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Friday, September 15, 2006

Talking Turkey About Racism in Russia

The New York Times report on the Kondopoga pogroms raises several interesting points. What follows are key sentences (in black) together with La Russophobe's comments (in red):

Ethnic animosity runs so close to the surface of Russian society that almost anything can cause it to boil over. LR: That just about says it all, doesn't it? Well, not quite though.

Two ethnic Russians had died by the time the brawl ended, but the violence had only just begun. Their deaths — at the hands of men from Azerbaijan and Chechnya — provoked angry protests and on the night of Sept. 2, a rampage through the town, followed by sporadic acts of vandalism that have continued since. LR: Problem number one in dealing with racism in Russia is language. "Ethnic Russians" is a term that could easily confuse many. There are two words for "Russian" in the Russian language, unlike in America where there is only one word "American." Russians have the word "Русский" (ROO-skee) and they have the word "Российский" ("ra-SEE-skee"). If you put the word "Russian" into an online dictionary, the translation you will get is "русский" -- this is roughly like putting "American" into such a dictionary and getting back a Russian word which means "KKK member." To put it a bit more kindly, it's as if there was a single word in English that meant "native born American with white skin." "Русский" means Slavic; it means "real Russian." It means "Russian by blood." If you put in "Российский," however, you'll get an indication that the word doesn't exist. This is the word Russians use to refer to people from Chechnya, supposedly Russian citizens but "not really." It means non-Slavic. It means "Russian by law." It means you have a target on your back. The mere existence of these two words is proof positive that the first sentence above was correct. In fact, a considerable understatement. The difference is made clear at the end of the piece where the Times reports:

Oksana N. Boganova is a Russian who works at one of the stores badly damaged in the rampage, the Azeri-owned Flamingo. It reopened a week after the attack, now with a guard on duty. She lamented what happened and expressed fear of what lay ahead. “I do not know whom we are afraid of,” she said, “the non-Russians or the Russians.”

The Times got sucked into the vortex listening to Ms. Boganova and forgot to insert "ethnic" before "Russian" just like she did, because "everyone knows" that there is only one word that actually means "Russian" and that's "Русский." There's a "Русский" and there's a "non-Russian." Away from the vortex, it should at least be "ethnic Russians and "non-ethnic Russians" or more accurately "racist Russian citizens" and "their dark-skinned, Russian citizen victims." It should be noted that "Российский" is not like "African-American." The term "African-American" is a term invented and applied by dark-skinned minorities themselves, not a term applied to the group by the racist majority. When used by the majority, it's a term of respect. "Российский" when used by Slavs is a term of opprobrium, a subtext for polite company. Those who use the term couldn't care less what the dark-skinned poeple themselves what to be called.

Mobs of young men — fueled by anger and, officials said, alcohol — burned the Seagull club, owned by a businessman originally from Azerbaijan. Then they attacked a series of precisely chosen targets: the homes and businesses of migrants from the Caucasus, mostly from Chechnya. LR: Makes it seem that they were keeping a list of all such places for just such an occasion, doesn't it?

Dozens of the town’s residents, Chechens mostly, but also ethnic Azerbaijanis and Georgians, fled that night. A group of 49 are now staying in a tourist camp outside the regional capital, Petrozavodsk, having escaped what is being widely called a pogrom, one that many here welcomed. LR: When the USSR collapsed, many Russophile maniacs said that Russia "could never turn the clock back" to Soviet times. In fact, not only could Russians in fact do so, but they could turn the clock simultaneously back past Soviet times to the days of the pogrom. Neat trick, isn't it? Next time you hear a Russophile maniac spouting his garbage, remember that.

“They need to leave,” said Denis Doronin, 19, who said he took part in the protests that led to the violence. “They arrive from another country and they act like kings.” LR: This is some real truth. For the "Русский" a Chechen is "from another country" -- except, that is, when they want independence or when foreigners want to help them; then they are "part of Russia" and nobody can say differently.

Ethnic tensions across Russia have been fueled by the latent racism common among many Russians, who freely use the pejorative “blacks” when describing people from the Caucasus, even in casual conversation. LR: More linguistic trouble here. When you take the Russian word for "black" and make it into a noun (say "CHOR-nik"), you get the Russian equivalent of the English word "nigger." This is how most Russians naturally refer to people with dark skin. If they wanted to be more respectful, they'd use the word "Российский" -- that's what it 's there for.

It also reflects a growing political opposition to migrant workers not unlike those movements in Europe and the United States and the indifferent or at times hostile responses from elected officials when violence erupts. LR: God help the dark-skinned people of Russia if they ever take it into their heads to become a public political force. If the Kremlin was prepared to arrest the president of Yukos, put him through a neo-Soviet show trial and sentence him to years in Siberia because he tried to get political, can you imagine what it's prepared to do to the dark-skinned? Or more precisely, to allow to be done by others while it turns the other way?

