Saturday, October 19, 2019

‘Nationalists in Russia No Longer Mark Hitler’s Birthday but Still Kill Immigrants,’ Fergana Portal Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 16 – By the use of force and its moves against Ukraine, the Kremlin has managed to suppress the most outrageous skinheads who attracted international attention for celebrating Hitler’s birthday and outspoken support for Nazism. But what the Putin regime has not done is stop the killing of immigrants and Muslims by those who share skinhead views. 

             As Yekaterina Ivashchenko of the Fergana news agency puts it, “the skinheads have disappeared but the attacks on migrants has not ceased.” Nor, Natalya Yudina of the SOVA analytic center says, does the reduction in the number of these attacks mean as Moscow often claims that xenophobia is declining (

            According to Yudina, “people who on the whole support xenophobia are quite numerous” even now, “but today far from all are ready to go into the street and risk their freedom for such doubtful convictions.” This intolerance among Russians reflects economic problems which are getting worse and the fear of outsiders promoted in Soviet times and that  has never disappeared. 

            This week featured three other reports about Russian attitudes to one minority, Muslims in the Russian Federation, who overlap with immigrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus.  In the first, Sofiya Ragozina reported on her research about Islamophobic memes in the Russian media (

            The Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences political scientist analyzed 20,669 articles from Russian newspapers between 2010 and 2018 where there was a mention of Islam, Islamist or Muslim.  The most frequently used adjectives, she says, were “radical” and “traditional,” the basic divide between bad and good as far as their authors are concerned.

            In the second, speaking in Moscow, Eva Rogaar, a historian at the University of Illinois, discussed the fate of the several tens of thousands of ethnic Russians who have converted to Islam over the last generation and in particular the attitudes of other Muslims and other Russians toward them (

            Some ethnic Russians converted to Islam because of marriage; others, because of a spiritual search; and still a third group, as a form of political protest, the historian says.  Many of them try to prove their value to the new community by adopting an even more dogmatic and even radical position than their fellow believers.

            On the one hand, this offends many Muslims who distrust the converts and worry about their impact on Muslim-Christian relations; and on the other, it offends many Russians who view such conversions as an act of ethnic betrayal and as an indication of the threats they face from the increasing number of Muslims in the Russian Federation.

            And in the third report, following Russian government moves to suppress the For Human Rights organization, its head, Lev Ponomaryev said on Youtube ( that one of the reasons he believes the authorities are targeting him is his willingness to defend Muslims (

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