Bulletin 3:6 (2009)
- THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
Vol. 3, No. 6(48), 3 April 2009
Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland
I NEWS: 16 - 31 March 2009
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
III PRIMARY SOURCES
IV 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: 16 - 31 March 2009
Antisemitic Attack in Moscow
UCSJ, March 16th, 2009
A woman who is related to Israel's first president was injured in an
attack that was at least partially motivated by antisemitism,
according to a March 16, 2009 report by the Jewish.ru news web site.
Tatyana Bogotyreva, a distant relative of Chaim Weizmann, was asleep
in her bedroom on March 11 when one of her tenants allegedly burst
inside, demanding that she fix the TV and proclaiming that he would
force "you damn kike" to work on it. The drunken man then allegedly
beat her with a stick, causing her to scream for help. A neighbor
called the police, who detained the man, but released him the next
day. Police are reportedly deciding what charges, if any, to bring
against him. Ms. Bogotyreva sought medical care after the attack to
treat several cuts and bruises.
Kaluga Court Sentences Nine for Hate Crime Murder
UCSJ, March 18, 2009
A court in Kaluga, Russia sentenced nine local residents to prison for
the hate crimes murder of a citizen of Uzbekistan, according to a
March 13, 2009 report by the Regnum news agency. The defendants
reportedly beat their victim to death in September 2008, motivated by
ethnic hatred. They first robbed him, then fearing that he would
report them to the police, dragged him to the woods, where they killed
him with a screwdriver and buried the body in a shallow grave. The
court sentenced four of the defendants to between 14-17 years in
prison; the other five got suspended sentences. The defendants plan
to appeal the verdict.
Israeli Citizen Falls Victim to Possible Hate Crime in Moscow
UCSJ, March 18, 2009
A citizen of Israel may have fallen victim to a hate crime in Moscow,
according to a March 16, 2009 report by the newsru.com web site. Last
Sunday night, residents of Moscow's Tsaritsino district called the
police to the scene, where they discovered the 50-year-old victim
lying unconscious on the street with a fractured skull. Witnesses
reported that two men had assaulted him, but had not bothered to rob
him, increasing the possibility that his assailants were motivated by
ethnic hatred. Police are investigating the incident as an aggravatedassault, with no indications yet that they will press hate crimes charges.
Neo-Nazis Suspected of Murder in Kemerovo
UCSJ, March 18, 2009
Members of the Tajik community in Kemerovo, Russia believe that
neo-Nazis are behind the murder of a Tajik man there, according to a
March 17, 2009 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center.
Forty-year-old Khatun Kadamov was stabbed to death at the end of
February 2009 and his body was sent back to his relatives in Dushanbe,
Tajikistan. There is no information in the report about the police's
reaction to the crime.
Racist Attack in Yaroslavl
UCSJ, March 18, 2009
RPolice detained two suspects in connection with an attack on an Azeri
taxi driver in Yaroslavl, Russia, according to a March 17, 2009 report
by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. The assailants allegedly
stabbed the taxi driver in the throat on March 8 and dragged him out
of his vehicle during a car jacking. The victim survived the attack
and called the police. One of the suspects reportedly was found in
possession of a headband reading "I hate churki" (a pejorative term
for non-Russians). Both reportedly work for a charitable organization
Russia To Set Up Commission To Clarify Its WWII Combat Losses
Interfax, March 19, 2009
MOSCOW. March 19 (Interfax-AVN) - An inter-departmental commission will be set up in the nearest future in a bid to establish the exact number of the Red Army losses in World War II, Maj. Gen. Alexander Kirilin, head of the Russian Army's War Memorial Center, told journalists on Thursday.
"The commission will include officials from the Defense Ministry, the Russian Statistics Committee (Rosstat) and other governmental agencies. The methods that the commission will use to calculate the losses have been approved at a Defense Ministry session, which was attended by the General Staff officials," Kirilin said.
"There will be no major difference between the Soviet WWII combat losses established by a General Staff commission under (USSR President Mikhail) Gorbachyov and the updated figure," he said. "According to the latest research, it totals about 8.8 - 8.9 million," the general said.
Wehrmacht's combat losses were 5.2 million during the World War II, he added.
The defense official pointed to the comparability of the Wehrmacht's combat losses and those of the Red Army during the World War II. Any attempts to attribute the USSR's victory over Germany to a greater number of losses will be baseless, he said.
The War Memorial Center suggested that Rosstat clarify the USSR's demographic losses during the WWII, which are currently estimated at 26 million people.
Vyatka Diocese officials criticize their priest for his slash of a gay parade
Interfax-Religion, March 20, 2009
Moscow, March 20, Interfax - Head of Vyatka Diocese's missionary and education department Priest Evgeny Smirnov has drawn criticism for his slashing of the organizers of a gay parade in the regional town.
"It stands to reason that all rights and freedoms demanded by homosexuals are out-of-the-way and cannot be established in law. We, Christians, cannot call anything other than madness this overt propaganda of ideas and causes which all traditional religions condemn as sin and vice," Fr. Yevgeny claims in an address to the Governor of Kirov Region Nikita Belykh quoted Friday by Kommersant daily.
This was his reaction to the intentions of LGRT Rights, an interregional movement to protect the rights of homosexuals, recently voiced by its activists to hold this event in support of individuals with untraditional sexual orientation.
However, according to Kommersant, Fr. Yevgeny's standpoint has gained no understanding from his brothers-in-faith.
"The priest's appeal has been withdrawn. His appeal had no approval neither from the diocese officials, nor from Bishop Khrisanf," Fr. Alexander Balyberdin, secretary of the Vyatka Diocese, told the newspaper.
The Diocese's officials even recommended Fr. Yevgeny to apologize for a "harsh tone" of his statements, Kommersant reports.
Russian human rights activists alarmed with State Duma MP attacks on NGOs
Interfax, March 20, 2009
MOSCOW. March 20 (Interfax) - United Russia MPs have been accusing ever more frequently nongovernmental organizations operating in Russia, said the leader of the oldest Russian human rights organization, Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva.
"They seem to be seeking both a foreign and an internal enemy, other than to attend to real problems," Alexeyeva told Interfax on Friday.
At the State Duma session on Friday, United Russia MP Sergei Zheleznyak said that recently "independent nongovernmental organizations have intensified their work seeking to use social protests under conditions of the world financial crisis in order to destabilize the domestic political situation."
On Wednesday, United Russia MPs also attacked NGOs supported with foreign funds and linked them to protest actions in the Far East. "This old idea is obvious: they seek to convince our citizens that foreign enemies are to blame for all problems, the 'world backstage' and the fifth column inside Russia. In their view, the fifth column does not include, for example fascists and skinheads, but it does include democrats, opposition and NGO activists," she said.
