Bulletin 2:13 (2008)
- THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
Vol. 2, No. 13(18), 15 April 2008
Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland
I NEWS: 24 MARCH 15 APRIL 2008
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
III PRIMARY SOURCES
IV ANNOTATIONS OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS
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I NEWS: 24 MARCH 15 APRIL 2008
Moscow branch of the Anti-Defamation League accuses Mufti Ashirov of
Interfax, March 24, 2008
Moscow, March 24, Interfax - Co-chairman of the Russian Muftis Council
Nafigullah Ashirov's statement where he compared "Zionism to fascism"
is anti- Semitic, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League's Moscow
branch Alexander Axelrod believes.
"I wonder that such high-ranking staff members of the Russian Council
of Muftis as Nafigullah Ashirov voice so outdated anti-Semitic ideas,"
Axelrod told Interfax-Religion on Monday.
He is perplexed that "there are intolerant people among religious
The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR) has recently
announced it would suspend relations with the Russian Council of
Muftis as it did not react to the Ashirov's statement. The Council of
Muftis replied with a statement saying it didn't receive any official
documents from the FJCR on the matter.
Besides, the statement cited Ashirov's comment: "If FJCR, which
positions itself as a Russian organization, sees itself as part of
Zionism, then certainly the announcement by this organization about
suspension of relations with the Council of Muftis is quite
"And why the FJCR should support Wahhabism? The FJCR supports
Russia's multireligious basis, principle of tolerance and mutual
respect between religions. While the Council of Muftis acts in such
multicultural a country and opposes itself to the official state
course aimed at preserving international and interreligious peace,"
He noted that "the world's extreme radicals" shared this position and
also compared Zionism to fascism. The interviewee of the agency
appealed to mathematics and urged to "chip off all extreme values and
take into account the rest."
"Life is almost similar to maths," the Anti-Defamation League
Police Detain Neo-Nazi Law Students in Moscow
FSU Monitor, March 31, 2008
Police detained 25 neo-Nazis on Sunday as they prepared to attack
minorities, according to a March 31, 2008 report by the Russian Jewish
web site Jewish.ru. The majority of the detained youths, who are
reportedly acting "arrogantly and disruptively" in jail, are law
students, an increasingly common break from the stereotype of
neo-Nazis as futureless youths from the poor suburbs. Police
confiscated knives and other weapons from the young extremists, whom
they detained as they began threatening minority passersby. Several of
the detainees have prior convictions for"hooliganism."
Hizb ut-Tahrir, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan try to spread their
activity to Russia - FSB
Interfax, March 31, 2008
Khaty-Mansiysk, March 31, Interfax - International terrorist
organization Hizb ut- Tahrir and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
have made attempts to spread their activity to Russia, Russian Federal
Security Service (FSB) head and chairman of the Russian National
Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAC) Nikolay Patrushev said.
"Security agencies exposed and thwarted the activity of the
aforementioned organization in the Tyumen and Chelyabinsk
organizations in the past two years. Over 80 of their members were
exposed," Patrushev said at a meeting with heads of antiterrorist
commissions in the Urals Federal District in Khanty-Mansiysk on Monday.
The number of extremist crimes grew in the Sverdlovsk, Tyumen, Kurgan
and Chelyabinsk region in 2007 compared to 2006, Patrushev said.
"Thanks to timely preventive information and comprehensive preemptive
measures, sabotage and terrorist attacks prepared by criminals during
the State Duma and presidential electoral campaign and elections were
thwarted. At the same time, the number of manifestation of terrorist
and extremist actions has remained rather high. This is typical for
your [the Urals] federal district as well," Patrushev said.
Probable Neo-Nazi Attack in Leningrad Region
FSU Monitor, April 1, 2008
Three youths attacked a Tajik construction worker in the village of
Orzhitsy, Russia (Leningrad region), according to an April 1, 2008
report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. The youths beat
Anemshan Khudoykulov unconscious on March 27, all the while recording
the attack on a cell phone video camera, a common neo-Nazi propaganda
tactic. They also used dogs to attack their victim, and revived him
from unconsciousness in order to beat him again. The victim was taken
to a hospital with head injuries; local police have begun an
Neo-Nazis Attack Foreigners in St. Petersburg
FSU Monitor, April 2, 2008
Police arrested three neo-Nazis, including one young woman, in St.
Petersburg after they attacked foreigners, according to an April 2,
2008 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. The three
assailants, all in their early 20s, allegedly attacked two female
students from Mongolia while screaming racist abuse. Luckily, the
young women managed to escape. Near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro
station, the extremists went after an African man, at which point
police detained them. There is no information in the report about what
charges, if any, the neo-Nazis face.
Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Targets Minority Religions
FSU Monitor, April 2, 2008
The Chelyabinsk chapter of the pro-Kremlin youth group "Young Guard"
launched a campaign against "totalitarian sects" according to a March
31, 2008 report the Novy Region news agency. The "Guards"--one of
several youth groups reportedly created by the Russian government to
counter opposition youth groups--announced their intention to pressure
Jehovah's Witnesses, the Pentecostal "New Life" church, Hare Krishnas,
Mormons, Scientologists and the Unification Church, lumping them all
together under the aegis of "totalitarian sects." Landlords who rent
premises to these confessions will be pressured by public campaigns,
including demonstrations and petition drives. "Young Guard" launched a
hot line for citizens to complain about "sects" in their neighborhood,
a number that the Novy Region news agency published without any
comment. Indeed, the entire news item is suffused with language that
paints the campaign as legitimate, and there are no quoted responses
from members of the groups that the campaign will target.
Officials in Penza, Russia Demonize Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses
FSU Monitor, April 2, 2008
A round table of officials in Penza, Russia featured speeches
demonizing Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and calls for harsh
repressive measures to be taken against them, according to a March 28,
2008 report by the local web site Penzensky Informatsionny Portal. The
report did not offer any direct quotes from the speeches, but
consisted of the following summary.
"Sectarianism"--a common pejorative for minority religions-- is a
national threat. Evgeny Guseynov, head of the regional department of
internal affairs, warned that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses roam the
streets of the city, passing out suspicious literature and knocking on
doors. Most terrifyingly of all: "They literally zombify people on the
street. Something needs to be done about this."
Vadim Supikov, the deputy chair of the regional parliament, called on
residents of Penza to call the police immediately if they see these
"sectarians" on the street so that they can be prosecuted. He added
that a hot line needed to be set up for complaints about "sects" and
rejected the idea of sending "sect" members to sanatoriums for
treatment, instead asserting that harsher law enforcement means be
used. Anatoly Zagrebaev, a psychiatrist, claimed that it is almost
impossible to return a "sectarian" to a "real life" and used the
example of a woman who "passed out Bible passages on the street, but
in her eyes there was nothing but hate." "Sectarianism" needs to be
put on notice, not treated medically, the round table concluded, an
obvious endorsement of police methods against followers of minority
faiths. The regional diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church and the
regional minister of education also participated in the conference.
