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Racism in Russia

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Title: Racism in Russia  
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Subject: SOVA Center, Racism in Europe, Racism in Asia, Artur Ryno, Racism in Russia
Collection: Racism by Country, Racism in Asia, Racism in Europe, Racism in Russia
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Racism in Russia

Racism in Russia appears mainly in the form of negative attitudes and actions by Russians towards people who are not considered ethnically Russian. Traditionally, Russian racism included antisemitism, as well as hostility towards various ethnicities of Caucasus and Central Asia.[1] The director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, Alexander Brod, stated that surveys show xenophobia and other racist expressions are prevalent in 50 percent of Russians.[2] In 2006, Amnesty International reported that racism in Russia was “out of control” and estimated the number of Russian neo-Nazis at around 85,000 in 2008.[3][4] But despite all this Russia is the second largest immigration receiver after the United States. Russia has also the second highest immigration rate in Eastern Europe after the Czech Republic[5] while other European countries like Germany and Poland stay very homogeneous with lower openness for immigrants.[5][6]


  • Public sentiments and politics 1
  • Racism by targeted group 2
    • Africans 2.1
    • Peoples of the Caucasus 2.2
    • Jews 2.3
  • Association football 3
  • Notable hate crimes 4
    • Murder of anti-fascist activists 4.1
    • Cherkizovsky Market bombing 4.2
    • Execution of Tajik and Dagestani 4.3
  • Decline of reported hate crimes 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Public sentiments and politics

Number of racist attacks victims according to SOVA Center
Year Deaths Injuries
2004[7] 46 208
2005[8] 47 461
2006[9] 62 564
2007[10] 85 605
2008[11] 109 486
2009[12] 84 434
2010[12] 38 377
2011[13] 20 130
2012[13] 18 171
Total 509 3436
Survey by Levada Center in which participants are asked if they agree with the phrase “Russia for Russians.”[14][15]

On 20 April 2011, Konstantin Poltoranin, spokesman for Federal Migratory Service was fired after saying the “survival of the white race was at stake.”[16]

On 24 October 2013, speaking during the Poedinok programme on the Rossia 1 television channel, the leader of Russia's extreme nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, known for his headline-grabbing outbursts, called for imposing limits on the birth rate in the Muslim-dominated North Caucasus region of Russia, and restricting the movement of people from that region across the country. These outbursts occurred shortly after the terrorist attack in Volgograd, which left several Russians dead. Zhirinovsky later apologized for his words.[17] During the programme, there was a live population poll conducted via text messaging and internet. Zhirinovsky won that popular vote, with over 140 thousand Russians voting in favour of him.[18]

Racism by targeted group


Attitude towards African people were generally neutral during the Soviet Union, because of its internationalist agenda.[19] As a part of its support of decolonization of Africa, the Soviet Union offered free education for citizens of African states.[20] African students (as well as other foreign students) were placed in many higher education institutions throughout the country, most famously at Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, then known as the Patrice Lumumba Peoples' Friendship University, after the Congolese revolutionary and prime minister.[21]

In recent survey, Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy found that over half of Africans in Moscow had been physically attacked in the past.[22] Attacks in Moscow Metro are common, and “Monkey” insults are so frequent that students have ceased reporting them.[23][24]

In 2010, Jean Sagbo became the first black man in Russia to be elected to government. He is a municipal councilor in the village of Novozavidovo, 100 kilometres (62 mi) north of Moscow.

Peoples of the Caucasus

OMON personnel during the riot after the murder of Egor Sviridov. Manezhnaya Square, Moscow, 11 December 2010.

In Russia, the word Caucasian is a collective term referring to anyone descended from the native ethnicities of the Caucasus. In Russian slang, Caucasian peoples are called black, despite the fact that almost all of them are white-skinned, this name calling comes from their darker features (hair and eyes).[25][26][26][27] Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the rise of the Muslim population in Russia and the Second Chechen War, many Russian radical nationalists have associated Islam and Muslims with terrorism and domestic crimes.[28]

On 21 April 2001, there was a ethnic cleansing.[33]

In December 2010, there was a massive outbreak of hostility towards Caucasians, culminating in nationalist protests at

  • Intolerance and Discrimination in Today's Russia, a panel discussion at the CSIS
  • From Russia With Hate, a documentary from Vanguard TV series
Non-governmental organizations

External links

  • Shenfield, Stephen D. (February 2001).  
  • Parland, Thomas (2005). The Extreme Nationalist Threat in Russia: The Growing Influence of Western Rightist Ideas. Routledge Contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe Series.  

