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Bulletin 5:2 (2011) - Special Issue: Reactions to Manezh Square

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  • Andreas Umland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 5, No. 2(123) - Special Issue: Reactions to Manezh Square, 20 January 2011
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 20, 2011
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 5, No. 2(123) - Special Issue: Reactions to Manezh Square, 20 January 2011
      Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland

      [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.]

      Monetocracy in Danger. An Elite That Is Contemptuous of Its Own People has No Future
      By: Stanislav Belkovskiy
      Moskovskiy Komsomolets, December 14, 2010

      A great deal of every possible kind of thing has already been said about the events of 11 December in Moscow's Manezh Square (and about the events in St. Petersburg that were almost overshadowed by them and where, incidentally, soccer fans quite peacefully closed Zagorodnyy Prospekt).
      Among other things there is the persistent theory that the not-quite-carnage in the heart of Moscow was planned by some kind of "dark forces from the security services" who want to demonstrate yet again the risks inherent in a policy of gentle modernization toward your own people. In order for the 128th time to prepare the ground and the foundations for the return to the Kremlin of...whom do you think?...well, of course, Vladimir Putin!
      I do not believe in this conspiracy theory. I have no evidence except one thing, but it is very serious: the wild (in every sense of the word) fear on the faces of the chief cops. Ashen faces, trembling hands -- what could be more convincing? No, that could not be faked. It was for real. And Moscow GUVD (City Internal Affairs Administration) chief Vladimir Kolokoltsev reporting back to the fans. And (Internal Affairs) Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev himself, who nervously blurted out some kind of baloney about "left-wing radical organizations" who supposedly organized the so-called action on Manezh Square. Evidently he wanted to say something about nationalists but got confused: Until now, it was too much trouble to go into the finer points of radical politics. Even though within the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) system the "E" Centers (for combating extremism) operate on an extensive scale, having taken the place of the unwanted fighters against organized crime...
      No, there is no great mystery behind Manezh Square on 11 December. Ivan Katanayev, ex-leader of Phratria (Fratriya), a movement of fans of Moscow Spartak (soccer club), explained it better than the rest: "The crowd who came to the rally have no leaders -- only the consciousness that we cannot go on living like this and the desire to change everything."
      Yes, the regime, for all its militarized (and absolutely undeserved, as we have now finally seen for ourselves) reputation, proved powerless in the face of just five or six thousand physically strong people seeking confirmation that they are right.
      Is this logical? Absolutely. In this system of the total omnipotence of money (monetocracy) that has become established in present-day Russia, any important decisions can only be made for money (and I am not talking about state wages). If there is a corrupt profit to be made, there is a solution. If not, not. But who will pay to resolve an emergency situation fraught with the risk of physical injuries and grave moral deprivations? Remember last summer's wildfires. How did our monetocracy perform in combating them?
      Manezh Square is the wildfires, part two, winter.
      After all, it is perfectly clear why the cops and prosecutors originally released almost all those involved in the killing of (soccer fan) Yegor Sviridov. They were acting in complete accordance with the logic of the monetocracy: They did what they are paid for and they did not do what they are not paid for.
      And why should they risk their ass against brutal, well-organized Caucasians? For the sake of the law? For the sake of justice? Under a monetocracy such concepts simply do not operate. That is why it is so funny to see our president, who sincerely thinks that a few hundred new laws and amendments to old ones will make us wake up in a different country. Falling asleep in this country -- that we can do. But the rest...
      And no sooner had the noise from Manezh Square died down than once again this began to pour out of every crack: There it is, the true face of the Russian people -- the mask of a soccer fan, distorted by hatred! And some people want to give these people the right to choose their own regime?! They want freedom? But they use freedom for just o ne thing -- robbing and killing! If they are released from the yoke of the authoritarian kleptocracy the Russian people will destroy everything living, decent, and good that still remains in Russia. And therefore we must rally with every fiber of our being around the lesser evil that is the present ruling system of monetocracy. Yes, the present system may be bad, but any subsequent system will by definition be even worse.
      In fact we have now been hearing something similar from representatives of the Russian elite for several years in succession. That these elites are very unlucky with the land of Russia, which is only good for extracting dirty minerals from it in the form of cash but is totally unsuitable for any kind of positive creativity. For the following reasons: a) the absurdly vast territory, which is impossible to manage by reasonable means; b) the climate, in which no effective manager can survive; c) the population, who are unsuited to systematic labor and only want to drink, use drugs, and hang around the state's neck.
      In short, nothing but moronism and degeneration -- courtesy of d) I.Yu. Yurgens from INSOR (Institute of Contemporary Development) -- all around.
      Excuse me, we attempt to ask in reply, but are you not the ruling elite? Do you not make the most important decisions about the fate of this selfsame Russia? Are you not the ones who are responsible for what is happening in the country and to the country? For what becomes of it today and what will become of it tomorrow?
      No, they reply. The only function of the regime is the redistribution of material benefits. As for being responsible for the results -- we never applied for that job.
      The foundations of this tradition were laid almost 20 years ago by the team of Yegor Gaydar (may he rest in peace) and Anatoliy Chubays. Who had precisely three versions of the right answer to all inconvenient questions: a) Soviet power, which came before us, is to blame for everything; b) the strong economic managers who came after/instead of us are to blame for everything; c) you have no right to ask, since you do not have the relevant license.
      In the first decade of the 21st century the separation of power from responsibility became absolute and turned into the official ideology of the elites. This is one of the Russian Federation's most important results of the decade that is coming to an end in 17 days' time.
      Imagine a rich, successful, attractive man who suddenly says:
      "You know, my son is a drug addict and my daughter is a prostitute. But I cannot do anything with them: They were born that way! And why should I, anyway? They like it. The main thing is that they should not come to me with their problems. I go my way, they go theirs. If they die, so much the better. There will be a couple fewer completely useless individuals on the planet."
      That is their attitude to the country and the people. And in this way they justify their right to be our "lords and masters." After which they try to frighten us with the idea of democracy and free elections.
      But there is nothing for us to be frightened of. Free elections are a good and bloodless way of changing the regime, but by no means the only way. And not even the most widespread way in history. See any high school textbook.
      As for democracy, it is already coming back. In the shape of those five or six thousand soccer fans who, for a couple of hours of astronomical time, brought the entire police machine of the self-confident ruling classes to its knees.
      Just like 20 years ago, democracy is coming to Russia via Manezh Square. Evidently this is a sacred place that we cannot do without. They developed Manezh Square, converted it into stores, and filled it with fairytale bears, but all the same: Democracy is breaking through by this route.
      Back then, in perestroika-1, they managed with no great bloodshed. What will happen now, in perestroika-2?

      On Voina, Khimki and Manezh Square
      By Aleksandr Verkhovsky, director of the Sova Centre for Information and Analysis
      Rights in Russia, 15 December 2010

      If we compare the arrest of Vorotnikov and Nikolaev from the Voina art performance group after the overturning of a police car in St Petersburg, or the arrest of Solopov and Gaskarov after the events at Khimki Town Hall, with the reaction of the authorities to the pogroms on Manezh Square, a number of points can be made.
      First, making arrests during such mass disorders, as at Manezh Square, is difficult. The police detain some people, but then it turns out that they have no evidence against them. This is because, unless they falsify the evidence, it is not possible to determine who did what. At most it would be possible to charge the person arrested with resisting the police. But none of those who specifically beat up people on the Square, or later in the metro, were detained.
      Second, of course, comparing this with the situation of the Voina art group is senseless. This is a specific group of people who are well known. All that is needed is for the police to go and pick them up. But on Manezh Square it was necessary to work out who were the instigators, or those who were directly responsible for certain attacks. They could not arrest several thousand people. In addition, presumably, this would take time. Perhaps this will still come about. But perhaps not.
      Third, in the case of Khimki, those arrested (and they tried to arrest others, but failed) were the ones thought to be the organizers, although I cannot say how much truth there might be in this. But on Manezh Square it was not possible to identify people in that way on the spur of the moment. In principle it can be assumed that some people will be identified by video, for example, and charged with organizing the disturbances, assaulting the police and other things of this kind. In Khimki they arrested those who were visible. Here it would have been possible to act in the same way: to arrest Belov, for example, and charge him with something or another. But here another question arises: in reality, the attacks were the work of other people. After all, it was not Belov who actually attacked anyone. And these people have to be found, which is difficult.
      In addition, the authorities, of course, are afraid of fresh outbreaks of disorder. That is why yesterday, as a result of some ridiculous rumour, they cordoned off Manezh Square for several hours, although nothing was going to happen there. Tomorrow, probably, the police will all be sent to Kievskaya metro station. After riots of such scale, the authorities are concerned not so much with the identification and punishment of criminals, as to avoid a repetition. Generally speaking, it is a weak policy. But I must say that it's not only in our country that things happen in this way.
      The authorities feel very uncertain of themselves when dealing with a large mass of aggressive people. It's a fact that, when the number of participants in disorders is measured in thousands, the authorities don't want to get involved.
      The OMON riot police were not able to break up the protests on the Square, as usually happens on the 31st of the month, simply because the relationship of forces was radically different. And in general, if the participants in the rally on Manezh Square had not wanted to leave the Square, they would not have left, there were not sufficient forces to move them on.
      It comes down to a question of numbers. Roughly speaking, whenever the authorities are faced with a small group of people, no matter how deviant the behaviour, they can simply suppress them by force. But if the group is a large one, then negotiations begin. And arrests can of course be combined with negotiation, but this requires political art, and it is risky.
      I do not want to make predictions, but I think after some time has gone by, after a week or two, everyone will realize that nothing more is going to happen, and then the arrests will begin. In the coming days it is unlikely that anything like the events of 11 December will take place. It would be difficult to organize anything. The authorities have had their fingers burnt and have now mobilized intensively. It is clear that the leaders of the nationalist groupings, which are the main beneficiaries of the events on Manezh Square, if they are not complete idiots, will not organize anything at the moment. But they will probably wait for the right moment to do it again. Mostly likely one arrest or other could prove to be the pretext. I think the authorities know this. Here it's necessary to be very cunning. And I think some tricks have already been planned.
      (Aleksandr Verkhovsky, director of the Sova Centre for Information & Analysis) Source: Grani.ru


      Social disadvantage meets poor policing
      By: Nadezhda Kevorkova
      Russia Today, December 15, 2010

      Vladimir Mamontov, the president at "Izvestiya", Russia's oldest and biggest federation-wide newspaper, believes Saturday's nationalist riots in central Moscow should be thoroughly investigated before making conclusions on what measures to take.
      On the eve of Constitution Day, On December 11th, Moscow saw a large-scale act of civil disorder, which took place right outside the Kremlin.
      Over 5,000 young men, guided by masked instructors, started shouting out slogans aimed against people from the Caucasus. The young men then proceeded to beat up bystanders of non-Slavic appearance.
      The Moscow police authorities admit they were informed the demonstration was going to take place on that spot, but chose not to use water cannon, mounted officers or gas to drive away the protesters.
      The act of civil disobedience was formally triggered by the killing of one of the football fans, which occurred on December 6th. The suspects in the murder case have been placed under arrest.
      According to official information, following Saturday's violent rally seven people were sent to hospitals and 34 people were given medical aid. Ten criminal cases have been opened on the beatings.
      President Dmitry Medvedev assured the public that the people who organized the "pogrom" would be found and punished. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said the rally was another attempt to ruin the Russian Federation, made after an all-out war in the Caucasus failed to do that.
      The Russian Internet though is teeming with calls to continue the violence. Migrants from the Caucasus are either called on to respond to the violence or to stay at home.
      Football fan groups claim they had nothing to do with the violent rally.
      Vladimir Mamontov believes that too many questions currently remain which neither the authorities nor the community can answer.
      Mamontov is the president at "Izvestiya", Russia's oldest and biggest federation-wide newspaper. He has been head of "Izvestiya" since 2005. Mr. Mamontov has been involved in journalism for 35 years and is also a member of the Russian Public Chamber.
      RT asked him how he assessed what happened on Manege Square on December 11th.
      Vladimir Mamontov: We have to examine it. Was it well-organized? What role did the instigators play? Were there any instigators? Who are they? We have to study it all very carefully. So far the details of what happened are unclear, even though I've read most eyewitness reports, it seems. I can say for the moment that this event was like a multi-layered cake. There are many levels to it. For now we can state that a crowd assembled and started a fight. This story is testimony to a big, unresolved problem of the Russian people's unity.
      The media conducted polls on those days. Many of the polls showed that radical viewpoints are quite popular. This fact is hard to deny. It indicates, in any case, that unresolved social problems exist in Russia.
      We saw many young men, one could almost call them children, at Manege Square. We could see that they were children from low-income families. Marginalized youth. We could see some of them were not sober. We could see traces of disease not a social disease but a physical illness on their faces. We are witnessing deep social fragmentation.
      All of these problems we have to look at through a magnifying glass. Bit by bit. One of the blogs tells a story about a doctor from the Caucasus who receives a patient fresh off Manege Square. The doctor is amazed that his patient considers himself more fair-haired and light-skinned than the doctor, even though that is not true. An Ingush and an Armenian will treat this kid. The blogger hopes that would help the young nationalist get his perspective right.
      Some commentators say we need to prevent further escalation of hate in society. Others want the police regime to be strengthened. But we can't put a policeman on every corner. It's a big problem. We have let it slip as we talked about it. We try to solve problems in the Caucasus with money, but sometimes when you come to a Caucasian village you find out to your great surprise that you are the first guest from Russia to visit them in the past 20 years.
      The situation requires diligent work.
      RT: Would journalists be calling for diligent work if those young men were protesting not against ethnic Caucasians but, for instance, Jews? Would we be hearing stronger statements today?
      VM: I think that, whoever they protest against, we have to look into the situation. Do you want to talk about the principles of tolerance? Tolerance is encouraged in society, of course. Tolerance can be exploited, and we know of a lot of incidents in which the idea of tolerance was strongly speculated on. People were forced to be tolerant, which is, in itself, an oxymoron.
      RT: How can you explain that the riot and the act of mass terror based on race hatred occurred in the heart of the Russian capital, and in response the media encourage us to address the problems of children from unfavorable social backgrounds?
      VM: It's not about tolerance. It's all about an attentive and friendly approach to those issues, no matter who's beside you and who's advancing on you with any kind of slogans.
      Many people do not like the word tolerance because it's not obvious what it means. Many people answer to appeals for tolerance by saying that they have been brought up on such values as friendship, understanding and love, rather than tolerance. This is strong Soviet heritage, which lives in us. Is tolerance better than friendship? In our understanding tolerance means patience. They ask me to be patient when somebody does something violating my perception of acceptable behavior.
      We've seen very painful events in the Caucasus. We must remember them. But should we demand that a guy from the outskirts with a lot of diseases and no prospects for future demonstrates such an in-depth understanding of it? No, we should treat him, give him a job, and only then should we try bring it home to him how complicated our society is. We must be working on making him his country's patriot without beating up others. People like Tajik street-sweepers having nothing to do with his misfortunes.
      RT: Head of Moscow police Vladimir Kolokoltsev declared that they knew that the riot was to take place on Manege Square. Why did they allow that madness happen there?
      VM: I don't know. If they knew, they should have taken severe measures. One should first avoid a fight, and only then discuss what caused it. If one knew about it in advance, why did they get into that crowd all by themselves? By the way, many have pointed out that the police that have been heavily criticized over the past years did protect people. If not for them, there would have been deaths. If we try to assess the overall performance of the police, I would not give them a positive assessment. No, they worked badly. They allowed them onto the square and then tried to squeeze them into the metro, which then saw their rowdiness.
      RT: Is that normal that head of the police was talking to a man in a mask for two hours?
      VM: The situation was somewhat extreme. It required personal courage from the general. And he demonstrated it. It was too late to decide then who was to go to the crowd. So he just went there and talked. As for the mask, this is impudence of course. But this is life. I am not ready to condemn him. I don't want to believe this was staged. He went there himself instead of sending his subordinate.
      RT: Would it make sense to use water cannon and disperse the crowd, rather than talk to them for two hours to see them go then and beat up people?
      VM: I don't know. I have nothing against dispersing a crowd of hooligans, no matters what their slogans are.
      There are marginal individuals in any country. Aggressive ones must be outlawed not only in terms of legal regulations, but also in terms of social mechanisms. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
      RT: And what's the problem itself?
      VM: It's important to understand that there is in-depth marginal unrest, and we shouldn't forget about them if we want to avoid a repetition of what happened on Manege Square. We must assess and name the problem correctly that's how we can hope to resolve it. We members of national, religious and social organizations must agree with each other. We must seek and find explanations as to why we live in our country and why the Caucasus, the Far East, Siberia, the Urals, the Volga Region and the North have been united into one country, being its indivisible parts, and why we need each other, and those explanations must be universal for all peoples and diasporas. But we must be honest and say when we do not understand each other.
      We've come through difficult times. Now some want to re-open old wounds. Don't ask me who this is to be investigated by special services. We need journalistic investigations. It should be studied by researchers and experts. It should be discussed by public councils and NGOs. In other words, this issue must be discussed, rather than hidden away. Then we'll have a chance to overcome it by taking joint action.