Head of the Russia's Council of Muftis says unacceptable to compare
Zionism to fascism as two of its subordinates have recently done
Interfax, April 2, 2008
Moscow, April 2, Interfax - The Russia's Muftis Council will express
its attitude to the recent statements of its representatives who
compared Zionism to fascism at the next session, the Council's head
Ravil Gainutdin said in his letter to the country's chief rabbi Berel
Such comparison was voiced the Muftis Councils co-chairman Nafigullah
Ashirov last month and motivated the Federation of Jewish Communities
of Russia to freeze its contacts with the Council. The relations were
restored last week with the assistance of the Russia's Public Chamber.
The FJCR actively supported the protest of the Muftis Council against
broadcasting Anti-Islamic film by the Holland producer. Nevertheless,
Karelia's mufti Visam Ali Bardvil has recently backed up Mufrti
Such unexpected for the FJCR turn caused yesterday's talk between
Lazar and Gainutdin, the FJCR press-service told Interfax-Religion.
In a telephone talk the rabbi expressed his concerns to the mufti and
stressed that they agreed to develop constructive dialogue between
Jewish and Muslim communities during their recent meeting in the
Russia's Public Chamber.
Gainutdin assured Lazar that the reached agreement remained in force
and the Council would spare no effort to prevent such statements.
Gainutdin's official letter to Lazar affirmed the Muftis Council's
position as the mufti again stated that the Council was inclined to
develop the dialogue and cooperation between religious organizations
of traditional Russia's religions.
Gainutdin also considered "unacceptable any actions aimed at
destroying good relations."
He also pointed out to the acting Council of Muftis' rule reading
that its official position was worked out and adopted in collegiate
and voiced by the Chairman or his empowered representatives. "We urge
to consider statements made by individual religious figures of Islamic
organizations as their private opinion which does not represent the
Council's consolidated position," the letter reads as the FJCR press-
Mufti Ashirov insists on his condemnation of Zionism, respect forJudaism
Interfax, April 3, 2008
MOSCOW. April 3 (Interfax) - Russian Council of Muftis
Co-Chairman Nafigulla Ashirov is not going to backtrack from his
negative comments on Zionism, which, in his view, should not be
associated with Judaism or the Jewish people in general.
"It is absolutely wrong to accuse me of hatred toward the
Jewish people or Judaism, and this is a provocation on the part of
the FJCR [the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia] and those
forces that paint white in black. I really love the Jewish people,
but my attitude toward the Israeli state's aggressive policy is
extremely negative," Ashirov told journalists on Thursday.
"There have been a lot of devoted Muslims among Jews, especially
in the past years. There were Jews among the Prophet Muhammad's
followers; the Prophet Jesus Christ, whom we love and respect, was
also a Jew, and the Prophet Moses, whom we also love, was a Jew as
well," Ashirov said.
The Russian Inter-Religious Council on Wednesday condemned
Mufti Ashirov's recent remarks in which he compared Zionism to
Fascism. Before that, his remarks had been harshly criticized by the
FJCR, the Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations, and the
Council of Mufti itself, whose chairman, Ravil Gainutdin, forwarded a
letter of regret to Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar.
Meanwhile, Ashirov suggested that Gainutdin "was misled."
"I am sure he will never criticize people who condemn the crimes
of Zionism," Ashirov said.
Ashirnov insisted that he has not and will not backtrack from
his position on Zionism. "The crimes of the Zionist regime are
similar to Fascism, but they should not be equated with the entire
Jewish people, not to mention Judaism," he said.
Tomsk Branch of Kremlin Created Youth Group Harasses Jehovah's Witnesses
FSU Monitor, April 3, 2008
A day after UCSJ reported that a Kremlin-sponsored youth group had
launched a campaign against minority religions in the Chelyabinsk
region, a newspaper in Tomsk reported a protest by a similar group,
this time specifically against the Jehovah's Witnesses. According to a
April 3, 2008 article in the local newspaper Vecherny Tomsk, members
of "Nashi" held a protest outside a Jehovah's Witnesses "kingdom hall"
on March 22. The article did not offer details about the protest, but
it contained severa; attacks on the Jehovah's Witnesses within its
text. For some reason, in her first paragraph, the author of the
article referred to "Nashi"--an organization known for its worship of
President Putin and intimidation tactics against opposition
activists--as a "democratic movement." She then engages in a full
fledged attack on the Jehovah's Witnesses, citing reports of anonymous
victims, and not giving any space in her lengthy article for the
Jehovah's Witnesses to respond. The article is full of phrases like "a
trap for your soul," "the road to slavery," a "totalitarian mechanism
of control over the consciousness" of their followers, "exploitation
of their adepts," and ends with an appeal to readers to call with
information about Jehovah's Witnesses activity, and to send any video
or photographic material they can about them.
The author repeats the accusation voiced at the highest levels of
Russia's security establishment in a national security council
document at the beginning of President Putin's term that missionaries
are trying to divide and weaken
Tashkent Ignores Murders of Uzbeks in Russia
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, April 3, 2008
Despite attempts by Uzbek activists to draw their government's
attention to the victimisation of labour migrants in Russia, Tashkent
remains tight-lipped on the issue - perhaps because it does not want
to admit that so many people are forced to go abroad to find work.
At the end of March, the Uyghon, Uzbekiston (Awake, Uzbekistan)
Democratic Youth Movement declared March 31 to be Memorial Day for
Uzbeks murdered in Russia. Activists from the movement announced that
it would stage protests outside Russian embassies in various countries.
The statement said about 100 migrant workers were killed by Russian
skinheads last year, and accused the Kremlin of failing to act to
prevent racist crime.
It said that as skinhead attacks on Central Asians increased, Russian
police often recorded racist crimes under less serious headings, and
created bureaucracy difficulties that impede investigations. Of these
100 cases of murder, only 25 resulted in individuals being taken to
court - and even then they were only accused of disorderly conduct and
According to the Sova Human Rights Center based in Moscow, more than
30 race-based crimes, leading in the deaths of at least ten Central
Asians, took place in Russia in March 2008 alone.
The authorities in Uzbekistan's neighbours - Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan
and Tajikistan - have already issued formal statements of concern.
Yet the Uzbek government has so far remained silent.
Abbos is a young man from Bukhara in western Uzbekistan who has
experienced the lack of official concern. When his brother was
assaulted by skinheads in Russia last year, the family found it
impossible to interest anyone in the case.
