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Racism, Xenophobia, Ethnic Discrimination and Anti-Semitism in Russia (January-June 2005)


An analytic report from the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights

(abbreviated version)

Author: Ñåìåí Semen Charny

Chief of the project supported by the EU: Aleksandr Brod

Juridical Project Director : Vladimir Novitsky

Preface

In the first half of 2005, xenophobia in Russia continued to by an a high level. According to data of various sociologic surveys, the number of supporters of xenophobic slogans varied from 50 to 60%. As nations or people that evoke ill will or irritation the following were mentioned the most: Chechens (14,8%), Azerbaijanis (5,1%), Armenians (4,1%), natives from the Caucasus as a whole (6,0%). This list is diluted by Gypsies (5,1%). Jews were rarely mentioned (2,5%).

As earlier, a strong migrant phobia prevails in Russia. According to surveys, about 40% of the population doubts that migration is profitable for the economy or that it can improve the demographic situation. More than 60% percent fear a rise in criminality and are afraid of migrants taking away their jobs. Almost 70% agree that immigration of Russians and Russian-speaking people should be supported, whereas immigration of other nationalities should be limited.

In the period concerned, as a result of hate crimes based on nationality ten people dies and up to 200 suffered. The number of killed people is nearly one third lower than in the corresponding period in 2004. It has to be mentioned, though, that many hate crimes based on nationality only become known to be of this kind after quite a lot of time, or not at all (if the victims are afraid of appealing to law-enforcement organs or if militia members of the public prosecutors refuse to classify the beating or murder as having been committed on the bases of ethnic hatred). IN the first half of 2005 there has been a turning point in the attitude of the law-enforcements organs towards cases connected with ethnic hatred. Despite the still prevailing “art.282 syndrome” (which means that some members of the law-enforcements organs try as hard as they can not to qualify a crime as corresponding to this article of the criminal code), in the first half of 2005 five people were convicted by this article, whereas in January to June 2004 this happened only one time. Also against seven activists of right-wing extremist movements criminal charged corresponding art.282 have been brought forward (yet three of these cases soon were dropped by means of far-fetched pretexts).

Apart from rare exceptions, courts started returning rather tough verdicts on people who committed serious crimes on the basis of ethnic hatred. From January to June 2005, in the course of six court proceedings on cases with such a background, 21 people were convicted. All defendants were found guilty and sentenced to prison for a period of time from 4 to 19 years. Nearly all of the assailants were convicted by juries. Several dozen people are under examination by the court as of now.

Totally new phenomena in the radical nationalists’ activities are the organization of terrorist attacks, the founding of paramilitary formations and the mass hacking of homepages. Moreover, for the first time in some decades it was attempted to “legalize” anti-Semitism (by the infamous “letter of 500-5000”, see below).

The main reason for the rise of xenophobia in Russia are the consequences of the rapid modernization that Russia has gone through in the last decades and as a result of whose many inhabitants of Russia lost their former steady position. Since in the decades before the propaganda apparat constantly convinced the population of the USSR that the country is surrounded by enemies, secret as well as obvious ones, it is just natural that the responsibility for the worsening situation was shifted to the “enemies”, a role that was taken over by ethnic minorities. At the same time, in the mass consciousness a process of distorted generalization was happening. Negative character traits of individual representatives of different nationalities were transferred to all people of this origin. The mass migration from the republics of Middle Asia and from the Transcaucasian area, accompanied by a collision of different mentalities, and an imperfect migration policy promoted the negative attitude towards the migrants. In the rise of the level of xenophobia the two wars in Chechnya and the accompanying anti-Chechen propaganda campaigns played a significant role. As earlier, in Russia there is no State strategy of counteraction to xenophobia and activities of radical nationalists.

There are at least seven parties and movements on the federal level that have xenophobic or racist ideology. These are the Russian National Unity (which by now is split up in several branches), “The Brown Time” (founded by the Russian National Unity), the National Power Party of Russia (which has been deprived of its license by the Russian Ministry of Justice), the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), the National Public Party, the Freedom Party and the Russian All-National Union. Furthermore, there are local nationalist movements in various regions, for example “Vityazya” in Astrakhan’, “Otechestvo” in Kuban or “City without Drugs” in Yekaterinburg. According to experts, the total number of activists from these parties amounts to 10,000 to 15,000 people. It is hard to give an accurate calculation because often the same people are members in several parties and movements. More than 50,000 people are part of the skinhead movement whose members are split up in thousands of small groups. Also Cossacks use xenophobia in their ideology and actions.

Without any problems newspapers are published that propagate xenophobia and racism, such as “Novaya sistema”, “Rus’ pravoslavnaya”, “Za russkoe delo”, “Novyi Peterburg” (St. Petersburg), “Zavtra”, “Russkiy front”, “Natsional’naya gazeta”, “Russkiy vestnik”, “Chernaya sotnya”, “Russkaya Pravda”, “Era Rossii”, “Ya - russkiy”, “Duel’” (Moscow), “Russkiy vostok” (Irkutsk), “Russkaya Sibir’” (Novosibirsk), “Kolokol” (Volgograd), “Izhevskaya diviziya” (Izhevsk), “Aleks-inform” (Samara), “Zasechny rubezh” (Tula) and others. There are about 100 of these newspapers.

The publisher houses “Vityaz’”, “Russkaya Pravda”, “Peresvet”, “Algoritm”, “Yauza”, “EKSMO”, “Belye al’by” and others regularly publishes books with Chauvinist tendency.

Activities of radical movements and parties

In the period concerned, after some years of relative stagnancy the Russian National Unity (RNE) under A. Barkashov has been noticeably become more active again. The activeness of the National Power Party of Russia (NDPR) and the Movement against Illegal Immigration (DNHI) has stayed about the same. They take part in publicist activities and continue to publish xenophobic literature.

In December 2004 the organization “The Brown Time” was founded and afterwards renamed to “Union of Russian Nationalists - Revolutionary Movement of Russia”. The majority of materials published on its homepage call to an armed rise and to limitation of civil rights and freedoms: ”We are already here. Give us a pretext, or we’ll find one ourselves, because there is no way back, the time has come!” Officially “The Brown Time” is independent from the RNE, but in reality all materials on its homepage are, expressly or by implication, propagating namely Barkashov’s RNE as the main force of the future “national revolution”. The DPNI obviously decided to broaden its popularity by counting on two topics, which they are strenuously propagating. The matter concerns “a wave of rapes on the base of nationality”, supposedly committed by migrants, and the “occupation” of Russian schools and hospitals by migrants. The court investigations on the case of A. Ivannikova, who killed a car driver (an Armenian) that tried to rape her, served as a starting point for the development of the first topic. In spite of the fact that A. Ivannikova’s defender as well as Ivannikova herself persisted that there is no underlying national motive in this, representatives of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration suggest to see this case as an example for “objectionable behavior of natives of the Caucasus”, who supposedly “see in every Slavic girl an object for sexual aggression”. They organized stakes to support Ivannikova. After that, DPNI started collecting testimonies about rapes in cases where the assailants were non-Russians - in Moscow, Egor’evsk (Moscow Region), Tyumen’, Yakutsk and Mirnyi.

