News / Europe

Russia’s Nationalists March to an Anti-Immigrant Drum

Russia’s Nationalists March to an Anti-Immigrant Drumi
X
November 06, 2013 10:46 PM
After the United States, Russia has the world’s second largest number of immigrant workers, officially estimated at 12 million. With 10 percent of all workers in Russia coming from Central Asia, VOA's James Brooke reports on mounting tensions between Russia’s historically Slavic population and the newcomers.
James Brooke
The holiday was National Unity Day, but the favorite chant was “Russia for Russians; Moscow for Muscovites!”
 
Instead of calls for unity among Russia’s diverse religions and peoples, demonstrators chanted: “Soon, soon, Moscow will be a white city.”
 
After the United States, Russia has the world’s second largest number of immigrant workers: 12 million. With 10 percent of all workers in Russia now from Central Asia, stresses are forming between Russia’s historically Slavic Christian population and the overwhelmingly Muslim newcomers.
 
The slogans and banners at Monday’s annual Russian March spoke of a backlash.
 
One banner warned: “A Mosque Today -- Jihad Tomorrow.” Another read: “Youth Against Tolerance.”
 
City authorities exiled the marchers to a working class suburb far from the city center. The night before, intruders destroyed 500 protest signs stored in a locked warehouse. Authorities hoped that rain and a heavy police presence would keep people away. Instead, thousands flowed out of metro stations to protest workers from Central Asia and from Russia’s Caucasus region.
 
Expel the 'foreigners'
 
Vladimir Tor, a nationalist leader, recalled Russia’s expulsion of Polish invaders 400 years ago.
 
"Our ancestors four centuries ago threw out the foreign occupants from our Kremlin,” he said. “God willing we can do the same in our century. We are speaking up for the celebration of the Russian nationalist interest, for a Russian national democratic government, for introducing a visa regime with Central Asian and Caucasian republics.”
 
Many charged that profit motives explain Moscow’s changing face. Ilya paused between leading a group of young men in black leather jackets in shouting chants.
 
“We are against illegal immigration,” he said. “And there needs to be changes and economic sanctions so that it won't be profitable for businesses to pay illegal immigrants salaries that are two to three times smaller than those for legal residents.”
 
Historically, Cossacks have patrolled Russia’s borders with the Muslim south. Sergei, a Cossack, says migrants undercut wages.
 
“All of the Asians and Caucasians and minority groups come here to work, because it's more beneficial for the government to pay them lower wages than to pay the Slavs," he said.  "However, we Slavs have a huge population -- and there's no work for us.”
 
Government officials say Russia’s unemployment rate is 5.3 percent.
 
A surge in Moscow’s Muslim population to about 2 million people has led some residents to feel a loss of control. In response, officials say that this year they have quadrupled deportation orders and increased fingerprinting of foreigners eightfold.
 
'Barbed Wire'
 
Two weeks ago, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a nationalist politician favored by the Kremlin, went so far as to call for imposing Chinese-style population controls on families in Russia’s Caucasus.
 
“They should be allowed to have the average amount of babies of a middle-class family -- two or one, that's all,” he said, speaking on Poedinok, a show on Russia 1, a state channel with the nation’s largest audience. “They should be fined for the third child. If they don't want to, we'll close it off. If they don't want to, we'll surround the territory with barbed wire. And if they don't want to, we'll close everything we can and let them stay there,” he continued.
 
In response, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a veteran human rights leader, told reporters that Zhirinovsky should be surrounded with barbed wire.
 
She said the Kremlin is following a dangerous strategy. “They are kindling strife between nationalities. It's a type of distraction. They are taking people's dissatisfaction with the government and changing it to dissatisfaction with people of other nationalities. It's really easy to see,” said Alexeyeva.
 
However, the young nationalists who danced in the rain Monday night to a skinhead band may be only the tip of a larger iceberg of Russian xenophobia.
 
In October, 81 percent of the Muscovites polled by the Levada Center, an independent Russian polling agency, said they would like to see Central Asian migrants workers deported.  The same poll showed 84 percent said they wanted the Kremlin to stop subsidizing the Caucasus.
 
Russia’s new, post-Soviet generation, seems to be growing up nationalist.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs