In an awesome and terrifying two-part opus by a Russian reporter, Time magazine lays bare the horrors of Russian racism (the young lady in the photograph is a member of the National Bolshevik Party and is holding a copy of the book Another Russia by Eduard Limonov, founder of the party; nationalism and racism, it seems, go hand and hand in Russia these days, and indeed you have to look quite closely to realize that the young lady isn't actually a Nazi).
Part I: Russia's Racism Problem
More and more Russians believe their country is for whites only, and that's leading to deadly violence
By Yuri Zarakhovich (Moscow)
The blast that ripped through a small cafe in the Cherkizovo market in eastern Moscow Monday morning killed eight instantly, including two children aged four and five. Two more victims died in a hospital, and the death count may yet grow: eleven of 35 wounded are in extremely grave condition. It was a brutal attack, and many Westerners acquainted with the Chechen rebels' tactics over the years might at first simply conclude it was yet another front in the war on terror — a random act of violence perpetrated by Islamic militants bent on inflicting as much carnage as possible on the West, be it George Bush's U.S. or Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Except that most of those killed are Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chinese and Vietnamese — the "blacks" or "churki" (wooden stubs), as Russian Nationalists derogatively call non-white foreigners, and as the increasing number of average Russians casually echo them. On Tuesday, law enforcement officials said they identified the bombers as three young ethnic Russian students of
As repugnant as that may sound, it is becoming an increasingly popular view in today's
Last September, a
I met Shultz88's stormtroopers in July 2004. One of them introduced himself as Alexei, but would not give his last name because he was facing that same trial. He had spent six months in pre-trial detention, but was set free. Alexei boasted about the number of the "churki" and "yids" he assaulted—-"And I don't care how many of them died." There wasn't another Alexei at the Shultz88 trial, so it must be him whom they let off scot-free. He knew he could afford to boast.
A day before that encounter I talked with Yuri Belyayev, leader of the neo-Nazi Freedom Party, based in
Belyayev also knew he did not risk anything. He supported Putin and believed the President shared some of his goals. "He is for rubbing the churki out, and for a strong
It is true that on the eve of the G-8 Summit, Putin's government had to show that it had cleaned up
About a week ago, a band of skinheads beat to pulp a Tajik boy in a dacha
What many Russians do not understand is that once they use the hate vocabulary of "churki" and "blacks", they feed the specter of fascism even if they do not fully support it. And yes, this specter is getting out of hand.
Back in July 2004, Alexei of the Shultz88 group told me: 'The time of our shahids, and our bombings, has come.' He was talking of groups or individuals who would create a Nazi Al Qaeda by linking through the Internet. Two years ago, I thought that the government could still roll all this scum back within a week. Monday's bombing seems to indicate that it might be too late — even if the government actually wanted to.
Part II: From
, with Hate Russia
With skinheads and neo-Nazis on the rise, the country is bracing for a wave of xenophobic attacks
Immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Russians in their thousands brought flowers, wreaths, lighted candles and icons to the
For members of extremist and neo-Nazi groups, Hitler's birthday has become an occasion for venting their anger. And not just against the Americans. On April 20 last year,
Ten years ago skinheads numbered no more than a few dozen in
The situation has become so bad that last month 18 foreign students, mainly from African and Asian countries, studying at
The skinheads also target non-Slav minorities from the
Dressed in bomber or camouflage jackets and heavy steel-tipped boots, skinheads prowl in packs of three to five "fighters" armed with clubs and steel rods. These groups can merge quickly to form mobs of several hundred for major assaults, which seem too well-organized to be spontaneous.
Many Russians hold politicians accountable for skinhead violence. "Why blame the kids?" asks Sergei Antonov, an unemployed