      Putin: Moscow riots show need for stronger order
      AP, December 16, 2010

      MOSCOW -- Violent rampages outside the Kremlin have highlighted the need to strengthen public order and raise police prestige, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday, using the occasion to lash out at liberal critics.
      Putin spoke after a weekend rally of 5,000 racists and hooligans in Moscow left more than 30 people injured and raised doubts about the government's ability to stem a rising tide of xenophobia. Police on Wednesday, however, prevented a replay of the violence between nationalists and mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in the capital and several other cities, detaining hundreds.
      Putin struck out at liberal critics who have criticized his government for sending riot police to disband opposition protests.
      "It's necessary to prevent extremism from all flanks," Putin said, during a call-in session broadcast live on state television and radio. "The liberal community must understand the need for maintaining order. The government exists to protect the majority's interests."
      He continued the scathing attack, saying that the rallies demonstrated the need to raise the prestige of the nation's police force. The force has faced public criticism over corruption and other abuses.
      "We mustn't paint them all in black and bring them down," Putin said. "Or otherwise the liberal intellectuals will be the ones who have to shave their thin beards off, put helmets on and go out on the square to fight the radicals."
      Moscow police spokesman Viktor Biryukov said some of the 800 people detained in the capital on Thursday were released immediately. Others, particularly those found to be carrying weapons, were held for investigation. He said he could not say how many were still in police custody.
      Preceding Putin's comments, his longtime aide Vladislav Surkov, now serving as the Kremlin's deputy chief of staff, accused critics of the government of helping pave the way for racist hooligans by holding unauthorized rallies. "People were different, but their attitude was the same," he said in an interview published Thursday in the daily newspaper Izvestia.
      Former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, now a fierce Kremlin critic, fired the accusation of fomenting social disorder back at the authorities and at Putin himself.
      "They don't have a shred of evidence that we are stirring up this trouble," Nemtsov told The Associated Press. "Surkov is personally responsible for flaring up these tensions."
      Many Russian observers in the past have noted links between nationalist groups and some part of officialdom, saying that hard-liners within the government may be supporting nationalists to justify tight Kremlin controls and fend off efforts to open up Russia's political system.
      While Russian police quickly and brutally disperse peaceful protests by anti-Kremlin activists, some nationalist groups have been allowed to hold their rallies freely in recent years. Opposition groups claim that pro-Kremlin youth organizations have hired soccer fans and ultranationalists to carry out attacks on Kremlin critics.
      Nemtsov said it was in the Kremlin's interests to foment tensions so it can use the resulting violence as a pretext to introduce new, tougher laws on public protests ahead of a new presidential election cycle.
      Russia votes on a new parliament in late 2011 and on a new president in March 2012. Putin is widely expected to seek another term.
      Putin shifted into the premier's seat in 2008 following two consecutive four-year terms in office, but has remained the nation's No. 1 leader, overshadowing his protege and successor, President Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev has initiated a constitutional amendment that will extend the presidential term from four to six years starting in 2012.
      Putin's call-in show, a carefully orchestrated annual event helping him retain his pre-eminence, is closely watched for signals on whether he will seek to regain the presidency. As was the case in such previous shows, Putin read lists of positive economic statistics, made generous social promises and cracked occasional jokes.
      Asked if the nation owes FIFA's decision to award the 2018 World Cup to his sheer luck, Putin said 'yes' with a 'self-complacent' smile. He added, on a more serious note, that Russia won the contest thanks to its "persistent and tactful" efforts to persuade FIFA of its merits.
      The weekend's riots that came just days after FIFA's decision embarrassed the Kremlin and raised questions about Russia's ability to safely hold international sporting events, including the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
      Putin insisted that the Sochi Olympics and the World Cup will help modernize Russia's infrastructure and improve living standards.

      Putin - Liberals must join the fight against radicalism
      By: Evgeniya Chaykovskaya, Andy Potts
      Moscow News, December 16, 2010

      Vladimir Putin called on the "liberal intelligentsia" to stop hiding behind political postures and start actively creating a better Russia in response to the riots in Moscow this week.
      The Prime Minister wasted little time in tackling the aftermath of the disturbances when he delivered his annual Q & A session to the Russian people.
      The second question he fielded was about the riots and growing public fears over extremism and nationalist tensions across Russia.
      And he urged everybody particularly the liberal opposition to do their bit to quell the tide of tension.
      Harsh resistance
      "We need to stop extremism coming from all sides," he said. "We can't just paint different people with the same paint. All extremism should be harshly resisted.
      "The liberals need to understand there has to be order. The government exists to support the wishes of the majority.
      "Our liberal intelligentsia will have to shave off their little beards, put on helmets and go to the square and fight the radicals. Everyone has their role. The government must fulfill its functions, within the limits of the law."
      The tough talk echoed his comments in a newspaper interview this summer than unauthorised demonstrators should be met "with a club to the head".
      And he defended the police against public criticism, saying they "perform the most important function in our society".
      Inclusive Russia
      Alongside the fighting talk there was a message of peace, with Putin outlining his vision of a multi-ethnic nation comfortable with its diversity.
      "People from all regions need to get rid of fears; they should feel equally comfortable wherever they live. The regional authorities will have to play a big role in this.
      "Everyone has to understand that we are all children of the same country, so that a man from Caucasus should not be scared to go out to Moscow streets, and Slavic people shouldn't be afraid to live in the Caucasus. We have a common motherland. Russia has been a multi-confessional and multi-ethnic state.
      "There has always been a culture of cooperation and we have to remember these roots."
      Putin's comments came at the start of his annual televised conversation with the nation, which began at midday on Thursday.
      The show is expected to last up to four hours, and typically covers a wide range of issues raised by people all over Russia, usually in the formed of pre-submitted questions to the premier.

      Putin urges crackdown on extremism, but suggests no steps to ease ethnic tensions
      By: Lyudmila Alexandrova
      ITAR-TASS, December 16, 2010

      Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin considers it necessary to "prevent manifestations of extremism from all sides, wherever they may come from."
      He said so today during the annual live-question-and-answer session that linked him with TV audiences across the country. That was a ninth such event in Putin's political career and his third in the capacity of the head of government.
      The prime minister voiced no concrete proposals, though, about what can be done in the present strained situation of an exacerbating ethnic conflict. He merely called one and all to observe order.
      Putin believes that "the there must be order and it should be maintained."
      "The mission of the state is to protect the interests of the majority," he said.
      The prime minister believes, "there must be the awareness the law enforcement agencies perform a very vital function in the state, and it is impermissible to humiliate and ridicule them into nothingness."
      "Otherwise our liberal intellectuals will have to shave off their beards, put crash helmets on and take to the streets to fight the radicals themselves."
      "But, of course, the state should fulfill its function, of course, within the law," Putin said.
      As for the "outrages by Caucasus-born guests", which were mentioned in one of the issues, the prime minister said that it would be wrong "to paint Caucasus-born peoples and people of any other nationalities the same way."
      "Besides, the term Caucasus-born is not a nationality," said Putin.
      Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has offered his own comments on Wednesday's disturbances in his microblog in Twitter. In his remarks the head of state noted the professionalism of the Moscow police.
      Several sites in Moscow on Wednesday were scene of ethnic clashes or tensions. Fights, street marches and upset traffic were observed in various parts of the city. Fatalities were prevented, but people were injured on both warring sides - the nationalists and the representatives of ethnic minorities from the Caucasus.
      Police detained more than 1,300 people, many of whom are minors. Nationalistically-minded soccer fans came up with the slogan "Russia for Russians!" and demanded support from the country's leadership. Otherwise, they have promised to bring up to 50 thousand onto the streets of Moscow.
      The conflict was sparked by the death on December 6 of a fan of Moscow' s Spartak soccer club, Yegor Sviridov. He and his friends were attacked by a group of six men - all representing ethnic minorities from the Caucasus. However, on the same day the police released five detainees, leaving in custody only one man, the one charged with the murder - Aslan Cherkesov.
      Angry soccer fans in the evening of the same day blocked the Leningrad Avenue, chanting nationalist slogans. On December 11, after a peaceful funeral procession nationalist fans staged a riot in Moscow's Manezh Square several hundred meters away from the Kremlin wall. They were beating everyone who looked not Russian to them. As a result of this incident twelve criminal cases have been opened.
      On Wednesday, the law enforcement authorities of Moscow spent the whole day on preventing a large-scale clash in the square in front of the Kievsky railway station and the shopping center European, and in other parts of the city. By the end of the day about a thousand people were arrested. A Moscow police official said two dozen people were hurt in minor fights. Some of those arrested were carrying bladed weapons, traumatic and pneumatic guns, electric shockers, gas guns and smoke grenades.
      In Internet the nationalists claimed victory was theirs. The Caucasus people, in turn, stated that the events of December 15 proved the Caucasus was united and they were "one big family."
      Unrest related to the Moscow events took place in other Russian cities. In Samara, about 100 people were detained for trying to provoke a fight on ethnic grounds.
      In Sennaya Square in St. Petersburg, about a hundred people were arrested. In the evening, a crowd of about 500 had gathered in front of the subway station. Along the perimeter of the square OMON riot police and ordinary police patrols were on duty. Pretty soon detentions began. Both guests from the Caucasus and their radical opponents were taken to police busses. About ten young men with gauze masks on their faces were apprehended after they started chanting the slogan: "Russia, Russia!"
      "If the authorities fail to take prompt action, if meetings with diasporas are not convened, and if the country's leadership keeps quiet, more protests will follow and the unrest in Manezh Square and in front of the European shopping center will look like child's play. There will be crowds of 20,000 or even 50,000," the daily Kommersant quotes the leader of one of the fan groups as saying.
      The vice-president of the public fund Anti-Mafia, Yuri Golik, told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily that on Wednesday the city police displayed competence.
      "Thanks to the professionalism of the police the city retained a more or less controllable situation. Despite some incidents, Moscow in general was quiet," says the expert. "However, it was one-day calm. In a situation like this tighter security should stay in effect much longer. Today literally one spark will be enough to start the blaze of a large-scale ethnic conflict."
      According to experts, the authorities will have to derive lessons from what has happened, writes the RBC Daily. Young people do not feel that the period of economic turmoil is over, they are faced with typical problems of the West: lack of good jobs, lack of good wages and lack of rights, says the head of the Center for Economic Research at the Institute of Globalization and Social relations IGSO, Vasily Koltashov. In his view, the protest will acquire features quite common in the EU countries. The general economic roots of people's personal problems will surface and the mass consciousness will turn left."

