Staunton, May 21 – In 1920, Siberian writer Anton Sorokin made fun of the White Russian regime there with a story entitled “33 Scandals for Kolchak.” The scandals he identified were invented, but Moscow’s online newspaper has now posted six all-too-real “scandals of the year” in Russia showing “how racism and anti-Semitism have ceased to be indecent” there.
The online paper this week published what it said were “the most scandalous” outbursts in this area in recent times and then asked Viktor Shnirelman, a senior scholar at the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, and Aleksandr Verkhovsky, the head of the SOVA human rights analytic center, for their comments (cityboom.ru/2014/05/19/racism
Such things, of course, are “electoral games and it is not required that the candidate himself believe in his own xenophobic slogans,” the ethnographer said. But the view that such slogans are useful and the willingness of candidates to use them raises some disturbing questions about where Russians now are.
And the sixth scandal of this kind involved Evelnia Zakamskaya, who is a host on Russia-24 television. On February 23 of this year, she said that the Jews “by their own hands” are doing things that open the way to “a second holocaust.”
Verkhovsky said he was shocked not only because such things could not be said earlier but because her bosses “did not react in any way.” That is “very strange because even in Soviet times such things were considered absolutely impermissible.” And it is worrisome because, he argued, it is easy to provoke xenophobia but far harder to eliminate it.
“Social order is to a large extent maintained by the fact that people restrain their negative emotions [because] they understand that one should not do such things.” And he concludes, “If such brakes [on acting upon ugly attitudes] begin to weaken, then it is possible to expect unfortunate consequences.”