"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Race Riots in Moscow

Monday's Guardian featured a characteristically self-righteous article on the violence which flared in Moscow over the weekend:

At least two people were killed after around 5,000 far-right football fans and nationalists gathered at a rally outside Red Square at the weekend, calling for the death of Russia's immigrant population.

The demonstrators, who were marking the death last week of Spartak Moscow fan Yegor Sviridov, who was shot during a brawl with several men from the Caucasus, flashed the Nazi salute, chanted "Russia for Russians" and pelted riot police with flares, smoke bombs and metal fence posts.

After the rally hundreds of protesters entered the Moscow metro where they continued their rampage, beating and stabbing passersby from Central Asia and the Caucasus, Russia's troubled, mainly Muslim, southern region. A Kyrgyz man was attacked by 15 people and stabbed to death. One central Asian man was reported to have died in hospital from his injuries following the riot, but officials have declined to comment. More than 20 people were taken to hospital. Video images showed several men from Central Asia and the Caucasus walking dazed with bloody faces.

The violence is truly appalling, as are most of the sentiments, and I could never condone such actions.

I can't help but feel the Guardian is being somewhat disingenuous, however. The violence began after a Russian was killed and another severely injured in a clash with a gang from the North Caucasus; they acknowledge that themselves, but are only interested in what happened afterwards - because they want the right sort of bogeymen, and they always have to start with the words "far-right."

The massive influx of immigrants from what was Soviet Central Asia, which may total in the millions, is a big issue in Russia; so is the organised crime and casual violence perpetrated by gangs from the Caucasus on the streets of Russian cities.

As far as I can tell, riots such as these are what governments get when people are ignored. They are the sort of thing I would like to avoid happening here in Britain, but fear will come about one day if the people are continually ignored.

Russia Today carried an article that was equally disingenuous - but from a slightly different perspective:

Those behind Saturday’s nationalist riots in central Moscow seek to break up Russia, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has told the press in Grozny.

"I am certain that some destructive forces lit the fire of disturbances and sent a crowd which started beating natives of the Caucasus and Asians. Any country that is home to dozens of ethnic groups can suffocate on ethnic, racial conflicts. And Russia's enemies are very well aware of that. Having failed to break up the country with wars and terror in its south, they have now chosen new methods,"

the Interfax news agency quoted Kadyrov as saying on Monday.

"The hotheads should be reminded that the Caucasus is Russia," said the Chechen leader. "I want to responsibly state that the population of our region supports decisive measures taken and being taken by the country's law enforcement agencies to restore due order," Kadyrov said.

"Punishment must be unavoidable for every criminal. Today we are all outraged by what happened. What happened on Manezhnaya Square is a disgrace. Such manifestations point to the need to focus on inter-ethnic policy and highlight it as one of the priorities of the government's policy," Kadyrov said.

A word from Chechnya's thug-in-chief - we are indeed honoured.

It's strange, but I don't remember Mr Kadyrov being so enamoured with Russian rule when he was fighting an insurgency against them and killing their soldiers.

But of course, now the Russians have bought him off and let him run Chechnya as his own personal fiefdom, it's all different. If he loves Russia so much, then why is he so eager to impose sharia law and medieval Islamic customs in Chechnya?

Perhaps those Chechens who detonate themselves on the Moscow subway or behead captured Russian soldiers are the ones who need reminding who is "part of Russia" and who isn't?

Of course, the most interesting part of Kadyrov's words are the mysterious other that he mentions who is inciting all this trouble - who could that be then? The US? The West? The... Jews? Could it be that the two sides meet in the middle on this?

Kadyrov sounds as paranoid as the skinhead thugs running around stabbing people in Moscow, who the Guardian helpfully inform us were seen screaming "Yids! Get out of Russia!" However, in Russia such sentiments are certainly not the preserve of the far-right alone.

It's just worth remembering, as always, that there are two sides to every story. I remember when race riots broke out in the northern Russian town of Kondopoga in 2006.

Here's the BBC version:

Extra police have been deployed in Kondopoga after hundreds of ethnic Russians burned cars and businesses owned by traders from the Caucasus.

More than 100 people have been arrested in the town, and three of them charged with murder, prosecutors say.

The violence was sparked by the death of two ethnic Russians last week during a cafe fight with Chechens.

Kondopoga lies about 100km (60 miles) north of Petrozavodsk - the capital of Russia's republic of Karelia.

Reports from the town say members of far-right groups from across the country travelled to the town to join in the violence.

Interesting. Here's another view on the same events, which strangely provides more details about the mysterious deaths of the two Russians:
There’s was a brawl that left two of the Russians dead. Nothing is said about the cause of their death. Could they have a heart attack? Quite possible. Here’s the actual chain of events. Two Russians at the restaurant “Chaika” had a brawl with the waiter who supposedly brought them cheap vodka in a bottle from expensive one. Russians refused to pay for it. The barman called the local Chechen “rescue team”.

It arrived an hour later when Russians who actually started the brawl already left. About 15 Chechens armed with knives, sharpened steel bars and baseball bats rushed into the restaurant, cried, “Allahu Akbar!” and started thrashing indiscriminately everyone who was unlucky to be at the restaurant by that time. People were defending themselves with chairs and tables. In less than 5 minutes the Chechen “rescue team” killed two men and mutilated 15, eight of them were beaten within an inch of their life. Having done that Chechens left the restaurant. During the “brawl” two local police cars were staying right at the restaurant and later a third one came. Policemen didn’t interfere. Later it became known that they actually were on the rescue team’s payroll and in fact were giving protection to the bandits.
Apparently this mutilation included two Russians having eyes gouged out.

There's such a thing as mass racist violence - but there's also such a thing as the incidents which build up to spark it off. We only know what we're told - and it increasingly seems our own media are as biased, in their own way, as a known Russian mouthpiece.

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