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Media belatedly raises the alarm.

This weekend, TV presenters on channels �ORT�, �Rossiya�,�NTV� and �RENTV� reported something new and shocking. In Russia, apparently fascist ideas are becoming ever more popular, with every passing year. And in St Petersburg, Moscow and Voronezh, young extremists are not only threatening non Russians, but are killing them. And this is only the start of the process.

This is really nothing new, six years ago we conducted a study on the topic �How are inter ethnic relations and attitudes negatively influenced in Russia?� Leaders of ethnic communities from various regions of Russia took part in this study. Without exception, they blamed mass media for its negative portrayal of members of ethnic minorities. They particularly singled out regional television channels as guilty culprits. The population�s resentment of immigrants, who are stealing their bread and are only waiting for the opportunity to steal something - was and remains the favourite topic of our so-called �free� mass media. For many years adverts containing xenophobic ideas have become the norm in high circulation newspapers and on TV. The population swallows all this quite willingly. For many, perhaps, it�s hard to accept the fact that you work all day long, receive a pittance and be responsible for this injustice yourself. During the years of the Soviet Union we have all been taught that the people can not make mistakes. Consequently why are we not more successful? We have everything we need for a good life. The one thing stopping us living well are our enemies. The enemy is no longer the class enemy but those who are different from us

Xenophobic ideas work in the same way as drugs help drug addicts escape from the reality of life to a virtual, more primitive but more understandable world. Today xenophobic ideas are widespread in Russia and a complete absence of tolerance in our mass media does not seem to worry the government. It�s not a coincidence that some, barely literate, though very active young people, resort to violence in order to avenge this perceived injustice. And only after violent incidents, our TV and newspapers raise a fuss and ask naively �How could this happen here, we are such good people�. So when reports about arrested neo Nazis and xenophobic news is constantly circulated, it makes these criminals into genuine �heroes of our time�. At which point, we should ask our citizens �How can you consider that the proliferation of nationalist ideas a problem only for national minorities?�

Today in the role of �them� as opposed to �us� , are Jews, people from the Caucasus, Asia and Africa, but tomorrow it could be the rich. The situation calls to mind the famous Martin Niemoller quote

�When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church -- and there was nobody left to be concerned.�

For several years the Moscow police have only demanded bribes from citizens of the CIS, but now they have started to fine Muscovites, who have simply left their documents at home. This atmosphere of tension can not be changed by simply one programme on TV. Serious laws must be passed at a federal level and special structures must be created for their realization. This has been recommended repeatedly to authorities by leaders of ethnic communities. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. In the UK, for example, a Law on racial equality was passed a long time ago and the Commission on Racial Equality was created. Of course, this can only be done, if those in power wish to change things.

Source: http://www.hro.org >

� 1993-2003

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