In order to illustrate the second topic, the development of the populist thesis of migrants “who live at the expense of the native population”, the supporters of the DPNI made use of the incident where the decision was taken to found an experimental school with a Georgian ethnic component on the base of the Moscow school ¹ 223. They claim that the difficult situation in the school led to a dislodgement of pupils - and not of Georgian ones. The DPNI headlines on this topic alone incite the readers to aggression: “Caucasians that have “made friends” with the local authorities take a school away from Russian children.” At the same time, they cover up two important circumstances: firstly, the Georgian language and other “ethnic” subjects are only taught in the framework of quotas for facultative classes that have been established by the Russian Ministry for Education and Science. Secondly, the Georgian community, whose history in Moscow counts several hundred years, has the right to have such a school.

DPNI representatives carried out two meetings at the school building, May 1st and June 23rd 2005. Their main demands were to cancel the decision about the opening of the Georgian ethno-cultural school and to fire the director.

Besides RNE, NDPR and DPNI also other parties and movements actively spread agitational material. In the first days of April in Orel about 2000 flyers of the Russian All-National Union with the slogan “Russians go”, the PONS symbol and the organization’s internet-address were posted in many places.

This kind of activity of nationalist organizations is to a great part caused by their desire to use the mood of protest in the country that became apparent on demonstrations on behalf of the monetization of social benefits in January/February 2005.

On several occasions (in Moscow, Bryansk, Kursk, Syktyvkar, Tol’yatti)  ðÿäå ñëó÷àåâ (â Ìîñêâå, Áðÿíñêå, Êóðñêå, Ñûêòûâêàðå, Òîëüÿòòè) associates of the RNE, the NDPR and other nationalist organizations took part in demonstrations of protest and spread Chauvinist literature, using these demonstrations as a platform for propagating their ideas.

Calls to found paramilitary formations

In the first half of 2005 there was also a noticeable intensification of the right wing extremists’ tendency to found paramilitary formations. The first organization to come forward with such an appeal (to create a “people’s militia”) was the All-Russian Officer’s Meeting on February 19th 2005. After that, the “War Power Union” under the head of the retired general Leonid Ivashov publicly called to set up parallel authorities in form of “Councils of representatives of work an war collectives (SPTVK)”. Moreover, they made the suggestion to create own punitive organs in form of a Public Tribunal, which “will carry out investigations on cases regarding officials, institutions and organizations that have stroke the path of high treason and betrayal and are working on a breakdown of the country”.

Soon after that, the leader of the ultra-nationalist organization “Slavic Union” that propagates a “mystic National Socialism”, D. Demushkin, summoned his followers to get a permission to keep a weapon at home. On April 20th 2005 the Movement Against Illegal Immigration joined the decision to found a “people’s militia”. In its decision on the subject, that was published on the homepage, the Central Council of the DPNI talked about the founding of a network of secret groups of five people which are composed “by the principle of tight territorial habitation and the availability of a car”. All the DPNI sub-departments that have more than 50 members were advised to “soon start organizing activities that are based on information about military ranks, experience in operations, ownership of weapons, preparation regarding physical fitness and motor transport”. As a reason for the founding of such a network served “a possible worsening of the domestic affairs situation in Russia, the probability of mass riots and aggressive activities of foreign countries”. This appeal was supported by the State Duma LDPR delegate N. Kur’yanovich. On the dpni.org forum, accurate recommendations where and which weapons to obtain and what books to read about the Partisan war showed up. Also the RNE activists keep spreading leaflets with the call to buy weapons.

In the Kurgansk Region the local department of the Russian National-Cultural Autonomy under the head of V. Popov published a book called “People’s Militia”, with the subheading “It’s time for Russians to reach for power”. This book openly proclaims the necessity of a “radical way to save the country” and of the “return of power to the Russian people and Cossacks” and approves of the political murders that have been committed by right-wing extremists in the last years. At the same time, as the “main enemy of the Russian people” serves the mythic “international Zionism”.

In June the newspaper “Russian era” that is edited by the national organization “Russian Republic”, whose representatives last year took the responsibility for the murder of the scientist and anti-fascist N. Girenko, published an appeal to the armed forces of the Russian Federation “to take an oath of loyalty to the Russian people… and to immediately disarm the punitive units of the Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Security Service (FSB) that have established a regime of genocide on the Russian people in Russia”.

In June in the Vladimir newspaper “Rubezh” that is edited by the “Russian All-National Union” (RONS) an announcement about the opening of a “patriotic summer camp” with the aim “to create structures that have a high potential of mobilization” was published. Among other things, in the camp the participants are supposed to be taught “hand-to-hand combat, survival under extreme circumstances, God’s law, the basics of national self-actualization, applied conflictology, geopolitics, history and culture and the basics of mobilization”. In May, also in “Rubezh”, RONS leader V. Artemov in his article “Soon elections will be abolished in Russia. RONS suggests nationalists to start acting right now” openly called to “fight against the regime with other means”.

At the same time, there were calls to physically punish “Russia’s enemies”. In several regional nationalist newspapers (sometimes even without signature) last year’s article from A. Sevastyanov “Let’s begin, friends!”, which expressed support for the murderers of N. Girenko and foretold more political murders of enemies of “patriots”, was published.

In the newspaper “Russki front”, which is edited by another co-chairman of the NDPR, S. Terekhov, the brief article “We will protect our own people” was published, which directly threats to punish members of the office of the public prosecutor that investigate cases according to art. 282. After an enumeration of cases of “persecution” of nationalists by law-enforcement organs the article states: “The NDPR supports its brothers-in-arms in their uncompromising fight with traitors… and corrupt public prosecutors that fulfill the orders of Zion to persecute Russian patriots will pay for that”.

Also in materials of “The Brown Time” there are threats to human rights activists. The representatives of this organization affirm the following: “The actions of the enemies of the Russian people won’t stay unpunished. The already carried out verdicts on the “anti-fascist expert Nikolai Girenko (St. Petersburg) and the judge Natal’ya Urlina (Dolgoprudny) can serve as examples. The anger of the people is already so strong that none of the democrats’ and reformers’ servants will get around his deserved punishment”.

After the attempt to assassinate A. Chubais, on the homepage “Russkoe delo” the article “This time he got away…” was published. The anonym author of this article expressed his pleasure about the attempt and blamed the witnesses, thanks to whom the investigation could quickly track the suspects, for their “bond slavery”. The article ended with the following passage: “Lord, let us see the long-expected Russian revolt! It won’t be senseless, as some people want to make as believe, but it will be merciless - everybody will get what he deserves.”

A sad omen of our time is the composition of a list of people being “not friends of the Russians people”, that was published together with similar material. For example, such a list under the heading “Non-Arians. List of fascist-Zionist organizations that with the help of Jewish money carry out subversive anti-Russian activities in Russia!” was published on the homepage of the organization “Slavic Union”.

A black list of “national enemies” that “propagate values incompatible with the survival of the Russian people and have a russo-phobic attitude and support the stirring up of migration processes” showed up on the DPNI homepage. In the end of March in the Republic of Komi on one of the local websites lists of scientists and human rights activists were published. An unknown journalist accused them of espionage for the USA.

Skinhead activities

In the first half of 2005, activities of skinheads have remained on a high level. In the opinion of the law-enforcement organs, the number of skinheads in Russia amounts to 10,000 people, which are organized in 35 big groups. The majority of those groups are situated in the region of Moscow and in St. Petersburg.

According to the calculations of independent experts, right now in Russia there are more than 50,000 skinheads, which is comparable to their total amount in the rest of the world -70,000. They are not united in one single organization, but, on the contrary, are scattered into many small gangs. The majority of skinheads are from families of moderate means and don’t see great perspectives for themselves. Nevertheless, there are also members of entrepreneur families (mainly small and medium-sized businesses).