"After my brother was beaten up by skinheads, we went to our [Uzbek]
embassy in Moscow. They told us straight out they weren't going to
spoil relations with the Russian authorities by taking action on my
brother's behalf," said Abbos.
After numerous trips to Moscow, the family has all but given up hope
of getting judicial redress.
"The case always appeared to have been closed for some reason,"
explained Abbos. "The last time, despite persistent efforts by my
uncle, it was reclassified as hooliganism."
NBCentralAsia analysts are pessimistic about the prospects for
Tashkent taking action to improve matters for Uzbek nationals in
Russia, or even making its concerns public.
"Our government does not want to acknowledge the existence of a large
proportion of Uzbek labour migrants abroad, let alone defend their
rights. It is trying to persuade everyone that Uzbekistan is enjoying
development just like any other member of the Commonwealth of
Independent States," said Tashpulat Yoldashev, a political analyst in
Yoldashev noted that unlike other former Soviet states which lobby
for better rights for their nationals working in Russia and set quotas
for the number of people going there legally, Uzbekistan has done
nothing for its citizens.
A human rights activist in Tashkent, who did not want to be named,
said one reason why the government would not accuse Moscow of failing
to act on racial crime was that the Russians were now a major
commercial investor and political partner.
"The government has done nothing to protect human rights inside the
country, [so] it is not going to say a word in defence of Uzbeks'
rights in future," said the activist.
Human rights groups estimate that between three and five million of
Uzbekistan's 28 million people work as labour migrants in Russia and
(NBCentralAsia is an IWPR-funded project to create a multilingual
news analysis and comment service for Central Asia, drawing on the
expertise of a broad range of political observers across the region.
The project ran from August 2006 to September 2007, covering all five
regional states. With new funding, the service is resuming, covering
only Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for the moment.)
RUSSIA'S NATO ENVOY COMPARES WESTERN LEADERS TO HOOLIGANS
Bigotry Monitor, Volume 8, Number 14, April 4, 2008
In order to avoid the harsh anti-Western tone Russian leaders use in
their statements, their Western counterparts should stop threatening
Russian security, Russia's permanent envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin
recommends, according to an Interfax item published on March 29. "In
the last several days, in the run-up to the NATO summit, our Western
partners have been persistently trying to warn Russian officials
against so-called aggressive rhetoric," Rogozin told Interfax.
"However, I think it is certainly necessary to distinguish between
aggressive policy, that is, real actions aimed against Russia's
security, and words and statements pronounced in response, in which
Russia's position is formulated."
Rogozin compared Western leaders to hooligans. "It looks like a
hooligan approaching a passenger on a bus, beating him on the head
with a stick, and when the passenger starts protesting, says that his
rhetoric is aggressive," he said. "Therefore, hide your baton as much
as you can, and then we will talk to you in a purely diplomatic
Before President Vladimir Putin appointed Rogozin to the sensitive
diplomatic post in Brussels, his speeches contained blatantly racist
and antisemitic references. He also headed the far-right,
anti-immigrant "Rodina" (Russian for homeland) party.
TAJIK WORKER ATTACKED
Bigotry Monitor, Volume 8, Number 14, April 4, 2008
Three youths attacked a Tajik construction worker in the village of
Orzhitsy (Leningrad Region), according to an April 1 report by the
Sova Information-Analytical Center. The youths beat Anemshan
Khudoykulov unconscious on March 27 and recorded the attack on a cell
phone video camera, a common neo-Nazi propaganda tactic. They also
used dogs to attack their victim, and revived him, in order to beat
him again. The victim was hospitalized with head injuries. Police have
begun an investigation.
VIOLENT INITIATION RITUALS FOR UNDERAGE NEO-NAZI RECRUITS
Bigotry Monitor, Volume 8, Number 14, April 4, 2008
A 15 year old neo-Nazi marked his initiation into a skinhead gang by
assaulting his own mother, according to a March 22 report by the
newspaper "Chelyabinsky Rabochy." The Miass City Court (Chelyabinsk
Region) sentenced the youth to 30 days in detention, and recommended
that the city's juvenile authorities examine the case of an even
younger neo-Nazi recruit who assaulted a schoolmate as part of his
initiation ritual. Because they are under age, the youths face
administrative rather than criminal charges.
First Orthodox Liturgy to be celebrated at the North Pole
Interfax, April 4, 2008
Moscow, April 4, Interfax - Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All
Russia blessed to celebrate the first Divine Liturgy at the North Pole
on April 5, Saturday.
"Archbishop Ignaty of Petropavlovsk and Kamchatka will head the
Divine Liturgy. Two priests and a deacon will also participate in the
expedition," representative of the Petropavlovsk Diocese in Moscow Fr.
Alexander Terpulov told Interfax on Friday.
A 2-meter wooden cross and Russian flag will be set at the "zero
point" of the North Pole.
Archbishop Ignaty will baptize one of the participants of the Polar
expedition organized by aviation administration of the Federal
Security Service, the interviewee of the agency said.
The Kamchatka archbishop celebrated the first Divine Liturgy under
Arctic ice onboard of the submarine - the Tomsk atomic strategic cruiser.
The same year priest Viktor Smetannikov from the Novosibirsk Diocese
made a parachute jump to the North Pole, set a cross and conducted a
prayer service there. Later he carried out the similar expedition to
the South Pole.
Police arrest 25 National Bolshevik activists on Red Square
RIA Novosti, April 5, 2008
MOSCOW, April 5 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow police detained 25 National
Bolshevik Party (NBP) activists for attempting to hold an unsanctioned
rally on Saturday, a police spokesman said.
The party led by radical writer Eduard Limonov has been banned in
Russia and branded an extremist organization by the authorities.
"The incident took place at around 11:45 a.m. Moscow time (07:45
GMT), when a group of young people imitating a wedding procession
tried to enter Red Square and hold an unsanctioned rally," the
spokesman told RIA Novosti.
"The detainees say they are members of the banned National Bolshevik
Party. Several placards and NBP symbols have been confiscated. A
rubber-bullet pistol was seized from one of them."
The activists resisted arrest, and one of them let off a pepper spray
in the face of a police officer, the spokesman said. They could face
On Tuesday Limonov, who has a strong youth following, said he would
appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over the
Russian Supreme Court's refusal to lift the ban on his party.
The NBP has pursued 'direct action' tactics by publicly attacking
people they considered symbols of President Putin's regime or its allies.
Group members are known to have thrown mayonnaise and tomatoes at
prominent public figures, including ex-Prime Minister Mikhail
Kasyanov, former NATO Secretary Lord George Robertson, Russian film
director Nikita Mikhalkov. Activists have also staged protests by
breaking into government offices in Moscow.
