Staunton, June 10 – Over the last ten days, there have been three major clashes between members of Russia’s Roma community and other nationalities and also within the Roma nation itself. Moscow officials so far are at a loss of what to do, and Roma leaders say the authorities should not overreact as the fights are not as serious as they imagine.
But because this violence undercuts the Kremlin narrative that Russia is now peaceful without significant interethnic hostility, a variety of institutions from the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs to the Duma have begun debating what should be done about a community that seldom gets much attention from Moscow.
The Roma of Russia, most often referred to as Tsigane and more denigratingly as “gypsies,” have generally functioned best when they have been ignored, so many Roma leaders there are worried what this new official focus will lead to (dailystorm.ru/vlast/cygan-pripishut-k-migrantam-gosduma-ishchet-reshenie-cyganskogo-voprosa-ne-za-schet-gosbyudzheta
Artur Gorbatov, head of the interregional Roma Association, disagrees. He says that foreign groups have provided the Roma of Russia with significant aid but that Moscow has not. As a result, most programs that Moscow likes to talk about remain only on paper or at least do not reach those they are supposed to help.