The mood in Moscow Pt.1
Translated by
Joera Mulders
March 21, 2011
1 Comment

Original appeared in Vzglyad
Author: Dmitrii Sokolov-Mitrich
Images: Vzglyad
Read the translator's introduction

In recent days Moscow has been turned upside down by a massive eruption of ethnic discontent. After Egor Sviridov, an ethnic Russian soccer fan, was killed by several rubber bullets from a gun held by another youngster from the Caucasus, peaceful commemoration marches turned into a massive riot counting several thousands of people at Manezh square, right under the walls of the Kremlin. Dark skinned people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time were severely beaten. The ugly images of violence caught on video have been spread all over the world, in TV news items and on the Internet. The awkwardness of the images was vividly captured in this tweet to the president: “How can it be that for half an hour these reptiles could perform the Nazi salute, while standing next to the eternal flame at the monument for the Unknown Soldier, and that nobody stopped them?“

The timeline of events has been analyzed by many newspapers and blogs. There is a broad consensus that ordinary soccer fans and hooligans were provoked into violence by the leaders of ultranationalist organizations.

Much coverage therefore focuses on these instigators and especially the way the authorities have been dealing with fascist radicals in the past and in the present.

Many questions still need answers. Why did so many people let themselves be provoked into violence and why is it that this riot has not been followed by an unequivocal public outcry of indignation. Why is it that many Russian citizens express their sympathy with the protesters?

I found two opinionated articles that capture the mood in Moscow in these days. Both are voices of moderation. Each of them represents a different point of view. The first article [which translation you may find below] is written by Dmitrii Sokolov-Mitrich and published in the online periodical Vzglyad. Sokolov-Mitrich advocates a policy of zero-tolerance. He believes that the people from the Caucasus are to large extent responsible for the criminalization of society. In his opinion the problem of integration is the number one problem for Russia at this moment. 

The other article [which translation you may find here] is written by Ol’ga Allenova and was printed in the newspaper Kommersant. Allenova advocates more tolerance. She argues that Russia’s most pressing problems do not depend on nationality issues. Corruption and lawlessness permeate all layers of society. People should stand together to face these problems. She sees the nationality issue as a destructive force. What would be left of Russia, when Russia would become a country for Russians alone?

Between the time of publication and the time of writing this translation Sokolov-Mitrich’s article has been recommended on Facebook by 4343 readers and received 1902 comments. Allenova’s article has been ‘liked’ by 3119 people. Commenting isn’t possible.

Manezh justice

Waking up after a disturbed night, the police chiefs should make it their first business to go to a store and buy the book Hells Angels by Hunter Thompson. It may seem that this book is only about American bikers, but in fact it is also about our dear co-citizens from the Caucasus.

Fascism will pass over. There is no doubt. I understand that every time, when I hear us tell ourselves that it will pass over. Trapped in this flawed ideological paradigm, we may loose our last our change at recovery. The prescriptions of the ‘fascistophobes’ remind me more and more of a shamanistic food supplement, persistently used by a patient in the first stage of cancer, instead of going to the hospital for real treatment.

There, where it is sufficient to threaten a law abiding person with one finger to make him even more law abiding, the troublemakers need to be skinned three times by the law, to make them feel the power of the law.

Does this mean that I am not scared of Russian fascism? No, I do. I am very afraid of Russian fascism. I am however also very scared of fascism from the Caucasus. You could say that in general I am an easily frightened person. I don’t like serious shocks and I especially don’t like revolutions. Revolutions come with chaos and chaos means that a muscular person will break into the apartment that you worked for like a mule for ten years, break the lock and tell you that from now on this will be his place and that you have an hour to gather your belongings.

Nevertheless, especially because I am so scared for such developments, I do not at all like those people, who claim that fascism will pass over. Instead of demonizing the problem, we need to sit down and think why millions of Russian citizens are ready to scream “Fuck the Caucasus. Fuck!” What do they actually mean when they scream these things? Yesterday’s opinion polls on RSN radio once again showed us the objective truth. 87% of the listeners supported the protesters at Manezh square. RSN listeners come from the most economically active social strata, the fundament of our country. To preach the idea that this entire social stratum is infected by fascism and should be immediately sent to the polyclinic for a check-up is a sign of complete idiocy.

When reasonable people en masse approve of unreasonable action, it is clear that we should not seek the problem in them, but in their habitat. “When we do not call the problem by its name, we will not find the solutions”, [even] Sergey Dorenko, the liberal or über-liberal editor in chief of RSN radio said.

His words inspired me and now I will try to explain the problem without concerns about political correctness. Many people that are born in some of the republics of the Russian Federation live by other rules than we do. They are to great extent more loyal to their own traditions than to the laws of the country. They support on their own diaspora and consider it unnecessary to adapt themselves to the norms of the region in which they live. They are very often infected by the bacillus of revanchism (“Respect the Caucasus!”) It’s even dangerous to be close to them, because in many normal situations they react very differently than us. They carry with them a completely different level of risk, because they do not acknowledge our understanding of a clear fight; one against one, and without weapons. This means that any person who reads these lines, may – as an answer to an attempt to explain his dark skinned co-citizen that he isn’t right – receive a rubber bullet in the head [Soccer fan Egor Sviridov was killed by 4 rubber bullets]. This however is not the way we are used to live, isn’t it?

It is therefore no surprise that these wonderful and good people provoke the anger of the conditionally Russian citizens, that is those people who wish to live and work in a supranational, atomized habitat. Significant tension is created by the fact that these daredevils with accents actively infiltrate the corridors of power and the offices of the law enforcement organs.

I have been at the Golovinskii procurator’s office. [this is the procurators office where the suspects of the murder of soccer fan Egor Sviridov were held and from which most of them were freed after the office was visited by a large group of sympathizers] Its few employees of the Russian [ethnic] nationality are told in unofficial conversations to take a deep breath before discussing the subject of ‘the new personnel’. This should make every normal citizen without a gun in his pocket think about the future of his children. Strange ideas may come to occupy the thoughts of that intimidated person. He might get scared that when at the local police office the interests of one or another ethnicity triumph over others, some good fellow may come to his house and give him an hour to gather his belongings. When I would start to explain that intimidated person that his fears originate in paranoia, he may tell me quite a few educative stories. He may tell me for example how under some circumstances acquaintances or family members of him were forced to leave their homes in one of the republics of the Northern Caucasus, even although just a few years earlier, they never thought that this would be possible

Yes, we are probably xenophobes. There are however different degrees of xenophobia. Not all are sins or to be feared. When in our country would have real instruments for the expression of popular will, there most would likely be less phobia and there would not have been any need for yesterday’s events at Manezh square.

Why are the citizens of Switzerland not beaten to death by their policemen, when they demand a ban on the construction of minarets? That must be because they were allowed to hold a referendum in which they could peacefully express their harsh ‘no’ to minarets. What’s more the ban is now being strictly executed. Is this decision barbarous or uncivilized? Sorry, democracy is not a mechanism to implement the right ideas. Democracy is an order based on the people’s will. If you do you not like the attitude of a population, go live somewhere else.

Let us now return to our Hells Angels. The book is actually boring and not very challenging. The author is too complaisant and in complete solidarity with his deranged heroes. With great indignation he describes how they are subjected to continued humiliation by bad american police officers, who for some reasons don’t like how the ‘angels’ terrorize the provincial cities they pass through on their tours. Hunter Thompson is convinced that at a certain point in time the police received the directive to accompany each mass tour with the most strict legal controls. If they only increased speed, they would be stopped and fined with the maximum penalty. Their documents would be checked to the last comma. Every technical carelessness on the motorbike would be used. When there would be even the slightest legal possibility to confiscate a bike, do it. Wrong parking – confiscate. When there is only the slightest reason to put the biker himself behind bars or even only hold him for a few days, jail him.

The great American writer complains and grieves over this.

I however place myself in the position of the inhabitant of a small provincial town and in my thoughts I sent a compassionate thank you to these evil american cops across the ocean

Because in relation to people who position themselves as outlaws and pride themselves in that, it is needed to apply a principally different regime of legal pressure. There, where it is sufficient to threaten a law abiding person with one finger to make him even more law abiding, the troublemakers need to be skinned three times by the law, to make them feel the power of the law. They should be treated in such manner until one finger will be enough. This is called zero tolerance and under certain conditions it has not just once been put to practice in the most democratic states of the world.

But now about the important things. I think that the young and fearless Caucasians by birth, who want so much that we respect them, but do not entirely understand what it means to respect another person – is a group that needs exactly such a therapy. In this sense the principal slogan from Saturday at Manezh square “Fuck the Caucasus, Fuck!» deserves the most attentive study for the purpose of its application in legal practice.

I am convinced that the results will be most positive.

Once I witnessed sheriff Oleg Zanasiya, the chief of the police in the town of Olonets in the republic of Karelia, apply this method. Before his appointment the local Chechen diaspora had terribly corrupted the former procurator. They felt themselves masters, not only in the city, but also in the office of the police boss. Sheriff Zanasiya did not start with searches and controls. The four most unruly he jailed immediately. For the common Chechens he implemented a regime of legal terror.

Maximum penalties for speeding, for wrong parking, for cigarette butts on the ground. If they did not pay their fines on time they got 15 days of jail time. By the slightest attempt of resistance a call would follow to a special mobile police team, that would display a 100% readiness to act.

After six months of therapy these Chechens became quite like Russians, or even like Frenchmen or Brits.

Therefore I would really like that this regime of zero tolerance would be prescribed nationwide to the social group described above. For a performance of a lezginka [national dance of many people in the Caucasus) in the city center accompanied by shots in the air all those involved should receive the maximum fine. At a second time they should be jailed.

For driving a jeep through the Alexander gardens [pedestrian area next to the Kremlin] the driver should be put away so that he wouldn’t need his jeep for a long time. When one Aslan would obtain a gun or knife, the other Aslans would run away in fear, because they would understand that the law would not treat them as witnesses, but as accomplices, and that no diaspora would come to their rescue.

I want that the ethnic quota for access to a university education will come to be considered as an absurdity. I want that for public declarations about the choice of husband for a woman belonging to ‘his’ people, the leader of the ethnic group will be politically ostracized. Finally, I want that all these harsh demonstrative reactions by the authorities will be legally correct and as transparent as possible. So that those to whom these actions are addressed will understand that there is something they should integrate into and that there are people that they should respect.

And after the training has had its much needed effect, it will be absolutely necessary to turn all the same weapons against the terrible fascists. I am however convinced that by that time there will be no fascists left to pursue. Of these fascists only a ghost will remain. Russian fascists are not a mass phenomenon and they never were. Russia is simply a large country with a large problem, that needs to be solved immediately.

  • Lyana Rodriguez

    Wow, harsh.