Practically all attacks and murders on the basis of nationalist hatred that have been committed in the first half of 2005 was the handwork of skinheads. Nevertheless, skinheads not only attacked representatives of ethnic and religious minorities, but also punks and rappers.

The constant calls to physical punishment of the “nation’s enemies” and the intense xenophobic propaganda had to result in a considerable amount of crimes committed on the basis of nationalist hatred.

Here just a few examples:

In January 2005 in Bryansk the militia arrested a group of skinheads of 18 people, four of whose were of the full legal age and armed with baseball bats and armature.

On January 14th in the center of Moscow the Rabbis A. Lakshin and E. Fomiuk were beaten up.

In March 2005 in Blagoveshensk there was an attack on two citizens of China.

On April 8th in Ekaterinburg three skinheads on the basis of nationalist hatred beat up a Yakut student couple.

On April 19th in Tol’yatti three ruffians beat up a citizen of Armenia.

In the beginning of May in Astrakhan’ skinheads slaughtered a Dagestani family. As if by a miracle, a two-year-old child survived, being two days alone in the apartment with the bodies of his dead parents before someone took notice.

On May 10th in Astrakhan’ a group of skinheads cruelly beat up a young Armenian, his father and also some people who had tried to help the Armenians.

On May 17th in Verkhnaya Pyshma (Sverdlovsk Region) three Armenians were killed in a very savage way. After the committed the murder, the skinheads publicly announced via a megaphone that they had carried out a “cleansing” of the city.

On May 27th in Ioshkar-Ole (Marij-El) skinheads beat up 15 Maris who that day took part in a national amateur concert in Morkin District.

On June 1st in Voronezh a citizen of Ruanda, Joseph Habimana, who had been living in a village near Voronezh for some years, was cruelly beaten and robbed.

”The palm of supremacy” regarding the statistics of such attacks bears St. Petersburg, where skinhead beatings of foreign students that caused 12 people - from Africa, Chine South Korea, Palestine and Israel - to suffer were registered on January 7th, 15th, 18th, 22nd, 30th, on February 11th and 22nd and on March 26th.

In May and in the beginning of June there was an outbreak of violence towards foreign students in Rostov-on-Don. On May 10th a group of teenagers attacked a student from India. They threw him down on the ground, kicked him, mutilated his face, broke his nose…

On May 21st skinheads by force entered the dormitory of the Medical University and cruelly beat up three foreign students.

On June 1st skinheads nearly beat to death an African student. Passers-by who interfered saved his life.

On June 4th in the evening skinheads attacked foreign student in two places at a time. Near the Rostov State University the beating assumed such proportions that the militia had to interfere to stop it. At the same time, on the other end of the town a crowd, holding up posters with nationalists slogans, tried to force their entry into a dormitory where foreign students live. Such a congruence of actions proves that there is a center that coordinated them.

Another center of attacks on foreign students was Voronezh, a city that last year gained a sad publicity when a student from Guinea, A. Lima, was killed.

On January 30th in the center of Voronezh two ruffians beat up the 23-year-old student of the Voronezh State Construction Academy and citizen of Guinea Anthony Gomish.

On February 18th teenagers from 16 to 18 years old, screaming “Sieg Heil!”, attacked two Africans from Zambia, students of one of the local universities.

In April skinheads beat up three students from Albania.

On June 15th in the center of Voronezh skinheads beat up Chinese students of the philology faculty of the Voronezh State University. People who were passing by preferred not to interfere or to call the militia. The beating only stopped after some journalists from the RTR TV channel, who were driving by in a car, intervened. The result of this wave of violence was a diminished number of foreign students that want to study in Rostov or Voronezh.

Such attacks have been committed in other cities as well. On January 22nd in Nizhni Novgorod a group of young people attacked two Africans, from Kongo and from Mauritania, students of the Nizhni Novgorod State Architecture Academy.

On January 30th in the Moscow metro at the “Dinamo” station six young people attacked two natives of the Caucasus. Those used knives to defend themselves and hurt two of the assailants. A militia patrol prevented a further development of the fight.

On March 14th in Lipetsk at a bus station a 22-year old citizen of the Republic of Mali, Maiga Abu Bakara, a first-year-student of the philology faculty of the Lipetsk State Pedagogical University.

On March 26th in Krasnodar’ in front of the entry of the Kuban State University a group of young people cruelly beat up two foreign students, citizens of Syria and Lebanon.

On May 1st in Moscow at the metro station “Vorob’evi gory” skinheads beat up to citizens of Algeria, students of the Joint Staff Academy of the Russian Supreme Court.

In May in Perm a group of teenagers beat up two Chinese students of the Perm State University at the exit of the students’ dormitory.

Xenophobia and elections

In the first half of 2005 xenophobic resources were actively used in several campaigns for regional parliament elections.

In the Vladimir Region among the candidates that ran for the Legislative Assembly the leader of the Russian All-National Union, I. Artemov, his ally A. Andrianov and the candidate of the Russian All-National Union, S. Merenik, used xenophobic rhetoric. The main emphasis in their agitational material these candidates put on migrantophobia. As usual, Artemov was elected delegate.

Also at the elections in Voronezh Region xenophobic rhetoric was used. 21% of voters voted for the “Rodina” party, which enabled this party to dispatch 8 delegates. 6,43% voted for the “Spravedlivost’” block (uniting regional sub-departments of the National Conservative Party, the party “Rus”” and the party “Evraziya”), which therefore could dispatch two delegates. The same goes for the LDPR (5,95% of votes).

Mobilization of ethnic minorities

On April 2nd in Kazan’ the eighth convention of the All-Tartar Social Center (VTOC) was carried out. As an outcome, the main official of the executive committee of the Worldwide Tatar Congress, T. Bariev, was elected as the new leader of this organization. Bariev made it one of his main tasks to unite all Tatar national movements and organizations under the aegis of VTOC and to achieve a dominating position in the social and political life of the Republic of Tatarstan.

In Astrakhan’ the organization “Tatarski profsoyuz”, which appears in public with the slogan of banishment of Russians from the “Tatar” Astrakhan’, operates. The mobilization of this organization took place already in autumn 2004 in the period of the election campaign of the Governor.

To a great part such activities are a reaction to the rise of the xenophobic mood towards ethnic minorities. This, however, does in no way justify participants and leaders of such organizations.

Activities of adherent of a radical Islamism, the so-called Wahhabites, are continued in several regions of Russia. Cells of radical Islamists operate in more than 50 regions in practically all federal districts, except for the North-Western and the Far East Federal District. Mainly, the matter concerns participants of the international extremist Islamist organization “Hizb ut-Tahrir”, which in Russia was forbidden by a sentence of the Supreme Court from February 14th 2003. The position of “Hizb ut-Tahrir” is considerably strong in Bashkiriya and in Tatarstan, where in the middle of May the mukhtasib of Kazan’, M. Dzhaletdin, published the order “About the order of carrying out the Friday Serviced”, in which he practically forbids the believers to come near the Imam-Khatibs or ask them something during the course of the prayers.

In the beginning of March in the cities Ufa and Tuimazy unapproved meetings of protest against the arrest of Islamists, which were organized by activists from “Hizb ut-Tahrir” and tried to present those arrests as a persecution of Muslims, took place.

