What strengthens anti-Western and anti-migrant sentiments
Over the past year at least 24 attacks, as well as at least 26 cases of intolerant vandalism were recorded in Russia. There were at least 36 cases like that in the same period of 2017. 30 cases were recorded in 2016, and 32 in 2015. This data was provided by Alexander Brod, member of the Russian President's Civil Society and Human Rights Council and member of President's Council on Interethnic Relations.
According to him, regional geography of these attacks is as follows: Belgorod, Kaluga region, Moscow, Moscow region, Republic of Dagestan, Kalmykia, St. Petersburg and Tyumen region are sadly in the risk group. Traditionally, Moscow and St. Petersburg lead this anti-rating. As for acts of vandalism, the risk group includes Arkhangelsk region, Kaliningrad region, Moscow, Republic of Karelia, Tatarstan, Perm Territory, Rostov and Ryazan regions. According to Brod, over the past year, sociological studies showed certain increase in xenophobic sentiments in public consciousness: “After several years of steady decline, especially in 2014–2017, which showed the lowest level of xenophobia, we can see return of negative sentiments to public opinion. Growth of xenophobic sentiments is occuring against the background of overall increase in protest sentiments in Russia, which are tied to pension reform, prices and taxes growth."
“In addition, existing confrontation with the West, a new wave of sanctions, informational pressure, russophobia in the foreign media, as well as discrimination against Russians and compatriots abroad strengthen anti-Western and anti-migrant sentiments. As a result, more and more people believe that Russia is isolated, which in turn generates hostility towards others, while some politicians and the media try to present internal problems as something that comes from abroad, without resolving these issues. All of this also contributes to strengthening of xenophobic and nationalist sentiments,” Alexander Brod noted.
He promised that these issues will be raised at the meeting of the Interethnic Relations Council, as well as in the Duma Committee on Interethnic Relations and at other platforms. “As we see, law enforcement officers are already facing final form of this intolerance, which is expressed in violations of the law, violent protest actions and intolerance on the internet,” human rights activist said.
Meanwhile, Brod stressed that extremist and terrorist threat in the North Caucasus has been minimized: "In our recommendations we once again drew attention to improving coordination of implementation and development of the youth and educational policies. We propose to shift focus from ceremonial and festive activities to paying more attention to projects that can help to unite society, to generate intolerance towards xenophobia and extremism... A lot of attention should be given to development of independence of judiciary system, improvment of law enforcement agencies' work, since those factors often become catalysts for discord."
According to member of the Interethnic Council, chief researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Zorin, there's no single point of view on Russia's migration policy and its problems: “Recently, the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology carried out a study in Moscow, which showed that the most negative opinion regarding migration was expressed by civil servants, government officials and many experts who see all existing problems. We underestimated two important documents - updated version of the State National Policy Strategy and the Migration Policy Concept. But today there's no unified approach to issues of adaptation and social integration of migrants or foreign workers. The Law on Adaptation and Integration of Migrants, which we began to develop, hasn't been adopted yet."
According to Zorin, it's important to resolve issues of adaption to training and working in new conditions, to clarify documents on implementation of presidential decrees: "The main issue lies in the work of municipalities that implement national and migration policies. It's necessary to resolve existing issues in order to train highly qualified specialists. In 2014, presidential administration instructed to create departments of ethnopolitology, which would train professionals who know the entire range of problems: interethnic relations, migration, and religious relations. In five years, only one such department has been created - at the St. Petersburg State University, at the Faculty of Political Science."
Member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, head of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Russia, Albir Krganov, agreed with Zorin: “It's important to have qualified specialists. Today we have hundreds of thousands of migrants who receive Russian passports. They are our citizens. they work for Russia. Was Pushkin really purely Russian? No, but he's still one of the greatest Russian poets! There's nothing wrong with people coming here, living here, working for our state. Confrontation of ideologies shouldn't exist!"