Russia between the Lines
Moscow has been fretting for the last two weeks. Demonstrations follow demonstrations, people are killed (murder of a Spartak fan was followed by another victim - on December 11 a group of 5 young men killed a Kyrgyz citizen), beaten and the Russian police and Special Forces show their force. Moscow is a big city, Russia is even bigger and most of the people living in that country (overwhelming majority) receive information about what's happening from the media outlets.
Strictly speaking Russian media depict those events quite dryly, but if we look closer between the lines we can hear the words that could easily become basis for new demonstrations and confrontations tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. It's noteworthy that such subtexts can be seen in the publications that have the image of unbiased media outlets. For example the "Аргументы и Факты" newspaper abounds in words like: "Caucasians", "southerners", "mountain dwellers", "tribesmen" and "Muscovites".
These words taken separately don't contain any danger, they denominate one's geographical origins, but in this context when "Muscovites" and all the rest of them ("Коммерсантъ" newspaper added "Daghestanis" to the above-mentioned list) confront each other the general attitude towards all Caucasians, mountain dwellers or southerners may change in the society. For Muscovites those "others" become opponents at the least especially while media outlets say something like this:
"There're reports published in various websites that tens of cars full of Caucasians are coming to Moscow from Chechnya, Adygei, Karachai-Cherkess and other national republics, they intend to get even with the residents of the capital" (article titled - "We're going to Moscow to defend our brothers" "Аргументы и Факты", December 14).
The article also reports that representatives of Diasporas urge the young people to avoid provocations, but at the end of the article we read: arrests of the culprits "will not calm the Muscovites down, who have encountered ethnic crime at least once in their lives". After reading it I personally got this urge to find out what the definition of that phrase ("ethnic crime") was in Russia.
What is the difference between a murderer of Russian descent and a murderer of say Chechen descent? Do they use different methods of killing? After what the Russian Army did in Chechnya when they targeted little children, it's doubtful that a Russian soldier would yield the palm to a Chechen criminal in the methods of killing. Besides, I have never read any scientific documentation that would prove that crime has an ethnic basis. Nations are not divided into criminals and intellectuals; however, it seems the Muscovites think differently.
Dmitry Lekai in his article titled Protest Rallies Moved to Graduate Classes published in "Коммерсантъ" newspaper points out that more and more school pupils take part in the nationalist rallies, Lekai notes that "household Nazism" (a very interesting definition) is almost a usual occurrence in the Russian schools. An 11th grade student tells the journalists that he doesn't believe he can find a place in a college as "there're only Caucasians there".
Is it a (moral) crime for a Caucasian to study in a Russian university? If he or she achieves that with his/her knowledge then of course not; but if it's achieved with bribes then this Caucasian cannot be the only culprit, those who take the bribes are also culprits. Therefore that 11th grade student should direct his anger towards those who sell the places in universities, towards his compatriot lecturers, deans, rectors, employees of the Ministry of Education and higher officials.
An 11th grade student may not be able to analyze it all; that's why together with his peers (according to the Russian media, many of them are members of youth nationalist organizations) he went to Ostankino holding the following slogan: "F...k the Caucasus!". But the adults are supposed to know better, because they are obliged to make a correct analysis and give proper education to the youngsters. It seems the analysis done by at least the majority of those adults cannot get free of imperialistic ideology and that analysis is the kind it's supposed to be. Article titled "If the Nationalist Stars Become Brighter That Means Somebody Needs That" published by "Независимая Газета" newspaper on December 20 is one of the proofs of that. The author of the article is Member of Scientific Board of Moscow Carnegie Center Alexei Malashenko.
The idea given in the title is elaborated in the end of the article with the following wording:
"If the guests of Russian towns coming from the "internal abroad" become more and more insolent and the nationalist stars become brighter that means somebody needs that? We remember that after the Beslan tragedy election of governors was abolished under the pretence of fighting against terrorism. Why isn't it possible that after the soccer-Caucasian riots they don't abolish all the things that are still not abolished yet?"
It's an absolutely legitimate question, but for our purposes we're more interested in the following phrases: people arriving "from internal abroad" and the guests who become "more and more insolent" and all the other things that are written about them in the article. For example: "Why is federal "ostrich" hiding its head in the sand from the reality and ignores the whole bouquet of problems - increasing xenophobia, increasing number of nationalists, inadequate actions of the Caucasian migrants and the penetration of Caucasian businesses in Russia?"
Another example: "The government seems to be oblivious to the fact that mass migration of people from the Caucasus, generally speaking the "Caucasian energy", sometimes annoys and provokes the people living in capitals, southern cities and other towns of the country. We're used to criticizing police for accepting bribes, but first of all the newcomers have already got used to giving bribes and they have established an exciting consensus with the law-enforcers. Secondly, the average citizens start to wonder: why do some Caucasian chiefs have such admiration towards the government that they're ready to give even 120% of their votes to the ruling "United Russia" party? It can't be free love now, can it?"
Another example: "What can we do about the Caucasians?... These people must realize that they're not in their villages anymore, that despite all their unity and solidarity, which is characteristic to any minority... they must behave smarter... the Caucasians must get used to the idea that the rights, habits and lifestyle of majority must be defended in a multinational society. We must teach them that. They shouldn't dance lezghinka (Caucasian dance) every night, they shouldn't shoot a Muscovite trolley-bus driver and burn Russian flags; because sooner or later it will return to them".
What kind of picture did Alexei Malashenko draw? Uneducated and criminal minority that behaves like savages in a civilized country; maybe they are encouraged by the government, but the government is supported with "120% of their votes". They and their "tribesmen" (that word is also used by Alexei Malashenko) as if he's talking about primeval humans. He threw all "Caucasians" in one pot and added such spices that can excite many people (and not only an 11th grade student).
Let's not forget: they're talking about the people who were deprived of their homeland as a result of long wars, they were deprived of the opportunity of natural development as nations; the fight for their complete assimilation is still continuing and they're called "The Caucasians" only when they want to mention them in a bad context; but any Caucasian's statue put on any pedestal suddenly becomes a "Russian" for them.