      Moscow unrest - thousands arrrested, barely a dozen charged
      By: Andy Potts
      Moscow News, December 16, 2010

      As the fog of smokebombs disperses, a few concrete details are beginning to emerge about Wednesday night's unrest on Moscow's streets.
      And police have confirmed that a number of criminal cases will follow after more than 1,300 people were arrested during a series of stand-offs in city squares and at metro stations.
      But while the cops are preparing charges of hooliganism, attempted murder and use of violence against a government representative, few of the incidents in question relate to the epicentre of last night's events near Kievsky Railway Station.
      Seizing an arsenal
      Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the national Investigative Committee, told RIA Novosti that police had confiscated 16 traumatic guns and more than 200 knives, hammers and baseball bats.
      But the two flashpoints he highlighted happened away from the Kievskaya area, at Park Kultury and Yugo-Zapadnaya stations.
      A document check on 12 people at Yugo-Zapadnaya at around 7 pm went wrong when the crowd turned on the three police officers.
      "The young people did not obey the legitimate orders of the police and began to attack them," Markin said. "As a result the officers suffered injuries of varying severity.
      "As more police arrived at the scene all the attackers were detained. They were natives of the North Caucasian republics."
      Kultury confusion
      Three people were arrested after a shooting at Park Kultury metro station even though police spokesman Viktor Biryukov said on Wednesday night that reports of a fight there "did not correspond to reality".
      The suspects were described as three Dagestani natives who shot at a Muscovite with a traumatic weapon in the metro station, RIA Novosti reported.
      Markin said the trio had attacked a 26-year-old local man and fired several shots at him and praised the "skilful actions of the police officers" who arrested all three suspects at the scene.
      Nationalist arrests
      While Markin's account focused on the cases being brought against 15 Caucasian migrants, there were also a number of arrests among Russian nationalist groups.
      And a police source told RIA Novosti that one of the ringleaders of a radical organisation was among those seized outside Kievsky station.
      Members of the group were carrying traumatic weapons, knives and even an axe.
      No official information was available on his case, or the 40 or so colleagues arrested at the same time.
      But the source claimed police were preparing civil and criminal cases against some of the group on charges of inciting a riot.

      COUNCIL OF LEGISLATORS AND MANEZH SQUARE: Lawmakers suggest establishment of yet another ministry, one that will handle ethnic relations in Russia
      By: Natalia Gorodetskaya
      Kommersant, December 16, 2010

      Addressing the joint meeting of the Council of Legislators and Federation Council's Commission for Ethnic Policy, Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Buksman announced that extremist crimes in Russia had been gaining intensiveness for years. "Extremist criminality showed a 23% rise in 2010," he said. Buksman pinned the blame on "regional and municipal authorities and law enforcement agencies". "They are used to dishing out penalties and nothing else. It is prevention that is needed." Buksman also mentioned social inequality, unemployment, schools (that ought to be paying attention to what web sites pupils visited), and absence of the youth policy as other factors that bred extremism. "Hence ethnic conflicts... including the latest events in Moscow sparked by a petty domestic quarrel," said Buksman.
      Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov pinned the blame for the riots in central Moscow that had followed murder of a Spartak fan on "passiveness of law enforcement agencies" and absence of information. "All of that is a form of social protest, a corollary of social tension, growing impoverishment, and lack of social guarantees," said Mironov. "The truth, however unpalatable, is the best remedy." Mironov suggested establishment of a ministry of ethnic affair, betterment of the legislation pertaining ethnic relations, and an emphasis on culture of ethnic relations. He even suggested a special subject on school curricula to acquaint pupils with four major confessions and conversion of traumatic weapons so as to rule out the possibility of their lethal use.
      Chairmen of regional parliaments as well as representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Council of Mufties backed the idea of a ministry of ethnic affairs. Said Dukvaja Abdurakhmanov, Chairman of the parliament of Chechnya, "This ministry or department ought to be self-sufficient in terms of both finances and personnel." Abdurakhmanov demanded an outright ban on weapons. "We have law enforcement agencies to brandish weapons," he said. Abdurakhmanov said that the authorities should
      have explained the mundane nature of the initial conflict in Moscow from the very beginning. "It would have prevented mass rioting."
      Farid Mukhametshin of the Tatar State Council commented on what he called "thoughtless exploitation of youths". "Political parties make offers to youths on the eve of elections. Youths being what they are, never stop to think what it is that they are asked to do... By and large, the youth is all but abandoned. United Russia, Fair Russia, and the CPRF set up youth organizations and washed their hands." Mukhametshin seconded the idea of a special ministry in charge of ethnic affairs and said
      that it ought to be headed by a deputy premier. He suggested adoption of a framework law that would outline principles of youth policy.
      The joint meeting recommended a stiffer penalty for extremism and inflammation of ethnic hatred and more exact legislation regulating informal youth organizations. It decided as well to appeal to the president to reinstitute a ministry in charge of ethnic relations in Russia.

