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Anna Perova

"Skinheads" in Krasnodar: myth or threat?

The last weeks marked an unprecedented wave of nationalist extremism in our country. The word skinhead occupied a leading place in the headlines of every days news. () On October 20th in St. Petersburg unknown persons attacked an African student who was then delivered to hospital with serious injuries. On October 14th in the outskirts of Moscow a group of youth gave chase to two workers from Uzbekistan and beat them up shouting out: Russia to the Russians! One of the victims died of stab wounds at the hospital. The same day in Chita an emigrant from China was beaten to death. The day before that in St. Petersburg a Vietnamese student returning home from a party was unmercifully beaten and killed.

On this bloody background, scuffles and pogroms that end without persons being killed or disabled just look like innocent jokes which are not worthy of public attention. Such information comes from Moscow, Voronezh, Yaroslavl and Nizhniy Novgorod almost every day and does not astonish anyone.

Thats probably why the sentence in the so-called skinhead case, which was recently settled at the Pervomaisky Court in Krasnodar, did not evoke an echo in the city. The crime was some kind of idiotic, and the verdict nothing in particular: two 19-year-old townsmen of Krasnodar, Evgeniy Zikiy and Yekaterina Ostroukh, were sentenced to four years probation, with the possibility of imprisonment. The young people were found guilty of beating African students, but they were accused not according to article 282 of the Criminal Code (Arousing ethnic, racial or religious enmity), as one would expect, but as usual hooligans (article 213, part 2).

The term skinhead case itself is written in bold quotes. The fact that the accused belong to a nationalist organization is not mentioned in the verdict. The victims assert that the youth who attacked them were dressed totally in black. I think that this detail alone allows supposing an ideological character of the crime. At court the most important question remained unanswered: Did the attack on the Africans have racial or national hatred as its central motive? Did it, perhaps, matter to the hooligans who they were beating up?

However, the court acknowledged that on March 14th the accused Zikiy and Ostroukh with some friends went out to the street with the purpose of hooligan activity. In the opinion of the court, this is proved by the fact that the accused had iron chains and bottles of beer with them. But the verdict does not mention if the purpose might have been directed against chornye (blacks, a politically incorrect term for foreigners, usually used for people from the Caucuses) from the very beginning. The young people caught sight of the African near their central meeting place.

As to what happened then, the accused told different versions of the story. Evgeniy Zikiy confirms that he stumbled and fell; and one of the foreigners laughed, which allegedly caused the fight. Yekaterina Ostroukh does not remember this incident. She says that somebody shouted Niggers!, and everyone chased them. The five students from Africa who were on their way to an Internet caf? didnt expect an attack and tried to escape. Zikiy caught one of the Africans, hit his neck with an iron chain and knocked him down. Ostroukh hit an African girl on her head with a bottle, knocked her down and started to beat her up, emptying a dustbin over her victim. The other foreigners managed to call for help and the hooligans left on foot. The African girl was delivered to hospital with a cerebral concussion.

The guilty persons were soon arrested, though, not all of them: In the verdict most of the hooligans are called unidentified persons. Two persons stood at the bar: the dock worker Evgeniy Zikiy and the night-school student Yekaterina Ostroukh. Concerning age and social status, they absolutely fit in skinhead milieu, but it is impossible to consider them as skins unequivocally.

The skins are no party, no interest club and not even a group of organized criminality. In contrast to, lets say, the National Bolsheviks, the radical ecologists or the bikers, the small skinhead groupings dont have one leader and dont even communicate with each other. Some experts think that the skin movement as such does not exist at all, but it consists of uncoordinated backyard groups, each numbering not more than a dozen of persons. It is a typical urban youth subculture, often located at the entrances of multi-storey micro-rayons.

Its true that in Krasnodar there are some adult ideological mentors of the nationalist minded youth who know their followers by face, but not more. The adult skinheads did not know about the fact that two young people found themselves on the bar in order to beat African citizens. And asked about the accused: Are they your followers or someone elses?, they had difficulties answering.

The skin dress is for many youths just a current fashion, a striving for self-assertion, says my source, who wishes to remain unnamed, and shows high lace-up boots and a chain on his belt. Everyone can dress like that, but that doesnt mean, that he is willing to go out in the street and beat someone up.

There is little exact information about the Krasnodar skinheads: they appeared in the early 90s and were active especially in 1994 and 1995; the movement declined, but then new activities appeared: an example was the destruction of a Slavic cemetery in Krasnodar in spring 2002. The guilty people were quickly found and sentenced, and until last spring the Krasnodar skins did not call much attention to themselves. And now, almost like in the song, they beat up a negro (Pobili negra, in accordance to the song Ubili negra, They killed a negro).

The skin counselors, after becoming aware of the verdict, were at a loss how to react: How many times did we tell you, dont go looking for a fight, theres no use in it. Study, work, be productive! On the question, of how many skinheads there are in town, they answer evasively: the number changes all the time and is beyond all calculation. According to Alexander Tarasov, research fellow at the Moscow Center of New Sociology and Practical Politics and main expert on the skinhead movement in Russia, in Krasnodar there are no less than a thousand of such informal members at the moment. The movement is not ideologically overburdened; it has a clear social background: hatred against other ethnicities and immigrants who live in each big city.

Racial hatred simply depends on statistics, confirms my source in the black shirt. Its very easy: if there are more strangers, they start to impose their will, and thats unfortunately a tendency across Europe. For example, in France there was once a small Arab-only community, and they behaved very carefully and tried to adapt themselves to the local habits. Today, Paris has become the biggest Muslim city in Europe. As a result, the resistance of white Frenchmen is increasing. The skinhead movement appeared in the lower classes of the European society, in the working-class districts where poor people live. The same is going on, with delay, in Russia now. Who is joining the skinheads here in Krasnodar? They come from incomplete and poor families; often the kids just dont have enough to eat. In their misery they accuse those who, in their opinion, live better: that means non-Russians. And the Russian state, after having ruined the whole education system and the cultural opportunities for the youth, cannot offer the young generation anything.

The last statement can hardly be disagreed with. The state ideologically cannot set off anything against the skinheads. That means that their activity wont decline in the near future. Indeed, by no means all skinheads of the new generation wear dark shirts and high lace-up boots. With age comes the understanding that one does not have to make show of his views. The movement also doesnt develop into breadth, but into deep, absorbing all new social stratums of youth. The skins are joint by originates from entrepreneurs families, who regard immigrants as competitors in business. Among students a number of intellectual skins have appeared who strongly differ from the traditional image of a skinhead as an uneducated school drop-out. This will be a totally new ideologue on the right. Today the skins spray swastikas on the walls, and thats a signal to the whole society: something is absolutely going wrong in our country. Which message will the adult skin prepare for us?

Source: YUGA.ru


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