On the other hand, the “Wahhabist” threat is used by expostulating groups within Muslim communities. That way, in Tatarstan already one mufti has been accused of supporting “Wahhabites”.

In the end of June, the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Nizhni Novgorod publicly uttered the demand to introduce confessional quotas for Muslims in State positions, including the post of the vice president.

The first half of 2005 is characterized by frequent mass collisions of representatives of several ethnic groups. Most of them took place in the North Caucasus. On March 22nd in Novorossisk there was an Armenian pogrom, organized by local Cossack organizations. A fight between Cossacks and Armenians, which took place on March 21st, served as pretext. In this fight the local Ataman V. Petrusha as one of the ringleaders suffered from serious injuries.

On March 28th and April 30th the movement “Aki-yurt”, which opposes the present authorities of Ingushetiya, carried out a meeting and demanded the restitution of a territory where practically all Ingushetians were exiled from in 1992 after a conflict between Ossetians and Ingushetians. On May 29th, mass clashes between Ossetians and Ingushetians were registered in the Dolgaron village in the Prigorodny region.

On June 22nd in Adygeya on a farm in the Vesely Shovgenov region a punchfest with use of firearms between young Russians and Adygeyans took place.

On June 29th about 200 Abazins, residents of Karachaevo-Cherkessiya, by force entered the conference room of the republic’s parliament and demanded that the delegates abolish laws which took away more than 600 hectare of estate from the Azabin aul Kubin and gave it to the city Ust’-Dzheguta, which is mainly inhabitated by Karachaevs.

However, collisions did not only take place in the North Caucasus. On the New Year’s holidays, residents of the Tatar village Srednyaya Elyuzan’ carried out pogroms of the neighboring villages Chaadaevka and Arkhangelskoe, where mainly Russians live. Another place where confrontations between two ethnic groups took place was the Altai Republic. On June 14th, the social Altai organization “Ene Til” carried out a public protest against the supposedly existing plans to found a Kazakh Ethnic District and create a “Kazakh expansion” in the Kosh-agach district of the republic.

Defilement of ethnic centers, vandalism

In the first half of 2005, just as earlier, the defilement of ethnic centers and vandalism on cemeteries continued.

Not only one time, the Jewish community in Saltykovka near Moscow was exposed to attacks from nationalists. In the night of January 1st 2005, unknown individuals set the synagogue on fire. Miraculously, nobody suffered from injuries or died. In February, on buildings and fences in the villages anti-Semitic inscriptions and swastikas showed up. When these inscriptions had been painted over, new ones showed up.

On February 15th, parishioners of the Perovsk Jewish religious community “Shamir” found swastikas and anti-Semitic inscriptions on the synagogue’s doors.

In the evening of March 2nd on the doors of the Jewish National-Cultural Autonomy in Syktyvkar swastikas and summons to kill Jews sowed up.

On March 8th unknown individuals sprayed anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of a Samara synagogue and afterwards tried to get into the building. This was prevented by guards showing up.

On March 10th unknown individuals painted swastikas and threats to the leader of the Petrosavodsk Jewish community, D. Tsvibel’, on the walls of a building that used to be the community’s center.

On June 3rd , on fences and gates of the Jewish community and the synagogue of Vladimir anti-Semitic inscriptions, slogans and swastikas were found.

One June 30th in the evening two young men in gas-masks by force entered in the only shop in Moscow that sells kosher food. In this shop, situated not far from the Jewish community center in the Mar’inaya grove, they dispersed some unknown gas and made a riot. The assailants screamed: “Beat Jews and save Russia!” and glorified Hitler.

In the end of January in Nizhni Novgorod there was an attack on the mosque “Tauba”. The attackers painted swastikas on the walls of the mosque.

Jewish graves in Moscow (cemetery Vostryakovskoe, May 14th) and Kazan’ (cemetery Arskoe, May 25th) were exposed to defilement.

Discrimination against Gypsies

Compared with the year 2004, discrimination against gypsies has grown. In February 2005 in the village Iskitim in the Novosibirsk Region there was a series of pogroms of Gypsy settlements. Houses were robbed and set on fire, 40 families (more than 300 people) ended up on the street. Nationalists welcomed these incidents. On February 17th in the newspaper “Novy Peterburg” D. Usov’s article “The Gypsy camp has left for good” was published and afterwards also put on the NDPR homepage. The article states that after the expulsion of the Gypsies “the drug problem in Iskitim is entirely solved” and that in the surroundings of Novosibirsk “the criminogenic intensity has abruptly dropped”. It especially points out that “now methods for the people’s resistance are well-known and tested” and expresses regret that the Gypsy camp did not really “leave for good”, meaning that the Gypsies were not killed.

In the beginning of April in Iskitim a second series of arson was committed. Among the local residents there were rumors going on that the Gypsies themselves set their houses on fire.

In February 2005 in Cherepovts a house where a Gypsy family lived was set on fire.

The delegate of the Yaroslabl’ Duma S. Krivnyuk, who in 2004 several times publicly called to Gypsy pogroms, in April 2005 organized the «Che Guevara Squad”, whose participants, armed with baseball bats, crashed the windows of cars of supposed drug dealers.

Organization of terrorist attacks

An absolutely new phenomenon is the organization of terrorist attacks by radical nationalists. The most notorious of those actions was probably the attempt to assassinate the head of the Russian joint-stock company “United Energy Systems of Russia”, A. Chubais, in spring 2005. Nobody suffered from the explosives which had been installed on the way of Chubais’ cortege, but the incident caused a huge political echo in Russia. According to the version of the law-enforcement organs, the main suspect, the retired colonel of the Russian army V. Kvachkov, organized on his dacha something like a nationalist terrorist club, where measures for coercive pressure and physical elimination of the so-called “enemies of Russia” were discussed and planned.

On June 12th in the Moscow surroundings a train from Grozny to Moscow was blasted, 42 people suffered from injuries, five of them - including a child - were hospitalized. Members of the RNE (Russian National Unity), who some days after the attack were arrested by law-enforcement organs, organized this action and carried it out.

Mobilization of hackers

Another particular feature of the last six months was the mobilization of nationalist hackers, working for the organization “Slavic Union” under the head of D. Demushkin. From March until June about ten “hostile” websites (mainly homepages of human rights and Jewish organizations) were hacked. Moreover, the emblem of the “Slavic Union” and an invitation to visit the sites www.demushkin.com , www.ns-rus.cc and www.ns-88.org were put on these homepages.

On the website of D. Demushkin an announcement that the “Slavic Union” sub-department for informational war “will continue to shut down homepages that propagate tolerance, communism, Judaism and other perversions on sexual grounds”.

Xenophobia and political parties

Political parties that are represented in the State Duma - the KPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), “Rodina” and LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) - have continued using xenophobic rhetoric.

Right now the communists especially stress the theory that the reforms were supposedly directed against Russian as a people, and that Russians in particular suffered the greatest damage from them. The leadership of the KPRF practically publicly defended their State Duma faction members who signed the “Letter of 500”. It is interesting that, unlike the “Rodina” delegates whose majority refused to sign the letter, four out of five of the KPRF delegates who signed affirmed their adherence to the spirit of this “document”.

An especially serious symptom is the fact that the representatives of the KPRF youth wing, the Communist Youth Union, took part in the LDPR actions regarding the Moscow school ¹ 223 that took part June 1st and June 22nd 2005. When after the first meeting the KPRF leadership dissociated themselves from the participants, after the second one they were already silent.

The leaders of the left-wingers did not do anything to clear the columns of demonstrators on May 9th (Victory Day) from followers of ultra-nationalist organizations, including of the RNE. In St. Petersburg, however, the organizers of oppositional demonstrations dissociated themselves from the nationalists, and the activists of the local department of the NDPR had to lay down their flowers at the monument “Kirovski val” alone.

In spring 2005 the “Rodina” party distributed a “Booklet for Citizens of the Russian Federation - Facts from Russian History of the 20th Century. Jewish Fascism in Russia - Historical Facts 1917-2005”. This document was devoted to the calculation of the percentage of foreigners, mainly of Jews, in high positions of the officialdom, to “Jewish wives” and to the role of Jews in the development of terrorism.

After the “Letter of 500” had been published, the leadership of the faction, trying to score against the background of the crisis regarding the monetization of social benefits, preferred to distance itself from the letter. The “Rodina” press secretary, S. Butin, called the “Letter of 500” a “personal act of some delegates which wasn’t coordinated with the leadership of the faction”. D. Rogozin hurried to dissociate himself from anti-Semitism and sent the main rabbi of Moscow, P. Goldshmidt, a letter that criticized those kinds of actions. However, this letter was to a great part a defensive reaction that was supposed to save Rogozin’s image after the incident when Russian Jews appealed to the Socialist International not to accept “Rodina” as a new member.

On May 16th in the Russian State Duma a roundtable on the topic “The question of nationality in the development strategy of Russia”, organized by the LDPR faction, was carried out. The faction leader V. Zhirinovski repeated the myth about there being “90% Jews in the sphere of art and jurisprudence” and the “dominance of Jews” in the first Bolshevik governments and in the reform cabinet of E. Gaidar. As an universal recipe of how to prevent the expansion of nationalism the LDPR leader suggested the idea he had been propagating since 1991 - the abolishment of ethnic federal subjects.

On May 31st on a press conference in the Irkutsk Region the LDPR State Duma delegate and member of the Security Council N. Kur’yanovich announced the preparation of a legislative project: he plans to deprive Russian citizens who marry foreigners of their citizenship, confiscate their belongings and exile them from the country. He even suggested forbidding Chinese immigrants to settle in the Irkutsk Region and get a Russian citizenship.

The letter of the “500-5000”

In the first half of 2005 the biggest ideological action of the Russian ultra-nationalists was a letter named “letter of the 500-5000”. In this document, which was composed by the orthodox ultra-fundamentalist publicist M. Nazarov, for the first time various anti-Semitic myths which have been circulating for decades in the “patriotic” milieu were brought together, myths about hate against Christians that is supposedly inherent in Jews, the resurrection of the so-called “bloody calumny” about Jews using human blood etc.

In many respects this appeal was dictated by the “patriots’” anxiety of the activities of the law-enforcement organs, which seriously attempt to suppress the national extremist manifestations in the country. Not accidentally one of the main requests (in the “letter” and also in the “sympathizers’” articles that followed it) is the «reconsideration of all “anti-Semitic” works» against the “Russian patriots” that step forward as if in the role of defenders.”

This “document” gained most of its notoriety after on January 23rd delegate A. Krutov handed it as a delegate inquiry to the General Office of Public Prosecutor. The same day, Mr. Krutov published the text of the inquiry, distributing it to the mass media in form of appeals that were signed by several individuals who are very well-known in the patriotic circles and have been making anti-Semitism a manner to earn some money for a long time.

At the same time it became known that this document had been signer by 500 people, 19 of whose were State Duma delegates (that is way it become customary to use both the name “letter of the 19” and “letter of the 500”). The “Letter of the 500” was republished in several newspapers with nationalist tendency: “Velikoruskaya Pravda” (“Velikie Luki”), “Za russkoe delo” (St. Petersburg), “Zasechnyi rubezh” (Tula), “Zemskoe obozrenie” (Saratov), “Prem’er” (Vologda) and “Yuzhniy Ural” (Orenburg).

Since the “letter of the 500” was published shortly before the events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz, this publication caused a scandal. The people who signed were condemned by the Russian president, both chambers of the parliament, the Orthodox church and several artists. Also a part of the “Orthodox patriots”, who are not known to care much about Jews (people like the deacon publicist A. Kuraev, the leader of the “Radonezh” community E. Nikifonov, and the press secretary of the Union of Orthodox Citizens K. Frolov).

Some delegates (14 of whose were from the “Rodina” faction and 5 from the KPRF) hastily denied that they signed the letter. The first delegate to do this was A. Chuev from “Rodina”, who later declared that the letter was a ”regrettable mistake or a provocation” and claimed that he did not even see the text of the letter. As a result,the delegates A. Krugov, V Kashi, A. Savel’ev, A. Makashov, S. Sobko, N. Kondratenko and N. Ezerskiy refrained from their signs.

Already on January 25th A. Krutov started an “inquiry” “to clarify the circumstances”. Despite of the fact that A. Krugov later on promised to present a new version of the “Delegate’s inquiry” to the Office of the Public Prosecutor, there were no further activities in this direction.

On February 3rd on the TV channel NTV the program “K Bar’eru!” showed a TV duel between one of the signers, the general A. Makashov, delegate of the KPRF faction and already in the 1990-ies known for his rude anti-Semitic statements, and the former cosmonaut A. Leonov. The people watching the show on TV were asked to vote by telephone. Makashov got 54000 votes, Leonov got 47000.

The last manifestation of the delegates’ activities was a speech by A. Krugov in the State Duma on February 4th, where he accused the Jews of “with the help of tax-payers’ money” cultivating ethnic hatred towards other nationalities in Russia and practically reproduced some of the arguments from the “letter of the 500”.

After Makashov’s speech a two-months lull followed, which was used to collect signs for a new appeal to the Office of the General Public Prosecutor. In February 2005 the newspaper “Rus’ pravoslavnaya” summoned its readers to support the “effort of the Russian public to control Christ-haters and Russo-phobes” and send a written request similar to the “letter of the 500” to the Office of the General Public Prosecutor. Furthermore, the presidium of the central political council of the NDPR passed a resolution about solidarity with the authors of the letter and about all members of the party joining them.

On March 21st the slightly corrected text of the letter, which at that time already had been signed by 5000 people, was handed to the Office of the General Public Prosecutor. Unlike the “letter of the 500”, the “letter of the 5000” was signed only by very few well-known people: the author V. Belov, the former chess champion B. Spasskiy, the sculptor V. Klykov, the mathematician I. Shafarevich and the general L. Ivashov. The other signers whose names were published (about 40 people) were little-known “patriot” men of letters, ultra-conservative clerics of the Orthodox church, leaders of very small nationalist groups and editors of provincial “patriotic” newspapers.

ON May 12th M. Nazarov published the article “Living without the Judaic fear!” on the website “Russkaya Liniya”. In this article he explained his activities in an Eschatological spirit - as a fight against the “servants of Satan”. He called Jews “Satan’s own people” that tries to take over the world, citing the classic myth spread among Christian anti-Semites about the Jews killing God.