      Why Russia Is Not for Foreigners
      By: Konstantin Sonin
      Moscow Times, December 16, 2010

      There are some people who love making speeches about Russia's so-called power vertical and democratic institutions, and there are other people who would benefit greatly from them in their daily occupations if only the vertical and democratic institutions actually existed.
      Here is one example.
      This winter, as every winter, a few dozen young people who are slated to graduate next year from the world's leading universities will have job interviews at the economics departments of several Moscow universities. Each will present a seminar and meet individually with department professors. These candidates will surely be in demand. Some will be offered assistant professorships, and the universities offering positions must persuade the candidate to choose Moscow over other cities in the world.
      To that end, it would help immensely if Russia's power vertical and democratic institutions both existed and functioned smoothly. Otherwise, as happens now, the hiring institution will be forced to pay an inflated salary to compensate for the numerous drawbacks associated with living and working in Russia.
      I am not speaking about the problems with science and education in Russia per se, but about the larger problems in the country the requirement that universities have to offer unusually high salaries to convince scholars to work in Russia. This problem applies to nearly every scientific discipline as well. This is a problem in attracting both outstanding foreign graduates and Russian graduates who are good enough to receive job offers from foreign academic institutions.
      But if Russia's power vertical really functioned, parents whose children have dark complexions or are from former Soviet republics in Central Asia would not have to worry about letting them ride the Moscow metro or taking a walk in the evening.
      My recruitment experience shows that Russian graduates will even opt for a position in a backwater European or U.S. university before agreeing to live and work in Russia. That is because when democratic institutions really are in place, those who want to expel dark-skinned foreigners from Moscow by force are kept within check and are most often considered outcasts by society.
      Ten years ago, when Russia had competitive elections, it was possible to vote for Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky who, by the way, voiced his support for the nationalists and neo-fascists who chanted racist slogans and rioted on Manezh Square on Saturday.
      In the past, the Zhirinovsky factor, among other things, made it more difficult to attract foreign professors to Moscow, but this is nothing compared with the problems the city is facing now.
      On the backdrop of bloody riots with thousands of nationalists and neo-fascists chanting "Russia for Russians!" there are now many more reasons why foreign professors and specialists will take a pass on Moscow when they are deciding where they would like to apply their skills and knowledge abroad.

      Russian TV report looks into causes of Moscow riots
      Excerpt from report by REN TV, BBC Monitoring, December 16, 2010

      (Presenter) Today, just like yesterday in Moscow, there were attempts to disrupt public order in several Russian towns. For instance, in the town of Solnechnogorsk in Moscow Region nationalists tried to hold a march and beat those who they thought were non-Russians. (passage omitted)
      Why were there so many children and schoolchildren in the crowds (in riots on Manezhnaya Ploshchad in Moscow on 11 December)? It seems this points to interethnic tension in schools and that problems have gone deeper and wider, from the grown-ups to the children. What to do? And whose fault is it?
      Everyone is now saying that there is an urgent need for interethnic friendship and respect to various ethnic groups should be promoted. At the same time it is obvious that there are people in authorities on all levels who support nationalism.
      (Andrey Savelyev, leader of the Great Russia (Russ: Velikaya Rossiya) public movement) The authorities either look impassively at emerging ethnic criminal groups, or assist them. In addition, the authorities organize various provocations and yesterday agents provocateurs were at the Yevropeyskiy trade centre (in Moscow), thrusting their arms out in a fascist salute. These people had been sent there on purpose. This is well known and their photos have already been published on the Internet.
      (Vladimir Mirzoyev, film director) Parents who abandon their children to their own devices are partly to blame. But still, an orphan house does not make children totally feral. But when grown-up people in uniform or not use their trauma and aggression then we see what we see.
      (Yuliya Latynina, writer and journalist) Of course we see that a large part of people who were on the square (Manezhnaya Ploshchad in central Moscow on 11 December) were connected with the Nashi (pro-Kremlin) movement. There was a Vasya Killer there, and members of pro-Kremlin movements. Probably this is a question for (first deputy head of the presidential administration Vladislav) Surkov because there is no fascism-lite. If at the Seliger (youth camp) you explain to people that Russia is great and the West does not like us and think that this is nothing, not serious, because in fact you can't give a damn about Russia and keep your accounts in the West, you must be prepared to realize that fascism-lite, fat-free fascism does not exist.
      (Presenter) The authorities have reproached the opposition. They said that the liberals had set the trend with unauthorized rallies and now hooligans and radical youths are following suit. The liberals have replied that it was the authorities who set the trend by constantly banning peaceful rallies of dissenters, and that in the whole history of these rallies there have never been any riots or public disorder. Tension appeared only when OMON (riot police) tried to disperse the rallies. The opposition believe that the latest events in Moscow in fact stem from rallies organized by Nashi and other pro-Kremlin youth groups. These activists constantly display aggression and intolerance.
      (Yegor Kholmogorov, writer and journalist) From Surkov's point of view, one can undoubtedly see the guilt of the liberals. Indeed, throughout last spring and summer, there was quite a large number of unauthorized rallies and police's strength was constantly tested. In some situations it became clear that they are not very strong. As a result, it became very clear that the liberals did not have a monopoly on authorized rallies in Moscow, and other forces can do the same.
      (Vladimir Mirzoyev) This is manipulation and distortion. If he believes that nobody is watching his hands, he is mistaken. One can see with the naked eye that he distorts things. I don't know whom he is trying to deceive. Maybe he is deceiving himself in this way.
      (Andrey Savelyev) The country is plunged in criminal chaos. Ethnic crime has spread from the North Caucasus into the whole country and is present everywhere and this is the fault of the authorities. I don't understand what Surkov is talking about. He does not give the names of people or organizations. The authorities are rather enjoying banning everything they want on a whim but this is a question for the authorities.
      (Presenter) An interesting event happened in the internet yesterday. Bloggers said that access to videos about the street riots had been blocked. If so, this is the first incident of internet control in Russia in the interests of state security on this scale. (passage omitted)
      (Yuliya Latynina) I think that Moscow would have been plunged into bloodshed on both sides if Moscow police had not acted correctly. I think that if (former Moscow police chief) Pronin rather than Kolokoltsev had been Moscow police chief, we would have been drowned in blood.
      (Akhmed Azimov, chairman of the Moscow department of the Russian Congress of the Peoples of the Caucasus) There can be small clashes and conflicts but this is the responsibility of the parents. I saw the faces of these children. They were children, they were probably 15 years old, they have indifference in their eyes, they lack drive, expression, something interesting in their lives, and they go out looking for adventures, not knowing the smell of blood or gun powder. They don't understand that they may not come back home. (passage omitted)

      Riots highlight need for Russia to define itself
      By: Ed Bentley
      Moscow News, December 16, 2010

      The recent riots offered yet more proof that Russia still has not come to terms with what or who it is a debate that has been simmering since the country's foundation.
      Nationalists screamed "Russia for Russians" as they fought people from the North Caucasus, which is part of the Russian Federation.
      This is a clear sign that many people and not just xenophobes, racists, and nationalists have not come to terms with the country's identity following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
      Russia's confused, and often absent, national identity poses serious problems for the country, in particular the recent riots, and society quickly needs to foster a healthy form of nationalism.
      Many will argue that nationalism is inherently bad, but it is crucial to forming a working state and democracy. If the people cannot decide who they are, then how can they choose who will represent them, or even what they represent?
      It is a fact that democracy has never been formed without something close to a coherent nation.
      The recent violence should now be the catalyst for holding the crucial debate about what makes someone a Russian.
      Even the language, which many would argue is a key part of a nation's make-up, is confused about who Russians are. There are two words; deals with citizens of the Russian Federation irrespective of ethnicity, whereas refers to someone ethnically Russian.
      The type of nationalism which differentiates people by race is a dangerous form, and exactly that which has been allowed to fester eventually exploding into the violence on Moscow's streets.
      Vladimir Putin, after his shot at the liberal opposition, made exactly this point; that being Russian should be a "civic" rather than an "ethnic" thing.
      "Everyone has to understand that we are all children of the same country, so that a man from the Caucasus should not be scared to go out to Moscow streets, and Slavic people shouldn't be afraid to live in the Caucasus," the prime minister said in his Q & A session on Thursday. "We have a common motherland. Russia has been a multi-confessional and multi-ethnic state."
      The government now needs to take the lead in starting the debate about what being Russian means, something that should have started in 1991, when the country was described as the corridor in a communal apartment.
      Ideally, this should be about believing in what is best for your fellow people, democracy and human rights, regardless of where someone was born, their blood or the colour of their skin.
      If you live by these ideals, then the people should welcome you into their nation but society needs to start changing for this to happen.
      The US is a brilliant example because it shows some of the beauty of civic pride and nationalism, but equally has a history of its worst traits.
      The vast majority of Americans believe in the country's ideology and its constitution to the extent that school children say an almost pompous pledge of allegiance every morning.
      It is a country of immigrants, but the majority are willing to attach American to their nationality while preserving their heritage.
      Even African-Americans do this, despite slavery, the Jim Crow Laws and persecution against them some of the most despicable treatment of people simply due to ethnicity.
      While the treatment of African-Americans, the Japanese during World War 2 and growing prejudice against Mexicans make it an imperfect example, the ideal is something Russia should follow.
      The old battles of ethnicity are still raging, but now is the time to start discussing them and to realise they simply stand in the way of a healthy form of nationalism.

      Putin and Medvedev Regime Challenged by Nationalist Football Fans
      By: Pavel Felgenhauer
      Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 225, December 16, 2010