MP Zheleznyak told the State Duma that one of the NGOs supported by foreign funding is the Collective Action Institute headed by Karin Kleman, a foreign citizen.
SOVA: THIS FEBRUARY RACIST VIOLENCE DROPPED, COMPARED TO 2008
Bigotry Monitor, Volume 9, Number 12, March 20, 2009
In February 2009, at least 26 people, including two fatalities, became victims of racist and neo-Nazi attacks in Russia, the Sova Center for Information and Analysis reported. In February 2008, Sova registered at least 71 victims, including 18 fatalities. "The decrease is partly due to the active work of the law enforcement bodies," the report said, citing the detention of skinhead groups in the winter months. "However," the report cautioned, "the fact that there have been no incidents reported since February 12 is suspicious." Sova tracked at least 525 victims of xenophobic violence last year but with only 114 people convicted of hate crimes.
In an interview with the independent "Novaya Gazeta Online" posted on March 17, Sova's deputy director Galina Kozhevnikova said that neo-Nazis released from prison "return to the movement and go underground." For example, members of the OB-88 group, convicted in the late 1990s, are now free, she said and added: "This process goes unnoticed by many because most of the Nazis who were convicted back then were jailed on hooliganism charges, since investigators at that time were either unable or unwilling to recognize hate as a motive."
Kozhevnikova pointed out that apart from sensational trials such as those of the Ryno gang and the Cherkizovo bombers, "experts and the media fail to notice the majority of sentences, which undermines their deterrent effect. The bulk of such crimes are committed by adolescents who have a lower threshold for realizing danger. An adolescent does not understand that he might be punished for his crimes. At the same time, the number of attacks in Moscow declined after those high-profile sentencings. The people who were willing to imitate them went quiet for a while." She cited the case of a Peruvian man killed in Voronezh in October 2005. "Local human rights activists bent over backwards trying to get the Prosecutor's Office to recognize the racist motive," she recalled. "The trial ended with a solid guilty verdict. The Prosecutor's Office itself then started working in this area and informing the city about it. When it came to recognizing the racist motive in the murder of a Guinean student in 2006, there were no longer any problems. And in 2007, Voronezh saw a drop in [racist] violence[and] this was the only region where we can speak of a real drop, rather than a mere cover-up of the facts."
Asked if society has grown accustomed to racist attacks, Kozhevnikova answered in the affirmative. "For the media, this is no longer a newsworthy story," she explained. "And ordinary people have become afraid to report it. In the past, especially in 2007, a lot of information came from blogs. We would find the people who had described certain incidents in their blogs in order to corroborate this information (otherwise we cannot include such incidents in our statistics). Now people are afraid to talk. They are afraid that they will have to deal with the police. They are afraid that the Nazis will find them out. Or they simply believe that nothing is going to change. Moreover, the form of the attacks themselves has changed: now they are nearly always accompanied by theft. This is a convenient way to mask things: it is difficult to pick out the racist motive."
Asked to explain the Sova report's reference to the ultra-right underground as "an alternative and, to a significant extent, an autonomous milieu, with its own infrastructure (companies, financial and intellectual resources, the possibility of legal support for those suspected of crimes)," Kozhevnikova pointed out that "the nationalists' own lawyers include, for example, Dmitriy Bakharev and Sergey Belikov. Sergey Shtin, a member of the executive board of the Union of the Russian People, is the head of a Moscow law firm. It is a known fact that Aleksandr Potkin (Belov) (leader of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration or DPNI) has his own business. Vladlen Kralin (Vladimir Tor), leader of the Russian Order group and one of DPNI's activists, was vice president of NIKoil Bank in 2007 and deputy general director of MosPromStroy Management Company LLC in 2008 Not to mention the fact that there are quite a few wealthy people who are not members of any organization but who are fully prepared to give money to the ultra-right."
On racist conflicts in the army, Kozhevnikova said that Sova has "virtually no detailed information." But, she added, "if the commanders themselves cannot stand it and are making the situation public, then it must be a real nightmare there. For example, there were two suicides in Novosibirsk Oblast and Krasnoyarsk Kray in 2008 in connection with racist abuse. The seriousness of the situation can also be seen in attempts to form single-ethnicity military units in order to `prevent hazing between ethnic communities in the barracks.'"
One "obvious problem" Kozhevnikova cited is the so-called "Chechen syndrome." "After spending time in Chechnya, OMON [Special-Purpose Police Unit] officers have totally inappropriate reactions to people from the Caucasus. We record 3-4 cases a year where employees of private security firms who went through the war in Chechnya attack people of non-Slavic appearance. Soldiers and police officers who went through Chechnya become instructors in Nazi organizations. Veterans of the Chechen war have set up a youth sports club on Sakhalin under the auspices of the neo-Nazi Slavic Union. Generally speaking, most Nazi militants come out of these military-patriotic clubs."
Roundtable on Combating Anti-Semitism: Current Trends and Challenges in the OSCE Region
SOVA Center, March 23, 2009
On 17 March, 2009, a roundtable on combating anti-Semitism: "Current Trends and Challenges in the OSCE Region" took place in Vienna. It was organized by ODIHR OSCE.
There were 3 working sessions.
Working Session I: "Recent Manifestations of anti-Semitism across the OSCE region" was dedicated to two principal questions:
Physical and verbal attacks against persons and violent attacks targeting places of worship, community property, cemeteries and Holocaust memorial sites (introduced by Mr. Norbert Hinterleitner, ODIHR Adviser on Anti-Semitism Issues);
Anti-Semitism in the public discourse (introduced by Mr. Miklos Haraszti, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, and Mr. Ronald Eissens, Magenta Foundation).
Working Session II: "Responses from governmental institutions" was dedicated to the problem of juridical classification of hate crimes (including anti-Semitic ones), to the problem of international co-operation in the field of Holocaust education and research.
Working Session III: "Recommendations" was dedicated to creating recommendations to OSCE, OSCE member states and civil society.
You can read the report of the SOVA Center representative here.
Gorbachev may be hero to West, but Russians don't forgive
DPA, March 24, 2009
Moscow - To many of today's Russians, Communism is a hazy thing, referenced only in their parent's stories and their own vague memories of the scarcity of the post-Soviet 1990s. And with good reason. It doesn't concern them much. Despite the financial downturn, the current generation is living life at full throttle, crowding new Moscow shopping malls and planning vacations in Thailand. Perestroika and glasnost and the changes of the 1980s might as well have occurred on a different world.
