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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Moscow on Fire

The Moscow Times reports on a race riot in downtown Moscow last week.

Dozens of ultranationalists armed with metal poles and broken bottles attacked people from the Caucasus and Central Asia at two squares near the Kremlin and a third location Friday night, raising fears of an escalation in ethnic violence. One ethnic Armenian was hospitalized with stab wounds and 42 people were detained in the clashes, city police said. The attackers consisted of about 50 members of ultranationalist groups, including the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, which sought to carry out a "provocation against the population of Moscow," police said in a statement, reported. Alexander Belov, the movement's leader, called the accusation "some kind of stupidity" Sunday and said he had given police his own version of events when summoned to a police station Saturday.

Arrests were made on Manezh Square and Slavyanskaya Ploshchad, both near the Kremlin, and outside the Fili metro station in western Moscow. Police arrested a Russian citizen identified as I. Sergeyev, born in 1988, on suspicion of assaulting a D. Aganesyan, born in 1990. The police statement gave no other names or details about the detainees. It was unclear Sunday whether they remained in custody and whether they would face charges. Police said both ultranationalists and immigrants had broken the law on Friday night. They also appealed to leaders of political parties and movements not to "provoke their supporters nor entice youths and minors into committing illegal acts, particularly for ethnic reasons."

The Movement Against Illegal Immigration posted footage of the clashes on its web site. Young men carrying broken bottles and metal poles were seen clashing on what the web site said was Slavyanskaya Ploshchad. In other footage, people chanted "Russia for Russians!" and "Kondopoga!" in reference to ethnic violence in the northwestern town late last summer that followed the killing of two local residents during a brawl with Chechens in a restaurant. Locals took to the streets, burning down the restaurant and targeting other establishments owned by people from the Caucasus. Kondopoga has become something of a cause celebre both for ultranationalists, who claim it serves as a warning to those who tolerate the integration of different ethnicities, and for human rights groups, which call the incident a prime example of the propagation of racism.

Earlier this month, hundreds of people staged a protest in the southern city of Stavropol after two Russian students and an ethnic Chechen were killed in separate incidents there. Protesters called for the banishment of people from the Caucasus from the city. The Movement Against Illegal Immigration participated in the protests in Stavropol and Kondopoga. While tensions have simmered in Moscow, with the occasional fight and anti-immigration rally, larger attacks such as Friday's have been few and far between. Political analysts have speculated that some Kremlin officials are stoking ethnic tensions ahead of national elections to win votes from people worried about an ultranationalist threat.

Belov said Friday's violence, which began at around 8 p.m. on Slavyanskaya Ploshchad, was provoked by people from the Caucasus. "We were peacefully guarding Moscow from gay prostitutes when groups of people from the Caucasus approached and provoked a reaction," he said. The square is known as a cruising area for homosexuals. Belov said his group employs people who are always on hand during such events to document -- this time with the help of video cameras -- what goes on.

Alexander Brod, director of the Moscow Bureau of Human Rights, said quite the opposite was the case. "The work of Belov's organization is to provoke such fights and strengthen the nationalist mood in the country," Brod said. "His organization is gaining momentum, and it is a real threat. Belov travels the country and provokes these fights, this violence, and law enforcement agencies don't touch him," Brod said. "Unfortunately, with the elections coming, these attacks will continue," Brod said, adding that the Movement Against Illegal Immigration has close ties to Dmitry Rogozin's Great Russia, a party created in April to capture the nationalist vote. "One of Russia's most serious illnesses is xenophobia," Brod said.

Rights groups lament the apparent reluctance of authorities to act against race-related crimes. They complain that prosecutors prefer to hit apparent participants with minor public disorder or hooliganism charges. Since the start of this year, at least 32 people have died in racist attacks across the country, and 245 others have been targeted by ultranationalists, human rights activists say.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov condemned the most recent violence. "Any display of chauvinism, xenophobia or nationalism will be harshly put down in our capital, on the basis of the Constitution ... and on the basis of the law," Luzhkov said in televised remarks. The attacks came just hours after the Kremlin announced that President Vladimir Putin nominated Luzhkov to a new four-year term in office. (Story, Page 3.) Opposition politicians in the City Duma and State Duma have said the Kremlin wants to keep Luzhkov in office to help deliver votes in State Duma elections in December and in the March presidential vote.


Anonymous said...

This is Hector,

"Never in my life did I feel prouder of being an African, a black, and no mistake about it....From Moscow to Petrograd and from Petrograd to Moscow I went triumphantly from surprise to surprise, extravagantly feted on every side....I was the first Negro to arrive in Russia since the Revolution, and perhaps I was generally regarded as an omen of good luck! Yes, that was exactly what it was. I was like a black ikon."
--Claude McKay, a Jamaican-born poet comments on his unbelievable reception he received from the people of the Soviet Union in 1922 from his book "A Long War From Home" (1937).

At a time when in the "land of the free" being black was enough to get killed at anytime for any reason. Since the counter-revolution, these times of America clearly plague Russia, thanks to capitalism.

Take the case of Gideon Chimusoro, a 25-year old Zimbabwean student who was murdered by Yeltsin's "democratic" police on 11 August 1992 in commemoration on the anniversary of the counter-revolution the previous year. African and other foreign students protested the next day calling for police protection from the growing racist terror. The Yeltsinite response was sending in the OMON thugs who violently and brutally crushed the foreign student protest. This was the second time the OMON drew blood, the first being the bloody attacks on Communists in February of that year on the first Soviet Army Day since the counter-revolution. How wonderful "freedom" and "democracy" are for Russia. And I guess that now means the OMON defend "freedom" at all costs, and are not thugs?

I really don't understand your way of thinking on this matter. You condemn the racist terror that plagues capitalist Russia, but yet you support that very Yeltsinite force in which these fascist bastards were the very bulk of when the Soviet Union was destroyed. In fact, I remember little Elmer showing support for the fascistic Banderist UPA in Ukraine, whose ideology was anti-semitism, racism, anti-Polish and anti-Russian chauvinism. Unbelievable!

Penny said...

Hey, Hector, try harder, your quote is 70 years old. Rather outdated isn't it.

Today that Jamaican-born poet would probably be attending Harvard or having his face bashed in by Russian skinheads depending on which country he resided.

We all understand your passion for Marxism, but, trying to fashion truth out of ridiculous fragments of truth is pathetic.

Communism died, Hector, even the Chinese can't kill it fast enough. Chavez is your best last hope, too bad the public is getting sick of him.

Anonymous said...

This is Hector,

Great comeback, Penny. Obviously my point flew over your head. Pity, because I thought it was as clear as glass. My point was to show that black people were treated as human beings in the "Evil Soviet Empire" at a time where in the "land of the free" if you weren't white, you were basically fucked for life.

Claude McKay would be getting his head bashed by skinheads in Moscow today(thanks for "freedom", Yeltsin), whereas in the "Evil Empire" he would've been treated as a human being. That is my point.

The truth is ridiculous to you simply because its a truth you don't want to face: racial intollerance was a serious crime in the Soviet Union. Yet under a "free Russia" racists act with impunity. While the USSR was treating its few blacks as human beings, in the "land of the free" people of color were being lynched, harassed, shot, for the color of their skin. This is the truth whether you want to accept it or not.

Lastly, Chavez is not a Communist, little girl. He inherited a ruling class, and reformed it into a left-nationalist regime. Communism is far from dead, little girl. From France to the Czech Republic (my observation from my trip) Much of the workers are disillusioned with capitalism, in prague there is nostalgia. But there's no real party. It looks like you have an admiration of the Chinese Stalinists in selling out the Chinese workers state to capitalism.