Russia’s big hate crime problem

Yet another immigrant worker has fallen victim to ethnonationalist terrorists (yes, the people who carry out these attacks are terrorists) and the IHT has the gruesome details:

MOSCOW: The police in Moscow are investigating the killing of a Central Asian migrant worker, who was stabbed several times and decapitated in an apparent attack by ultranationalists.

The severed head of the victim, a citizen of Tajikistan, was discovered Wednesday in a trash can, wrapped in a plastic bag, the press service for the investigative wing of the Prosecutor General’s Office said.

Investigators said the victim and another Tajik migrant worker were attacked Dec. 6 after they left work at a food warehouse south of Moscow. The newspaper Kommersant quoted unnamed police sources saying the victim was Salekh Azizov, 20, from Vidnoe, also south of Moscow. The second Tajik worker escaped but was hospitalized with injuries, the investigators said.

In an e-mail statement sent to two human rights organizations that monitor hate crimes in Russia, an obscure group calling itself the Militant Organization of Russian Nationalists claimed responsibility for the killing. The statement included a photograph of the victim’s severed head.

This isn’t the first time. As I wrote in a paper on this subject recently: Russian skinheads made headlines worldwide in 2007 when a previously unknown group calling itself the National-Socialist Party of Russia released a video showing the murders of two men who had gone missing weeks earlier.

In the video (now removed from the internet but described by journalists) titled “Operation of the National-Socialist Party of Russia to Arrest and Execute Two Colonists from Dagestan and Tajikistan,” skinheads force their two bound and gagged captives to say that they have been “arrested” by the National-Socialist Party of Russia. Then, one of the men is beheaded with a knife as heavy metal music plays in the background. The other is shot in the head execution-style, and both men are pushed into a shallow grave.

The video was uploaded to a file-sharing website and became one of the most widely circulated Russian internet videos. It was released to the press with a note demanding the release of a jailed skinhead propagandist and the creation of an ethnically “pure” Slavic state led by notorious Moscow skinhead leader Dimitri Rumyantsev.

The IHT article quotes Galina Kozhevnikova of the SOVA Centre, an organization that monitors extremism and hate crimes throughout the Russian Federation.

Galina Kozhevnikova, a deputy director of the Sova Center, one of the organizations that received the statement, said it asserted that the killing was a demonstration of the group’s “resolve to fight against the non-Russian occupation, and a warning to officials that the same will happen to them if they do not stop the flow of immigration.”

This year, 85 people have been killed and 367 have been wounded in attacks by violent nationalists, Kozhevnikova said. She said the numbers were probably far higher because many attacks go unrecorded or are reported months later.

A student who was attacked Dec. 5 – Stanley Robinson, an black American from Providence, Rhode Island, who was on a study-abroad program to Volgograd in southern Russia – remained in critical condition after being stabbed three times on his way back from a gym, a relative said. The police are still investigating whether the attack was a hate crime.

Hate crime is an enormous problem in Russia. I personally know four people who’ve been either threatened or physically attacked by skinheads, and my professor for Post-Communist Politics told my classmates and I that the co-author of one of her books, who happens to be Indian-American, was brutally assaulted in Moscow when he was there doing research a couple of years ago.  A friend of mine who is Yakut (a Russian-speaking Russian Federation citizen of a Turkic ethnicity) told me she feels constantly under threat when she’s in any large Russian city, and that she and other students from her university in the Sakha Republic could not go out after dark, even as a group, when they were in Moscow a few years ago. When my boyfriend lived in Moscow, he saw foreign students targeted for beatings regularly, barely survived an attack on foreign students at his university, and remembers the bombing of Cherkizovsky Market by two “lone nationalists” who met online, built a bomb, and blew it up in a market packed with traders from Central Asia and the Caucasus, killing fourteen people.

In 2005, the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation estimated that the number of skinheads numbered around sixty thousand.

That might warrant addressing.

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