Public conscious in the West draws a direct line between the freedoms enjoyed today and the fall of the Soviet Union. It affords a special place in the history books for Mikhail Gorbachev, the man who lit the match to the totalitarian system.
But when Russians are asked about Gorbachev and the reforms he initiated, the response is overwhelmingly negative.
Tatiana Kapranova calls herself a perestroika baby, born in 1985 - the year that Gorbachev became the last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
"I remember going to the store with my mother and standing in line for ages and ages for bread, potatoes - scraps of everything ... When we went to the World of Children's store there were so many beautiful, shiny toys, but there was no way to buy any of them."
She says those are her memories of the Gorbachev era. His reforms don't enter the picture for her. And her feelings are shared by others of her generation.
"We fault him for all that. He has this negative aura ... maybe it's not right - but we hold him guilty," said Elena Dobreva, 26, watching her daughter playing in a sandbox.
Many have argued the implosion of the Soviet Union was inevitable, though it is hard to imagine that turn of history without Gorbachev.
But his countrymen quite simply dislike him. He is seen as the man who uselessly relinquished Soviet superpower to the United States and brought about a decade of economic and political chaos.
The so-called Putin generation consists of people like Kapranova and Dobreva who came of age under current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. While president, Putin famously called the collapse of the USSR the greatest geopolitical disaster ever to befall Russia. Furthermore, he blamed that humiliation on Gorbachev.
Sixty per cent of Russians regret the fall of the Soviet Union while 55 per cent felt it was avoidable, a poll by the independent Levada Centre last year found.
"The feeling handed down from parents and grandparents is undeniably negative and the media and textbooks don't often remember him. They gloss over the whole unpleasant episode," Boris Dubin, head of Levada's socio-political research department.
"The more rosy Putin's era appears, the less people want to look back to that era of want," he added.
But there's a flip side. For every Russian angered by the changes brought on by Gorbachev, there's a foreign correspondent or Russian analyst jealous they could not have been on hand to bear witness to Gorbachev's era of cataclysmic change, when the Cold War stopped and borders were redrawn.
Moscow Court Hands Down Farcical Sentence to Attackers of Famous Jewish Musician
UCSJ, March 24, 2009
Two thugs who attacked an award winning performer of traditional
Jewish music got off with a farcically light sentence, according to a
March 17, 2009 report by the AEN news agency. For some reason, the
Khamovnichesky district civil court, rather than a criminal court,
handled the case, despite the fact that the victim, Mikhail Altshuler,
suffered a broken nose and a concussion as a result of the November
2008 attack. The two defendants, aged 17 and 19, were ordered to
observe a late night curfew for the next two years, but faced no
criminal or financial penalties. Mr. Altshuler expressed his dismay
at the sentence to the AEN news agency, saying that: "I expected at
least a suspended prison sentence, and I find it weird that the
prosecutor behaved the way he did."
Protesters Accuse Police of Framing Youth Convicted of Hate Crime
UCSJ, March 24, 2009
Two protests have been held in Yekaterinburg, Russia (Sverdlovsk
region) in support of a youth who was recently found guilty of killing
an Uzbek man, according to a March 24, 2009 report by the Jewish.ru
web site. As UCSJ previously reported, the Sverdlovsk regional court
sentenced Vladimir Makarov, age 17, to nine years in prison after
finding him guilty of murder motivated by ethnic hatred. Media
coverage of the trial characterized the defendant as a neo-Nazi. He
allegedly stabbed to death a native of
Uzbekistan who worked in Yekaterinburg as a cab driver. Seven other
youths who allegedly assaulted the cab driver were also convicted, but
it is not clear if the protesters were supporting them too.
Around 100 people, mostly students, rallied in support of Mr. Makarov,
who has asserted his innocence and accused police of torturing him in
order to get a false confession to the crime (an unfortunately common
practice in Russia). Referring to the informal quota system that
inspires the widespread use of torture in Russia by requiring police
to solve an unrealistically high number of cases in order to receive
positive evaluations from their superiors, protesters held signs
reading "Don't raise your clearance rate at the expense of innocent
people!" and "We demand that those guilty of fabricating cases and
torture be punished!"
Five Neo-Nazis on Trial in Voronezh
UCSJ, March 24, 2009
Five accused members of a neo-Nazi group are on trial in Voronezh,
Russia on hate crimes charges, according to a March 25, 2009 report by
the Jewish.ru web site. The defendants allegedly assaulted two Kazakh
men last April 24 in a park while screaming the far-right slogan
"Russia for Russians!" Armed with metal pipes, the youths, aged
16-21, targeted their victims out of ethnic hatred, but did not
realize that they were military cadets, and therefore were trained in
hand to hand combat. The Kazakhs resisted well enough to defend
themselves from serious harm and attract the attention of the police.
Together with the police, they detained two of the suspects; the
police picked up the other three later. In addition to seizing
neo-Nazi literature and other evidence from the suspects' hard drives,
police found that one of the defendants had taken cell phone video of
the attack--an increasingly common way that neo-Nazis advertise their
activities on the Internet. If convicted of "hooliganism motivated by
ethnic hatred," the defendants face up to five years in prison.
Neo-Pagan Sect Leader Faces Extremism Charges
UCSJ, March 24, 2009
The leader of a group of neo-pagans face extremism charges in Omsk,
Russia according to a March 20, 2009 article in the local newspaper
"Krasny Put." Prosecutors charged Aleksandr Khinevich with extremism
after examining the texts of "ancient Aryans" that he cites to his few
hundred followers. According to prosecutors, his sect condemns the
marriage of a white person to a black person and, in common with some
other neo-pagan sects in Russia, uses a slightly modified swastika as
its symbol, to which believers make a slightly modified fascist
salute. Based on these modifications, and the historical fact that
the Nazis appropriated the swastika from the ancient world, the
defense is arguing that the beliefs that Mr. Khinevich espouses have
nothing in common with fascism. If found guilty, the defendant faces
up to three years in prison and the de-registration of his religious
Court Sentences Neo-Nazi Gang to Prison
UCSJ, March 24, 2009
A court in Novocheboksary, Russia (Republic of Chuvashia) sentenced
seven neo-Nazis to prison after finding them guilty of hate crimes and
vandalism, according to a March 21, 2009 article in the Kazan edition
of the national daily "Kommersant." The court found the extremists
guilty of vandalizing an Armenian-owned shoe store and leaving
anti-migrant leaflets behind, as well as stabbing two fans of rap
music, which neo-Nazis consider "racially inferior." One defendant
got off with a suspended sentence, the rest received from 2-3 years,
with the exception of the one under-aged youth among them, whom the
court determined wielded the knife during the brawl. He received a
five year sentence. One of the defendants worked in an advertising
firm; another studied at a local pedagogical college--more evidence
that Russian neo-Nazi groups are increasingly attracting educated and
relatively prosperous youths to their ranks.
