More fun and games in Russia

    “No offence but honestly who gives a shit about [96 dead ethnics] in Russia.” ~ Nowave, Melbourne Punx Forum

On the other hand, Russian nutzis have grave concerns over the actions of human rights activists. Thus:

Neo-Nazis threaten to murder journalists in Russia

New York, February 11, 2009–The Committee to Protect Journalists called today for Russian authorities to immediately investigate a death threat that was sent to a human rights research center. In an e-mail, a neo-Nazi group threatened to murder a number of journalists and intellectuals in the next year, according to the recipient of the threat.

The sender told Galina Kozhevnikova, deputy head of the human rights research center SOVA, which documents the activities of radical nationalist, neo-fascist, and xenophobic groups in Russia, to “prepare” to be the next in line, and made reference to recently slain lawyer Stanislav Markelov. Markelov was shot at the same time as Anastasiya Baburova, a Novaya Gazeta journalist who was with him. Kozhevnikova told CPJ she received the message, signed by a Russian neo-Nazi group known as “BTO,” on Sunday, a day after SOVA announced plans to hold a press conference on the rise of related crimes…

Given the Russian state’s denial, complicity and general indifference, SOVA plays a crucial role in monitoring the deadly antics of Russia’s burgeoning fascist parties and movements.

Rights group sees slight rise in Russia hate crime
Mansur Mirovalev

MOSCOW (AP) — The number of hate crimes rose in Russia last year as the global economic crisis fueled xenophobic feelings but higher conviction rates kept the number from going higher, a human rights group said Wednesday. Galina Kozhevnikova, deputy head of the Sova group, which monitors hate crimes in Russia, said 97 people were killed and 525 wounded in apparent hate crimes…

The increasing number of ‘hate crimes’, and the growing popularity of the movements and ideologies which nurture them, have important implications not only for Russia, but Eastern and Western Europe generally, in numerous parts of which fascist and racist movements are on the rise. The global economic crisis, and the anxieties it produces, provide fertile ground for demagogues. In conjunction with the collapse of European socialism — especially in the countries of the former Communist bloc — nationalist, racialist and xenophobic sentiment form a powerful matrix from which incipient fascist regimes may be born.

But so much for the macro-political.

Putin’s worst nightmare
Luke Harding
The Observer
February 8, 2009

It was 9.10pm and Karen Abramian was returning home to his flat in southwest Moscow. Abramian had been visiting his parents in a nearby tower block. His journey back took five minutes – past a series of grey high-rise buildings soaring into Moscow’s packed skyline and a children’s playground, and up a modest flight of steps. As he punched in the entrance code, two young men, one wearing a baseball cap and one a bandana, approached him from behind. And then they stabbed him. They stabbed him again – methodically slashing his head, neck, back and stomach. Abramian pleaded with his attackers. “Don’t do this. Please take my money,” he begged them. His assailants – two slight, boyish, almost nerdish figures – ignored him, stabbing him 56 times. At this moment, Abramian’s wife Marta peered out of their ninth-floor apartment window and spotted two boys beating a dark shape lying on the ground. The couple’s 14-year-old son Georgy, who had been playing nearby, found his father in the entrance, bleeding profusely. Georgy took off his T-shirt (it was April, still winter in Russia, and bitterly cold), wrapped it around his father and ran upstairs. Abramian was conscious when Georgy came back with a blanket and pillow. Georgy wrapped his father in it and they waited in the gloom for an ambulance. Abramian told his son simply: “They were skinheads.” Four hours later, in the early hours of 17 April 2007, Abramian was dead. Doctors had been unable to stem the colossal loss of blood…

Abramian’s killers were Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, both 17. According to Harding, the pair are among the worst mass murderers in Russia’s modern history, having killed 20 people and attacked at least 12 others, who had survived.

In December 2008, Ryno and Skachevsky were sentenced to 10 years in jail, the maximum sentence for a juvenile. Five other members of their gang were jailed for between six and 20 years. The jury acquitted [one female] and one other male gang member. During the trial the boneheads showed no remorse, giggling frequently and even laughing at the families of their victims.

The average age of murderous Russian boneheads is young: 15 or 16. They mobilise around the slogan ‘Russia for the Russians’.

According to Sova, 96 people were murdered in 2008 in racist or neo-Nazi attacks, with another 419 beaten or wounded. (The number of deaths was 50 in 2004, 47 in 2005, 64 in 2006 and 86 in 2007.) Last month, another 12 people were murdered. Sova’s research suggests that xenophobic prejudice has become mainstream, acceptable. And while most Russians don’t support radical ideas in practice, there are around 2,000-3,000 young boneheads prepared to attack and kill migrants, [Alexander Verkhovsky, director of Sova] estimates.

