Kathleen McCaffrey, Associate Editor
Ideology: Libertarian | Writing from: Berlin, Germany

For the past two years, I have been paying attention to the progression of racism in Russia. “Russia for Russians” is a fascist mantra first popularized by the Russian Monarchist Party in the 19th century. Though it’s meaning has changed from a slogan for Monarch-supporters to represent those who want to expel non-whites, it has ebbed and flowed in popularity for over one hundred years. More recently, after Putin’s rise to power, the popularity of “Russia for Russians” began to increase. Discontent with the influx of migrants from Asia, and the Caucasus, as well as economic instability, led to this resurgence by the late 1990s and into the 2000’s. The number of its supporters rose from 46% in 1998 to 55% in 2005.

During the era of the USSR, hundreds of thousands of Africans came to Russia to study. Soviet-era films showed Russians holding African babies as socialist propaganda. Though, as of 2006, at least 52% of Russians supported the slogan “Russia for Russians (though some statistics show as high as 60%). A recent study has shown that “60% of black and African people living in Russia’s capital Moscow have been physically assaulted in racially motivated attacks.” Furthermore, citizens have been forced to avoid public transportation, going out on national holidays, and many public places out of fear for their safety. Alexander Verkhovsky, who has tracked attacks on migrants in Russia since 2002, claims they are rising at “about 15-20 percent a year.”

According to sociologists, these extremists groups in Russia are “usually made up of students aged between 16 and 20.” I attribute this large movement within the youth of Russia to the economic instability they grew up within. I am studying history in Germany this semester, and the more I know about the period between the two world wars, the more distinct correlation I make between desperate times and radical politics. I think the number of attacks will only rise in the coming months as the economic downturn continues to strain tensions in Europe.

A recent study has shown that “60% of black and African people living in Russia’s capital Moscow have been physically assaulted in racially motivated attacks.” Furthermore, citizens have been forced to avoid public transportation, going out on national holidays, and many public places out of fear for their safety. Alexander Verkhovsky, who has tracked attacks on migrants in Russia since 2002, claims they are rising at “about 15-20 percent a year.” I think this number will only rise in the coming months as the economic downturn continues to strain tensions in Europe.

Earlier this year, Anastasia Barburova, a young journalist for Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s most critical newspaper, was shot down in broad daylight in a Moscow Square with a human-rights lawyer. “The next day, a party of Russian nationalists brought champagne to the murder scene to celebrate the “elimination” of their enemies.” Supporters of free speech should know her name everywhere.

An interesting election this fall will be that of the Municipal Council chair in the Volgograd Region of Southern Russia. Vasily Ivanovich, or Joachim Crima as he was known in his native Guinea, will be running for the district seat. Playing into Russia’s notorious racism, he has promised that if elected he will “toil like a negro” for the good of the district. Though he has spent the past 20 years in Russia, gaining citizenship, a University degree, and a family, people still regard his candidacy as a long shot. His reception will offer insight into Russia’s psyche. Perhaps the world will take notice of “the Russian Barack Obama” and finally pay attention to the atrocities taking place within this “democratic republic.”

(Somewhat ironically, Russia’s favorite poet, Alexander Pushkin, was 1/8th African.)