“The behavior of certain young men who moved here from the Caucasus and other territories in recent years — not that many of them, but they were visible — has been beyond the pale," said Sergei L. Katanandov, governor of Karelia, the region near Finland that includes Kondopoga in an interview with Izvestia on Thursday. LR: That's right, the governor blamed the darkies. By the way, this man is a presidential appointee, not an elected leader. "President" Putin appoints all of Russia's governors. Now, a really crazed Russophile would have you believe that this man is just like George Wallace during the 1960s in America, and tell you that Russia simply "needs time" to learn racial tolerance just like America did. There are are couple of problems with this line of total B.S. First, if its true, it means Russia is an uncivilized country, inferior to the West. But Russia demands equal treatment in Western groups like the U.N. and G-8. Second, there have always been, even in the time of slavery, high-profile leaders of both races in the United States publicly opposing racism and race violence. America fought a war over it more than a century ago. Neither of these points are true in Russia. Try to name Russia's Martin Luther King or imagine how he could emerge. You can't. If he did appear, he'd be Khodorkovskized faster than you could say Jackie Robinson.

The economic success of migrants is at the source of many xenophobic statements, even ones by prominent officials. The country’s leading nationalist politician, Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky, said migrants should be barred from owning markets or shops, hotels, restaurants and bars.“Restaurants and retail outlets should be in the hands of local residents, first and foremost,” he said in a radio interview after the violence in Kondopoga. “Otherwise clashes with local residents are inevitable.” LR: Russians polled said that Zhirinovsky is the sexiest man in Russia. He called for racist pogroms (and a new cold war with the United States) more than a decade ago. Now he's making policy.

“They completely control the prices at the market,”said [one white woman who would not give her name] of the Chechens. “They buy all the potatoes in Karelia. Potatoes are like our second bread. They buy them for 7 rubles and sell them for 15. They do not even work. They just speculate.” Meantime, she added, “Ours are unemployed.” LR: And, she forgot to add, the fact that we white Russians have elected a proud KGB spy as our president, a spy who has abolished the election of governors, destroyed TV news and hoarded the nation's oil revenues has nothing to do with anything.

UPDATE: Here's a classic bit of Russophile gibberish from an ignorant moron named Nikolay in the comment section. He correctly noted that we misspelled "Российский" as "Россиский" but he didn't even put the correct spelling into the online dictionary we mentioned to see if it would change the substance of our text. It doesn't. You can put "Российский" into the Babelfish translator and get "Russian" as a result, and there are of course plenty of dictionaries that will give you "Russian" if you type in "Российский" -- but they won't won't tell you a thing about the difference between this word and "Русский" and many (most?) won't give you "Российский" as a variant if you type in Russian. Note that we didn't say the word "Российский" doesn't exist, we simply said it's a second class racist word in the Russian language. If you study Russian, you meet "Русский" but will have a hard time coming across "Российский." Basically, what the fire-breathing Russophile Nikolay has done is to feverishly search through our text looking for mistakes so he can ridicule our Russian -- in other words, a classic show of Russian xenophobia and paranoia. Where Russians should be encouraging foreigners in using their dying language, instead they attack them. By the way, Nikolay is just mad because he claimed, outrageously, on his blog that people accuse him of being a Russophobe and when La Russophobe challenged him to post a link proving his claim he, of course, failed to do so. Nikolay likes to poke fun at those who dare to use online translators to speak Russian, but he doensn't make fun of Russians who speak English badly. That's because he's such a Russophobe, of course.

9 comments:

Nikolay Ershov said...

If you put in "Россиский," however, you'll get an indication that the word doesn't exist.

Because, as Heather knows and you don't, *drumroll* it's spelt "российский".

Did you know we also have немецкий and германский, separate adjectives for *drumroll* "ethnic German" and "German national"? Any comment on that?

When you take the Russian word for "black" and make it into a noun (say "CHOR-nik"), you get the Russian equivalent of the English word "nigger." This is how most Russians naturally refer to people with dark skin. If they wanted to be more respectful, they'd use the word "Россиский" -- that's what it 's there for.

Er... WHAT?

This is the rough equivalent of saying that when WASP's want to be polite to Native Americans, they'd say "U.S." (as opposed to "American"); otherwise, they'd use [insert non-existent U.S. English racial slur here].

In other words, this is delirious nonsense.

Look, I've figured you out. You're a fantasy geek. Go where you belong. Imagine yourself an elf fighting orcs. Don't reinvent real people with their real nations and languages. You're making and utter fool of yourself. And at some point it just stops being funny.

La Russophobe said...

NIKOLAY:

You are an abject moron. Did you even TRY to put your spelling into the online dictionary I mentioned before making this criticsm? TRY IT YOU MORON!!!! It says "no matches found."

I didn't say the word doesn't exist, I said that it isn't recognized by Russians or dictionaries as a regular variant for "Russian" and the alternative is preferred.

But thanks for your spelling correction and setting an example of careful factual research for me to follow.

If you think "chyornik" doensn't mean nigger, care to tell me what word DOES? You really should have thought of doing that in the first place, shouldn't you? Would have made your point a bit less insane (but only a bit).

guzhevnikov said...

best word for that is
'chyornozhopa'...