For such actions, which the radical group dubs "velvet terror," many
of its activists were arrested and sentenced to prison terms.
Since founding the group in 1994, Limonov, 65, dropped his
anti-capitalism rhetoric while preserving his nationalist message. In
recent years, he has sided with the liberal opposition in Russia,
which has been desperate to strengthen its ranks.
Suspects Charged in Attack on Tuvan Journalists
FSU Monitor, April 7, 2008
Eleven teenagers face hate crimes charges in connection with an attack
on a Tuvan journalist last year, according to an April 3, 2008 article
in the St. Petersburg newspaper "Vecherny Peterburg." Sayana Mongush,
who also works as a press spokeswoman for the regional government of
the Tuvan republic, was attacked on December 1 by skinheads on the
Petersburg metro. Police initially refused to register the attack,
claiming that, "we don't have any fascism here." To the credit of
local prosecutors, however, the youths face hate crimes rather than
Neo-Nazis Attack Azeri Children in Moscow
FSU Monitor, April 7, 2008
A group of neo-Nazis attacked three Azeri youths, hospitalizing one of
them, a 13 year old boy, according to an April 6, 2008 article in the
national daily Novye Izvestiya. The attack took place in the eastern
part of the city around 4PM. Police have not yet detained any
suspects, whom witnesses number at around 20.
Communist Leader Presents New Wording Of Party's Program
Itar-Tass, April 8, 2008
MOSCOW, April 8 (Itar-Tass) -- Russian Communist Party leader Gennady
Zyuganov has presented a new wording of the party's program in Moscow
on Tuesday. He said the emergence of the document was necessary
because Russia had steered into a new political era that required
Besides, "the need for revising the program stems from the fact that
the restoration of capitalism is over," Zyuganov explained.
The Communist leader said there had begun "a new phase of ideological
competition and ideological struggle with the main opponent - the
Untied Russia party."
Zyuganov recalled that the previous version of the CPRF program,
edited in 1995, had stood the test of time.
Taking a look back on history CPRF leader said he regarded the
Communist Manifesto Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles authored 160 years
ago was in fact the first program of a Communist Party.
"All further programs were based on the same pattern," Zyuganov said.
The new draft that has taken about a year to finalize will be
published for a general discussion. A final version will be adopted at
the CPRF congress in November. The newly-edited version will
incorporate the election platforms the CPRF put forward in the latest
parliamentary and presidential elections.
The CPRF leader directed the editing work in person and said he was
able to be responsible for every single word in it.
The program's central idea is "the choice of socialist development is
the most well-founded for Russia and meeting best its interests."
The CPRF sees one of its main tasks in leading "popular resistance to
the forcible restoration of capitalism in the country", "carry out
nationalization and restore the popular ownership of natural riches
and main means of production" and "considerably raise the well-being
of the working people."
Also, the program declares "the stepping up of the
national-liberation struggle of the Russian people."
The CPRF leader promised that transition to a new system would be
exclusively democratic and peaceful.
The document proposed for discussion sets such tasks as "the return
of Stabilization Fund assets to Russia", "restoration of the
Soviet-era fringe benefits" and "democratization of the election
system," including the electivity of Federation Council members, the
possibility of revoking legislators, and "the adoption of a new
The CPRF pledges that in case it rises to power it will form "a
government of popular confidence", "restore the Soviets of People's
Deputies", and "crack down on russophobia, westernization,
americanization, historical vandalism, and cult of profiteering,
violence, perversion, egoism and individualism."
Russian Communists Deny Plans To Go Social Democrat
Interfax, April 8, 2008
Russia's Communist Party (KPRF) denied on Tuesday that amendments it
plans to make to its program in November are
designed to reform the party along social democratic lines.
"We reject all speculation to the effect that the
amendments we are now planning to make to our
program document, the main political document of
the party, mean a kind of social democratic swing
in the activities of the KPRF. This is being said
either by people who have a poor knowledge of our
document or by wishful thinkers," Dmitry Novikov,
the KPRF's ideology chief and a State Duma
deputy, told a news conference at the Interfax headquarters in Moscow.
"Social-democratization is not our path, the
party has made a clear decision about that," he said.
"Social democracy in Russia has been discredited
a good deal today by those who have tried to
speak on behalf of it, and one of the phases is
marked by the activities of Mr. (Sergei) Mironov
(Federation Council chairman and leader of the
Fair Russia party)," Novikov said.
The KPRF says a broad discussion will precede the
approval of the planned amendments.
Church Shooting in Chukotka, No Injuries
FSU Monitor, April 8, 2008
A drunken man fired shots at parishioners inside a Protestant church
in the remote city of Chukotka, Russia, according to an April 4, 2008
report by the Slavic Justice Center, an NGO that works on religious
freedom issues. The shooter, a court bailiff, was too drunk to aim
properly and did not hit any of his intended victims after entering
the church on March 21 and shouting, "Now I'm going to waste you all!"
His motives are unknown, and he faces criminal charges. The report
added that on April 15, 2007 a group of youths shot at parishioners
inside another Chukotka Protestant church while screaming that the
worshippers were "sectarians" and threatening the pastor's son. The
bullets struck one parishioner in the leg. Police did not solve the
shooting and the culprits remain at large.
Another Racist Attack in Moscow
FSU Monitor, April 9, 2008
Neo-Nazis attacked a Tajik man in a Moscow suburban train station,
according to an April 9, 2008 report by the Sova
Information-Analytical Center. The attack took place on March 30 at
the Perlovskaya train platform. A group of neo-Nazis screaming "Russia
for Russians!" beat their victim in the stomach and head. Fortunately,
he was able to escape onto a train and police were spotted chasing his
assailants. However, no information about arrests or the medical
status of the victim is mentioned in the report.
Two Arrested in Connection With Attack on Tajik Construction Worker
FSU Monitor, April 9, 2008
Police arrested two youths in connection with an attack on a Tajik
construction worker in the village of Orzhitsy, Russia (Leningrad
region), according to an April 9, 2008 report by the Sova
Information-Analytical Center. The youths beat Anemshan Khudoykulov
unconscious on March 27, all the while recording the attack on a cell
phone video camera, a common neo-Nazi propaganda tactic. They also
used dogs to attack their victim, and revived him from unconsciousness
in order to beat him again. The victim was taken to a hospital with
head injuries. The suspects reportedly claim to have attacked their
victim in search of monetary gain. It is not clear yet what charges
Russia may tighten registration requirements of religious organizations
Interfax April 10, 2008
Moscow, April 10, Interfax - The lack of state registration of
religious educational programs or their updated versions may soon
cause the liquidation of related religious organizations in Russia.