      Rioting by nationalist youths and football fans on December 11, in Moscow was followed by fresh outbreaks of violence on December 15. Russian and non-Russian rioters known in Russia as "Caucasians" -representing different ethnic groups from the North and South Caucasus- are reported to have clashed with each other and with riot police (Otryad Militsii Osobogo Naznatcheniya-OMON). Security forces in Moscow chased groups of young hooligans in the Metro system and there were massive arrests. The Moscow city police department has reported over 1,300 were detained and 30 injured (Interfax, December 16). There were lesser-scale ethnic clashes in the streets of St. Petersburg, Samara and Rostov-on-Don (RIA Novosti, December 15).
      The rioting has rattled the authoritarian Russian regime, whose legitimacy (as any autocracy) is based not on election results, but on total control and the effective suppression of public opposition. There was fear and anxiety on December 15, during the evening rush hours in the Metro that carries more than nine million passengers on work days in Moscow. The Metro had an eerie scent of an ethnic combat zone in the making, with "Russians" (people with Slavic-looking faces) and the different non-Russian passengers exchanging cautious glances, awaiting possible violence or trouble. People were using mobile phones to report their progress through the Metro system to worried friends and family. The heavy presence of security forces did not help to offer reassurance, since the corrupt and brutal police are nobody's friend in Russia. As riots and the security forces partially closed streets, the notoriously bad Moscow rush hour transport situation turned into a traffic meltdown. My face is non-Russian, though being obviously Semitic, it does not really qualify as "Caucasian" too -not much of a bonus during ethnic strife.
      The present political crisis began on December 6, after a street brawl between Moscow soccer club FC Spartak fans and migrants from the North Caucasus. Spartak fan, Yegor Sviridov, 28, was killed, allegedly by Aslan Cherkesov, 26, of Kabardino-Balkaria, using a legally owned rubber bullet pistol. Cherkesov's lawyer, Venera Goncharova, claims it was self-defense (RIA Novosti, December 15). Sveridov's killing and funeral initiated a series of mass protests by football fans, demanding punishment of the guilty "Caucasians." On December 11, some 5,000 to 10,000 football hooligans and nationalists protesting against Sviridov's death gathered on central Moscow's Manezh Square close to the Kremlin. The protest turned into a riot, as teenaged nationalists displayed en masse Nazi salutes, yelled "Russia for Russians," "Kill! Kill!" and "Moscow for Muscovites," attacked non-Russian looking pedestrians and clashed with riot police that seemed to be reluctant to take affirmative action to restore order. The rioters eventually dispersed, moving into the Metro and continuing to attack non-Russians. Some told journalists that the OMON police and Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, supported "Caucasians" and were "rotten" (Kommersant, December 13).
      President, Dmitry Medvedev, denounced the December 11 riots as "a crime that must be punished" and claimed it threatened the stability of the Russian state (www.kremlin.ru, December 13). Reports appeared in the Internet that on December 15, North Caucasian youth would gather in downtown Moscow to revenge the Russian nationalists (Kommersant, December 14).
      Officials have claimed the nationalist riots were organized by anonymous forces bent on destroying Russia. Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, known to be close to Putin, in an address on Russian state TV recalled that the CIA used ethnic strife to dismantle the USSR twenty years ago and the same may be happening again (Vesti, December 14). The chief ideologist of Putin's Russia, the first deputy chief of the Kremlin administration, Vladislav Surkov, claimed the nationalist riots were the direct result of nonviolent opposition liberal protests that are regularly aggressively dispersed by riot police in Moscow (Izvestiya, December 16). Surkov, 46, was born in Shali, Chechnya, the son of a Russian mother and a Chechen father, birth name: Aclambek Dudayev. Russia is indeed a multiethnic entity.
      The officially registered permanent population of Moscow is some 10.5 million and 85 percent of these are ethnic Russians, according to the 2002 census. But, according to City Hall on workdays the actual population swells to between 15 million and 20 million with migrants that live in the city or the extended Moscow region suburbs (http://moscow.ru, December 15). There are millions of non-Russians in Moscow and the region from the Caucasus, Central Asia and other parts of the former Soviet empire and from different Third World nations. There are enough munitions for an extended ethnic confrontation.
      The ethnically Russian working class populous of Moscow seems to broadly support the nationalistic rioters and football hooligans in their hatred of Caucasians and other non-Russians, as well as their disdain of the corrupt police. According to Gennady Gudkov, former FSB (KGB) colonel and deputy chief of the Just Russia faction in the State Duma, the riots reflect the negative feelings of the Russian people, disgruntled by "total corruption, inflation and lack of democracy" and "serious political reform is needed" as a permanent remedy (Kommersant, December 15).
      The OMON police seems to be comfortable in using force to suppress the non-violent liberal opposition, but reluctant to do so against the Russian-nationalist working class rioters. The number of OMON troops is limited: two battalions in Moscow and scattered small contingents in other regions. The regular police force is ill equipped to deal with serious riots. The Putin and Medvedev regime has failed to build a professional military: the defense and interior ministry troops consist of poorly trained and motivated one year serving conscripts led by disgruntled officers. Plans to create a professional sergeant corps have faltered: during a recent interview the Defense Minister, Anatoliy Serdyukov, disclosed that only 2,500 cadets are at present being trained as professional sergeants while hundreds of thousands are needed (Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, November 24).
      The conscript interior and defense ministry forces are incapable of effectively dealing with widespread ethnic strife if it engulfs Russia and they begin to split along ethnic lines, since ethnic hazing is already bedeviling many units. There is little backup to support the overstretched OMON. The regime does not have the means to impose an effective curfew in Moscow if ethnic strife genuinely spirals out of control. The Putin and Medvedev regime seems today much less stable and confident than only one week ago.


      Russia in 2010: The Revenge of Nationalism
      By Andreas Umland
      American Chronicle, December 19, 2010

      For several days now, Russia has been haunted by nationalistic demonstrations, violent ethnic brawls, and resulting mass arrests. The series of interrelated events was triggered by the death of a Russian soccer fan in a scuffle between ethnic Russian and north Caucasian youth in Moscow, on 6 December 2010. International media has focused on the following violent clash between neo-Nazi demonstrators, on the one side, and Russian policemen, on the other, on Manezh Square, in the Moscow city center, on 11 December 2010, as well as on some subsequent clashes in the Russian capital. There were several other, less spectacular, but also massive Russian nationalist public gatherings before this confrontation in Moscow as well as more in other cities including Rostov-on-the-Don and St. Petersburg.
      Russia's Murderous Skinhead Movement
      In fact, these news-making events are merely the latest episodes in a story that - often unnoticed outside and concealed inside Russia - has been developing over several years now. The Moscow SOVA (Owl) Center for Information and Analysis, Russia's leading xenophobia monitoring NGO, has been closely watching the multifarious Russian ultra-nationalist scene since the middle of this decade. According to SOVA, in 2004-2009, Russian racists killed on average between one and two persons per week - a death rate that has no equivalent, in any comparable country. The peak of the violent campaign was reached in 2008 when SOVA reported 114 deadly hate crimes as well as 497 cases of serious injuries - most of them committed by young russocentric skinheads.
      To be sure, the number of grave hate crimes (heavy health damages, murders) recorded by SOVA has decreased in 2009-2010 as a result of the increasingly harsh measures of the Russian state against neo-Nazi youth groups during the last couple of years. Yet, as the events of last week illustrate, the Russian state's recent resoluteness in persecuting racist murders has had so far little effect on the overall spread of ultra-nationalism in Russian society, in general, and Russia's male youth, in particular. (It also needs to be noted that SOVA has a conservative approach to counting xenophobic offenses and is cautious to qualify a certain misdemeanor or murder as a hate crime. Moreover, many, if not most xenophobic assaults are, because of the bad reputation of the Russian law enforcement agencies, probably never reported to the police.)
      Neither the Russian nor the Western public have so far become fully aware of the magnitude of Russia's neo-fascist subculture. Meanwhile, the embassies of Asian and African countries in Moscow have been struggling to deal with the problem that, each year, dozens of their nationals are insulted, harassed, attacked, injured, as well as sometimes killed in Russia because of their skin color. In March of this year, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs took the unusual step to issue an official recommendation not to visit the Russian Federation because there had been several assaults on Korean citizens, in the preceding months.
      The Sad Irony of Post-Soviet Russian Anti-Fascism
      Especially during the last decade, Russia has been presenting itself, on the international scene and in her national mass media, as the prime defeater of fascism. Yet, among foreign students, guest workers and migrants who come to visit or to live in Russia as well as among Russian citizens with a "non-Slavic" appearance, the country has acquired a strange reputation. Russian officials and mass media have been missing no opportunity to berate neighboring countries such as Estonia and Ukraine for their alleged support of "fascist" tendencies. Mostly, these allegations concerned some post-Soviet governments' permissiveness towards reunions of veterans who had collaborated with the Nazis and foug<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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