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Monday, May 08, 2006

Just When You Think it Can't Get any Worse IV: British Home Office Duped by Spymaster Putin

As previously reported on La Russophobe, we were investigating the possiblity that the British Home Office has begun to deny asylum requests from dark-skinned Russian refugees based on its inane report indicating that Russia is making "progress" on racism. We promised readers to investigate the matter further and have done so. A helpful reader has provided us with a copy of a document which clearly shows that the Home Office is in fact beginning to impose such a policy. Here is the letter, which is dated November 8, 2005 (some redactions have been made to protect the identity of the asylum seeker, who could face retaliation if his identity were disclosed). It is response to someone who was in Britian and asked not to be sent back to Russia because of the racial retribution he would face there.

The key passage is to be found on the second page, paragraphs 9-13, which states:

"Paragraph 3.7.7 of the Russia operational guidance October 2005 states 'In March 2005 President Putin publicly stated that the government would focus on the fight against xenopobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of extremism. The government has established a special police unit in St. Petersburg for crimes against foreigners to monitor skinhead groups and some courts have acknowledged the problems of racism and extremism.' According to a BBC News Article about racial discrimination in Russia (10 October 2005) 'Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged the serious ness of the problem. In a televised question and answer session last month he apologised to foreigners who have been attacked and promised to end racist activities in Russia.' It is considered that the authorities are focused on stopping discrimination and extremism in Russia. It is considered that you could seek the protection of the authorities in Russia if you had any problems. It is further considered that you could also move to a different area of Russia if you had any problem on your return."

Obviously, these bizarre claims constrast rather starkly with the recent reports of racial violence in Russia as documented by La Russophobe, clearly demonstrating the horrific consequences that can result from the world's misunderstanding of what is happening in Russia because of Russophile and nationalist propaganda.

But never fear! La Russophobe is here! A light must be shone on this ghastly scenario, and so it shall be. As a first step, La Russophobe has dispatched a letter to the editor of the Sunday Times referencing the paper's fine exposé on Russian racism published this past Sunday (see post below), providing them with a copy of the Home Office Letter. Hopefully this will lead to the appropriate light being shed on this matter, and if it does not rest assured that La Russophobe is placing a number of other irons into the fire, and requests that readers do likewise.

15 comments:

Reith said...

Just when you thought this site could not get any more peculiar, now this.
Unfortunately, the curious reader is unable to make one's own conclusions on the merits of the documented case as a result of a combination of the expurgations of this blog's editor and the fact that supporting material has been reproduced in an illegible form.
However, if it can be surmised from the explanatory paragraphs above that the British Home Office is being expected to offer asylum to "dark-skinned Russians", who number in their millions, then that is enough to show this latest outing by La Russophobe is no less ridiculous than all those that have preceded it. Are we to conclude that any and every North Caucasian that arrives in Britain from Russia (not excluding those that are members of the Chechen military resistance, of course), should be offered asylum on the merest suggestion that they may or may not be attacked by racists on their immediate return to their native country. While nobody can dispute that the rate of racially motivated attacks is high, these are pretty weak grounds on which to base admission of a case for asylum.
It is also absurd to dismiss the suggestion that the applicant might consider moving to a different area of Russia; the obvious implication of Home Office recommendations being that racist violence has been manifest in specific hotspots, rather than across the entire country as this website would probably like its readers to believe.
It would also be an utter nonsense to draw parallels between this case, the little one is given to know about it, and those previously highlighted on this blog, which LR helpfully rounded up in an earlier post:

April 6 Voronezh: Vietnamese man beaten to death
April 7 St Petersburg: Senegalese student shot dead
April 8 Moscow: girl of 19 with Asian features bludgeoned to death
April 8 Moscow region: Tajik worker thrown from train
April 13 Volgograd: two gypsies beaten to death
April 16 Moscow: 19-year-old anti-fascist activist knifed
April 22 Moscow: Tajik builder stabbed
April 22 Moscow: Armenian student stabbed

Of all these cases, only two may (and that's a big may) have qualified for asylum on the grounds that this blog has proposed, seeing as the victims in question were not even Russian. This is not to condone the horrific acts of racism that these incidents illustrate, but to draw attention to foolishness and irrelevance of the sensation that LR purports to be uncovering.
Again, in spite of earlier lines of defence along the lines "this website is about Russia", could a black man from the United States claim asylum in a foreign country on the basis of the fact that he has been racially abused by the police or a member of the public? Though this is a frequent enough occurrence, there is no government that could accept an asylum plea from a U.S. citizen on this basis.
Racial abuse is a scourge in Russia, as it is in many Western countries, but who would seriously believe that creating a diplomatic incident on such patently flimsy and nonsensical grounds as those proposed by LR could do any good to improve the situation of Senegalese students in St. Petersburg, among others?

La Russophobe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
La Russophobe said...

Anyone who is jealous that La Russophobe is already making news when she has hardly even existed yet can go jump in Pathetic Lake.

La Russophobe said...

Anyone who would like to receive their own copies of the documents in question for close inspection may request them by emailing La Russophobe at larussophobe@yahoo.com.

Johann said...

Reiths comment is so stupid its not even worth replying to.

I don't think it sounds like he cares what is happening to all those people being beaten up in Russia. Just says 'Racial abuse is a scourge in Russia, as it is in many Western countries'. In order words, it happens elsewhere so Russia's off the hook.

Do YOU do anything to help these people Reith or just sit around making snide comments to try and look clever?

Reith said...

Johann,
You are wrong on every point you have raised. I am interested in the fate of ethnic minorities in Russia as I happen to have many friends among them. However, this blog's implication that the problem can be remedied by the British Home Office offering asylum to either non-Slavic minorities or non-Russian nationals living in Russia is an utterly absurd one.
Neither did I say that racism in other countries lets Russia off the hook. The fact is that to claim that it is a feature of society inherent to Russia, or even to say that it is worse in Russia than anywhere else, is not true.
So what are you doing to combat racism while answering comments that don't need answering, Johann? Whatever it is, it doesn't look like it's working.

Johann said...

I didn't ask if you had friends who were coloured.

I asked what YOU were doing to help these people.

You didn't answer.

Reith said...

Oh, now I'm the problem. The point of me saying that I have "coloured" friends, as you so gracefully put it, is that I think I have some (limited) insight into the problems that they have in Russia. As it is, many of them do not report the problems that people like you seem to believe they suffer every single day. In Moscow, at any rate, violent racism is a relatively rare occurence, so short of creating the pointless diplomatic incident I spoke about earlier or guarding them 24 hours a day, there is not an awful lot that can be done. As the experience of other countries shows, racism is a social problem that takes generations to deal with. The United States, which is presumably the benchmark that LR thinks Russia should aspire to, is perfect evidence of this, is still a place where racist attitudes are extremely common, notwithstanding Consitutions and all.
In my own small way I have set to challenge certain Russians I've met, some of them as students, who have preconceived notions about racial minorities. Fortunately, most of my acquaintances are enlightened enough not to hold such opinions. Contrary to what you believe, and I say this while realising that the actual truth will mean nothing to people with prejuduced views, most Russians are not neo-Nazis hell-bent on ridding the country of foreigners.
But no, let's go with your idea. Let Britain give asylum to millions of non-Slavic Russians, most of whom live in places where they constitute the majority of the population anyway. How ridiculous can you get?

Johann said...

What a lot of words.

You've just talked to some people, right?

And anyway, as you say, you wouldn't need to do much because "In Moscow, at any rate, violent racism is a relatively rare occurence". Except your first comment lists 5 deaths in 15 days in Moscow and the Moscow region last month

That is what you call relatively rare?

Is this the same country about which last month Amnesty International said:

“Racist killings and violent attacks against foreigners, visible ethnic minorities and anti-racist campaigners in Russia are OUT OF CONTROL and some Russian authorities are turning a blind eye."

Maybe Amnesty, not usually known as a friend of the arch capitalist USA is now joining it in a worldwide anti-Russian worldwide conspiracy?

Or maybe you are wrong.

La Russophobe said...

JOHAN: Very nicely said. Welcome to La Russophobe!

Reith said...

This debate has conveniently shifted emphasis. The original post was about the foolishness of the British government's refusal to entertain asylum for Russian citizens. Nothing you have said addresses the fundamentally fallacious logic of that criticism.
But to address your main point, I have never maintained that racism, in all its forms, does not exist in Russia, or in Moscow for that matter. Indeed, April was an unusually bloody month for racist violence, but the manipulation of these events in the service of a generalised assumption of Russians' inherent racism is rubbish. These attacks constitute part of the work a disgusting extremist minority that does not reflect general attitudes. For all its worth, Putin himself paid some lip service to the problem of ethnic hatred during today's Victory Day parade. He could do this because he knows that it is a sentiment that rings true to the vast majority of Russians.
Incidentally, you can keep your weak scorn to yourself as far as "talking to some people" is concerned. There is no magic wand to wave away all the problems that exist in Russia, but it makes a small difference in working out how to solve them if you can at least understand them in the first place. Indeed, this forum is shaping up as the ideal location for the shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later brigade.

Reith said...

Incidentally, a vastly more constructive exchange than this was held during the last edition of the BBC's Radius program, which should remain online for the next twenty hours or so. It is available for listening to at this website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/russian/programmes/newsid_3029000/3029081.stm

Norton said...

