Dmitriy Likhachev and Andrey Sakharov it was not easy to navigate the Russian political field. The departed authorities were more protective of democratic reforms, but for conservative modernization or, as Nikita Mikhalkov put it in timely fashion, enlightened conservatism, a different dominating figure with a flawless reputation and the status of spiritual leader was needed. Therefore, all that was left for Putin to do was to invite Solzhenitsyn to be his ally. The writer answered in the same spirit -- he accepted the State Prize from the then president in 2007.
Tell me who is your political ally and I will tell you what views you preach. Solzhenitsyn, or more accurately his sociopolitical writing, is a clear ideological identification with Russia conservatism and moderate nationalism. Exactly what Putin needed in the 2000s and today, in the 2010s, the election years. Especially when he faces the decision of running for election or not, the national leader can find in Solzhenitsyn a source of the kind of electoral capital that the Communists get from Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Moreover, Solzhenitsyn is authentic, not a cinematographic conservative like Mikhalkov. In any case, appealing to his name during the election campaign is more effective. The moderate nationalist and conservative-protective agenda will in any case prove to be in demand and timely during the election period, and Solzhenitsyn's moral authority will be a menacing weapon then. But the right to exclusive and licensed use of this weapon will be held by just one person -- Putin.
So two lives after death await Solzhenitsyn. One is the literary and educational life (it is hard to over-value the educational significance of "Gulag"). The second is political. The first is more important. The second cannot be avoided.
Russia goes on holiday - and wonders exactly why
By: Tom Washington
Moscow News, November 4, 2010
A long weekend of fun and frolics starts on Thursday but after five years of National Unity there are still few people who really understand what it's all about.
For most people a four-day weekend is simply a welcome chance to relax or party but rival political factions are still planning to march.
A paltry 36 per cent could correctly name Thursday's Day of National Unity, Moscow-based researchers at the Levada Centre found. But this is progress, as the figure has quadrupled from 2005 when then president Vladimir Putin re-introduced the tsarist-era holiday.
The low levels of awareness have not stopped the hard-liners and 30,000 enthusiasts will take to the streets of Moscow to show their support for the Kremlin and its policies, Nashi spokeswoman Maria Kislitsyna told RIA Novosti.
A complicated topic
The so-called Russian March is an annual patriotic mass demonstration in all major Russian cities and former soviet republics, held on Nov. 4. In Moscow 20,000 are turning out for pro-government youth group Nashi, and the remaining10,000 from Stal (Steel), Our Homes and other nationalist movements, RIA Novosti reported.
"This year the Russian March will be held under the aegis of the Federal Youth Agency and it will become a virtual show of civil initiatives put forward by the largest public organizations in the country," Kislitsyna said.
But Russian nationalism is a complicated term. For a start, there is the issue of ethnic Russian or "government for all citizens of the Russian Federation," (regardless of ethnicity) as School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies at University College London expert Dr Peter Duncan puts it.
The latter idea is the one the government holds onto, he told The Moscow News, and he adds that Nashi would not describe themselves as a nationalist movement even though many of their critics do.
A tsarist festival
Putin rebranded the autumn holiday back to the Day of National Unity after a long hiatus in Soviet times.
Under Communism the USSR celebrated on Nov. 7, the anniversary of the October Revolution, with the confused dates caused by the shift from the Julian to Gregorian calendars.
But the break-up of Soviet power saw red flag parades fall from favour, and there was no official holiday in autumn until Putin's 2005 decision.
Pensioners still cling on to the old ways and 29 per cent, especially men, will observe the Soviet holiday rather than the newly reminted one, say Levada.
"I don't think this holiday really embodies any division," liberal party A Right Cause co-chairman Grigory Bovt told Komsomolskaya Pravda. "It doesn't contradict anything. You may say that, strictly speaking, there is no national unity...But this is no reason to cancel the holiday."
Moderate conservative Yegor Kholmogorov was positively in favour of it, calling the Day of the October Revolution "the first day of fratricide," and as such nothing to celebrate. He says the day of National Unity marked the end of a time of fratricide and as such is a worthy candidate for celebration.
The Day of National Unity commemorates the popular uprising which expelled the Polish-Lithuanian occupation from Moscow in 1612 and more or less ended the Time of Troubles and days of foreign invasions during the war with Poland, although the conflict didn't properly finish until 1618.
National Unity Day marked with nationalist marches
By: Natalia Makarova
www.russiatoday.com, November 4, 2010
Several nationalist marches have been held across the country as Russia is celebrating the Day of National Unity.
In Moscow, authorities gave permission to several nationalist groups, including the "Movement against Illegal Immigration" (DPNI) and "Slavic Force", to stage a rally of up to 5,500 people.
Chanting "Russia is for Russians, Moscow is for Muscovites", the activists mainly youngsters marched from Lyublino to Maryuno subway stations on the capital's outskirts. They were holding flags with nationalist symbols and slogans demanding that immigrants be sent back to their countries.