A draft, concerning the amendments to Russian legal acts about the
suppression of extremism, was presented to the State Duma Security
Committee on Thursday in the course of debates on the legislative
support to the prevention of racial crimes.
The State Duma has not officially received the draft prepared by the
Prosecutor General's Office, but the committee is working on it.
It is planned to amend a number of clauses in the Law on the Freedom
of Worship and Religious Organizations. Rules of their registration
and educational activities will be tightened.
A religious organization will have to supplement the registration
request with the content of its educational program. The program must
be certified by the state.
Russian watchdog seeks to abolish some 30 NGOs but not British Council
Interfax, April 10, 2008
Moscow, 10 April: The Federal Registration Service (FRS) has posted a
list of non-commercial organizations against which it intends to seek
a court injunction to have them abolished.
The list does not feature the British Council.
"The monitoring role of the FRS does not extend to the operation of
the British Council because the council is not registered with the
FRS, and the issues of its creation and operation are not covered by
the Federal Law 'On non-commercial organizations'," an official
spokesman for the FRS told Interfax on Thursday (10 April).
The organizations whose abolition is sought include the Muslim
religious organization known as the Moscow Higher Spiritual Islamic
College, the trade union of cash collectors of the Russian Federation,
the Biblical college of evangelist Christians known as the Centre for
Teaching the Biblical Truth and Biblical Ministry, the Modern Judaism
Institute religious organization, the Alpha and Omega Biblical
Missionary Academy of Full Gospel Christians religious organization,
the Theological Academy of Presbyterian Christians religious
organization, the Corresponding Theological Institute of Evangelical
Faith Christian religious organizations, the Russian National Assembly
all-Russian public organization, the Association Against Racism,
Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism (a branch of the International League
Against Racism and Anti-Semitism) and others.
The list includes a total of about 30 organizations.
(In an earlier report, at 1355 gmt, Interfax said the FRS would seek
the abolition of those non-commercial organizations which fail to
submit reports on their activities in 2006 and 2007 by 15 April.)
Hate Speech Charges Brought Against Cherepovets Orthodox Library for
Screening Antisemitic Film
FSU Monitor, April 10, 2008
Prosecutors in Cherepovets, Russia (Vologda region) opened an
investigation into the screening of an antisemitic film at a Russian
Orthodox Church affiliated library, according to an April 9, 2008
report by the Interfax news agency. The library screened the film
"Russia With a Knife in its Back: Jewish Fascism and the Genocide of
the Russian People" throughout 2007, despite the fact that the Federal
Registration Service lists it as banned extremist material. Local
prosecutors assert that the film "contains statements aimed at
inciting hatred and enmity, and humiliates the dignity of Jews based
on their ethnicity, origin, and attitude towards religion."
Moscow's Chief Prosecutor Again Denies Racist Violence Growing Problem
FSU Monitor, April 10, 2008
In the wake of government and NGO reports documenting an explosion in
the number of hate crimes in Moscow and other Russian cities, Moscow's
chief prosecutor Yuri Semin has again aggressively minimized the
problem of racist violence in the city, according to April 8, 2008
articles in Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Komsomolskaya Pravda quoting from a
press conference the previous day. Mr. Semin stated that his office is
investigating over 30 cases of "attacks on people based on xenophobia"
(the term "hate crime" does not exist in Russian law), but he was
quick to add that he sees no evidence of an increase in such attacks.
Mr. Semin started on firm ground by criticizing an estimate put out by
one NGO (the Moscow Bureau on Human Rights) that there are 70,000
skinheads in Russia. "Who counted them, how did they do it?" he asked.
"It's all just made up." UCSJ and most other groups that monitor
xenophobia in Russia do not use this statistic, since there is no
reliable way to measure the number of neo-Nazis in Russia, but it is
nevertheless widely cited in the Russian media.
He then, however, made a series of tendentious statements. "I have not
seen such an explosion [in hate crimes], which would surprise me," he
continued. "If a Krygyz is killed, then it has to be because of his
ethnicity. A Kyrgyz for some reason can't be killed here for some
other motive!" Mr. Semin concluded caustically. In a March 19, 2008
interview with the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Mr. Semin took
a similar line: "I am sure that there is no growing wave of
extremism," he said. "Yes, there have been crimes motivated by
religious and ethnic hatred... But statistics show that year by year
the number of such crimes is falling."
In a February 18, 2008 interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, Moscow's
police chief Vladimir Pronin denied that there was any "organized
group of skinheads in Moscow, there are just separate groups." This
statement echoed his language from six years ago, when the problem of
racist violence was not nearly as acute. In a March 2002 interview,
Mr. Pronin said about neo-Nazi groups in Moscow, "I do not know of
such a party, nor do I want to recognize it," and claimed that
reported neo-Nazi attacks were mostly just committed by soccer hooligans.
Neither Mr. Semin or Mr. Pronin has publicly responded to Russian MVD
figures that show a three-fold increase in the number of "extremist
related crimes" from 2004-2007.
MOSCOW CHIEF PROSECUTOR DENIES `OUTBREAK OF RACIST ATTACKS'
Bigotry Monitor, Volume 8, Number 15, April 11, 2008
At an April 7 briefing for the press, Moscow's chief prosecutor Yuri
Semin again denied that there is an outbreak of race-driven attacks in
the city. But he revealed that more than 30 such attacks are being
investigated. His tone was not just insensitive but truculent,
dismissing an unidentified segment of the population as "they"clearly
those concerned with human rights--and asserting that he knew better.
"They clamor about a racial crime whenever a Kyrgyz is killed as if he
cannot be killed for other reasons," Interfax quoted him as saying.
Semin rejected estimates of skinhead strength in Russia. "They are
saying we have 70,000 skinheads," he said. "Who counted them? These
are just conjectures." Then he dismissed the evidence of shaven heads
and uniforms, as well as the suspects' self-identification. He
declared: "The belonging of our suspects to skinhead groups is
questionable." Semin warned the media and society not to jump to
conclusions. "There is no outbreak that could stun me," he said.
"There have been cases of heavy bodily injuries before, and their
settings were different. It is most important to punish the culprits."
RUSSIA'S MEMORIAL CALLS ON MOSCOW TO END MISTREATMENT OF ROMA
Bigotry Monitor, Volume 8, Number 15, April 11, 2008
Honoring International Roma Day, Moscow's Memorial Anti-Discrimination
Center has urged the government to live up to its national and
international commitments and end the mistreatment of Roma. Memorial
called it tragic that Roma children in Russia "live in poor
settlements and in unsanitary conditions, suffer from hunger and cold,
sometimes do not attend school at all or attend schools where
conditions for Roma are frequently and notoriously worse than for
other children." Citing the Russian Constitution and a recent ruling
by the Strasbourg-based European Human Rights Court, Memorial
emphasized that the right to education is guaranteed, and it must mean
equal possibilities. In a case involving Czech schools, the Strasbourg
court found it illegal to divide students on ethnic grounds.