Further reading

  • "Russian Federation" (PDF).  
  • "Third report on the Russian Federation" (PDF).  
  • "Russian Federation: Violent racism out of control" (PDF).  
  • Stahnke, Tad; LeGendre, Paul; Grekov, Innokenty; McClintock, Michael; Aronowitz, Alexis (2008). "2008 Hate Crime Survey: The Russian Federation" (PDF).  
  • Panico, Chris (August 1998). "Russian Federation: Ethnic Discrimination in Southern Russia".  
  • Rancour-Laferriere, Daniel (2000). "Imagining Russia: Ethnic Identity and the Nationalist Mind". Panorama. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 


  1. ^ "Russian nationalism: Playing a dangerous game". The Economist. 11 May 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "Racist Federation". Bumbin Orn. 27 March 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "'"Russian racism 'out of control.  
  4. ^ Shternshis, Anna (13 January 2011). "It’s no longer just about the master’s thesis".  
  5. ^ a b®ionCode=cas&rank=52#rs
  6. ^ List of countries ranked by ethnic and cultural diversity level#List based on Fearon.27s analysis
  7. ^ "Radical nationalism and efforts to oppose it in Russia in 2005". 25 February 2006. 
  8. ^ "Radical nationalism in Russia and efforts to counteract it in 2006". 22 May 2007. 
  9. ^ "Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract It in 2007". 14 March 2008. 
  10. ^ "Radical Nationalism in Russia in 2008, and Efforts to Counteract It". 15 April 2009. 
  11. ^ 10.03.2010. "Under the Sign of Political Terror. Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract It in 2009". 
  12. ^ a b "The Phantom of Manezhnaya Square: Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract It in 2010". 
  13. ^ a b 09.01.2012 – 18:58. "Racism and Xenophobia in December 2011: Preliminary Year-End Review". 
  14. ^ Snetkov, Aglaya; Pain, Emil; Foxall, Andrew; Galiullina, Galima (10 March 2011). Aris, Stephen; Neumann, Matthias; Orttung, Robert; Perović, Jeronim; Pleines, Heiko; Schröder, Hans-Henning, eds. "Russian Nationalism, Xenophobia, Immigration and Ethnic Conflict" (PDF). Russian Analytical Digest ( 
  15. ^ Национализм в современной России [Nationalism in contemporary Russia] (in Russian).  
  16. ^ Alissa de Carbonnel; Sophie Hares (20 April 2011). "Russian migration official fired in racism row". Reuters. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  17. ^ The Moscow Times: Chechen LDPR Breaks With National Organization Over Zhirinovsky Comments
  18. ^ Митрохин обвинил Жириновского в экстремизме Mitrohin accuses Zhirinovsky of extremism
  19. ^ Maxim Matusevich (1 April 2008). "An exotic subversive: Africa, Africans and the Soviet everyday". 
  20. ^ ANGELA CHARLTON (28 February 1987). "Bitter, Broke, African Students Abandon Russia". ASSOCIATED PRESS. 
  21. ^ "History of PFUR formation and development". 
  22. ^ "Report on Racial Violence and Harassmen" (PDF). 
  23. ^ Greene, David (24 September 2010). "First Black Elected Official Defies Racism In Russia".  
  24. ^ Jackson, Patrick. (24 February 2006). "Living with race hate in Russia". BBC News. Accessed 15 February 2010.
  25. ^ By DONALD G. McNEIL JrPublished: 11 October 1998 (11 October 1998). "Taboos, Globally Speaking; Like Politics, All Political Correctness Is Local". 
  26. ^ a b Schwirtz, Michael (5 April 2010). "After Attacks in Russia, Fears of Xenophobia". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ Sergei L. Loiko (26 January 2011). "Bombing in Russia highlights discrimination faced by those from Caucasus".  
  29. ^ "Demi-Season Bashing". 
  30. ^ "Kocharian Condemns Racially Motivated Killings of Armenia’s in Russia". 16 June 2006. 
  31. ^ Bigg, Claire (6 September 2006). "Kondopoga Violence Continues Unabated". 
  32. ^ By Nora FitzGerald, Special for USA TODAY (18 October 2006). "Georgians deported from Russia as 2-nation diplomatic war heats up". 
  33. ^ Lipman, Masha (21 October 2006). "Russian Xenophobia Toward Georgians Grows". PostGlobal (The Washington Post). Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  34. ^  
  35. ^ "Football fans block Moscow road in protest at killing". 8 December 2010. 
  36. ^ a b Shuster, Simon (23 December 2010). "Racist Violence Threatens Russia's World Cup Plans".  
  37. ^ Dzutsev, Valery (15 December 2010). "Nationalist Uprising in Moscow has Serious Implications for the North Caucasus". North Caucasus Analysis.  
  38. ^ Nowak, David (22 December 2010). "Moscow police chief questions civil liberties".  
  39. ^ "ADL Calls on Putin to Investigate Violent Attack on Jews at Moscow Synagogue". 
  40. ^ "Alexander Koptsev Repents Before Jews". 
  41. ^ "Russian blood libel: Jews use children's blood for matzot". 
  42. ^ "Three anti-Semitic attacks reported in Russia". 31 January 2008. 
  43. ^ Syal, Rajeev (3 December 2010). "World Cup 2018 win raises Russian racism fears". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  44. ^ Football (18 May 2008). "Andrey Bikey: Why I carried a gun in Moscow". London: 
  45. ^ "Zenit Vows To Educate Racist Fans". 21 March 2006. 
  46. ^ "Racial abuse in Europe to be probed". 20 May 2010. 
  47. ^ "Racism warning for Zenit support". BBC News. 12 May 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2008. 
  48. ^ "Zenit manager Advocaat admits racist fans prevent him from buying black players". 28 April 2008. 
  49. ^ Will Stewart (3 May 2008). "Zenit fans are racist, admits Dick Advocaat".  
  50. ^ "Peter Odemwingie signs new three-year West Brom deal". BBC News. 18 August 2011. 
  51. ^ Saakov, Rafael (2 September 2010). "Russia World Cup bid chief defends racism track record". BBC News. 
  52. ^ Peck, Brooks (23 March 2011). "Russian fan presents Roberto Carlos with a racist banana".  
  53. ^ "Russian football toughens racism penalties after Carlos incident". 23 June 2011. 
  54. ^ "Shame of Russian football as racist fans throw bananas at Brazilian superstar Roberto Carlos". London: 24 June 2011. 
  55. ^ """Samba upset by racism happening "in view of children. 19 March 2012. 
  56. ^ Accusations of Racism Haunting Russia
  57. ^ Titova, Irina (13 February 2004). "Teen Killers Of Tajik Girl Still At Large".  
  58. ^ Parfitt, Tom (26 June 2006). "The rise of the Russian racists". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2011. 
  59. ^ a b Titova, Irina; Mirovalev, Mansur (14 June 2011). "2 Russian neo-Nazi leaders get life in jail".  
  60. ^ "Russian teenage skinhead gang jailed for 19 racist murders". London: The Daily Telegraph. 15 December 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  61. ^ "The Home Office list of people banned from the UK". London: The Guardian. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  62. ^ "Top judge shot dead in Moscow".  
  63. ^ Zarakhovich, Yuri (1 August 2004) "From Russia With Hate" Time. Retrieved 15 February 2010
  64. ^ "Chernov’s choice". 18 November 2005. 
  65. ^ "Kacharava Killer Gets 12 Years". 10 August 2007. 
  66. ^ Autalipov, Aldiyar (22 January 2009). "Russia: Xenophobia on the rise".  
  67. ^ Rodgers, James (20 January 2009). "Murder of lawyer shocks Russians". BBC News. 
  68. ^ Mirovalev, Mansur (6 May 2011). "Nikita Tikhonov And Yevgenia Khasis, Russian Nationalists, Sentenced For Killing Human Rights Lawyer, Journalist". 
  69. ^ "Anti-Fascist Youth Activist Killed In Moscow". 17 November 2009. 
  70. ^ Ferris-Rotman, Amie (17 November 2009). "Russian anti-fascist activist shot dead in Moscow". 
  71. ^ Zarakhovich, Yuri (23 August 2006). "Inside Russia's Racism Problem".  
  72. ^ Kilner, James; Boyle, Jon (15 May 2008). "Moscow court jails bombers over market race attack". Reuters. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  73. ^ "Authorities declare war on racist gangs".  
  74. ^ "Execution of Tajik and Dagestani (video)" (in Русский). 
  75. ^ "In Novgorod, court ruled out the video with scenes of hate murder as an extremist" (in Русский). 18 March 2008. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2008. 
  76. ^ "Adygean student is suspected of distributing the video with hate murder" (in Русский). 15 August 2007. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  77. ^ "5% per each" (in Русский). 21 November 2007. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  78. ^ "Russian Investigation Committee identified video footage of immigrants decapitation as authentic" (in Русский). 5 June 2008. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  79. ^ "Relatives of missing Dagestani have identified him on the brutal video footage" (in Русский). 4 June 2008. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  80. ^ 10.03.2010. "Galina Kozhevnikova. Under the Sign of Political Terror. Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract It in 2009". 
  81. ^ "Russian Church calls to give legal jobs to illegal immigrants and let skinheads legally fight Crime". OCP Media Network. Retrieved 2012-12-22. 


