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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Putin Uses Neo-Soviet Sham Arrests to Dupe G-8 on Race

Did somebody say "Village of Potemkin"? Reporting on the recent arrest in St. Petersburg of an alleged skinhead gang, Britain's Guardian lays bare the naked manipulation inherent in the proceedings:

"No doubt there are some real villains among them, but finding this gang was responsible for every racist crime of the last few years is remarkably convenient just before the G8 summit," said Nikolai Donskov, editor of the St Petersburg office of the liberal weekly, Novaya Gazeta.

Ali Nassor, a co-founder of the advocacy group, African Union, agreed. "It's just too much of a happy ending," he said. "When you look at the kind of stuff that gets printed here every day, at the kind of extremists whom the law never touches, then you realise what a fantasy it is that racism is solved in this city."

A recent cultural awareness campaign launched by African Union in local schools drew this response from local newspaper, Novy Peterburg: "It's obvious that these black-skinned Africans are coming into our country from stagnant places that are teeming with infections. Bacteria and microbes living in Africa represent a serious danger to the health of white people."

Several racist groups continue to operate with impunity. St Petersburg has a branch of the ultra-right Slavyansky Soyuz (Slavic Union, or SS) organisation, which promotes Hitler's Mein Kampf on its website.

Another group based in the city is the Party of Freedom, run by former policeman Yuri Belyaev.

"The first thing these immigrants ought to think when they are leaving home in the morning is: will I die today or not?" Mr Belyaev told Guardian Unlimited. "They should move around like scared animals - creeping along besides the walls."

Asked if he was a racist, Mr Belyaev said: "Yes. This is a question of taste. Some people don't like apples. I don't like negroes. They are biological parasites."

Mr Nassor said that while such bigots are allowed to thrive there can be no talk of racism being defeated. "What I'd like to see is some real leadership from President Putin," he said. "Right now, it's too easy to conclude that he's keeping quiet for political gain. He knows there's a big nationalist contingent that votes for him."

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