Consequently, Memorial said, Russia is also bound to end the practice
of placing Roma children in "so-called Roma classes."
HATE CRIME NUMBERS "TIP OF THE ICEBERG,' SAYS UCSJ OFFICIAL
Bigotry Monitor, Volume 8, Number 15, April 11, 2008
In response to "Nezavisimaya Gazeta," Nickolai Butkevich, UCSJ's
research advocacy director, pointed out that the article fails to
address the salient fact that most victims of hate crimes are socially
marginal people (refugees, illegal immigrants, Roma, people from the
Caucasus) who have clear incentives to avoid any contact with the
police, even to report falling victim to a crime. "Therefore, it's
reasonable to assume that hate crimes statistics don't capture more
than the tip of the iceberg," Butkevich reasoned. "It's true that NGO
estimates are at best guesses. But what other options do we have in a
country where the government refuses to implement a comprehensive and
transparent system for monitoring hate crimes, where the police chief
and prosecutor of the nation's capital make reality-defying statements
denying that racist violence is a problem, and where the first
reaction of most federal and regional law enforcement officials to an
attack on a minority is to call it "hooliganism"?
Neo-Nazis Murder Ingush in Moscow
FSU Monitor, April 11, 2008
A gang of neo-Nazis stabbed a native of Ingushetiya to death in
Moscow, according to an April 11, 2008 report by the Sova
Information-Analytical Center. The attack took place on April 7 near
the Vykhino metro station. One of the attackers stabbed Bashir Oziev,
age 24, in the back, killing him. His friend, Bashir Nalgiev,
reportedly grabbed a knife and injured two of his assailants,
prompting them to flee. Police are investigating the murder.
Number of crimes through national hatred growing in Moscow
PanARMENIAN.Net, April 11, 2008
The number of crimes committed through national hatred is increasing
in Moscow, a
Russian expert said.
"The authorities are interested in creating a favorable image for the
city and conceal the true figures. But actually, Moscow is the center
of various propagandistic organizations and the number of assaults of
neo-Nazis is greater here than in any other region of Russia," said
Semyon Charny, expert at the Moscow Bureau of Human Rights.
"To prevent the crimes, special tolerance programs should be
lunched," he said.
"Before, skinheads acted spontaneously. Now, gangs launch a "hunt".
It's hard to understand how the cases are investigated and who was
arrested and convicted," Charny said, Caucasian knot reports.
RIGHTS ACTIVISTS WARN OF VIOLENCE MARKING HITLER'S BIRTHDAY
RFE/RL Newsline, April 14, 2008 Volume 12 Number 70
Russian human rights activists are calling on police to be vigilant in
connection with actions that radical nationalists plan to take on
April 20 -- the birthday of Adolf Hitler, newsru.com reported on April
14, citing Interfax. The website reported that immigrants are already
highly anxious in anticipation of possible attacks and ready to
"administer justice." Newsru.com noted that for 20 years -- since the
1980s -- radical nationalists have attempted to mark Hitler's birthday
with public actions and that a large number of attacks by skinheads on
people from the Caucasus and Central Asia and other foreign citizens,
as well as the desecration of Jewish establishments, usually take
place on that day. Aleksandr Brod, the director of the Moscow Bureau
for Human Rights, said that one radical nationalist organization has
already announced plans to carry out mass actions on April 20. "Since
2002, in Moscow institutes of higher learning where foreign students
study, they have been permitted to miss lectures and also advised not
to leave their dormitories," Brod said. "Institutes of higher learning
in St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod have adopted this practice."
According to newsru.com, various diaspora groups have vowed to
dispense their own justice in response to the inaction of the Russian
authorities in preventing racial violence. It quoted Brod as saying
that radical immigrant websites are full of calls to mark April 20
with violence. JB
PROSECUTORS TARGET 'EXTREMISM' ON INTERNET
RFE/RL Newsline, April 14, 2008 Volume 12 Number 70
"Kommersant" reported on April 11 that the Prosecutor-General's Office
has sent the State Duma draft amendments which, in the name of
fighting racist and nationalistic crimes, are aimed at toughening
standards for media accountability, legitimize "norms of
responsibility" for Internet site, and also increase state control
over religious groups' educations programs. According to the daily,
the greatest number of the new preventive measures is aimed at the
Internet, including an amendment to the law "on counteracting
extremist activity" stipulating that if any material posted by any
website is deemed by a court to be extremist, then access to that
material must be blocked. The proposed legislation also states that if
an Internet site repeatedly publishes material deemed extremist, then
it must be shut down. In addition, a list of extremist Internet
material and websites will be regularly published in the media and
Internet providers will have one month to stop hosting sites on that
list. "Kommersant" noted that Federation Council Deputy Speaker
Aleksandr Torshin has claimed that the role of the Internet "as a
means of terror propaganda" has grown so much that it "not without
good reason is called the academy of terrorism," and that terrorists
freely "disseminate information" on the Internet and "practically
propagandize their ideas openly, recruiting new followers; they buy up
weapons and munitions, [and] communicate with one another." JB
Rights Activists Concerned About Hate Crime Rise in Russia
Interfax, 15 April 2008
About 60 people have died and
more than 100 have been injured this year in
Russia as a result ofattacks related to
xenophobia and ethnic hatred, human rights activists have said.
"On the whole, during January-April 2008 at least
93 xenophobia-related attacks were registered, as
a result of which 57 people died and at least 116
were injured," head of the Moscow Bureau for
Human Rights Aleksandr Brod toldInterfax on
Tuesday [15 April], referring to results of a monitoring.
He said that during only the first two weeks of
April, eight xenophobia-related attacks and
clashes happened inRussia, as a result of which
one person died and 33 were injured. Brod said
that Moscow, St Petersburg, Tver andSverdlovsk
Regions were the worst for xenophobia this year.
"Citizens of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan
and Azerbaijan most often become victims of attacks," Brod said.
Brod also said that human rights activists are
concerned about the authorities' willingness to
understate thescale of xenophobia in Russia.
"We are concerned about statements made by a
group of high-ranking officials who are trying
not only tounderstate the scale of
xenophobia-related crime, but also blame
representatives of expatriate communities or
humanrights activists of trying to deliberately
make the situation look worse than it really is," he said.