Ivanovo Baptists Protest Missionary's Expulsion
UCSJ, March 24, 2009
The Ivanovo, Russia Baptist community is fighting the deportation of a
US Baptist missionary in court, according to a March 26, 2009 report
by the Slavic Law and Justice Center, a Russian NGO that works on
religious freedom cases. Wallach Nil, a US citizen, was ordered
deported in December 2008 after many years of coming to the region for
religious and charitable work. Contrary to the law, he was given no
official reason for his deportation. Federal Migration officials
passed the buck in court to the FSB, saying that the KGB's successor
agency had ordered Mr. Nil's deportation. According to the Slavic Law
and Justice Center, this is only the latest example of Baptists facing
deportation and discrimination in the Ivanovo region. In 2005, four
US Baptists were deported from the region. The following year, a
delegation from the Southern Baptist Convention, including a former US
senator, was deported a day before they were scheduled to leave.
Local television broadcast a defamatory story about that group,
claiming that it was sent to recruit Russian children into a "sect."
Police officers who detained the Baptists revealed that their
detention and deportation was also ordered by the FSB, which later
claimed that they had violated visa regulations.
Human rights activists rap low quality, fast expansion of extremist materials list
Interfax-Religion, March 24, 2009
Moscow, March 24, Interfax - Russia's federal list of extremist materials needs to be reviewed, according human rights activists.
"The federal list of extremist materials, whose quality is so poor that one cannot simply use it, is rapidly enlarging," a report by the Sova analytical center dedicated to Russian anti-extremist laws and presented in Moscow on Tuesday reads.
This list "has expanded almost four times [from 79 to 301 items] since the end of 2007," the report reads.
"It is absolutely apparent that courts consider the major part of materials as extremist in the following manner: when a criminal case on 'extremist' charges is investigated, some materials are seized from those involved in the case, and prosecutor's offices demand to consider as extremist everything that seems quite suspicious to investigators," the report reads.
"There is no other rational way to explain attempts to consider Hitler's classical biography by Joachim Fest or to ban the Will by Ayatollah Khomeini. Reasons for making such decisions are often unconvincing," the report reads.
Russia should learn to renounce alien values and stand for her own ones - Patriarch Kirill
Interfax-Religion, March 24, 2009
Kaliningrad, March 24, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes, to survive in globalizing world, Russia has to preserve traditional values of its national cultures, primarily, religious ones.
"Today we should master foundations of our culture associated with the history of our nation as the system of values is based on it. We should positively know the basics of religious culture connected with national cultural basis that lays foundation for system of national values, which forms personality and society," Patriarch Kirill said on Monday, speaking at Kant State University of Russia in Kaliningrad.
According to him, only protecting national cultural values, Russians "won't lose their way at crossroads and ramifications of globalization, but will become bearers of bright and strong national identity, critical to everything that doesn't fit it."
"Our country doesn't have another way, if we as a country and nations want defend ourselves in the epoch of globalization," Patriarch Kirill said.
He believes, the Orthodox Church most urgent task is to engrain such critical view on values of other cultures, "to form a personality capable of being critical about world recent developments," to oppose the tendency of "self-destruction observed in the process of world civilization development."
"Then Russia won't pose a threat, but would rather be a model for others," the Patriarch said.
Russian Migration Service defends rabbi's expulsion
Interfax-Religion, March 26, 2009
Moscow, March 26, Interfax - Russia's Federal Migration Service (FMS) confirmed that the reason for a court order on Wednesday to expel from Russia the chief rabbi of a Russian city who is a Canadian citizen was that he had allegedly broken migration law.
The court of Stavropol region on Wednesday upheld a ruling by a district court in Stavropol city to expel Tzvi Hershkowitz, the city's chief rabbi.
The chief executive of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, Alexander Boroda, said: "The Jewish community of Russia is outraged by the ruling of the court."
The FMS defended the ruling, however.
"It is not a goal to persecute anyone from religious motives," FMS spokesman Konstantin Poltoranin told Interfax.
"The Jewish community of Stavropol territory appealed to the territorial government in connection with the fact Tzvi Hershkowitz had called on his flock to move to the United States or Israel. In the course of an investigation, it was found that Hershkowitz was registered with the migration authority of what was not the locality where he was living. Specialized authorities passed over this information to the FMS. We have matters like that dealt with in court because they involve violations of migration legislation. As for court rulings, we don't comment on them," Poltoranin said.
"It is very easy to obtain a Russian visa for religious purposes. But a foreign citizen has to make sure that the purpose of his arrival is in line with his actual activities in Russia," he said.
STATE DUMA MEMBERS ATTACK NGOS; HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ALARMED
Bigotry Monitor, Volume 9, Number 13, March 27, 2009
United Russia members of parliament have been leveling accusations ever more frequently against nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Russia, said the leader of the oldest Russian human rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva. "They seem to be seeking both a foreign and an internal enemy, other than to attend to real problems," Alexeyeva told Interfax on March 20. "This old idea is obvious: they seek to convince our citizens that foreign enemies are to blame for all problems, the 'world backstage' [coded language for antisemitic conspiracy] and the fifth column inside Russia. In their view, the fifth column does not include, for example, fascists and skinheads, but it does include democrats, opposition and NGO activists."
At the State Duma session on March 20, United Russia MP Sergei Zheleznyak said that recently
"independent NGOs have intensified their work seeking to use social protests under conditions of the world financial crisis in order to destabilize the domestic political situation." On March 18, United Russia MPs attacked NGOs supported with foreign funds and linked them to protest actions in the Far East.
NEW GROUP PLANS SELF-DEFENSE UNITS FOR MIGRANT WORKERS
Bigotry Monitor, Volume 9, Number 13, March 27, 2009
A new group that calls itself the International Union for Assistance to Migrant Workers announced on March 21 at a regional constituent congress in St. Petersburg that its members will form "self-defense" units in the event that "fascist tendencies in Russia cross a certain line." Led by Islamic Committee chairman Geydar Dzhemal, the group held its first meeting in the Urals a month ago and plans to have similar events to launch the group in each of the seven federal districts. Organizers stress that they will recruit and defend workers from former Soviet republics. Dzhemal said that "we will create such conditions in which such fascist measures as deportation will be impossible."
Eventually, the group plans to set up an All-Russian International Union which will not play the role of a political party but will advance "political demands."
