Protesting moods result in rising xenophobia

Alexander Brod and Vladimir Zorin
Alexander Brod and Vladimir Zorin

The Moscow Bureau for Human Rights released the report titled 'Nonlinear Radicalism: Aggressive xenophobia and intolerance in the Russian Federation in January-August 2018: Major Trends.' The report analyzes nationalist and xenophobic incidents, demonstrations, protest actions, terrorist activities on the basis of national and religious hostility, as well as manifestations of criminal nature, acts of vandalism.

According to a member of two Councils under the President of the Russian Federation - for Civil Society and Human Rights and for Interethnic Relations, Alexander Brod, at least 17 attacks and at least 15 cases of vandalism on the basis of aggressive xenophobia and radical nationalism were recorded for eight months. In the same period last year, there were at least 26 manifestations of aggressive xenophobia, in 2016 - 17, in 2015 - 22. Thus, there is no sharp growth, there is even a decline compared with the previous year.

Brod also cited sociological data: "According to a poll conducted by the Levada Center in July, the share of Russians who support residency restriction for ethnic groups has increased. The rating of undesirable ethnic groups is led by the Roma, Chinese and Vietnamese. According to the Romir research holding, 45% of respondents from Moscow believe that the presence of migrants is one of the main negative factors. 48% of respondents do not consider labor migration positive for the country. The poll by the Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center showed an increasing number of "arguments" that "the Jews played a decisive role in the 1917 revolution, participated in the ritual murder of the royal family."

These data lead to the conclusion that the rise in xenophobic tendencies takes place against a background of the general growth of protest moods caused by rising prices, tax burden, complex pension reform. "Xenophobia is not linear, as long as these protest moods do not lead to a direct rise in incidents motivated by the activity of radical nationalists. During the period under review, the number of public actions by radical nationalists wasn't great. But this is another reason not to reduce attention to this topic and prevent it more actively," Alexander Brod believes.

Meanwhile, according to Brod, there is a positive trend in the North Caucasus: "During the first quarter, 27 people were victims of the armed conflicts on the territory of the North Caucasian Federal District, compared to 45 people in the same period of last year. At the same time, there were wake-up calls - a series of attacks on law enforcement personnel occurred in the Chechen Republic in August. Despite the positive developments in Syria, the recruitment of young people continues."

Member of the Presidential Council for Interethnic Relations under the President of the Russian Federation, Deputy Director of the Institute for Ethnology and Anthropology of the RAS, Vladimir Zorin, believes that Russia has experienced a very interesting period from the presidential elections to the September 9 elections: "During this period, the situation with pension reform and the language issue were discussed, the migration legislation was actively improved. All this caused an increased interest in our subjects." Zorin made four conclusions from the report:

First. Combating aggressive xenophobia and intolerance, strengthening interethnic relations requires constant work and manual management.

Second. When it comes to combating xenophobia, extremism and intolerance, local governments are the weakest link in the system of power. "We need radical measures to increase the level of responsibility and training of personnel involved in this issue, to find resources, new mechanisms and funds," the expert believes.

Third. The Internet is underestimated: "The fake news has worked both in Kabardino-Balkaria and in the events taking place around the Sunzhensky district. This is a multifaceted task, a multifaceted program, on which we must work."

Fourth. Better work with young people is required.

Member of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, head of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, Albir Krganov, noted that regional authorities are not always ready to initiate actions to counter the spread of extremism and terrorism: "Local authorities must work out the correct pattern of behavior. I mean interethnic and interreligious friendship."

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