Staunton, February 1 – Soviet officials maintained control not by bringing criminal charges against those engaged in actions officials didn’t like but rather by having them expelled from school or fired from their jobs. Such practices were supposed to have ended along with communism, but Stavropol head Valery Zerenkov is actively reviving them.
In an article on the BigCaucasus.com portal yesterday, Svetlana Bolotnikova explicitly links Zerenkov’s actions now to his experience in Soviet times. People who were “unsuitable to the authorities” then were expelled from the party or their institute,” and that is the system that Zerenkov learned (www.bigcaucasus.com/events/topday/31-01-2013/82274-stavropolie_vuz-0/).
And “now, 20 years after the destruction of the old system,” Zerenkov is employing the same tactics to put out “inter-ethnic fires in the kray,” applying it equally to North Caucasian immigrants engaged in public dancing and to Russian nationalists taking part in public protests against the authorities.
Since most of the people involved in either case are students, then for the governor, Bolotnikova suggests, the obvious way to “suppress [such] activity” is to have them “expelled from the academic institutions” where they are enrolled. In Stavropol, that is exactly what is taking place.
Two of the four Ingush youths who on January 17 “danced the lezginka and shot into the air near the Palace of Culture and Sport in the center of Stavropol have already” been expelled. Now, “several dozen” of Russian nationalist young people are set to suffer the same fate for having attempted to take part in a banned protest meeting in Nevinnomyssk on January 26.
Among them appear likely to be some of the 140 “potential participants” who never got to the meeting site but who were detained by police for “prophylactic work.” Eighty-seven who did get to the meeting and were arrested are even more likely candidates for expulsion from higher educational institutions.
Prior to the demonstration, Governor Zerenkov ordered his forces “to involve themselves not with borders but with people,” an order that the local officials took to mean that they should “deprive the activist youth of the opportunity to study.” Yuri Tyrtyshov, the kray’s prime minister, reinforced that view by saying that students violating public order must be expelled.
Obviously, expulsions or even the threat of them in the absence of a legal finding violates the Russian Constitution and Russian law, but so far, Bolotnikova reports, people in Stavropol are less concerned about that than about the fact that Zerenkov is equating the actions of North Caucasians engaged in “hooligan-type” actions with those of ethnic Russians seeking to protest.
And Bolotnikova adds, they are especially upset because from their point of view, Russians who protest against the failure of officials to enforce the law against North Caucasians are only opening the way for more North Caucasians to come, a group who they believe acts on arrival as if its members have annexed the kray to their republics.
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