Number of ethnic and nationalistic crimes grows fast in Russia

The number of crimes committed over national hatred doubled in 2004

The Moscow Office of the Public Prosecutor filed a criminal case in connection with a recent incident in Moscow, when unidentified teenagers attacked two rabbis. Russia's chief Rabbi Berl Lazar called upon law-enforcement authorities to provide better protection for representatives of national minorities in Moscow. The number of crimes committed on the base of national reasons is growing very fast in Russia, though.

A report from the Russian and analytical center SOVA, which deals with xenophobia and nationalism in Russia, says that nationalists were much more active in 2004 in comparison with 2003. In 2004, they conducted their first legal meetings and set claims for national actions.

Alexander Sevastyanov, a co-chairman of the National Party of Russia, conducted a special contest in Russian schools in 2004. Schoolchildren were offered to write essays about the following subject: “What does it mean to be a Russian person today?” The Education Ministry did not stop the politician; the State Duma committee for culture and tourism took a direct participation in the process.

Interethnic clashes became more frequent in 2004. Deputies continued using nationalistic slogans, authorities did not notice the growing national strife, whereas the police did not notice the nationalistic aspect of such crimes.

The movement against illegal immigration organized a meeting in Moscow's center in March of 2004. The police did not take any actions to stop the open racist propaganda during the rally. Moreover, they arrested anti-fascist activists, who tried to ruin the action.

Radical nationalistic groups performed violent actions and committed premeditated crimes in 2004. Well-known scientist Nikolay Girenko was killed in St.Petersburg in June. The Russian Republic organization claimed responsibility for the murder. Two judges were killed in May and in August of 2004 – they took part in the litigation against local activists of the Russian National Unity movement (known for the Russian initials as RNE).

The number of crimes committed over national hatred doubled in 2004: 44 crimes against 20 murders in 2003. About ten other murders were not exposed to the public eye. In 2004, skinheads killed citizens of Russia, Caucasian republics, Afghanistan, Jordan, China, Korea, Libya and Syria. Over 160 people from 24 countries were brutally beaten by skinheads. The majority of nationalistic crimes were committed in Moscow and St.Petersburg. 

Respectable politicians supported nationalistic initiatives in 2004. Deputies from United Russia and Fatherland parties took part in the nationalist meeting, which was held in Moscow on June 22.

It goes without saying that terrorist acts in Russia, especially the hostage crisis in Beslan, can only exacerbate the national strife. When suicide terrorists exploded two Russian jetliners in August, a lot of Russian passengers refused to fly with Muslim-looking or dark-skinned people.

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Author`s name Olga Savka