Monday, January 7, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Statistics Don’t Reflect Ethnic Crime in Moscow Because the City ‘Long Ago Ceased to Be Russian,’ Criminologist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 7 – Official statistics do not confirm Muscovites’ experiences with ethnic crime in their city because the data neglect to take into consideration the reality that “Moscow long ago ceased to be [ethnically] Russian,” according to Vladimir Gladkikh, a senior criminologist in the Russian interior ministry.

            Asked by whether “crime has a nationality,” Gladkikh said that the statistics do not confirm either media suggestions that almost half of the crimes in the Russian capital are committed by immigrant groups or the personal observations and experiences of Muscovites themselves (

            While some media outlets have suggested that immigrants commit “about 48 percent” of all crimes in Moscow, the statistics gathered by the Interior Ministry do not confirm this, Gladkikh said. Instead, they show that immigrants commit only about 13 percent of them, approximately their share of the capital’s population.

            But Gladkikh said that his experiences and personal feelings are that the situation is far worse than that and that the problem of “ethnic crime” nevertheless exists.  “Why,” he asks, “don’t the criminal statistics confirm” what he and most other residents of the capital deeply believe?

            The explanation is “very simple,” the criminologist says. The statistics about the crimes of immigrants are given in their “pure form,” thus neglecting the reality not captured by census data that “Moscow already a long time ago ceased to be an [ethnic] Russian city,” something that is obvious “without any census.”

            Gladkikh said that his own observations confirm that. In the microrayon where he lives, the criminologist says, “many of the ill at the polyclinic do not look like Slavs,” and in some of the higher educational institutions, “people from the south” make up almost half of the student body.

            Indeed, he says that he ever more frequently encounters “colleagues of the law enforcement organs” who do not have Russian but instead have “eastern families.” And Gladkikh says that “ethnic criminal groups – Azerbaijani (the most numerous), Armenian, Georgian-Abkhazian, Roma, Afghan-Tajik and others – have not disappeared from the capital.”

            President Vladimir Putin, the Interior Ministry criminologist continues, “has directly declared that “ethnic criminal communities exist, they existed in the Soviet Union and they exist in Russia, and the struggle with them has been carried out for a long time.” And experts agree with that assessment, Gladkikh continues.

            People from Uzbekistan currently commit the most ethnic crimes in the Russian capital, he says, followed by those from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Armenia. Among those from non-Russian areas within the Russian Federation, he continues, Daghestanis lead followed by people from Kabardino-Balkaria.

            According to Gladkikh, it is important to “correct” these figures because “they do not take into consideration the population of these republic” or their numbers in Moscow itself. If one does that, “Moldovans engage in ten times as many crimes per capita as do Ukrainians, and Tajiks commit crimes six time more often than Uzbeks” by the same measure. And “residents of Kabardino-Balkaria commit almost twice as many per capita as do residents of Daghestan.”

            Such precision doesn’t mean very much to Muscovites, Gladkikh concludes. They are disturbe by “real facts” and “they witness that ethnic crime is not some made-up myth but a cruel reality in which they have to live.”  Does “ethnic crime” thus exist, he asks. And he suggests the best answer at present is to say that the answer is “open.”

            Two otherther experts with whom spoke were more definite.  Andrey Kalyaev, a criminal investigator, said that “80 percent of the professional criminals” in Moscow are members of national minorities. He acknowledged that there are “Slavic criminal groups,” but he insisted that the non-Russians dominate that form of public activity.

            And Igor Kuznetsov, a researcher at the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said directly that “unfortunately, crime does have a nationality. In certain regions,” he added, “an entire generation of people has grown up who do not know anything except how to use an automatic weapon. Their childhood has passed in wars and counter-terrorist operations.”

            Not surprisingly, some of them turn to crime, the researcher said, noting that “ethnic groups are much more effective that [ethnic] Russians” in this regard, because they are based “like the Italian ‘Cosa Nostra’” on the principle of one big family. And Kuznetsov pointed out that these groups are “based in Moscow not because they want to rob Russians but rather because Moscow is the wealthiest city of Russia and where there is money, there are thieves.”

            At the same time, the sociologist said, claims that members of national minorities comit “half of the crimes” in the city are “laughable.”  Surveys show that Muscovites often say “from 40 to 60 percent” of the city’s residents are “persons of Caucasian nationality.”  But they do so because they “simply do not see the Slavs in the crowd but do take note of the Caucasians.”

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