Djemal was once a member of Pamyat, a far-right Russian nationalist group. He has acquired a reputation for extremist statements, including Holocaust denial.
RABBI'S EXPULSION OUTRAGES RUSSIAN JEWS
Bigotry Monitor, Volume 9, Number 13, March 27, 2009
The Stavropol Territory Court has upheld the verdict by a Stavropol district court ordering the administrative expulsion from Russia of Stavropol's chief rabbi, Canadian citizen Tzvi Hershkowitz, thus rejecting his appeal, Interfax reported on March 25.
The local FSB (Federal Security Service) branch accused Hershkowitz of "breaching the residence registration regulations" by failing to notify the migration authorities of his new address within three days, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR) told the news agency. "The Russian Jewish community is outraged by the court ruling," FEOR President Alexander Boroda said. "Such a decision shows once again that neither the local authorities, nor the judicial system are paying enough attention to the regional work of the Jewish clergy, thus seeking, whether willingly or unwillingly, the review of Russia's inter-confessional map."
This is not the first time this year that a Russian court ruled on the expulsion of foreign rabbis. In February 2009, a court in Vladivostok's Pervorechensky district ordered the expulsion of Primorye's chief rabbi, U.S. citizen Isroel Silberstein, for violating the regulations for foreigners staying in the country, arguing that the purpose of his stay, stated in the rabbi's visa, conflicted with his actual activities which were "cultural."
Russian TV scores point in propaganda war with Georgia over South Ossetia
Channel One TV
March 29, 2009
Russian state Channel One TV on 29 March broadcast a feature film - "Olympus Inferno" (Russian: Olimpius Inferno) - about the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war over South Ossetia.
Michael, a young entomologist from the USA who was born in Russia, arrives in South Ossetia to make a film about a rare breed of night butterflies. There he meets female journalist Zhenya, with whom he went to school in Moscow together. The young people go to a nature reserve and set up special cameras for filming night butterflies. At night Georgian forces attack South Ossetia and the cameras, set up to film butterflies, capture on film the beginning of the operation: convoys of Georgian armoured personnel carriers heading for the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinval.
Michael and Zhenya try to get out of the zone occupied by Georgian troops and to reach Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinval. On the way they meet a Western journalist who works for a TV channel called "SBC" who is reporting live to camera that it was Russia that started the war. Zhenya tells the journalist that she has a recording that proves Georgia started the war. The journalist replies: "Tanks and aeroplanes are bs"t. The key thing are journalists. Have you heard of the information war?"
Zhenya and Michael realize they have evidence in their hands that is vital in the information war between Russia and the West. The rest of the film shows the young people's attempts to get to the Russian peacekeepers with their recording and "to tell the world the truth" about who really started the war.
The keynote of the film, which was directed by Igor Voloshin, is that the Western media deliberately presented Russia as the aggressor in the war. In the film, Georgian troops are the "aggressor" portrayed as callous soldiers indiscriminately shooting at civilians from their armoured vehicles as they drive through the outskirts of Tskhinval. They are contrasted with the "defender", i.e. the Russian peacekeepers who are portrayed as helpful and humane. South Ossetians are shown as courageous people resisting the Georgian aggression.
The film in made in the genre of "action movie". A pseudo-documentary style is used, with minimal special effects. Camerawork creates the effect of a human hand shaking camera, imitating direct reports from war zones.
At the beginning of the film a conversation between a film producer and a scriptwriter takes place. The producer says: "It is a very powerful story. Is it true?" The scriptwriter replies: "The truth is much worse."
Georgians form bulk of Russia's crime barons - source
Interfax, March 31, 2009
Russia has about 1,200 "thieves-in-law," the upper decision-making caste of organized crime, and about 60% of them are Georgian citizens, a Russian Interior Ministry source said on Tuesday.
There are about 100 thieves-in-law in the city and region of Moscow alone, the source told Interfax. Many of them are illegal immigrants, he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili claimed that Georgia had almost wiped out organized crime and that Georgian crime barons had fled to Russia. He said 90% of underworld barons in Russia come from his country.
"The leadership of that country can hardly take pride in such a fact," said the Russian Interior Ministry source in a comment on Saakashvili's words, which the president said at the opening ceremony for a new building in Tbilisi for the Interior Ministry.
"Our main item of export to Russia is not wine but thieves-in-law and other criminal elements," Saakashvili said.The president credited today's Georgian police with being incorruptible, unlike their predecessors, and said their efforts had resulted in Georgia nearly getting rid of organized crime.
Omsk Resident in Court for Placing Fake Bomb in Front of Synagogue
UCSJ, March 31, 2009
A 20-year-old man is facing trial in Omsk, Russia for allegedly
placing a fake bomb in front of a synagogue, according to a March 25,
2009 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. The defendant
allegedly made the fake bomb in his apartment on November 2, put it in
front of the synagogue, and then called in a bomb threat. He
reportedly said that he was motivated by the proximity to the November
4 holiday, a day that has been expropriated by far-right nationalists
and often features antisemitic and racist demonstrations and acts of
violence. Despite this, he does not face hate crime charges, but is
instead being charged with "a deliberately false alarm about an act of
Racist Stabbings in Moscow
UCSJ, March 31, 2009
A group of youths reportedly motivated by racist animosity stabbed two
Azeris in Moscow, according to a March 27, 2009 report by the Sova
Information-Analytical Center. The youths approached their victims at
a metro station and started a fight with them, which ended up in the
Azeris having to seek medical attention for knife wounds. There is no
information in the report about any police involvement stemming from
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
Taking the lies out of the myths
By: Alexander Sabov
Russia Beyond the Headlines, March, 2 2009
Professor and politician Vladimir Medinsky has explored negative stereotypes surrounding Russians, such as laziness, brutality and drunkenness. His books sparked vicious debate. Medinsky believes any myth, especially a negative one, is a ticking time bomb on the national conscience.
Where do myths about Russia come from and when did they emerge? Why has Russia been so unlucky?
It is true that all nations and countries tend to embellish their own history and there is nothing wrong with that. By contrast, dirty myths are purposely forged as an instrument of political propaganda or psychological warfare against certain countries. And no other nation in history has endured such prolonged demonisation: this smear campaign has been going on for more than three centuries. Everything in Russia is either bad or wrong - dreadful roads, endemic alcoholism and idleness, corruption and pilfering, mud and poor sanitation, and an inherent lack of democratic culture, deriving from an age-long tradition of despotism. To substantiate the myth of"the Russian threat "Russians are presented as intrinsically aggressive. All these myths began to emerge when Russia came to the fore as an increasingly important actor in European and global politics - in the 18th century, at the time of Peter the Great and the rise of the Russian Empire.
Are you saying that this "cold war" with Russia began during Peter The Great's rule? Isn't that quite an extreme view?
It seems so. For example, a secretary to the Austrian embassy, Korb, wrote a spiteful lampoon against the young Moscow state, cunningly passing it off as the Ambassador's diary. This "diary" went into wide circulation throughout Europe. Why? Because those countries saw a new power rising in the East and, to quote Prince Golitsyn, they hastened to scorn us as barbarians.
Maybe the essence of the problem was not people plotting against Peter's Russia. You have advanced a profound theory, which suggests the reason was closer to home. Your conception makes much more sense: Russians have themselves have adopted those Western myths.
I am afraid that, to some extent, it was an outcome of Peter's reforms - for example, his famous decree to have beards cut off. Upon his return from Europe, irritated by the thought that everything in Russia was inferior to everything in Europe, he ordered people to wear European clothes. Such disrespect for the Orthodox tradition of that time censured a shaved chin as something devilish and notoriously Western, let alone Peter's insistence that the church abolish the Seal of Confession. This didn't happen, but the Emperor's interference triggered a profound schism within the church. In fact, the nation was split into two subcultures, if not two separate nations: Peter ordered half of the people to be European, while the other half remained in a primordial state.
By saying that, you prove that making Russians into Europeans brought progress, taking Russia out of its primordial situation. But it's still not clear on what grounds these Russian myths appeared.
When a national body is split, schisms will develop - Westernisers and Slavophiles, liberals and radicals. Elite Russians became what emigrant philosopher Ivan Solonevich justly called a "foundling class" a kind of cuckoo's nestling planted in a songbird's nest. It was this group which first propagated those dirty myths about Russia, as if disassociating themselves from its "abject people" Their modern followers are our new oligarchs, splashing money about in the West, and new liberals decrying "unwashed Russia" at every international conference.
And what about so-called Soviet unity? Whatever we make of the Communist experiment in our country, it was an attempt to "unite people" on an entirely new basis. Didn't we live for more than seven decades in a society and culture founded on the worker-peasant relationship? Apparently, the gap between rich and poor in the USSR was substantially narrower than modern times.
Yet the cultural gap only widened. Bolsheviks cast off all the achievements of Tsarist Russia. Historical continuity broke again, myths about "savage Russia" were revived, all that was sacred in the country was profaned - all done with our own hands and not anybody else's. Remember Lenin's famous statement: "Russia is the prison house of nations."
In the late 1980s, the onset of perestroika brought a fresh wave of dirty myths about Russia that washed away whatever was good in our history, exposing only vices. We started blaspheming the historic experiment that was the USSR, as well as ourselves as the creators of this experiment. The problem is with us. I am sure that if we do not squeeze out the poison of dirty myths, they will be passed on, like a baton, to future generations.
A year ago, OLMA Media Group published Medinsky's Russian Drunkenness, Laziness and Brutality. (First edition: 3,000 copies. Second edition: 150,000 copies.) His second book in the "Myths about Russia" series, called Russian Slavery, Mud and the Prison House of Nations, also received much acclaim. Nearer the end of the year the third book came out, Russia's Own Way, Pilfering and Long-suffering. In these books, the author argues that none of the above mentioned is necessarily an inherent property of the "mysterious Russian soul". Medinskiy says he is out to challenge negative stereotypes about Russia, particularly those shared by his Russian readership.
An extract from Medinsky's 'Russian Drunkenness, Laziness and Brutality'
Drunkenness isn't a Russian problem - it's a global problem. In the 19th century the temperance movement grew throughout the world, but the interesting fact is that it started in Russia before anywhere else, in 1858-59. Thousands of villages and hundreds of thousands of people decided to close down local drinking places and held meetings where they took the pledge: not one glass. And they stuck to this rigorously. Local officials who paid for the right to collect taxes reduced the price of vodka and provided free buckets of spirits, but the peasants stood firm. In May 1859, widespread destruction of drinking establishments began. So the "ethnographic" inevitability of Russian drunkenness proved to be a myth. By 1914 there were 400 temperance societies in Russia, made up of workers, peasants, craftsmen, doctors, clergy and teachers. It's difficult to establish the ratio of drinkers to non-drinkers at that time, but the famous Russian chemist, Mendeleyev, believed that 40pc of Russian peasants did not touch wine at all, except perhaps when raising a glass on saints' days.
Aggressive xenophobia manifestations during January mid-March 2009
MBHR, March 2009
During the period since January till March 15, 2009 57 attacks based upon xenophobia were totally committed and 17 dead and 59 wounded were their result. The attacks were recorded in Moscow and Moscow region (14 dead, 40 wounded) as well as in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region (1 dead, 6 wounded), Ulyanovsk, Ryazan (1 dead each), Kabardino-Balkaria (4 wounded), Nizhniy Novgorod (4 wounded), Kaliningrad (2 wounded), Tambov, Syktyvkar, Yekaterinburg, Volgograd (1 wounded each). The persons of the following nationalities were mostly attacked: Uzbeks (6 dead, 2 wounded) as well as Kirghizes (3 dead, 9 wounded), Vietnamese (2 dead), natives of Africa (1 dead, 14 wounded), Azerbaijanis, Chinese (1 dead and 2 wounded each), Armenians (1 dead and 1 wounded), Chechens (1 dead), Russians (4 wounded), Daghestanis (4 wounded), Tajiks (2 wounded), Kalmyks, Bangladeshis, Buryats, Kurds, Jews (1 wounded each).
During first two weeks of March 6 attacks based upon xenophobia were recorded and 1 person died and 3 were wounded as a result of them. The attacks took place in Moscow region (1 dead), St. Petersburg, Nizhniy Novgorod, Volgograd (1 wounded each). 1 Azerbaijani perished, and natives of Africa, Daghestanis and Jews had 1 wounded each.
On March 2 a student from Egypt was beaten in Nizhniy Novgorod.
On March 4 a corpse of a citizen of Azerbaijan born in 1991 was discovered in Kolomna.
On March 4 a scuffle took place in the Volgograd university campus between students-Lezghins and students-Ingushes. About 20 persons participated in the scuffle. A guard of the campus a Daghestani was beaten.
On March 5 in the afternoon a group of young people was insulting a teenager with "non-Russian" appearance due to his ethnic belonging and dark skin color near the monument to Russian-Armenian friendship in Ryazan. They threatened him, shouted Nazi slogans and threats towards natives of Caucasus.