In the same article, M. Nazarov started evolving another anti-Semitic myth - about a ritual murder of 5 children in Krasnoyarsk this April, supposedly committed by Jews. He accused followers of the Lyubavich Khasidism, who are members of the Jewish community of Krasnoyarsk, of the organization of this murder, and the Governor of the Krasnodar Region A. Khloponina of holding back information about this murder. On May 29th the “version” of the ritual murder was made public by the Chauvinist V. Korchagin on a “patriotic” meeting that took place on Pushkin Square. The resolution that was passed by the participants of the meeting stressed the necessity to “ask the Office of the General Public Prosecutor of the Russian Federation to investigate the version of a ritual child murder by Khasids in Krasnoyarsk”.

The “letter of the 500-5000” showed that the Russian ultra-nationalists are ready to use the most rude and malicious accusations in their propaganda reservoir.

On June 22nd the Moscow City Office of the Public Prosecutor obliged the Basmann Office of the Public Prosecutor of Moscow to carry out “testing activities” regarding the editors of the “Kitsur Shul’khan Arukh”. The result of this check was a call to the Rabbi Z. Kogana, who earlier had written the preface to the Russian translation of the “Kitsur Shul’khan Arukh”, summoning him to the Office of the Public Prosecutor. This call, as well as the order to examine the supposedly extremist character of the “ Shul’khan Arukh”, caused serious indignation both in the Jewish community in Russia and in international Jewish organizations (like, for example, the Conference of European Rabbis) and also in the leadership of Israel. Harsh statements followed, including from the Prime Minister of Israel, E. Olmert, who at that time was on a visit in Moscow. As a result, the law-enforcement organs preferred to settle this case quietly.

”The language of hate”

It is adequate to say that a “language of hate” has penetrated practically all types of mass media in Russia, including a large part of those who consider themselves to be democratic.

For example, on June 10th in the “Moskovskiy Komsomolets” an article from V. Rechkalov, “A Chechnya of a closed type”, was published, where he accused all Chechens living in Russia of a deliberate ignoring of laws that contradict the Adaty (their clan law).

The “Komsomolskaya Pravda” regularly deals with topic of an “invasion by immigrants”. For example, only in May 2005 in the regional issue of the “Komsomolskaya Pravda” in Rostov-on-Don four articles on this topic with titles like “Will Russia end up without any Russian?”, “The silent war of the peoples” etc. were published, containing the summon only to encourage immigration of Russians.

In the regional and federal mass media (print and electronic) of the Rostov Region several articles about “Gypsy drug dealers” with characteristic titles - “The Gypsy Needle”, “In Rostov clubs Gypsies dilute calcium gluconate to idiots” etc. - were published.

Similar topics were several times dealt with in the program of the journalist V. Nekrasova “Devyat’ s polovinoi” which they show on channel 10 of Yekaterinburg television, and in the program “Patrul’naya sluzhba” of the TVresk TV channel “NTS - Tverskoi prospect”.

In the mass media of the Ural, Siberia and the Far East regions regularly articles about the “Chinese expansion” are published, where the Chinese are accused of an uncontrolled exploitation of raw materials, of an “occupation of markets” etc.

They confirm that the number of Chinese in Russia is higher than the official statistics say and use the myth of the “yellow danger”.

On June 22nd, on the website of the “Novy region” agency a report from Yekaterinburg was published which affirms that the native population is “somewhat cramped by the Chinese”, whose number supposedly amounts to 30000 people. The article presented a whole collection of migrantophobic stock phrases - “Chinese are untidy, they don’t pay for community services, they attack Russian citizens, they provoke fist fights, they openly fake documents”. In the end of the article the readers are frankly intimidated with a future “Chinese invasion”. The real hidden motive of this publication most probably is the desire to undermine the position of some local politicians and businessmen who have been helped out by “Chinese sponsors”.

In the period from April to June in the newspapers of North Ossetia-Alania (“Ossetia: svobodny vzglyad”, “Vladikavkaz”, “Ossetia segodnya”) several anti-Ingushetian articles were published who discussed bad characteristics that are supposedly inherent in all Ingushetians - including support of “their” criminals and mass participation in terrorist organization. Probably, the appearance of these publications was connected to complaints that were filed by some political structures of Ingushetia regarding a suburban region of North Ossetia.

Xenophobic programs are quite often broadcasted by “Narodnoe radio in ultra-short waves and in CD range. In January, the ether was given to M. Nazarov to propagate his “letter of the 500”, and in spring this radio channel broadcasted a series of programs where the mathematician I. Shafarevich in compacto presented the contents of his book “A 3000-year-old Riddle. The History of Jewry from the Perspective of today’s Russia”, which is full of several Judaphobic myths. .

Yet another type of xenophobic publications is the presentation of the so-called “totalitarian sects” (“Jehova’s witnesses, Hare Krishnas, Mormons, Pyatidesyatniki) in a negative light. Normally they are accused of exerting power on the personalities of their followers and of appropriation of their belongings.

The position of the authorities in connection with xenophobia

Senior officials repeatedly in public talked about the inadmissibility of xenophobia, anti-Semitism and racism in Russia. The number of such statements has risen in comparison to 2004.

Above all, the Russian presidents made such statements. On January 27th at the time of the commemoration on the occasion of the 60-year anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz he declared that “even in Russia, which contributed the most to the victory over fascism and to the liberation of Jews, today we often see manifestations of this illness. We are ashamed of that.”

On a meeting with the main Rabbi of Russia B. Lazar in March, Putin said that the Russian authorities are ready to continue the fight against anti-Semitism and also against “Chauvinism and anti-Russian attitudes”.

Putin made another statement of this kind on the results of the negotiations with the president of Israel M. Katsav during his visit in Israel in the end of April. “For Russia every manifestation of nationalism or xenophobia is destructive because we are a multi-ethnic country”, the Russian president said. “In the 21st century there is no place for xenophobia, Chauvinism or manifestations or religious intolerance.”

After the appearance of the “letter of the 500” and the scandal that was caused by it, the Russian Foreign Ministry reacted with a harsh rebuke of the authors of the written request to the Office of the General Public Prosecutor. Their statement was qualified as “openly anti-Semitic”. In the official message of the Foreign Ministry it is stressed that the “position of the delegates has nothing in common with the official position of the Russian leadership, which principally refuses every manifestation of interethnic disagreement and xenophobia, including anti-Semitism”.

On April 5th another statement of an official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, A. Yakovenko, followed. This statement affirmed that the authorities’ measures to “extirpate ethnic and religious intolerance and to fight inclinations to stir up anti-Semitism remain consistent and invariable”.

On February 4th the Russian State Duma passed a declaration condemning the “letter of the 500” and its authors (306 votes in favor of the declaration).

On May 20th the mayor of Moscow, Yu. Luzhkov, declared on a meeting of the Moscow City Government that he will not allow interethnic conflicts in the capital. He considered it most important to “develop and to progress in ethnic matters - from an absence of conflicts to a feeling of comfort regarding the interethnic sphere”.

In June, the leader of Tatarstan, M. Shaimiev, made several public statements against xenophobia and for tolerance, declaring that “in our republic there is no place for parties that in some way restrain the interests of other nationalities”. “In an atmosphere of general preoccupation, a growth of xenophobia, extremism and terrorism it has become necessary to work out new methods to prevent conflicts and to establish tolerance in society, especially among young people”.

Unfortunately, practically all of these appeals were quite generalized and vague, nobody named a concrete group of people or an individual stimulating ethnic hatred. It remains unclear to what extent these appeals reflected a real preoccupation about the situation, and to what extent they were only a propaganda measure.

On the other hand, in spite of the fact that the discriminating practice of the authorities of the Krasnodar Territory regarding migrants and ethnic minorities was condemned several times (for example, in an report of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation, V. Lukin, where he stressed that this kind of behavior damage Russia’s image, and in an report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, A. Hill-Robles), Vladimir Putin called Governor A. Tkachev’s “approach of this acute problem” “partly correct”.

Earlier, the Department for Information and Press of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation burst out with an angry comment stating that the main culprit for all problems of the Turks-Meskhetians is Georgia.

Although the decision of the Office of the Public Prosecutor to investigate the activities of the publishers of the middle-age book of Judaism “ Kitsur Shul’khan Arukh” (created under special circumstances of isolation of the Jews) according to some information troubled many officials of high rank, none of them publicly condemned it. Even the Prime Minister, M. Fradkov, limited himself to general statements about the inadmissibility of anti-Semitism when this topic came up in the course of the negotiations with Israel’s Prime Minister E. Olmert.

A new tendency in the first half of 2005 was the use of negative xenophobic discourse by parastatal structures in order to discredit a potential opposition. In general, this was done by calling oppositionists fascists, since this terminus wears an extremely negative semantic burden in the eyes of the population because of the misdeeds of the Nazis in World War II.

The movement “Nashi”, which was established in spring 2005 and which from the very beginning positioned itself as anti-Fascist, most actively used this tactic. In the beginning of May “Nashi” published the brochure “Uncommon fascism”, whose main content consists in accusations of oppositional powers to be Fascist. As identified enemies, I Khakamada, V. Ryzhkov, G. Kasparov, L. Nevzlin, B. Berezovskiy and E. Limonov were named in one row with the famous anti-Semite Albert Makshov and the leadership of the parties “Rodina” and KPRF.

The appearance of this brochure in schools, universities and trade schools, where the representatives of “Nashi” want to spread this material, can cause an increase of xenophobia and intolerance.

Reactions of the Office of the Public Prosecutor and of the law-enforcement organs

As earlier, the law-enforcement organs are not eager to apply art. 282 of the Russian criminal code when qualifying crimes. This can be explained by the lack of desire and ability to deal with matters that are hard to prove under the circumstance of a shortage of staff for the investigations on severe crimes. In rare cases, the reason can also be sympathy for the views and actions of the defendants.

The most scandalous example of this kind was the reaction of the Office of the Public Prosecutor on the appeal of human rights activists who demanded to file a criminal charge regarding the authors of the “letter of the 500”. On January 26th in a speech to the Federal Council the General Public Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov reduced the case to “kitchen anti-Semitism”, declaring that “the more we get agitated, the more attention it will get”.

From this point on, the General Office of the Public Prosecutor took an evasive position in this case. As an answer to an appeal by the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berel Lazar, who met with the General Public Prosecutor on May 31st, to qualify the “letter of the 500” according to art. 282, and to his remark that a further silence of the law-enforcement organs “could evoke a feeling of impunity and permissibility of such actions in some parts of the Russian society”, V. Ustinov restricted himself to a promise to create a special commission for a “qualified evaluation of the activities of the letter’s authors”. Yet there were no steps taken to really create such a commission.

Local public prosecutors followed the example of the Office of the General Public Prosecutor. The Office of the Public Prosecutor of St.-Petersburg rejected the demand of human rights activists to file a criminal charge according to art. 282 against the publishers and editors of the newspapers “Za russkoe delo” and “Rus’ pravoslavnaya”, which printed the text of the “letter of the 500”. The Deputy Public Prosecutor and legal council Korsunov decided to refuse the demand because of “an absence of corpus delicti” and only warned “Rus’ Pravoslavnaya”. However, the Public Prosecutor of St.-Petersburg, Sergei Zaitsev, reversed this decision as “unfounded” and the material was returned for an additional investigation. According to the results of this second check, which was carried out by the Senior Assistant of the City’s Public Prosecutor for Surveillance of Abidance of Laws regarding Federal Security and Interethnic Relations, Aleksandr Fedorov, on June 1st an initiation of legal proceedings again was refused in connection with “an absence of corpus delicti”. Mr. Fedorov, who based his decision on the “explanations” of K. Dushenov, also considered the terminus “sheeny” and its grammatical modifications “are not officially acknowledged indications to any definite religion”.

On May 30th, the Basmann Office of the Public Prosecutor of Moscow also took the decision to refuse the suit of human rights activists because of “the absence of an objective side of the crime, which is foreseen in art 282 of the Russian criminal code”. Based on the results of an examination which was carried out by the director of the Institute for Development of Pre-School Education of the Russian Academy of Educational Sciences, doctor of psychology, professor and member of the Russian Academy for Education V.I. Slobodchikov, the investigator of the Basmann Office of the Public Prosecutor of Moscow, A.S. Ul’yanov, came to the conclusion that in the letter “there is no information which induces activities against any nation, race, religious or individuals as their representatives”. The Office of the Public Prosecutor of the city of Velikie Luki denied the Jewish community the initiation of legal proceedings against the local newspaper “Velikorusskaya Pravda”, which reprinted the article “Jewish happiness, Russian tears”(¹67, from April 7th) that was earlier published by “Rus’ pravoslavnaya”.

In the same manner other Offices of the Public Prosecutor denied to become active. On February 4th 2005, the investigator of the Zhelesnodorozhy District Office of the Public Prosecutor of Krasnoyarsk, Reutskiy, decided to refuse an initiation of legal proceedings according to art. 282 in connection with a publication in the newspaper “Krasnoyarskaya gazeta”, an anti-Semitic article. The investigator preferred to agree with the explanations of the article’s authors that they were not going to stir up the national issue, they just expressed their personal attitude towards Jews and towards Zionism, which was declared by a UN resolution to be a form of racism (the article’s authors and the investigator chose to “forget” the fact that this UN resolution was abolished in 1991). About the use of the word “zhid” (sheeny) they said that “it was used in classical Russian literature… and is the Polish form of pronunciation of the word “Jew”.

On January 24th 2005, the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Tatarstan answered a letter from the Moscow Bureau of Human Rights that requested the initiation of legal proceedings according to art. 282 of the Russian criminal code against Valeri Luzgin, author, publisher and spreader of the book “Zionism as the source of fascism”, published by the University of Kazan’ in 2004. The Office of the Public Prosecutor declared that “Luzgin’s book is of an obvious anti-fascist character and directed against worldwide Zionism as a specific and extremely dangerous for humankind form of national fascism”.

Among the cases that went to court, the most scandalous trial was the one against the Neoyasychnik anti-Semite V. Korchagin, who was charged for having published and spread the journal “Rusich” ¹ 3. After he was found not guilty in November 2004, supposedly because of a lapse of time of his crime, the Moscow City Court in connection with protest had to reopen the case. However, on June 6th the judge of the Timiryazevski Court of Moscow, L. Ryzhkova, although acknowledging Korchagin’s guilt in stirring up national differences, again dismissed him because of the supposed lapse of time. At the same time, materials that the prosecutor cited as evidence as well as testimonies confirming that the spreading of the journals was continued until the end of 2004 were ignored by the court.

Unfortunately, the law-enforcement organs make little use of the legislative instruments they have at their expense. According to official data, in the nearly one year of its existence the Federal Service for Monitoring of Law-Abiding in the Mass Media and for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage only nine times warned mass media whose publications were considered to stir up national differences.

