Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Kremlin’s ‘Ideal Enemy’ is ‘a Gay Central Asian,’ Moscow Sociologist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 10 – More than anyone else, the Russian authorities are interested in promoting xenophobia as part of their effort to promote solidarity by identifying an enemy, according to a senior Moscow scholar, who suggest that today “the ideal enemy” for them would be “a gay Central Asian.”

            “The leading role in the exacerbation of inter-ethnic conflicts belongs to the mass media,” Vladimir Mukomel of the Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology told a meeting last week, but the media is only serving as a “re-translator” of the Kremlin’s effort to “form a society of hatred” (nazaccent.ru/content/9941-ekspert-idealnyj-vrag-rossijskogo-obshestva-.html).

            “The [ethnic] Russian nation is not xenophobic” by nature, the sociologist continued, “but [the authorities and the media they control] are making it that way.”

            Mukomel’s observations were only some of the many interesting ones offered by speakers to a December 6 Moscow conference on “The Role of Civil Society in Securing Inter-Ethnic Peace and Harmony.”

            Aleksandr Zhuravsky, director of the regional affairs ministry’s nationality relations department, said that the main thing is for the country to focus on the goals set down in the government’s Strategy for the Government’s Nationality Policy through 2025. But other speakers were more open and critical.

            Vyacheslav Postavnin, president of the Migration 21st Century Foundation, suggested that the country needed some special “open spaces” where “simple people and the authorities at the municipal level could without dissimulating discuss inter-ethnic problems,” including those involving migration, openly
            Andrey Klychkov, head of the KPRF fraction in the Moscow city duma, predicted that “the pogroms in Biryulevo are only the beginning of a large process which will become more serious because bureaucrats are ‘protecting’ organizations” that use illegal workers and justifying it by invoking “big projects” like the World Cup or the Olympics.
            According to the deputy, the country’s migration problems arise from the current economic system which seeks to extract maximum profits through the use of what is little more than slave labor. “Such a model has nothing in common with economic competitiveness,” whatever the Kremlin says.
                Klychkov said that the current economic system is also leading to the formation of ethnic enclaves and ghettoes which are closed off to one another and to the larger society because the Kremlin and its allies among the owners of major firms are “using nationalism as a weapon against the solidarity of the toilers.”

            Aleksandr Muzykantsky, Moscow city’s human rights ombudsman, placed the blame for current problems elsewhere. He said that there had not been enough “serious research” on the preparation of Russian society to accept and absorb people of different cultures or on how ready the latter were to adapt by giving up traditions like polygamy.

            But he agreed with other speakers that immigration was going to continue despite problem because of “the super profits” that commercial structures were earning and the relationship of those structures to the regime itself.  The government has the ability to fine those who employ gastarbeiters illegally, but it isn’t using it.

            Participants in the meeting disagreed on what the Russian government should do next. Gadzhimet Safaraliyev, who heads the Duma’s committee on nationalities, argued that all these questions should be handed over to a new government organ that could then resolve them.  Zhuravsky, whose own institution would then be superseded, said he was opposed to that idea.

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