On March 6 a skinhead group tried to beat two militiamen in Moscow (one of them was a Yakut) who were going back from departmental skiing competition near exit of underground station "Chistiye prudy".
On March 9 two young people with their hair shaved off completely and military style coats on attacked two students in St. Petersburg near cinema "Khudozhestvenniy". One of the beaten proved to be the son of an employee of Jewish agency in Russia.
On the evening of March 14 a skinhead group was behaving aggressively in electric train Moscow-Podolsk.
Since March 1 till March 15 5 cases of vandalism at least were recorded.
On March 5 30 crosses at least were desecrated at the Orthodox cemetery in Kalach-on-Don town (Volgograd region).
On the evening of March 6 the Central reception office of militia was set on fire in Moscow (11 Sadovaya-Sukharevskaya street). A group which took responsibility for this stated it did this because "there is no other way but resolute uprising against militia and the System in general".
On March 8, during religious holiday Mavlid (birthday of the prophet Muhammad) several bookstores in Makhachkala were attacked by youth groups. They burst into the shops and obliterated the religious literature including modern translations of the Koran into Russian. Several dozen people were announced to participate in the attacks.
On March 10 a monument to Russian-Armenian friendship was desecrated in Ryazan.
It was found out on March 11 that memorial sign "Menorah" was damaged installed at the old Jewish cemetery in Petrozavodsk in memory of the Holocaust victims.
Public actions of nationalists
On March 1 the nationalists conducted a "March of memory and grieve". Though the meeting was devoted to the memory of Pskov paratroopers who perished in 2000 but in fact this was a xenophobe gathering. The participants demanded to release or rehabilitate the servicemen convicted for war crimes in Chechnya as well as two former OMON (special militia detachment) employees being under trial in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk for creating a local cell of "SS". Some meeting participants raised their hands in Nazi salutation. A. Belov (Potkin) proposed to nominate colonel Yu. Budanov to the position of the President of Chechnya he was convicted for murder of a Chechen girl and released earlier from imprisonment in January 2009. He also promised that all those assembled will occupy the private offices of the officials soon. Except A. Potkin, representative of National-patriotic front (NPF) "Memory" Georgy Borovikov, head of Russian national movement (ROD) Konstantin Krylov, representative of DPNI Vladimir Kralin and representative of Slavic Union Dmitry Bakharev spoke at the meeting. After the meeting finished, the nationalists tried to arrange an unapproved march but were dispersed by militia quickly. 16 persons were arrested. According to various calculations, 300-500 persons took part in the activity being the representatives of DPNI, "Slavic Union" and other nationalist organizations (the nationalists themselves estimated the number of those assembled as 800 and even 1500 persons). According to some data, about 50 persons were detained on the way to the meeting.
On the morning of March 1 an action of competitive DPNI so-called "Russian DPNI" was conducted on the same place participated by several dozen people. A. Samsonov being at the head cited Hitler's words in his speech and reproduced the myth that Russians amount to one third of Moscow population at the most and that there are more mosques than the churches there.
Similar actions took place in St. Petersburg (participated by 20 persons), Nizhniy Novgorod (about 40 persons), Kursk (about 30 persons), Volgograd (30-35 persons), Kirov, Balabanovo (Kaluga region), Blagoveshchensk, Magnitogorsk, Voronezh, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Krasnodar, Rostov and Pskov. In Nizhniy Novgorod the ceremony participants raised their hands in Nazi salutation.
The head of Coordinating center of Moslems of the North Caucasus I. Berdiyev pounced upon the Protestants in his interview to portal "Interfax-religion" calling them "sectarians who appeared in Russia after disintegration of the Soviet Union and now deceive the people".
On March 9 an article was published on website "Radonezh" where gay-activists were accused of the fact that they serve "as an anti-Christian ram which is destroying the wall for principal troops", of scoffing at Christianity and attacks on churches.
During the period of March 1-15 15 persons were convicted for crimes motivated by xenophobia. 1 person was sentenced to penalty, for 2 - measures of educational effect were prescribed, 1 was sentenced to two days of arrest, 7 got suspended sentences and 4 were sentenced to imprisonment for the term of 14-17 years. Big number of suspended sentences attracts attention as well as small specific weight of substantial terms of punishment including those for real attacks and beatings. During the period since January till March 15 40 persons were convicted for crimes based upon xenophobia. 4 persons were sentenced to correctional work, for 2 persons measures of educational effect were prescribed, 1 was sentenced to two days of arrest, 3 to imprisonment in colony-settlement, 13 - got suspended sentences, 4 were sentenced to 1-5-year imprisonment, 1 to 6-year imprisonment, 7 to 10-20-year imprisonment, 2 to penalties and 2 persons were released from liability due to exceeding of statute of limitation. One else of the accused was acquitted completely.
Xenophobia and authority
Joint meeting of the Governmental Council of Russia and Council on interaction with religious associations took place in Tula devoted to the "governmnetal-religious cooperation in solution of moral and social problems of today's youth" as website www. gazeta.ru informed. The clergy was represented by the heads of main traditional Russian religions: chairman of Council of muftis of Russia Ravil Gainutdin, chief rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar, chairman of Buddhist traditional sangha of Russia Damba Ayusheyev and patriarch of Moscow and the whole Rus Kirill.
The state was represented in Tula by the minister of home affairs Rashid Nurgaliyev, the minister of education Andrey Fursenko and the president Dmitry Medvedev who had to be at head of the meeting.
As "Interfax" informs, the president was the first to speak in front of the council members. "It's necessary to suppress all the extremism manifestations by common efforts to suppress both actions and propaganda. It's necessary to join the youth to inter-cultural dialogue and cooperation and educate it in the spirit of tolerance", the head of the state said. In the opinion of the president, today's youth especially needs such surveillance as it grew up in a "vacuum of values that was formed during the Soviet period and during 1990s".
After that the religious figures had the floor. Chief rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar stated that it's possible to combat against extremism among young people with the help of special workshops in Russian schools that would "assist in educating the children in the spirit of mutual respect" as well as introduction of more detailed information "about the tragedy of the World War II and the Holocaust tragedy" into the educational programs. Berl Lazar also noted that it's necessary to conduct some shifts in the TV channels' programs in particular, replacing the TV "series with lots of scuffles and shooting" with scientific-educational programs about traditions and culture of the peoples of Russia. In the opinion of the rabbi, economic crisis also affects greatly the aggravation of xenophobia in Russia "when material problems aggravate, and some people announce those who don't look like them guilty".
Berl Lazar proposed to make some changes in the legislation so that religious figures could work with the youth more efficiently. "There are no clergymen in the working list of professions for getting the working visa. Small changes in the rules are necessary, and there would be no problem", he said.
