Russia Tightens Security After Nationalist Riot Near Kremlin

by James Brooke

Voice of America News
December 13, 2010

Russian authorities closed Red Square and cordoned off the Kremlin
after President Dmitry Medvedev warned race riots threaten “the
stability of the state.”

Hundreds of riot police, dressed in black helmets and bullet-proof
vests closed off public squares and underground rail stations around
the Kremlin late Monday. Russia’s president sternly warned against
a repeat of last weekend’s nationalist violence.

Using the Russian word “pogrom,” President Dmitry Medvedev warned
Russians that incitement to ethnic or religious hatred could
destabilize Russia, a multi-ethnic and multi-faith nation.

On Monday, Russians looked in shock at the images of last weekend’s
violence in downtown Moscow: hundreds of young men raising their
right arms in stiff-armed Nazi salutes against the red brick walls
of the Kremlin; young men in black hoods attacking riot police with
chunks of ice, burning flares, glass bottles and steel rods; five
young men from Caucasus, blood streaming down their faces, cowering
behind policemen who rescued them from nationalist attackers.

Demonstrators chanted “Russia for Russians” and chanted “2-8-2,”
calling for Russia to abolish a law that makes it a crime to incite
ethnic hatred.

Far outnumbered, police arrested only 80 of the 5,000 nationalists,
pushing most of them into subway stations. Once in the subway, gangs
of youths ran through trains, chanting ‘White Car, White car,” beating
non-Slavic riders.By morning, gangs had shot a shop clerk from Armenia,
shot a shop assistant from Azerbaijan, fractured the skull of another
man from the Caucasus, and knifed to death a man from Kyrgyzstan

A leader of the banned group Slavic Union, Dmitry Dyomushkin, said in
an interview the Kremlin should expel the heavily Muslim republics of
the Caucasus from the Russian Federation. He said that labor migrants
from the Caucasus and Central Asia should remember that they come to
Moscow as guests.

The membership of Russian nationalist groups often overlap with
football-team support groups. In the past six months, nationalists
have drawn large turnouts to demonstrations protesting the murders
of two fans of Moscow’s Spartak football club. In each case, suspects
from the Caucasus were detained, then released.

Center for Political Technologies analyst Alexei Mukhin said that
fans believe Russia’s pervasive corruption extends to homicide
investigations, resulting in suspects buying their way out of jail.

Mukin said anger over police corruption fuels protests.

Last week, after the latest murder, 1,000 Spartak fans blocked the
main highway to Moscow’s busiest airport. After this protest, one
murder suspect was arrested. After the massive protest outside the
Kremlin walls, police detained three more suspects.

In recent days, thousands have turned out for nationalist protests in
the cities of Rostov and St. Petersburg. In Rostov, 1,000 students
were joined by paramilitary units of Cossacks, a group that carried
out many pogroms against ethnic and religious minorities during the
days of Czarist Russia.

In light of this history of inter-ethnic violence, Russian Orthodox
Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin has called for authorities, migrant workers
and native Russians to take “immediate steps” to keep football violence
from becoming an “ethnic war.”

From: A. Papazian

You may also like