According to Interfax news agency, several people were detained after a scuffle during the rally.
Similar nationalist gatherings have been staged in other Russian cities including St Petersburg and Novosibirsk.
In recent years Russia has seen a huge increase in immigration with thousands of migrant workers from former Soviet republics mainly Central Asia coming to the country to seek better life conditions or simply to earn money to support their families. Many Russians are not too happy about that and want the government to address the issue and come up with a balanced policy on immigrants.
However, allowing nationalists to stage their rallies causes concern among human rights activists, especially since xenophobic crimes are on the rise in Russia.
"It is necessary to guarantee freedom of expression to people, but I do not think that such actions can bring any benefits," the head of the Federal Migration Service, Konstantin Romodanovsky, told Interfax. "What ideas are they expressing? What are they protesting against? Against the grandchildren of those who defeated the Nazis? What is good about that?"
Meanwhile, the pro-Kremlin youth movement "Nashi" (Ours) along with the "Stal" (Steel) and "Our Homes" staged a 20,000-strong rally the so-called "Russian March" in the capital's center. The activists were waving placards reading "Russia's Pride" and portraits of the WWII veterans. Another group was marching through Moscow with portraits of those they consider to be the country's "shame" drug dealers, illegal casinos owners, and people who have sold alcohol to minors.
The activists also appealed to the new Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, suggesting he enlist their help in making the capital better.
After the rally, the youngsters split into small teams in order to film video clips on places that sell expired products and other cases of violation of the law in the capital. The results of the investigation will be passed to the Moscow government and law enforcement agencies.
"Our Russian March is a march in support of Russia," Nashi leader, Maria Kislitsyna said earlier, as cited by the movement's official website. "Tens of thousands of young people have united to make their contribution to forming an attractive image of the capital. It is our country and we will live here. Therefore, we are going to fight against the disregard of law which we witness almost every day," she stated.
One of the newest public holidays in modern Russia, the Day of National Unity, was introduced by then-president Vladimir Putin's decree in 2004 and has been celebrated on November 4 since 2005. It replaced the main holiday of the Soviet-era, the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, which was celebrated on November 7.
The roots of the holiday date back to the 17th Century. In November 1612 (October in the Julian Calendar) a Russian volunteers corps led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky managed to expel the Polish-Lithuanian occupation force from Moscow, which also led to the end of the Time of Troubles and foreign intervention in Russia in the Polish-Muscovite War (16051618). In that rather harsh period of the country's history, there was no tsar to guide the people. However, the entire population, no matter which social class, nationality or religious group they belonged to, united for the sake of the statehood future and pushed the aggressors out of the country.
In 1649, Russian Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich Romanov declared November 4 (October 22) a public holiday, which was celebrated until the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917.
The revived holiday, though, has not become popular with the majority of the population. While people quite enjoy having an extra day off, many still have no idea of what actually is being celebrated. According to a poll carried out by Russia's Public Opinion Research Centre, VCIOM, only ten per cent of the population are aware that November 4 is the Day of National Unity and can explain why it is celebrated. Only one per cent of those questioned consider this holiday important.
Great October Revolution Day falls into oblivion
By: Andrei Mikhailov
Pravda.ru, November 4, 2010
What is Russia celebrating on November 4th? According to sociologists, many of Russia's residents simply have no idea what the Day of National Unity is. And yet this is not a new holiday of the post-perestroika era designed to replace the October Revolution Day on November 7. The history of this day counts over three centuries.
One recent poll published by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center is a little discouraging. Everyone understands that the country will have four days off. Yet, many do not understand what they are going to toast to. It turns out that approximately half of the Russians (48%) do not even know the name of the holiday celebrated in Russia on November 4.
At the same time the proportion of Russians who know that the holiday is called the Day of National Unity in recent years has increased (from 13% in 2008 to 16% in 2009). According to sociologists, people have their own names of this holiday: for example, some people call it a day of unity, the Day of Accord and Reconciliation, the Independence Day of Russia, and even the Constitution Day.
Of course, the number of people who really know what will be celebrated during the four-day weekend is increasing, sociologists stress. However, two-thirds of Russians (66%) do not consider November 4 a really festive date.
Yet, this holiday is over three centuries old. In 1649, by a decree of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, the day Our Lady of Kazan, October 22 according to the Julian calendar, or November 4 according to the Gregorian calendar, was declared a national holiday that had been celebrated for three centuries until 1917.
On November 4 of 1612 soldiers militia led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky stormed China Town in Moscow, liberating the city from Polish invaders, and demonstrating the model of heroism and solidarity of all people, regardless of origin, religion or social status. Polish garrison surrendered. At the end of February of 1613, the Zemsky Sobor elected the new tsar Mikhail Romanov. This marked the end of the "great turmoil." This is why the holiday is called the National Unity Day. In general, it is, in fact, a resurrected national holiday.
The idea to celebrate the National Unity Day on November 4 was suggested by the Interreligious Council of Russia in September 2004. It was supported by the Duma committee on labor and social policy, and acquired the status of the Duma initiative.
On September 29 of 2004, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy has publicly supported the initiative of the Duma to establish the holiday on November 4. On November 23 of 2004 a bill amending the Labor Code of Russia was brought for consideration of the Duma. It involved the abolition of the celebration of November 7, the anniversary of the October Revolution and December 12, the Constitution Day, as well as the increase of Christmas holidays from 2 to 5 days, as well as introduction of a new holiday on November 4. At the meeting of the Duma the bill was passed on first reading. On December 27, 2004 it was adopted on third reading and became a law.
Well-known Russian politicians, artists, and writers shared their views on celebrating the Day of National Unity with Pravda. Ru:
Vladimir Solovyev, TV host: "For me, November 4 is, of course, a holiday, defining period in the history of our country. Russia has decided to follow the path that eventually made it a great country, and not a forgotten little mono-ethnic state. Relatively speaking, we had a choice - to follow the path of Poland or the path that we have chosen. And of course, in my mind Minin and Pozharsky are much more important people than many of those who for some reason are considered heroes of the revolution. At least there is no blood of innocent victims. on their hands."
Dmitry Lipskerov, writer and restaurateur: "I believe that there are only family holidays or holidays that really unite the nation and people, regardless of nationality. It is likely that in 30-40 years, this holiday can be and will be a celebration in the sense in which we understand it. And now it is just a reason for an extended weekend".
Svetlana Khorkina, Olympic champion in gymnastics, a State Duma deputy: "I really like the name of the holiday both in the way it is pronounced, and its spelling. And most importantly the idea of unity it suggests. Indeed, when we unite, we are very strong people, strong nation. These days we feel the shortage of unity very strongly, because when we are united and strong, it is easier to cope with all difficulties in our country. A vivid example and confirmation of this is the Great Patriotic War, when all the people have united and defeated the enemy."
Maria Arbatova, a writer and TV host: "Frankly, I'm a post-Soviet person, and this holiday has not yet been accepted by me. I do not understand its ideology; I do not feel committed and have no memory of what we had with the Poles. On the one hand, it is nice to have more holidays, good and different. But on the other hand, the creative scope of its establishment was not the best. Russia's history is rich with events that are clear and that really could be consolidating. I think that this holiday has been implanted artificially."
Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer: "Back in 1649, by a decree of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, the day of Our Lady of Kazan, was declared a national holiday and was celebrated for three centuries, until 1917. Therefore it is difficult to say that our country has a new holiday. For me the day of national unity is, above all, a tribute to the country's history, a heroic deed of militia under the leadership of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky. This holiday is important for Russia, because even back then, in the 18th century, people of different religions, different ethnicities and classes came together to liberate the motherland from foreign invaders. And this public outburst ended the strife and sedition, ushering in the revival and strengthening of the Russian state. I would like to hope that on this day everyone will find time not only for their loved ones, but also for doing small good things for our country, for paying tribute to the heroism of Minin and Pozharsky."
Russians Fear `Fifth Column' of Jihadi Terrorists among Gastarbeiters
By: Paul Goble
Window on Eurasia, November 4, 2010
Staunton, November 4 - Moscow is seeking to impose tighter control over labor migration from CIS countries in general and Tajikistan in particular not only to ensure that Russian laws are obeyed but also to prevent the arrival of Jihadi terrorists within that flow who could form "a fifth column" inside the Russian Federation.
Such an approach, commentator Dmitry Pankratov argues, is "more than justified since under the mask of labor migrants an enormous number of people have come to Russia who are not involved with construction
but with the creation on the territory of another state of individual cells of Islamic groups of an extremist type."
Moreover, he continues, international experience shows that in an increasing number of cases around the world, those who commit terrorist acts of various kinds in one country received training in another state and then arrived in their target country under the cover of migrants or other "legitimate" activities (www.paruskg.info/2010/11/03/34809#more-34809).
In his article, Pankratov describes the activities on one Tajik Jihadist who moved to Tyumen, recruited other Tajiks there to his ideas and financed his activities with the sale of illegal drugs. But he implies that the case he describes is typical rather than exceptional and that Jihadist elements can be found elsewhere among Gastarbeiter in other Russian cities.
How widespread this phenomenon has become is impossible to know, but this report and others like it - including one on the recruitment of suicide bombers by Islamist radicals in Tajikistan (www.ferghana.ru/article.php?id=6787) -- will further exacerbate Russian suspicions about and xenophobic attitudes toward the growing migrant population.
That presents the Russian powers that be with a serious problem. On the one hand, the Russian economy needs immigrant labor given the country's declining population. Moreover, Moscow wants to maintain good relations with and hence influence in Muslim countries, both those from which the migrants come and others further afield.
And on the other, there appear to be some in the Russian capital who are prepared to play up such ethnic tensions not only to distract attention of social class problems but also out of the belief that the anti-immigrant sentiment now sweeping through Western Europe provid
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