Friday, March 30, 2018

Like Smoke after Kemerovo Fire, ‘Hatred is Hanging in the Air’ over Russia, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 30 – Vladimir Putin and his regime feel the hatred of Russians toward themselves as a result of their powerlessness and towards “the powers” hanging in the air after the Kemerovo fire, and the regime is doing what it can to divert that hatred away from the regime and even into channels the regime won’t be threatened by, Igor Yakovenko says.

            That is why Putin and Tuleyev did not appear before the crowd that assembled at the site of the fire and that is why the government-controlled media have tried to give Russians some objects they can direct their hatred and anger at, even if those proposed objects are patently absurd (

                Some pro-Kremlin talking heads first blamed bloggers for spreading fear, drawing an explicit analogy between them and “diversionary groups” in the rear of the Red Army in World War II or suggesting that such people were taking their revenge on Russians for the recent overwhelming re-election of Putin.

            Hatred, of course, “requires a living object,” and Kremlin talk show hosts sought to bring in those they could then attack. But many refused to take the bait and so the pro-Putin propagandists had to deploy their big gun, director Nikita Mikhalkov, who set the tone for many others.

            Mikhalkov insisted that the Kemerovo fire would never have happened but for the destruction of ideology in the course of “the wild 1990s” and the rise of people who display their “godlessness” by blaming the fire on the authorities and calling for their overthrow as when they shout “’Down with the power of the Chekists!’”

            The Kremlin has good reason to be concerned. According to a new poll conducted by VTsIOM, 60 percent of Russian surveyed consider that the authorities bear responsibility for the fire, although slightly more – 68 percent – say the mall’s owners are chiefly responsible (

                Consequently, however hard the authorities work, they may not be able to deflect anger and hatred against themselves. Even more, they may not be able – or possibly may not even try – to deflect hatred against groups like the Jews that some Russians have traditionally blamed for their problems.

            Today, Rabbi Aleksandr Boroda, the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR), appealed to the authorities to take action against those who are blaming the Jews for the Kemerovo tragedy and thus spreading this particularly horrific form of an ancient hatred (

                Boroda said that “there are negative consequences” that will arise from the unrestricted spread of such xenophobic messages. “People have begun to be afraid to go to synagogue,” he added; and some, the rabbi concluded, there are some who “fear even that there will be pogroms.”

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