Nikolay Ershov said...

Which online dictionary is that? That's like an English dictionary without the word "British".

Well, in the end it seems you did find that word (the update to your post is in contradiction with your comment above). The fun doesn't end here, though. «Российский» is an adjective only. A российский person is called a россиянин. To say that it's "a second class racist word" is just as absurd as the idea of English people being rude to naturalised Pakistani immigrants by calling them "Britons".

"Chyornik" is not a word at all. You made it up and it sounds silly.

I don't have to look for mistakes in your text. You get NOTHING right. EVER. Every time you try to say something in or about the Russian language, you make a complete idiot of yourself.

La Russophobe said...

GUZHY: That is interesting! This could be quite educational. Is your word "mat"? If not, is there a word in "mat"? If the NYT used the term "black" in English as the translation for whatever the Russian speaker said, can you be sure that your term wasn't used? If so, what term was used and how would you translate it? Does it have negative connotation? "Black" in English is a word used by the minority to free themselves from "Negro".

La Russophobe said...

NIKOLAY: It's the dictionary in the LINK on my POST you abject fool. The post you didn't read before you merrily rushed to attack me like a crude thug. Your comment about the misspelling means absolutely nothing because, in fact, just as I said, the word российский is derogatory and it is hard to get it while typing "Russian" into an online dictionary, and the one I used didn't accept it in Russian. So your comment was ignorant and outrageously unfair, as usual. What's more, I doubt there are many dictionaries of any kind that explain the derogatory connotation of российский and you certainly don't cite one, nor do you point out any significant issue with any of the main points of my text. You're so desperate to find some way to attack me that you are pointing out ridiculous technicalities as if they were substantive, which is a predictable Russophile canard.

guzhevnikov said...

LR---
sorry so late to reply.
1. chyorniye in R is negative, it's kinda like nigger, but not as bad or insulting as nigger is in E.
2. the best real insulting word in R akin to 'nigger' is chyornozhopa. (zhopa in russian is 'ass'---so if you really want to insult the person you call em a zhornozhopa, or blackass) so yea, it's very much 'mat'
3. the PC term to use in R is 'negr'---that's okay and acceptable. it's kinda just the opposite of English---'chyorniye' is bad but 'negr' is okay
-----enjoyed the madonna post alot---i heard different version from folks at the show, but i think your post is closer to what happened.

La Russophobe said...

GUZHY: There's no such thing as too late where insightful knowledge is concerned! Can you write "chyornozhopa" in Cyrrillic and then I will update the post accordingly?

How often do you think the PC term is used compared to "chyorniye"? Is it PC because it's what the dark-skinned people want, or is it PC because that what the Slavs decided is respectful?

Kaptur said...

"To put it a bit more kindly, it's as if there was a single word in English that meant "native born American with white skin." "Русский" means Slavic; it means "real Russian." It means "Russian by blood." If you put in "Российский," however, you'll get an indication that the word doesn't exist. This is the word Russians use to refer to people from Chechnya, supposedly Russian citizens but "not really." It means non-Slavic. It means "Russian by law." It means you have a target on your back. The mere existence of these two words is proof positive that the first sentence above was correct. In fact, a considerable understatement"

Do you lie intentionally or out of ignorance?

Take a Russian passport. You will find the person's ethnicity and nationality. It's phalse to claim that Slavs are "russki". What about ethnic Ukrainians with Russian nationality? They will still be "rossiyki". Because the MAIN POINT is that

russki=ethnicity
rossiyki=nationality.

Even in the passport of an ethnic Russian you will find:

Ethnicity=Russki
Nationality=Rossiysky!!

This is done to respect each individual's ethnicity. If it wasn't like that, you would be now criticising that the Russians don't respect cultural identity!!

So delete your phalse statements!

"More linguistic trouble here. When you take the Russian word for "black" and make it into a noun (say "CHOR-nik"), you get the Russian equivalent of the English word "nigger." This is how most Russians naturally refer to people with dark skin. If they wanted to be more respectful, they'd use the word "Российский" -- that's what it 's there for."

Try to look for the word you've written in your famous dictionaries. Will a match be found? You made up the word.

Moreover, it's clear you're trying to make a parallel between Afro-Americans and people YOU call "chorniks" (who's the racist here).

You do it probably to try to attract some unaware reader to you hate cause.

You continue referring to Caucasian people as "dark-skinned", thus showing your own blatant KKK racism. Caucasian people have no dark skin! They are not darker than Southern Italians, for instance! But if they are not perfectly white, you call them dark...Stop being racist and offensive to Caucasian people!

"Russians polled said that Zhirinovsky is the sexiest man in Russia."

I already explained this on your main hate page. In a few words, stop distorting and lying.

To Guzhevnikov:

As far as I know, "negr" is not politically correct at all, it's just as offensive as its English translation. As far as I know, there's no politically correct word to refer to people by the colour of their skin. A "black person" may be referred to as "afrikanetz". Pushkin's great-grandfather was "afrikanetz", certainly not "negr". If the given person is not from Africa, he will be referred to with his nationality.