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Lessons from the Cherkizovskaya Market

The explosion at the Cherkizovskaya market, whose public attention was distracted by the tragedy with the Tu � 154 the next day, has become a landmark in modern Russian history. For the first time, several horrifying phenomena were shown at once, able to render important influence on subsequent events. Firstly, nationalism took place (the prosecution showed that �the deliberate murder of two and more people took place due to interethnic and inter-religious differences�) calling it�s fulfillment an act of terrorism; secondly, the terrorists who let the bomb explode in Moscow were not members of any organization and thirdly, they have independently produced an explosive without the need for any assistance.

Moscow for a long time has gradually turned into a multiethnic city � this is the destiny of all mega cities. London, Paris, New York and Berlin � they all went through this step during their development. The Parisian crowd of the 1950�s and today�s crowd of full of black, dark-skinned and narrow-eyed people appear to be two contrasts. Big cities inevitably draw to themselves opportunities and a high standard of living. They therefore create an inevitable collision of cultures. The fear for losing one�s identity, that in your cozy court yard will walk kiddies speaking another language and that foreign schoolboys will be the majority in your child�s class, renders a strong influence of mobilization. It simply is irritating, that noisy salesmen on the market � non-Russians, many of them in the Metro and in the crowd on Manege square, induce many people to oppose the cosmopolitan process. The desire to keep one�s identity, to preserve one�s childhood memories of the ethnic shape of the city, outweighs all other feelings and becomes the dominant in the person.

In the overwhelming majority of all cases, nationalism remains passive, becoming only visible occasionally on markets towards �black� people or similar situations. During the past 15 post-communistic years, despite all the rumors about �Russian fascism�, Russian nationalism did hardly become a significant political or public force. Not a single party succeeded at elections using radical nationalistic slogans. Both, the RNE (Russian Nationalist Union Party) and the DPNI (Russian Movement against Illegal Immigrants) remain semi-marginal. The LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) lead by a former Jewish nationalist is, of course, not counted. The liberal-democrats are the same nationalists as anticommunists or imperialists. People vote for them, knowing that Vladimir Volfovitch does not even think about carrying out a single one of his most scandalous promises.

But the explosion on the Cherkizovskaya market showed that the Chekhovian note about a rifle hanging on the wall still keeps up its urgency. Many things were said about the readiness of radical nationalists for resolute actions; however, no one believed that Moscow could become a place for armed guerilla. As Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus wrote, �war of the words will sooner or later transform into an exchange of impacts�. Long accumulated national hatred at an everyday level, not seriously stopped by the state, has found its way to acts of terrorism.

A distinctive feature of modern terrorism based on religious or racial hatred is that it does not require an organization. The majority of cells are not connected among each other, as exposures of Islamic terrorists in the West show. They are spontaneously generated and propagate their ideas freely, especially via internet. The suspected organizers of the explosions on the Cherkisovskaya market operated autonomous, similarly to their �colleagues� who are responsible for the bombings of the London underground. For Islamists in Europe it is sufficient to visit appropriate sites on a regular basis in order to accumulate the necessary ideas and hatred � if it is better to fight with the hated world? The basic problem, however, is the �war on terror�, proclaimed by Bush Junior. The enemy is invulnerable, because he is unorganized. The enemy does not have a common brain, which could be paralyzed, because there is no structured network.

This moves the special institutions move to the forefront, because society itself is facing a threat of their world. The most important thing is to work with all groups from the population on education of tolerance and adjustment of intercultural dialogue. Fear and hatred towards �others� arises, where the �others� are living in isolation. Both, the Chinese and the Vietnamese communities � that suffered most from the explosion, are severely alienated from the indigenous population. It is interesting to note that even though �people from the Caucasus� provoke the greatest hostility on an everyday level, they are, however, less than others subjects to attacks from nationalists. Nationalists prefer Tadjiks, Vietnamese, Africans, but they are careful to get involved with Dagestanis or Chechens. Besides other reasons, it is possible to assume that this is due to the fact that they have grown into Russian society.

However, the saddest thing about the history of the explosion on the market is that Russia demonstrates a certain ease in mastering the problem. It is not important where the three people detained the information of how to manufacture an explosive � whether from the internet or whether it was their own idea (one of them was a chemistry student). It is important though that practically any half-educated person, who convinced himself he is savior of the world, avenger for the idea of Robin Hood, is capable of killing ten people at once. Under a certain pressure any human crowd can create a small group of fanatics, giving them the feeling of being important and confident to blackmail the state and society. Law-enforcement and governmental institutions should reconsider standards of safety.

There are no simple recipes present. Forbidding to sell equipment necessary to make explosives is impossible, as is registering everyone studying chemistry. But special institutions are obliged to do something.

Source: Internet Journal �Novaya Politika�

� 1993-2003

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