Reith
there is a Human rights report about what’s going on in Russia! And if u want to know more what happen to the Asylum seeker and his family, why they are seeking asylum in UK please let me know and I will put some more details on the LR site. In my opinion u have no idea what’s going on in Russia even I think u have been to Russia not more then couple of times and for sure you are a white skinned Wealthy European who is sitting in his warm and cosy house and making such comments about people who r suffering from the brutality of Russian authorities.
"We are not considered to be people. We’re like a completely separate state"
A man from a Roma settlement near St Petersburg.
"I didn’t go to the police because I’ve been hearing more cases that … even people that go to the police to make a report … in the end it goes against them..."
Roni Kumi from Ghana was attacked by four men in a Moscow street.

Racially-motivated killings, beatings and discrimination are on the increase in the Russian Federation, according to a new report published today. The government of the country, currently chairing the Group of the eight most-industrialized countries (G8 Group) and about to chair the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for the next six months, is failing to sufficiently challenge xenophobia and intolerance.
Amnesty International's latest report Russian Federation: Violent racism out of control examines cases of assaults, some of them fatal, against foreign students, asylum-seekers and refugees from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America; members of ethnic groups and migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia; as well as members of the Jewish community and Roma. It reveals the failure of the authorities to prevent racially-motivated attacks through adequate policing, and to investigate and prosecute the vast majority of such attacks effectively. "Russia's record on racism is incompatible with the country's place on the international stage and undermines its standing in the world. As a Council of Europe member about to take its chair, and head of the G8, Russia must comply with its obligations under international human rights law," said Irene Khan, Amnesty International's Secretary General.
"The state has a responsibility to protect the human rights of all people on its territory -- regardless of the colour of their skin. They must challenge and bring to justice those who violate them. It is time for the Russian authorities to address the country's deteriorating human rights record and live up to their international obligations if they seek to be international players."
According to Russian information centre (the Sova Information Analytical Centre), in 2005 alone 28 people were murdered and 366 assaulted on racial grounds. The actual figure, however, could be much higher as many racially motivated crimes are either not reported at all or not registered as such. Rather, police and prosecution authorities frequently prefer to classify them as so-called “hooliganism”. The perpetrators of racist attacks often come from well-organized groups professing a racist, neo-fascist and violent ideology. According to official figures, there are about 150 "extremist groups" with over 5000 members in Russia, while non-governmental organizations put the membership at 50,000. At the same time, organizations and people researching and campaigning against racism face real threats to their lives.
"These violent attacks are one of the most visible manifestations of deep-seated intolerance and xenophobia in many parts of Russian society. Yet turning a blind eye to race hate crimes has encouraged the growth of extreme xenophobia and neo-facism in the country," said Ms Khan.
Following large-scale violent attacks against civilians attributed to Chechen armed opposition groups, Chechens and members of other North Caucasian ethnic groups have been subjected to persecution. As members of a minority group, which may be visibly distinct from ethnic Russians, they are also particularly vulnerable to on the spot document checks, as part of so-called “counter-terrorist” measures or for the purposes of extortion by police. A monitoring project by a human rights organization in 2005 found that people of non-Slavic appearance are on average 21 times more likely to be stopped and asked for their documents than individuals of Slavic appearance, when travelling on the Moscow metro.
"Racism is an attack on the very notion of the universality of human rights. It systematically denies certain people the enjoyment of their full human rights because of their colour, race, ethnicity, descent or national origin. Under international human rights law, Russia must fight discrimination in all of its forms," said Ms Khan.
"Some regional authorities have taken initiatives to address racism, but they are woefully inadequate and isolated. The time has come for the federal government to put into action a comprehensive national plan to give the fight against racism the high priority it deserves."
See:
Russian Federation: Violent racism out of control (AI Index: EUR 46/016/2006) http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engeur460162006
Documenty! Discrimination on grounds of race in the Russian Federation (AI Index: EUR 46/001/2003) http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engeur460012003

La Russophobe said...

Gosh Norton, you're going to put me out of business! Nice work. Welcome to La Russophobe.

michael said...

My Russian wife, who lives in Scotland with me, phoned her mum in St Petersburg a few weeks ago after seeing a program on a Russian channel that we receive here in Scotland, which was covering the plight of the 9 year old girl stabbed to death in St Petersburg, I think in 2004. Anyway, when my wife mentioned the program to her mum, and told her how shocking this racial killing had been, her mum simply replied "Well she deserved it didn't she? Filthy Tajik girl."

My point? Clearly some Russians think their cities should not be inhabited by those they consider not true Russians. Sad- yes. Shocking- yes. True, unfortunately, yes. My wife was certainly speechless. Like me.