Russian authorities have, until recently, been more than happy to allow the little boneheads to butcher at will. The stark inequalities in wealth in contemporary Russian society can’t help but breed social resentment, and channeling social discontent in the direction of immigrant workers — rather than Putin and his cronies, the oligarch — is politically astute. This is especially the case given that the civic institutions which characterise Western democracies barely exist in Russia, and the transition from Communism to Capitalism was governed by an authoritarian regime remarkably similar in its composition to that which preceded it; the military and security apparatus remaining in near-total dominance throughout.

March 2005:

Even a cursory examination of the social situation in modern Russia reveals a deeply divided society. An array of statistics documents the reality of two different worlds that hardly come into contact with one another. One—the world of wealth and luxury—is inhabited by an insignificant minority. The other—the world of social decline and an arduous struggle for life’s necessities—is inhabited by millions upon millions.

Figures showing the distribution of wealth reveal the glaring nature of this social polarisation. According to government data, the incomes of the very richest members of Russian society are 15 times those of the poorest—one of the highest levels of social inequality to be found among the world’s leading countries. In Moscow, this difference is 53-fold…

April 2006:

The American business magazine Forbes recently published its list of the world’s billionaires for 2005, which included 33 Russian citizens, illustrating once again how the political life of contemporary Russia, under the leadership of President V. Putin, is aimed, first and foremost, at the satisfaction of the interests of post-Soviet big business and oligarchs.

The wealth of the planet’s richest people grows with unprecedented speed. In 2005, the number of billionaires reached 793, having risen by 102, and their net worth exceeded $2.6 trillion, having risen by 18 percent. The average wealth of a member of the list is $3.3 billion.

The indicators of the “Russian part” of the list, which grew by six people since the previous year, correspond exactly to this general tendency, and sometimes even exceed it. The net worth of the Russian nouveax riches nearly doubled in the course of a year, from $91 billion to $172 billion. Twelve of them figure in the world’s top 100. In the lead is Roman Abramovich, the governor of Chukotka and owner of the British soccer team Chelsea. His wealth grew—especially because of the sale of the company Sibneft—by nearly $5 billion, and is estimated at $18.2 billion. He rose from 21st to 11th place in the world list. [In 2008 Forbes ranked him as the fifteenth richest person in the world.]

After him follows the head of Lukoil Vagit Alekperov, the former deputy minister of the USSR’s state-run oil industry, whose wealth more than doubled to $11 billion. Next are Vladimir Lisin, the head of the Novolipetsk Steel; Viktor Vekselberg, buyer of Faberge eggs and pretender to the governorship of Kamchatka, director of the Siberia-Ural Aluminum Company SUAL and the oil company TNK-BP; Alfa Group Consortium head Mikhail Fridman; and other well- and not-so-well-known “heroes.”

In growing recognition of the potential threat an out-of-control populist, right-wing, xenophobic movement poses to the state — and the elites which govern it — Russian authorities have begun to extend their repressive measures to some elements of this movement. Thus:

In November 2008, police and federal security agents broke up the Slavic Union’s annual “Russian March”, arresting 1,000 people, including [its leader Dmitry] Dyomushkin. He was released after several hours in custody, however, and eventually fined a paltry 1,000 roubles (£23). Russia’s authorities are clearly rattled by the rise of the far-right, whose political appeal is likely to grow as the country slithers into economic crisis. As living standards tumble it is immigrants who will get the blame. There is no prospect of a pro-western Orange Revolution in Russia. But the possibility of a far-right revolt against Putin is real and growing. The boneheads – a pimply, adolescent army of lower-middle-class racists – pose a serious threat to the Kremlin’s otherwise vice-like grip on power.

In Australia, groups such as the Southern Cross Soldiers — a pimply, adolescent army of lower-middle-class racists, proclaiming ‘Australia for the Australians’ and shouting ‘Fuck off we’re full’ — provide a largely pacific, less organised, less articulate, less popular, much more marginal equivalent. That said, as a potential pool for recruitment, despite his obvious ineptitude, Dr James Saleam of Australia First is right, and the Soldiers’ WN critics on SF are wrong, in recognising these young patriots as being a potentially lucrative — if in other ways horrifyingly shallow — source of new talent. Their hostility to various forms of Wog — principally Lebanese, and Muslim — expresses an underlying anxiety regarding their place in Australia; or, alternatively — and more accurately — their own displacement from the centre of the Australian Story. Until HoWARd stole her thunder, Pauline Hanson was able to capitalise upon some elements of this among the rural and regional population of Queensland. Thus while they may be little shits, they are useful little shits, and, assuming they survive beyond the next few years, will likely produce at least a small number of more ambitious, and more talented, and therefore more likely successful, White nationalist militants.

This jingoist flag-waving has a tinge of 1930s populist fascism about it. We don’t like to say it, but Hitler was a very popular leader. If he’d bothered to run an election, he probably would have won it. He used populist techniques — appealing to the population but on the basis of chauvinistic and racist premises. Now, we’re beginning to see elements of that in the demeaning of the concept of patriotism by reducing it to coerced pledges of allegiance to the flag…

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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