11 March 2008

Farewell to the "Pre-Election Scare" Theory of Ethnic Violence

A friend was convinced that the recent outbreak of ethnic violence was orchestrated as part of pre-election strategy to marginalize extremist candidates (presumably V.V. Zhirinovsky) as those who would feed hostility toward migrants in Russia. This idea never really made sense to me as Medvedev’s victory seemed inevitable from the outset. But my friend retorted that Russians have been known to engage in overkill before.

This weekend’s attacks demonstrate that the attacks will continue. According to the article “Skinheads Don’t Take Holidays Off” [Скинхеды не отдыхают даже в праздники] in today’s Moskovskii Komsomolets, another pair of assaults on Friday night left three non-ethnic Russians in the hospital.

While most Muscovites were buying flowers and butter to celebrate International Women’s Day and the conclusion of Maslenitsa, a group of young racists gathered their knives and hoodies and headed out to Moscow’s Southwest. In the early evening hours, they spotted a Tadjik worker and stabbed him several times in the chest before running to Metro Station Profsoiuznaia. Not sated, it seems that they took the subway a few stops south to Beliaevo and, less than an hour later, attacked two Chinese students. The victims sustained injuries to their chests and necks.

The assailants escaped arrest.

Now that the election season theory is dead, the post-election question arises: Will Medvedev do anything to stop the rising violence of the Putin years?

FRIGHTENING UPDATE: This weekend I was planning on going to the Maslenitsa wrap-up celebration down at Kolomenskii Park. At the last minute, a professor from MGU called and I ended up heading over to his apartment instead. (Don't worry, his wife fried up some fresh home-made bliny which I had with caviar and champagne in honor of International Women's Day, so I didn't miss out on any essential treats of the holiday weekend.) A good thing I was detoured, since I just read that several skinheads beat up an African resident of the capital on the Metro riding from Kolomenskaya to the center that day. A young woman tried to intervene, yelling "Knock it off!" [Prekratite!] The attackers threw a bottle of beer at her and shoved her down the wagon. Report via SOVA.


Anonymous said...

Jesus. Better finish the dissertation and move back to nice safe ess-sha-ah. Except probably not Sacramento or New Jersey...

Jeff said...

Reminds me of the last bit of a Robert Frost poem (Design):

What had the flower to do with being white;
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all;
What brought the kindred spider to that height;
And steer the white moth thither in the night;
What but design of darkness to apall;
If design doth govern a thing so small.

Glad you were steered away from Kolomenskii Park!