Referring to expert information, the Moscow
Bureau for Human Rights said that there are up to
70,000 skinheads anddozens of radical organizations in Russia.
Human rights activists suggest speeding up the
development of a concept of the national policy
and accepting aconcept of the state migration
policy to deal with xenophobia. "It is high time
we created a competent executivebody which would
develop and realize a state ethnic and national policy," Brod said.
Meanwhile, representatives of nationalist
organizations do not share human rights activists' concerns.
"Xenophobia is a subject human rights activists
can speculate on," one of the leaders of the
MovementAgainst Illegal Immigration (DPNI),
Aleksandr Belov, told Interfax earlier.
"Xenophobia is, in fact, not a specifically
Russian problem. For example, in Great Britain
there are ten timesmore xenophobia-related crimes
than in Russia. What 70,000 skinheads human
rights activists are talking about? It is
afabrication and misinformation. [They] are
creating a threat where there is no such thing," Belov said.
At the same time he agreed that the Russian youth
is becoming more radical, and gave several reasons for it.
"First of all, political freedoms for nationalist
organizations are being reduced. Secondly, what
can youngpeople do? Unfortunately, the number of
free sports clubs is reducing. So, will they join
One Russia or Nashi[pro-Kremlin youth movement]?
They won't," Belov said. [Passages omitted: Details of Belov's
Hitler Birthday Violence
The Moscow Times, 15 April 2008
Human rights activists have warned police against possible street
violence by ultranationalists ahead of Adolf Hitler's birthday on
Sunday, Interfax reported Monday. Ultranationalists in recent years
have carried out numerous attacks on the natives of the Caucasus and
Central Asia on the occasion of Hitler's birthday on April 20.
Alexander Brod, head of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, has asked
the Interior Ministry to beef up security to prevent such attacks,
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
Anti-Fascists Chased by Police
By Sergey Chernov
St. Petersburg Times, Issue #1360 (24), Friday, March 28, 2008
A large group of anti-Nazi youth activists walked down Nevsky
Prospekt, St. Petersburg's main street, in an unsanctioned march
protesting neo-Nazi violence in memory of a murdered activist this
week. Twenty six were detained by the police soon afterwards.
More than 150 young men and women belonging to unaffiliated the Antifa
(militant "anti-fascism") movement, most with faces covered with
scarves and carrying flares and banners, marched 1.5 kilometers from
Alexander Nevsky Ploshchad to Ploshchad Vosstaniya during a heavy
snowstorm at around 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
The protesters carried two large red banners reading "Make Nazism
History" and "Trash Nationalism" and chanted slogans, such as
"Antifa," "Go into the Street and Take the City Back," "The World is
Multi-Colored, Not Brown" and "No to Nazis of Any Kind from the
Street to the Authorities."
The march was held to mark nine days since the death of Alexei Krylov,
a 21-year-old anti-Nazi activist who was stabbed to death by an
estimated 15 neo-Nazis on March 16 as he was heading to a punk concert
near the club Art Garbage in Moscow.
It was reported that the attack was planned using a website for fans
of the Moscow Premier League soccer team Spartak. Three days later an
anti-Nazi march that reportedly drew 300 activists was held in the
center of Moscow.
Anti-Nazi activist and punk musician Timur Kacharava, 20, was killed
in a similar attack in St. Petersburg in November 2005.
In St. Petersburg, the marchers distributed leaflets about Krylov's
murder and asking for financial help for his mother and two younger
sisters. Another leaflet described the ideology of "Autonomous
Antifascism" and called for street-level resistance against neo-Nazism.
"Antifascists went down to the demonstration to state that they are
not going to tolerate neo-Nazi violence, which has become an acute
problem in Russia. Reports about attacks on foreign students and
killings of migrants have ceased to shock anyone. They have become
routine," said the Antifa group in a statement on website
"Attacks are also committed on representatives of countercultural
youths who try to resist neo-Nazis. Over the past 2 1/2 years, five
anti-fascists from different cities were killed for their convictions,
St. Petersburg musician Timur Kacharava among them.
"The whole history of the anti-fascist movement shows that it can only
be a success if it uses all available tactics of resistance (not
excluding direct physical counteraction)."
The police, which has disrupted most demonstrations with no official
permission issued by the authorities in recent years even though the
Russian Constitution guarantees freedom of assembly were not aware
of the march, which had been organized in secret, and only reacted
when the march was almost finished, as protesters reached Ploshchad
Apparently taken by surprise, several policemen tried to stop the
marchers from crossing Ligovsky Prospekt, and when they failed,
blocked the entrance to Ploshchad Vosstaniya metro, so the group went
down Ulitsa Vosstaniya and then turned in the direction of Ulitsa
Arrests started near the Novotel hotel where a policeman attacked a
straggler, pushing him to the ground. The protesters' leader, who gave
commands through a megaphone during the march, was detained soon
after, along with other activists who tried to run away through
courtyards but found themselves trapped.
After reaching Ulitsa Zhukovskogo, the main group ran away in an
organized fashion. The police failed to catch them.
"Twenty six citizens were detained, but five of them turned out to be
minors and were immediately released and turned over to their
parents," said Vyacheslav Stepchenko, the spokesman for the Interior
Ministry in St. Petersburg, by phone on Thursday. According to
Antifa's statement, the minors were only released after 11 p.m.
According to Stepchenko, the activists were detained according to two
clauses of the Administrative Code, Article 19.3 Part I ("Failure to
Follow a Policeman's Lawful Orders") and Article 20.2 ("Violation of
the Regulations of Conducting Meetings, Marches, Demonstrations and
The rest of the detained activists were released on Wednesday
afternoon, when the court ruled to send their cases to their local
courts. Failure to follow a policeman's lawful orders is the gravest
offence of the two and can lead to up to 15 days in custody.
"We didn't inform the authorities about the march because they
wouldn't have permitted it anyway," said a participant, who asked that
his name be withheld, by phone on Thursday.
"We also didn't need to advertize it because we can gather that many
people without any publicity."
This year has seen a rise in racially-motivated violence in Russia,
with St. Petersburg following Moscow in the rate of incidents reported.
An Uzbek man and a woman either from Yakutia or Buryatiya, were
reported to have been stabbed to death in St. Petersburg this week, in
addition to three other racially-motivated killings and a number of
beatings this month.
A RUSSIAN RENAISSANCE?
By Michael Akerib
JRL #65, Item #24, March 29, 2008
The strong nationalistic inclination of the Putin government has led
it to envisage a variety of means to establish itself as a challenger
of the US' dominant position.
