Survey Reveals Scale of Racially Motivated Attacks in Russia

Digital Journal/August 31, 2009

A report prepared by the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy (MPC) has revealed that approaching 60 per cent of African and black people living in the

Russian capital have been subjected to an attack that was racially motivated.

In a survey of 200 people, out of an official figure of 10,000 Africans living and either working or studying in Moscow, nearly 60 per cent reported a physical attack that was racial in its motivation, with 25 per cent saying they had been assaulted on more than one occasion. Furthermore 80 percent of those surveyed said that they had been on the wrong end of verbal abuse.

Despite the figures apparently representing an improvement from those of a similar survey conducted in 2002, the report by the MPC, which describes itself as an interdenominational Christian ministry, concludes, according to the BBC's Rupert Wingfield Hayes, that Africans living in Russia are under "virtual siege."

A combined stabbing and shooting incident and an attempted scalping were amongst the attacks the participants in the survey recounted. The Moscow Metro and crowded public areas were to be avoided if the risk of attack was to be minimized. And going out on a Russian public holiday or on the day of a football (soccer) match was not advisable either. From the 1990s onwards Russia saw the growth of a skinhead movement whose members typically hold extreme right-wing views. It was a problem highlighted by the MPC in 2001 when it said:

In the early 1990's the skinhead movement began to develop in Russia. Skinheads are usually young men in their late teens who shave their heads and dress in combat gear. Some are affiliated with groups of football fans (such as Spartak); others identify more fully with the neo-Nazi movement. Though the skinheads have various organizational affiliations, they all share one trait in common: a hatred of foreigners.

Skinhead attacks seem to follow a pattern. A group of 10 to 30 teenagers will gather together and stake out a victim for an attack. The attack may be an assault with punches and kicking (with combat boots), or it may involve the use of weapons such as bottles and blunt objects

As well as those Africans living officially in Moscow, a city with an estimated population of 10.5 million, the BBC says that there are many more living there illegally, often as economic migrants.

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