Yet it looks as if in the law-executing practice there has been a turning point for the better. In the first half of 2005 there were some convictions of people who were found guilty of stirring up interethnic hatred (in Kemerovo, in Novgorod Veliki and in Syktyvkar). Regardng some other individuals legal proceedings have been initiated.

At the same time, regarding convictions of people who have commited “physical” crimes on the base of ethnic hatred (murders,beatings, desecrations of burial places), the Russian law-enforcement organs are coping quite well. In the first half of 2005, more than 20 people who participated in attacks on the base of ethnic hatred were sentenced to prison for various periods of time.

A new tendency are trials on groupings of skinheads. For more than a year in St. Petersburg a trial on the group “Schulz-88” has been going on, which was amended by another case regarding another group, “Mad Crowd”, that has been formed out of a gang of soccer fans.

In the beginning of June, in Perm the trial on the members of the skinhead-gang “Rys’”, who are accused of murder, started.

Also the case against two organizers of a skinhead groups in the city Ktovsk, who are accused of having murders natives of the Caucasus in September 2004, has gone to court. Criminal charges were filed according to art.282 part 2 and art. 111 part 4 (“Intended causation of severe harm to someone’s health which caused the death of the victim”) and to art. 30 part 3 (“Preparation of and encroachment on a crime”).

The investigations on representatives of extremist Islamist organizations have been actively continued as well - mainly regarding members of “Hisb-ut-Takhrir”. In the period from November 2004 to April 2005 in Tatarstan alone 11 criminal charges were filed, in the framework of whose several dozen people were held liable.

As earlier, several members of high rank of the law-enforcement organs and State officials try to deny the mere existence of the problem of ethnic hatred, not last of all in order to shirk the responsibility to fight it. Thus they either publicly declare that the menace of extremist youth organizations to society has decreased, or they prefer to hide information about trials in this field.

The head of the Moscow militia, General Pronin, in the end of January stated that in Moscow there are no skinhead organizations, there are only “street kids from Moscow or the area surrounding Moscow who pick out colored people and try to give them short shrift”.

Unfortunately, in several regions there is still an inexplicable permissiveness of the law-enforcement organs regarding Chauvinists. In the Kurgan Region the militia evens guards the pickets of the Russian National Unity.

In Moscow and in Orel members of the Russian National Unity spread flyers in presence of the indifferent militia even on the day of the victory against fascism, on May 9th.

The law-enforcement organs of Krasnodar’ practically do not react on the existence of the book store “Derzhava”, which sells xenophobic literature, right in the city centre (and next to the Krasnodar’ Territory’s Legislative Assembly, to the Office of the Public Prosecutor and to the FSB).

The law-enforcement organs did not intervene in the pogrom in Iskitim. Only after Russian and foreign human rights activists expressed their interest about the Gypsy pogrom, the Novosibirsk militia department started a thorough investigation under the control of the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor, and five people suspected to have organized the riots were arrested.

The activities of non-governmental organizations and intellectuals

It is possible to distinguish several basic fields of activity of NGOs which are directed against the development of xenophobia, racism and extremism in Russia.

Firstly, they carry out trainings, seminars and conferences dedicated to the problem. Such events are carried out quite often in cooperation with commissioners for human rights and the law-enforcement organs.

Secondly, NGOs organize public actions against xenophobia - pickets, demonstrations, competitions, festivals, distribution of flyers and human rights literature.

Actions of human rights organizations to clear cities of xenophobic graffiti have assumed noticeable proportions. Such actions have been carried out in Volgograd (April 21st), Krasnodar (May 5th), Petrozavodsk (March 10th), Syktyvkar (May 2nd and June 22nd). In some cities they were timed with May 9th or June 22nd - the dates of beginning and end of the Great Patriotic War. Often, instead of just washing away the xenophobic graffiti, the participants of the action changed them into peaceful pictures. During one of those actions, at the “cleaning” of Syktyvkar from swastika graffiti, some fascists nearly beat up the human rights activists.

Campaigns are being continued that demand the law-enforcement organs to suppress extremist activities or participation in court trials against radical nationalists and Chauvinist publishers.

Several cases have been initiated by the Office of the Public Prosecutor on requests by human rights activists, including the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, which demanded legal proceedings against the nationalists newspapers “Za russkoe delo” (St. Petersburg, January 14th 2005) and “Nashe Otechestvo” (St. Petersburg, January 17th 2005), against the editor of the newspaper “Kolokol’” S. Terent’ev (Volgograd, beginning of April 2005) and the publisher of the “Russkaya Pravda” A. Aratov (April 25th 2005).

On June 23rd, a group of intellectuals from St. Petersburg (the actor O. Basilashvili, the writers K. Azadovski, N. Katerli and B. Strugatski, the human rights activists A. Nikitin, and Yu. Rybakov, the historians E. Anisimov and R. Ganelin, the producer A. German, the artist D. Shagin and others) wrote an open letter to the president of the Russian Federation to protest against the fact that in the city’s book stores racist literature is being sold and that the law-enforcement organs do nothing about it.

However, so far there is not a lot of activity of Russian activists from the spheres of culture and science regarding counteraction to xenophobia.

Conclusion

In order to reduce the level of xenophobia in the Russian Federation, the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights and the participants of the project recommend the following:

The Russian government, the State Duma, political parties, social movements and organizations together should pass a Declaration against Xenophobia and Racism, where they stress that interethnic differences are one of the main menaces to the unity of Russia.

The Russian government should create a Federal Program for Tolerance Education financed from the State budget. Also the Russian economy should take part in the funding of this program, since the programs of the radical nationalists imply a total nationalization or allocation of property according to ethnic affiliation, which is inadmissible in a developed market economy. In the framework of this program, the Ministry for Education and Science of the Russian Federation should enlarge its complex of events regarding teaching tolerance in schools. A program about the spare time of teenagers and job placement for young people should be worked out and put into effect. It is necessary to publish books that teach the culture of interethnic dialogue and discredit Chauvinist propaganda. There should be special shows a TV and radio that train society to be intolerant towards racism, xenophobia and any other form of ethnic hostility in society and propagate successful experience in peaceful coexistence of people with different ethnic, cultural and traditional background.

A program on migration integration into Russian society, which includes elements such as migration amnesty, free Russian language courses and school duty for children of immigrants, should be developed.

The Russian State Duma should pass normative acts that tighten punishment measures regarding xenophobia and stirring up of ethnic hate.

The law-enforcement organs and the organs in charge of registration should more actively apply the legislative bases that enable them to hold radical nationalists liable, anticipate their activities and cut short the publication of Chauvinist newspapers and books. It is necessary to develop an expert society for the evaluation of texts of xenophobic ideological background, also to strengthen law-enforcement.

Journalists and editors of the mass media must not let have racists floor, they have to stand against a “language of hostility”.

Human rights organizations should exert control over the activities of the law-enforcement organs, actively cooperate with them regarding counteraction to xenophobia, consult experts, draw attention to the activities of Chauvinists, provide methodical literature, inform about international experience in counteraction to racism and discrimination, mobilize the Russian intellectuals and engage them in anti-Fascist activities.

The project “Public campaign for counteraction to racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and ethnic discrimination in the multi-ethnic Russian Federation” is supported by the European Union. The Moscow Bureau for Human Rights is responsible for the content of this report, and therefore this report does not necessarily conform with the EU’s point of view on the topic.

[05.10.2005]

Source: Antisemitismu.net

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