See also

The Russian Orthodox Church "believes it is vital for Russia to pursue anti-extremist campaign and develop a sustainable strategy." As a result, it has called for immigrants to be given jobs and the opportunity to learn more about Russian culture. In addition, it has called for skinheads to refocus their mission to legally preventing crime and immoral behavior.[81]

The main outcome of 2009 was a clear reduction in the number of victims of racist and neo-Nazi motivated violence for the first time in six years of observation conducted by SOVA Center. To some extent, credit should go to the law enforcement agencies who suppressed the largest and most aggressive ultra-right groups in the Moscow region in the second half of 2008 and in 2009. However, despite all efforts, xenophobic violence remains alarming in its scope and extends over most of the Russian regions, affecting hundreds of people.
—Galina Kozhevnikova, SOVA Center

Since 2008 the number of hate crimes in Russia declined.[80]

Decline of reported hate crimes

On 5 June 2008, scenes of decapitation on video were identified as authentic by the Russian Investigation Committee.[78]
On the same day, one of the victims on the footage was identified by his relatives as Shamil Odamanov, a native of Dagestan.[79]

The video was posted on behalf of the Nazi Party of Russia (Russian: Национал-социалистической партии Руси) on the personal livejournal blog of Adygean college student Viktor Milnikov.[76] After a few days, he was arrested and later sentenced to one year of corrective labour by Maykop court.[77]

The video sparked active discussions in the Russian media.
On 17 March 2008, the District Court of Novgorod ruled the video as extremist, and banned its distribution in the Russian Federation.[75]

"Execution“ of Tajik and Dagestani (Russian: „казнь“ таджика и дагестанца)[74]) – is a video clip which was distributed in the Russian segment of the Internet in August 2007, that depicted beheading of a Tajik and Dagestani immigrants by Russian neo-nazis.

Execution of Tajik and Dagestani

On 21 August 2006, a The Saviour were found guilty for their roles in the attack that left 14 dead.[72] Semyon Charny from the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights says: “The fact that this case found its way to court, and the example of people sentenced to life for the Cherkizovo market blast shows that we are moving in the right direction – but there's still a lot to do.”[73]

Cherkizovsky Market bombing

  • On 19 June 2004, Nikolai Girenko, a prominent ethnologist and adviser in 15 ethnic hate crime trials, was shot to death in his Saint Petersburg apartment.[63] On 14 June 2011, members of neo-Nazi gang Mad Crowd were sentenced to jail for a number of killings including Girenko.[59]
  • On 13 November 2005, [65] On 7 August 2007, Alexander Shabalin was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his murder.[64]
  • On 19 January 2009, while leaving a news conference, a human rights lawyer and journalist Stanislav Markelov was gunned down in Moscow.[66] Anastasia Baburova, a journalist for Novaya Gazeta who tried to come to Markelov's assistance, was also shot and killed in the attack.[67] On 6 May 2011, the court sentenced two radical nationalists, Nikita Tikhonov and his girlfriend Yevgenia Khasis, to life imprisonment and 18 years in prison, respectively.[68]
  • On 16 November 2009, [70]

Murder of anti-fascist activists

On 15 December 2008, Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky were sentenced to penal labour for 10 years each for the murder of 19 foreigners.[60] They were placed on the list of people banned from entering the United Kingdom, remaining the only Russians on the list. The reason given is that they are “Leaders of a violent gang that beat migrants and posted films of their attacks on the internet. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting serious criminal activity and seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts.”[61] A judge who conducted the trial, Eduard Chuvashov, was gunned down on 12 April 2010, four days after he added two years to the 20-year prison sentence of a member of their gang.[62]

On 14 June 2011, the Saint Petersburg City Court sentenced 12 members of the gang led by Alexei Voevodin and Artyom Prokhorenko for their roles in dozens of racist attacks.[59]

On 9 February 2004, a group of neo-Nazi skinheads stabbed a nine-year old Tajik girl, Khursheda Sultanova, to death in Saint Petersburg.[57] In 2006, the Saint Petersburg Agency for Journalistic Investigations revealed suspected perpetrators among the members of the "Mad Crowd" gang.[58]

Notable hate crimes

In October 2013, during the second half of the match, between Manchester City and CSKA Moscow, Yaya Touré, a star midfielder for City from Ivory Coast, walked up to the referee, Ovidiu Hategan, and angrily pointed at CSKA fans making monkey chants and shouting abuse toward him and his black teammates. The game continued and, according to Touré, so did the abuse.[56]

Lokomotiv Moscow were involved in another incident on 18 March 2012, when a banana was thrown at Anzhi Makhachkala defender Christopher Samba during at a match at the Lokomotiv Stadium.[55]

On 21 March 2011, during a game away at Zenit Saint Petersburg, a banana was held by one of the fans near Roberto Carlos of Russian Premier League club Anzhi Makhachkala as the footballer was taking part in a flag-raising ceremony.[52] In June, in a match away at Krylia Sovetov Samara, Roberto Carlos received a pass from the goalkeeper and was about to pass it when a banana was thrown onto the pitch, landing nearby.[53] The 38-year-old Brazilian picked it up and threw it by the sidelines, walking off the field before the final whistle and raising two fingers at the stands, indicating this was the second such incident.[54]

Cameroonian player André Amougou constantly suffered racism while playing for Lokomotiv Moscow.[44] As Zenit Saint Petersburg kicked off their 2006/2007 Russian Premier League campaign against visitors Saturn Moscow Oblast, Brazilian footballer Antônio Géder was received with a chorus of monkey chants at Petrovsky Stadium.[45] In March 2008, black players of French side Marseille — including André Ayew, Charles Kaboré and Ronald Zubar — were targeted by fans of Zenit Saint Petersburg.[46] Zenit fans were later warned by police in Manchester not to repeat their behaviour ahead of the 2008 UEFA Cup Final.[47] Zenit's coach Dick Advocaat revealed that when they attempted to sign Mathieu Valbuena, a Frenchman, many fans asked “Is he a negro?”[48] Also Serge Branco, who played for Krylia Sovetov Samara, accused Zenit's staff of racism, saying: “Each time I play in St Petersburg I have to listen to racist insults from the stands. Zenit bosses do not do anything about it which makes me think they are racists too.”[49] On 20 August 2010, Peter Odemwingie of Lokomotiv Moscow signed a 3-year contract with Premier League team West Bromwich Albion.[50] Later, photographs showed Lokomotiv Moscow fans celebrating the sale of Odemwingie through the use of racist banners including the image of a banana with text “Thanks West Brom.”[51]

After it was announced that Russia will host 2018 FIFA World Cup, a head of UEFA FARE Monitoring Centre, Dr Rafał Pankowski accused the Russian Football Union of downplaying racist chants in stadiums, saying: “Nazi slogans are common in many Russian stadiums. Matches are often interrupted with racist chants aimed at black players.”[43]

Playing for a Russian team, Roberto Carlos was twice faced with racial abuse on the field.

Association football

On 11 January 2006, Alexander Koptsev burst into Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue in Moscow and stabbed eight people with a knife.[39] In March, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison.[40] In 2008, allegations of blood libel appeared in posters in Novosibirsk.[41] The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia expressed their concern about a rising number of attacks targeting Jews, calling it part of “a recent surge in anti-Semitic manifestations” in Russia.[42]



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