Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Window on Eurasia: ‘Flash-Pogrom’ – an Ugly New/Old Development in Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 20 –  A decade ago, the term “flash mob” appeared in the United States to denote a group of people who come together suddenly in  public place through the use of cellphones, emails or social media, demonstrate for one reason or another and then quickly disperse.

            The term and the practice have spread to the Russian Federation more recently as a tactic opponents of the Putin regime can use to get people together for protest meetings that the Russian authorities would certainly not permit and could almost certainly block if the organizers went through channels.

            But now, according to an article by Yevgeny Ukhmylin posted yesterday on the Kasparov.ru portal, a variant on the flash mob has appeared in Russia – “the flash pogrom,” a horrific combination of an acting out of ancient hatreds with the help of the most modern technologies (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5211AD0253687).

            The article describes what Ukhmylin says is “the latest ‘Russian cleansing’” of a public market in St. Petersburg on Sunday by Russian nationalists who came together quickly, challenged the sellers to produce documents, took some to militia stations, and frightened many others to simply close their stands and flee.

            OMON troops moved in and detained approximately 19 of those involved, including Andrey Yevdokimov, the head of the “Slavic Force” organization. But perhaps using the same technology that had allowed them to assemble, many of those involved, including Nikolay Bondarik, leader of the “Russian Party” were able to escape arrest.

            There are two reasons for taking note of this development. On the one hand, it is a reminder that social media are a dual use technology, means that can be exploited for horrific as well as positive ends.  And on the other, it is an indication that Russian nationalist extremists are prepared to use it to carry out crimes against minorities that even the authorities would oppose.

            If such “flash pogroms” spread – and a search of Yandex.ru shows that the term has not yet become widespread – the future of inter-ethnic relations in the Russian Federation is likely to deteriorate still further, possibly becoming more violent and ugly with the use of the most up-to-date technologies.

No comments:

Post a Comment