Racism in Russia - May, 2008

Racism in Russia


Since the "Neo-Nazis" of Russia make the news every so often, I would like to briefly make a few comments about Armenian-Russian relations in the context of racist attacks against Armenians living in Russia. 

I initially did not want to discuss this topic at all because I saw it as unconnected to the primary intent of this blog. This is essentially a sociological problem in Russia that many non-Russian immigrants face and has no bearing on the geopolitical and/or geostrategic aspects of Russo-Armenian relations. The fact of the matter is that Russian "Neo-Nazis" or "skinheads" as they are at times called, represent the Russian Federation just as much as the "KKK", Neo-Nazis or "White Power" degenerates in America represent the United States of America. However, since this topic keeps popping up every time Armenian-Russian relations are discussed, I felt obligated to make a few comments about it.

Racism exists in many societies. More specifically, racism tends to exist especially within large nations that have a diverse demographic makeup and nations that are going through rough political and/or economic times. Even in the United States, there is a serious problem with racism: Neo-Nazis, KKK, White Supremacists, Hispanic racists, Mexican racists, Black racists, etc. However, one of the fundamental differences in this regard between the US and the Russian Federation is that in the US the authorities have been much more effective and much more efficient in their management of society. More importantly, the US has not had a serious socioeconomic breakdown, the kind of which post-Soviet Russia had experienced for about a decade. In any given society where there is economic crisis and/or weakened central government, social order suffers and crime rates increase as a result. 

In hard socioeconomic times, natives in any given country tend to persecute those who they 'perceive' to be outsiders taking advantage of their nation. What's more, it's no secret that since the Soviet collapse, Russia has had severe problems with all types of social disorders and criminal groups. Many of these criminal groups have been at times manipulated by foreign interests in order to destabilize Russian society. 

With that said, I am glad that the authorities in Moscow have finally began to combat this serious problem, a problem that is also detrimental to Russia's progress.

During the past several years, several dozen Armenians have been murdered in what appears to have been racially motivated killings. While it is common knowledge that Russians generally speaking tend to be a chauvinistic people, what's not clear, however, is who exactly is committing the murders of Armenians in Russia and why. It is now becoming more and more obvious that a vast majority of the killings of Armenians in Russia may have been mob related and therefore not racially motivated. There is also the likelihood that at least in some cases there is also political motives behind the killings. After all, there are large numbers of Turkic peoples living within boundaries of the Russian Federation. There are also large numbers of Georgian, Jewish and Chechen crime rings. The aforementioned nationalities will always pose a danger to Armenians because they see Armenians as their competitors and/or their historic enemies.

I am not implying that the average Russian will have warm sentiments towards foreigners in Russia, especially towards peoples of the Caucasus, whom they see as taking advantage of their nation. It is also well known that many Armenian immigrants in Russia bring shame upon the Armenian people, similar to how many Armenians in southern California bring shame upon the Armenian nation. However, unlike in the United States where the standard of living is relatively high, the political climate remains stable and society under very tight control, the Russian Federation has been suffering from severe social malaise and economic depression for well over a decade. As a result of Russia's sociopolitical instability and economic depression, Russians have naturally began to grow increasingly intolerant and in some cases criminally aggressive towards non-ethnic Russians living amongst them.
 
I would like to point out a US-funded government study conducted in the mid-90s that revealed one out of six Russian adolescents at the time were mentally/emotionally disturbed. That is a staggering number. Those children, incidentally, are now young adults with mental problems. It is well known that the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union saw a drastic rise in violent crime, chronic corruption, unemployment, moral degradation, broken families and a lack of education. Today, there are perhaps millions of troubled and disgruntled young men and women roaming the streets of major cities in Russia. And these are in essence the vulnerable citizens of the country that are being manipulated to do the dirty work of special interests, be it political or criminal.
 
Broadly speaking, it is in all peoples psyche to be chauvinistic, it's a human trait. Aren't we Armenians chauvinistic in our own special way? Aren't we Armenians smarter or more capable than non-Armenians - the "օտար"? Don't Armenians look down on Russian men as being lazy drunkards? Don't Armenian men look at Western women, specifically Russian women, as whores? And it's not just us, don't the English, French and the Spaniards boast about their former empires? Aren't Germans and Japanese still arrogant? And how did the term the "ugly American" came into existence? If Russians are more high nosed than the average westerner it's simply because for the past several centuries they have been a major military power, a major economic power, a major political power and a major cultural power. And unlike many of the other major powers around them, they continue to be one today. Also, Russians seem to have had enough of foreigners meddling in their business.
 
Nonetheless, the hard reality today is that certain street elements in Russia are being used towards sinister purposes by special interest groups and government agencies. This situation will not change for some time. Thus, we Armenians have to work with what we have. Armenians in Russia, our largest diasporan community numbering around 2 million, need to be more proactive in fostering better relations with their Russian neighbors. Armenian migrant workers in Russia need to have more respect towards their host nation and its laws. To remedy these problems, Armenian community groups need to be assembled. Cultural awareness programs like the ones recently commissioned by the authorities in Moscow need to increase in number and scope. Individual Armenians need to work on this, Armenian businessmen need to work on this, Armenian officials need to work on this, our Church leadership needs to work on this.

We have had a natural alliance with Russia for several centuries. Our relations with the Russian nation actually goes back a thousand years. We have also had our political problems with Russians as well. In the big geopolitical picture, however, today and for the foreseeable future, Armenia and Russia will need each other. I personally don't foresee any obstacles getting in the way of Armenia's crucial strategic alliance with the Russian Federation. Unfortunately, however, due to our various political predicaments in the Caucasus, we need the Russian Federation much more than they need us. And therein lies the danger for us. For us, our relationship with Moscow is a simple matter of survival. For Russia, their relationship with Armenia is simply a matter of geopolitical calculations. Nevertheless, the strategic relationship between these two friendly nations seems to be heading towards a very good direction and no "skinhead" will be able to put a stop to it.

Arevordi



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THEY KILL EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE RUSSIANS


“The manifestations of fascism appeared in Russia after the defeat of the Soviet Union”, said NA Deputy Speaker Vahan Hovhannisyan referring to manifestations of race discrimination in Russia. «Russia suffered a defeat in the cold war. The ideological defeat was that communism proved to be ideologically empty; the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia lost territories which later became its enemy. The economic defeat was that the whole economy of the Soviet Union collapsed, and the fact that Russia continues to survive is conditioned by the natural resources and not by the development of the economy», Vahan Hovhannisyan said. According to him, the skinheads who speak about the Aryan spirit and the purity of the blood know nothing about fascism. “If for example Mussolini or Franco who were the founders of fascism appeared in the Russian Underground, the skinheads could beat them too as they do not differ from the Armenians in the color of their skin. So the basis of such violations is not ideological; it is simply the frustration of the society expressed through such horrible acts”. Vahan Hovhannisyan thinks that Russia does not combat against these phenomena properly. As for the attitude of the Armenian authorities, he is not aware of it. In an interview to “A1+” deputy of the Russian State Duma Alexander Dzasokhov noted that he treats the Armenians living both in Armenia and out of it with deep respect. “I have many Armenian friends. Every death is a tragedy, but it does not refer to Armenians more than to other nations. The Armenians living Russia are part of our history. We also have many Armenian professionals in the Law enforcement agency. We must join our efforts in order to prevent suchlike cases in future. ”

Source: http://www.a1plus.am/en/?page=issue&iid=39791

Putin Names Fighting Ethnic Hatred Top Priority for Russia


Russia`s President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with political party leaders that an appropriate response would be soon given to racial, interethnic and inter-religious hatred, the RIA Novosti news agency reported Wednesday. “Those who preach racial, national or religious hatred must know that their views will provoke an appropriate response,” he said and added that it is evident that countering extremism is not only a state responsibility, although the state should address it first and foremost. According to the president, civil society and political parties should have a clear position in regard to the problem. Putin also noticed that ordinary citizens in particular should change their attitude toward crimes concerned with racial, interethnic and inter-religious hatred. The president thinks that the wording of laws countering extremist activity should be absolutely clear, and that punishment should be inevitable and appropriate to the gravity of the crime. Putin thanked lawmakers for adopting laws making it possible to ban extremist parties from participating in elections. Increasing violence aimed at people with non-Slavic appearance has prompted Russian and foreign human rights groups in recent months to raise concerns over the alarming spread of racist and xenophobic attitudes in the country.

Source: http://www.mosnews.com/news/2006/12/...response.shtml

Murder of ethnic Armenian in Moscow – “blow on Russia’s image on the threshold of G8 summit”


Non-Governmental Russia’s Armenians Union (RAU), which once succeeded in liberation of Russian seamen, held captive in Nigeria, is planning to protest against xenophobia in Russia now. As RAU Head Ara Abramyan has informed REGNUM, the organization prepares protest actions in connection with murder of 19-year-old ethnic Armenian, Russian citizen Artur Sardaryan, committed in car of Moscow suburban electric train. According to the RAU leader, first of all, the murderers wished to damage Russia’s image, “to lead it astray, out of the way of democracy and development.” Ara Abramyan is sure that “Nazis have deliberately chosen for their bloody crime time, preceding St. Petersburg G8 summit.” “It is an obvious provocation, directed not against Armenians as such, but one, which directly strikes on Russia’s image on the threshold of such important event,” the RAU head believes.

It is worth reminding that Artur Sardaryan was murdered on May 25 in a Moscow suburban electric train. According to eye-witnesses, the crime was committed by group of young men, scanning “Long live Russia!” and other nationalistic slogans. Only on May 29, the murder received publicity. As REGNUM informed, Sardaryan headed to his home town of Pushkino. At least two persons stopped the train, operating emergency break, and ran away, after the murderer attacked. Office of Transport Public Prosecutor at Russian Railway’s Yaroslavl Line instituted proceedings in connection with murder, committed by a group of people and caused by national hatred. About a month earlier, analogous case took place in Moscow Pushkinskaya metro station, when 17-year-old student, born in Armenia, Vigen Abramyants was murdered in presence of numerous witnesses.

Source: http://www.regnum.ru/english/russia/649092.html

Annually Azeri Criminal Groupings in Russia Assign $50 Million for Murders of Armenians

“Annually Azeri criminal groupings assign $50 million for the organization of murders of Armenians,” Russia FM’s Advisor for Nationalities in 1999-2001 Vsevolod Maryan stated during round-table discussions dedicated to the crimes committed in Russia through national hatred. In his words, the situation should be given a straightforward account. “The reports of press are a tiny part of what’s really going on. At least 3000 Armenians were killed in Russia during recent ten years,” Maryan said. In his opinion, the crimes through national hatred originate from the collapse of the USSR. But if at that times they were spontaneous, now “they are organized by a ruling grouping, not only Russian but the Azeri one as well.” “Anyone, rich or poor, can fall victim to nationalist policy in Russia. It will concern not the “persons of Caucasian nationality”, as Yuri Lujkov (the Mayor of Moscow) called them, but Armenians,” Vsevolod Maryan considers. He motivates it by the fact that “while Armenian honestly earn money Azeris establish contacts with powerful structures in Russia”. That is why the killed Caucasians turn out to be Armenians. “Armenians are deliberately killed in Russia in order to drive the last nail into the coffin in the South Caucasus,” Vsevolod Maryan resumed, reported IA Regnum.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/print/?nid=18427

Armenians of Moscow don’t participate in initiatives of Caucasian peoples

The Armenian community of Moscow doesn’t take part in the initiatives of “representatives of Caucasian peoples,” Yuri Navoyan, the chairman of the Russian-Armenian Commonwealth NGO told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. “Various organizations always want to involve Armenians in the settlement of their problems with Russia. However, everyone should solve problems without using the representatives of other nationalities. This is our position,” Mr Navoyan said. Representatives of Caucasian peoples are planning a picket for July 13. The action will be held against leaders of ultranational groupings inciting national hatred. The coordination council of the Azeri youth is going to join the picket, Day.az reported.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/

Authorities Declare War On Racist Gangs

Following a week which has seen one gang of extremists receive long prison terms – including life sentences - and another skinhead gang arrested and charged with racist killings, it seems there might be light at the end of the tunnel as the forces of law and order get to grips with the scourge of racist violence on the streets of Moscow.

Skinhead gang charged with 19 racial murders

Eight young men and one woman are due to stand trial accused of 19 murders and 13 attempted murders. The Moscow Prosecutor’s Office brought the charges after an investigation into more than three dozen racial attacks around the city between August 2006 and April 2007. Currently eight of the nine so-called ‘skinheads’ are in custody. One has been released on condition he remains in the city. Last April two Moscow students, Artur Ryno and his friend Pavel Skachevsky were arrested on suspicion of killing an Armenian businessman. Later Ryno confessed to 37 racially-motivated crimes, and more arrests followed. A total of nine people aged from 16 to 22 are now charged with murder or attempted murder. Investigators say the members of the gang kept in touch via mobile phones and the Internet. Then they would get together for what they called ‘actions’. Their attacks were always sudden and had one purpose only - to kill. The gang went out on manhunts in the evenings, attacking men they considered non-Slavic.

Alarming record

Fifty-three people have been killed in hate crimes this year, which is three times as many as over the same period in 2007. These figures have motivated authorities to take a tougher stance. Now more crimes are being investigated as racial attacks – and, crucially, more are coming to court. Earlier this week eight extremists were found guilty of a 2006 explosion in the Cherkizovo market that left 14 dead and 47 injured, most of whom were immigrants from the North Caucasus and East Asia.

Human rights activists see rays of hope

”The fact that this case found its way to court, and the example of people sentenced to life for the Cherkizovo market blast shows that we are moving in the right direction - but there's still a lot to do,” Semyon Charny from the Moscow Human Rights Bureau believes. Russia's hate crimes are attracting greater attention from society, media and the authorities. Last spring, a billboard campaign in the streets of Moscow promoted racial tolerance. However, only the next few years will show whether this will be enough to resolve the problem.

Source: http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/24900

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