Activity of skinheads in Russia seems to have produced an effect. Today several foreign ambassadors plan to meet with Russia’s Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to discuss the problem. Swedish Ambassador to Russia Sven Hirdman, Philippines Ambassador Heyme Bautista, Gabon Ambassador Marie Beatrice Legnongo-Ndumba, Ecuador Ambassador Ximena Martinez de Perez, Cameroon Ambassador Andre Hgongang Quandji, Libya Ambassador Salekh Abdallah Salekh will take part in the meeting. Majority of foreign embassies in Russia also supported the demarche.
Even before the present-day events, foreign diplomats protested against activity of skinheads in Russia. Certainly, Russian officials promised to settle the problem, but skinheads still keep on attacking Asiatic and Afro-American foreigners in Russia. In fact, the Russia leadership has taken some important measures to struggle with skinheads. For example, due to the special security measures and strengthening of police control nothing extraordinary occurred on April 20, Hitler’s birthday, although media warned that mass massacres would probably take place.
Until recently Russian law enforcement authorities did not recognize the fact that the skinhead movement was rather strong in Russia. Only when the problem was touched upon in the media and drew close attention of the population, the Ministry for Internal Affairs decided to investigate the skinhead problem. According to the ministry, number of skinheads and their followers in Russia is over 10,000 people. Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs Alexander Chekalin says, skinheads are very active in Moscow, the Moscow region, the Krasnodar region, the Stavropol region, the Sverdlovsk region, Yekaterinburg and partially in St.Petersburg. The ministry focuses attention on these territories.
As for Moscow, over 1,200 skinheads have been officially registered, as the municipal department for internal affairs reports. Those are mostly students of vocational schools and jobless young people. It means, the skinhead movement consists mostly of young people of scanty means and poor education. At the same time, children from well-to-do families and students from higher educational institutions also belong to the organization.
So, it is quite natural that ambassadors initiated the demarche. It is astonishing that they have been patient till this moment. As the Izvestia newspaper reports, those were European ambassadors who initiated the meeting. However, there are enough xenophobes in Europe as well; the European authorities should pay more attention to their home problems first.
But as traditionally, Russia always goes to extremes. A high-ranking diplomat representing one of the key EU states told Izvestia, employees from his office are very much afraid of leaving homes being here in Russia because of the skinhead problem, and some even think it is better to leave the country at all. The newspaper was also informed confidentially, largest western companies have introduced a private instruction recently that orders not to offer posts in Russia to employees of Asiatic and Afro-American origin. Nobody can really guarantee security to the people and their families.
So, the problem is quite pressing now. It is quite natural that foreign diplomats ask Russia’s Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to pay more attention to it. After all, skinheads also mar Russia’s image, although the skinheads do not realize this fact themselves. The authorities should focus on the problem, as it would be a shame for Russia to be labeled a racist country.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Photo from NTVRU.com archives
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/05/18/41324.html