Chairman of Council of muftis of Russia Ravil Gainutdin proposed to create the federal expert council of religious studies.
According to him, this council should include authoritative theologians including specialists on Islamic studies as well as psychologists, linguists, jurists and representatives of religious organizations. As Ravil Gainutdin noted, "works of the classics of Islamic religious thought" are more and more often prohibited in Russia, and sometimes the only ground is that "they propagate superiority of Islam over other religions" though the Koran, the Bible and the Torah propagate the superiority of religious doctrines equally.
Patriarch Kirill proposed to pay more attention to cultural adaptation of migrants.
The head of Russian Orthodox church proposed to teach Russian language and "Russian cultural traditions" for the newly-arrived.
At the same time he noted that the danger of growth of "ethnic criminality associated with attempts to monopolize any kind of activity within some ethnos" still remains, "Interfax" informs.
In completion of the meeting president Dmitry Medvedev stated that the Governmental council on the youth may be assembled before long but only in case "the government and administration of the president, with assistance of the heads of religions, would get ready thoroughly".
A New View of a Famine That Killed Millions
By: CLIFFORD J. LEVY
New York Times, March 16, 2009
KIEV, Ukraine A quarter century ago, a Ukrainian historian named Stanislav Kulchytsky was told by his Soviet overlords to concoct an insidious cover-up. His orders: to depict the famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930s as unavoidable, like a natural disaster. Absolve the Communist Party of blame. Uphold the legacy of Stalin.
Professor Kulchytsky, though, would not go along.
The other day, as he stood before a new memorial to the victims of the famine, he recalled his decision as one turning point in a movement lasting decades to unearth the truth about that period. And the memorial itself, shaped like a towering candle with a golden eternal flame, seemed to him in some sense a culmination of this effort.
"It is a sign of our respect for the past," Professor Kulchytsky said. "Because everyone was silent about the famine for many years. And when it became possible to talk about it, nothing was said. Three generations on."
The concrete memorial was dedicated last November, the 75th anniversary of the famine, in a park in Kiev, on a hillside overlooking the Dnieper River in the shadow of the onion domes of a revered Orthodox Christian monastery. More than 100 feet tall, the memorial will eventually house a small museum that will offer testimony from survivors, as well as information about the Ukrainian villages that suffered.
In the Soviet Union, the authorities all but banned discussion of the famine, but by the 1980s the United States and other countries were pressing their own inquiries, often at the urging of Ukrainian immigrants.
In response, Communist officials embarked on a propaganda drive to play down the famine and show that the deaths were caused by unforeseen food shortages or drought. Professor Kulchytsky said he had been given the task of gathering research but concluded that the famine had been man-made.
"I became convinced that everything was not as I once thought," he said.
He refused to falsify his findings and instead released them publicly, escaping punishment only because glasnost had begun under the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
The famine is known in Ukrainian as the Holodomor literally, death or killing by starvation and the campaign to give it recognition has played a significant role in the Ukrainian quest to shape a national identity in the post-Soviet era. It has also further strained relations with the Kremlin, another of the festering disputes left by the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power after the Orange Revolution of 2004, calls the famine a genocide that Stalin ordered because he wanted to decimate the Ukrainian citizenry and snuff out aspirations for independence from Moscow.
The archives make plain that no other conclusion is possible, said Professor Kulchytsky, who is deputy director of the Institute of Ukrainian History in Kiev.
Professor Kulchytsky is 72, though he looks younger, as if he has somehow withstood the draining effect of so much research into the horrors of that time.
"It is difficult to bear," he acknowledged. "The documents about cannibalism are especially difficult to read."
Professor Kulchytsky said it was undeniable that people all over the Soviet Union died from hunger in 1932 and 1933 as the Communists waged war on the peasantry to create farming collectives. But he contended that in Ukraine the authorities went much further, essentially quarantining and starving many villages.
"If in other regions, people were hungry and died from famine, then here people were killed by hunger," Professor Kulchytsky said. "That is the absolute difference."
In recent years, Ukraine's president, Viktor A. Yushchenko, has regularly spoken out about the famine, and has even sought to make denying it a crime. Ukraine has asked other countries to recognize the famine as genocide and to establish memorials. One is being built in Washington.
In Kiev, the memorial has started to become a pilgrimage site.
"Of course, it is needed," said Hrigory Mikhailenko, 75, a construction executive from central Ukraine who stopped by during a business trip. "So many people died. Four members of my family. It's very important to note what happened. That is why Russia is pressuring us."
Russia has spurned the memorial. Instead of attending its dedication, Russia's president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, sent a letter to Mr. Yushchenko accusing him of using the famine to discredit Russia.
"We do not condone the repression carried out by the Stalinist regime against the entire Soviet people," Mr. Medvedev wrote. "But to say that it was aimed at the destruction of Ukrainians means going against the facts and trying to give a nationalist subtext to a common tragedy."
Last month, Russian historians and archivists sought to bolster the Kremlin's case, issuing a DVD and a book of historical documents that they said demonstrated that the famine was not directed at Ukraine. Many of the documents were translated into English, underscoring how the two countries are waging their fight on an international stage.
Professor Kulchytsky said the Kremlin feared that if it conceded the truth, Russia, considered the successor to the Soviet Union, could face claims for reparations. Still, he said he would not ignore misstatements by the Ukrainian side, either.
For example, President Yushchenko has said that as many as 10 million Ukrainians died, while Professor Kulchytsky believes that the figure is 3.5 million.
Nor is the professor enamored with the design of the memorial, saying that he would have preferred some of the other proposals. But he said there was no doubt that the country had to be reminded of its history.
"I know many people, including famous people smart, intellectual people whose relatives, grandparents, died in the famine, and they speak out harshly against focusing on Holodomor," Professor Kulchytsky said. "They consider it not a part of the present. But how can we be quiet about what occurred? Our people were the victims of a great crime."
Russia Scapegoats Migrants in Economic Downturn
By Peter Fedynsky
Voice of America, 17 March 2009
For years, Russia has drawn migrant workers from former Soviet republics with struggling economies. But, as Russia reels from the global economic crisis, many of those migrants are not only being laid off, they are also being victimized by Russians who blame foreigners for their current difficulties. Among the hardest hit are migrants from Tajikistan.
Searching for work in Russia
Widespread unemployment in his native Tajikistan drove 51-year-old Safarbek Khazradkulov to find work as an underground cable assembler in Moscow. But the project came to a halt in October, with the global economic crisis. Khazradkulov says workers were paid in September and Octobe<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)