Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Moscow has Created ‘Ideal’ Atmosphere in which Some Groups Become ‘Ideal Scapegoats’ and Pogroms a Real Possibility, Lokshina Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 8 – Even though the Kremlin likely doesn’t want pogroms against Jews or gays, it has created an “ideal” atmosphere in which those who want to attack such groups feel they can do so “with impunity;” and thus attacks are increasingly likely regardless of what those at the top want, Tanya Lokshina says.

            The Human Rights Watch director draws that disturbing conclusion on the basis of a discussion with Kavkazr’s Izabella Yevloyeva about the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic outrages in Daghestan last fall (

            “Anti-Semitism exists at the lower level through Russia,” although it is certainly higher in the North Caucasus than in central Russia,” she says, largely because there are fewer Jews in the North Caucasus and therefore people there lack the contacts with Jews that could limit the spread of false myths about them.

            North Caucasians as Muslims are agitated by the same things that roil the Muslim world as a whole, and they do not make a clear distinction between “Israel as a state and Jews as an ethnic group,” something they would do if they knew more about Jews through contact or via independent media, something they don’t have in Putin’s Russia.

            The siloviki in Daghestan could have prevented these outrages. They knew about the attitudes of the people there and had the time to do so, but they did not take counter-actions and thus provided yet another reason for those who wanted to protest to engage in the protests at the Makachkala airport and elsewhere.

            In this, Lokshina says, they resembled the Moscow authorities at the time of the Prigozhin rising. Like them, the Daghestani police knew what was going on and could have acted but didn’t, “evidence of the fragility of the federal vertical of power and the Russian state today.”

            A major reason for this fragility, the Human Rights Watch expert argues, is that neither Moscow nor Makhachkala has wanted to describe what is going on accurately. Instead, they have called these things by the wrong names and thus have failed to limit the problems or prevent its spread and repetition.

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