Thursday, December 16, 2010

Racial riots in Moscow

This is just going to be a quick post, as I have to run out the door in a few minutes to teach, but this is just so shocking and horrible!! Yesterday race riots broke out in Moscow, and it seems like the atmosphere is just getting worse. Over 800 people have been detained by the riot police. Neo-Nazis are storming popular places like the Evropeisky Mall and Kievskaya metro station, waiting for anybody who "looks" like an immigrant (ie. from the Caucasus and the "stans" - Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, etc) to come out so they can beat them up...or worse. This is so terrifying and disgusting. But am I surprised?

Sadly, no. I have had to overhear too many of my own students - all, for the most part, well-educated, well-off, and well-traveled - make racial slurs and comments in regards to Muslim and Jewish minorities. This is not to say that all Russians are racist!! Far from it. But there is a pervasive attitude here towards racial and religious minorities that is very, very terrifying to witness. As these rioters gather and scream out epithets such as "Russia for the (ethnic) Russians! Moscow for the Muscovites!" I can only go about my day here, a few kilometres from Moscow, and pray that the people who are the targets of such hatred and ignorance remain safe. As a foreigner myself in this country, I was told today that I should avoid speaking English or badly-accented Russian when I'm out on the street in case I set myself up as a target, but that I should be "okay" because I "don't look like I'm from the Caucasus." Oh wow. So just because I have white skin I'll be left alone by these insane people??? What kind of world do we live in?

One of my best friends is Jewish; I also have Muslim friends. I have Catholic friends, atheist/agnostic friends, people I care about deeply from all walks of life, from all religions, and from all countries. I was just never raised to differentiate between religions, between skin colour, between races, like this. It absolutely overwhelms me that there are people who have such hate in their lives.

Please keep the people who are the targets of these riots in your prayers.


  1. I think a legitimate cause of this gathering - to demand a justice for killers of Egor Sviridov was exploited by radicals (or maybe FSB provocateurs). In a crowd of several thousands it requires a few dozens people to make a nazi salutes and to chant nazi slogans to get journalists attention. The same for beatings - most of the people who gathered there even didn't see any beating - it happened, but was very limited, concerning the number of people involved. If this event was organized by those who want to hurt (or scare away) those racial minorities, they'd march to the places where said minorities are living. And then things would turn REALLY ugly. But that was not the case.
    Obviously, racial tension in Russia exists. North Caucasians - namely Chechens, Dagestanis, Ingushes are notorious for their cruelty. Tajiks - for heroin traffiking (thanks NATO for occupuing Afganistan!). And so on. And its too much often perpetrators from the named minorities are escape justice just because they have help of their tight-knit diasporas, while their russian victms are atomised. Just google names Egor Sviridov, Yuri Volkov, Maxim Sychov. So this impression is very widespread - if a russian have a conflict with the caucasian, azeri or ...stani - russian can't get help from anybody. Local authorities, police, everyone - will turn a blind eye to russian being victimized, but will prosecute any attempt to a self-defence. Plus, even if you can repel attack of some chechen boy - his "teip" (clan) will teach you a lesson. And police surely will turn a blind eye to this.
    So, this is an underlying motive for the riots in Moscow, St.Petersburg and Rostov on Don (also look up Kondopoaga some time ago).
    Please don't think I am a racist, I married to a jewish woman and my sister married to a jamaican man. And we have children.
    p.s.s. Thats a longest commetary i've ever wrote.

  2. Uh, yeah, anyway: