Saturday, 23 June 2007

Attacks on minorities: ugly face of Russia’s capital fuelled by its Mayor

Attacks on foreigners or ethnic minorities are becoming frighteningly common in Moscow, Russia.

AP (23 June 2007): Dozens of Russians brawled with people from the Caucasus and Central Asia in what Moscow police said was a coordinated attack by anti-immigrant and right-wing activists. Nearly two dozen people were arrested and one person was hospitalized. The violence Friday night was the latest incident involving hate crimes or attacks on foreigners in Russia, particularly dark-skinned immigrants from poorer regions and republics of the former Soviet Union.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov “condemned” the violence, telling the news agencies that "any display of chauvinism, xenophobia or nationalism will be harshly put down." What a hypocrite! Moscow became more intolerant (than ever!) under his governance.

I want to make parallels of this latest news on attacks on ethnic minorities and the very recent attacks on gay activists, which are also becoming frighteningly common. The same Luzhkov called gays “Satanic” and fuelled hate and violence towards LGBT people by extreme right-wing and religious fanatics.

Intolerance towards one minority group generates intolerance towards other. I am not saying that it’s the only reason, but I believe it is an important basis for creating the sort of environment where extreme right-wings, religious fanatics and others find it’s OK to attack foreigners or ethnic minorities, it’s OK to attack gay and lesbians, it’s OK to attack people with different opinions, political opponents, human rights activists, it’s OK to attack journalists… And we never saw any punishment, quite the contrary. As The Armenian Observer Blog recently stated, “It’s safe to kill Armenians”, in reference to the decision of Moscow court to acquit the murderer of 19-year-old Armenian Artur Sardaryan, despite the evidence of witnesses.

Two days ago Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that Moscow Gay Pride ban was “legal”. Mr Luzhkov says he will not allow a gay pride parade "in any form" and that any attempt to march in the streets will be "resolutely quashed." The quashing of resistance applies not just to gay people but to other who protest against the official line or who are simply different.

Reward: it looks likely that Moscow mayor will be re-appointed by president Putin for fifth term in office (!), I suppose, “for services to motherland”…

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