Paul Goble writes: Xenophobia and hate crimes against members of other ethnic groups, after having declined in Russia between 2009 and 2012, have now risen to unprecedented levels, the result of what many see as the Putin regime’s backing for ethnic Russian pride, according to experts in Moscow.
In yesterday’s Yezhednevny Zhurnal, Vera Alperovich says that “the outburst of ethnic violence” in Russia “is visible even to the uninterested observer” and that the main victims are migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus who suffer both from organized attacks and individual violence.
Two other trends are especially worrisome, she writes: the growth in the number of attacks by organized groups and increases in the number of attacks against anyone with a dark skin, Jews, ethnic Chinese and Roma (gypsies), the latest confirmation that xenophobia tends to spread from new targets to old ones, especially if officials do not counter it.
2013 was a record year in terms of the number of attacks against immigrants, she says, and she recounts some of the most notorious cases, including the July violence in Pugachev in Saratov oblast. What made that clash stand out is that ultra-right groups were not involved; instead, the population appears to have acted more or less spontaneously. [Continue reading…]