Russia's military is in total disarray and lacks the power to be
credible, in spite of repeated announcements of rebuilding its firing
power, whether through the development of new missiles and submarines,
installation of new radar facilities, flights close to US
installations or the building of new vessels. It remains,
nevertheless, the only credible nuclear threat to the US. The
government is to invest $ 200 billion to re-equip the army but whether
that will be sufficient to help the institution regain credibility is
Russia's military-supply industry involves 70% of Russian
manufacturers but they lack the innovative drive seen in other
countries and a large number of them are technically bankrupt.
Senior officers are corrupt and increasingly Russia is relying on
mercenaries who are trained mostly to fight domestic independence
Clearly, therefore, other means must be found for the country to be
able to weigh on world policy. Becoming an indispensable supplier of
raw materials and thus weigh on political decisions is an approach
that has its merits.
This approach was used by the Communist regime eventually
unsuccessfully so to compete with the US. The present rise of the
BRICs, accompanied by a sustained demography, gives an increased power
to the holders of natural resources and such a strategy may well be
used by the new team that will lead Russia in the coming years.
Russia is sitting on a collection of natural resource holdings that
make it, among other things, one of the major energy suppliers of the
world. As emerging economies and China in particular, develop, raw
material requirements increase and boost prices. Russia's geographic
situation puts it in a unique position to cater to a large variety of
markets, including China.
Russia is today the world's second largest oil producer, immediately
behind Saudi Arabia. While the deposits exploited today lie in
Siberia, the Arctic offers a huge potential, particularly as climatic
warming will open access to these wells.
Russia is also the world's largest producer and exporter of gas.
While today most of the production is destined to the European market,
future infrastructure development should enable the country to target
the Asian and North American markets.
Russia is also a major exporter of uranium originating mostly from
the Megatons to Megawatts agreement i.e. the dismantling of missile
heads and the dilution of plutonium to uranium.
Russia has recently agreed to purchase large amounts of uranium,
possibly up to 4000 tons per annum - from Australia and has also
indicated that it will create a stockpile of enriched uranium worth $
300 million. The stockpile would be managed jointly with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Russia's ability to weigh heavily on uranium prices has been already
felt in 1991 when cheap exports led to a collapse of world prices and
eventually to anti-dumping duties in the US.
Europe today can hardly ignore Russia as it supplies 40% of its gas
and oil requirements, 45% of oil derivatives and 50% of its uranium
needs. Germany and the former Soviet bloc countries are even more
reliant on Russia for their energy requirements. Alternative supplies
such as Central Asia or Iran are not exempt of risks, and would
encourage Europe to integrate Turkey as a member as the pipelines
would inevitably have to pass through that country.
Russia's cost advantage with regard to energy has enabled mining and
metal companies to be extremely profitable compared to their foreign
competitors. This also means that Russian corporations have a price
leverage that could allow them to reduce international competition
and, in a second phase, increase prices and squeeze out some of the
transformers that could become easy preys for an international
expansion and Russian mining companies are already starting acquiring
mining rights, mining corporations and transformers abroad.
Access to cheap energy has enabled Russia to become one of the
world's top aluminum producers.
Today Rusal, after having merged with its domestic competitor Sual,
is the world's largest primary aluminum and alumina producer,
producing 15% of the world's total aluminum. It has extended its
international coverage by purchasing bauxite deposits and smelters in
Guinea and 16 other countries.
The company is increasing its capacity by building new smelters and
revamping older ones. In particular it is carrying out a feasibility
study to build a complex, in the Saratov area, to produce 1 million
tons of aluminum.
Norilsk Nickel is today the world's most important nickel producer.
Its production represents 20% of global production of this metal used
in stainless steel production. It is expanding abroad and has made the
largest-ever purchase abroad by a Russian corporation.
A tie with Rusal, through a cross shareholding, would create a large
corporation that could use this base for international expansion.
A metal of the family of the platinum group, its main industrial use
is in catalytic converters used by the car industry. It is usually
associated with nickel-bearing ores, and thus is also mined, in
Russia, by Norilsk Nickel. This production represents 50% of the
South Africa is the world's largest producer, but increase in world
consumption is expected to grow by 3% per annum thus creating a
production shortfall which would make Russia an important actor in
While the Arcelor Mittal merger has created an undisputed leader in
the industry, the Russian steel producers remain fairly large
corporations that can produce at highly competitive prices due to
access to raw materials - coal and iron as well as cheap energy and labor.
Increasingly the Russian steel producers are integrating downstream
by purchasing operations in the US or Western Europe.
Should Russia finally join the WTO, duties on Russian steel would be
abolished, giving producers a more important entry into foreign markets.
VSMPO-Avisma, 66% owned by the arms conglomerate Rosoboronexport, is
the world's largest producer of titanium. Titanium is vital for the
aviation industry and both Airbus and Boeing have commissioned the
company for the manufacture of titanium parts.
Will Russia chose a confrontational policy?
Russia has equipped itself with a tool that would allow it to conduct
such a policy ZAO Kremlin, a holding company created by the
government to manage its industrial development policy.
There are a lot of drawbacks, should it choose to do so.
Countries relying on natural resources, and particularly the
petro-states, have shown not to be open to modern forms of democracy.
Power and wealth, due to substantial margins of the companies
whether public or private involved in the extraction process, are
concentrated in a limited number of hands.
The heavy involvement in industrial development of state-owned
corporations in monopolistic or quasi-monopolistic market structures
translates into lower efficiencies due to little, if any, pressure to
perform. This is aggravated by the lack of transparency in state-owned
corporations which reduces its credit ratings and therefore its
ability to raise capital.
These countries are prone to corruption and have a currency strong
enough to make exports of industrial products uncompetitive the
so-called `Dutch disease'. The economy also depends greatly on
fluctuating prices of commodities.
The reliance on energy prices is dangerous particularly if the US
economy goes into a sharp recession and prices of oil drop
significantly. A massive drop could have political repercussions.
Already today, Russia's image abroad is increasingly negative making
many of its potential allies nervous and not too eager to increase the
level of their relationships and their purchase of Russian products. A
more confrontational attitude might lead to an even worse image and
make it difficult for Russian corporations to attract capital either
in the form of Foreign Direct Investments or IPOs. The same would
apply to the huge capital investments required to build, or re-build,
the country's infrastructure.
An alternative route to a stronger Russia There is an alternative
route for Russia to rise again to world power status: develop a modern
industry not dependent on raw materials and modernization that would
complement its position in natural resources.
Initial steps to move the country away from its dependence on
commodities have been taken both in defense technologies and in more
advanced areas such as nanotechnology. However, the state should
gradually disengage itself from industry and allow private
entrepreneurs to spearhead change. This should include foreign
entrepreneurs whose investments should be attracted in under-developed
areas thus avoiding large disparities between the richer and poorer
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