Example of a Report: Anti-Semitism in Russian Federation
The situation with crimes based on national intolerance is extremely complex in Russia. In recent years, the level of tension among different nationalities has steadily increased. Respectively, the numerous incidents of violence on racial and ethnic grounds have occurred. Mass brawls, beatings, murders, vandalism and other crimes with a nationalistic tint appear frequently. In large cities, like Moscow and St. Petersburg, the violent actions are often turning into the huge riots. This resonated in the riot in Moscow, called “Football demolition” of 2001, (the mass riot with a racist bias after the defeat of Russian football league in the World Cup).
The main perpertrators of hate crimes are not political or religious radical groups, but the representatives of unorganized youth subculture named “skinheads”. Racial violence is the main form of activity in this movement. Over the past three years, at least twenty five people were killed by skinheads in a fight, and in those cases the nationalistic nature of the crime is indisputable. Considering controversial cases, this figure could be at least doubled. According to such rough and incomplete statistics, we can clearly suggest that racial violence is a serious problem in Russia. The representatives of national minorities do not feel safe while living in large Russian cities.
Anti-Semitic actions can be divided into the following groups:
1. Ideologically motivated violence against Jews. Such incidents do happen, but they are relatively rare. Together with controversial cases, we can talk about ten such attacks per year. This figure has remained unchanged over the past years.
2. Vandalism. It appears in the form of cemeteries desecration, anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi graffiti on the walls of synagogues, and on the other Jewish community buildings. Moreover, there were a few cases of windows bombarded with small-caliber guns at night in Jewish community buildings in 2002. Prior to 1999, the cases of large-scale attempts of terrorist acts (bomb plantation in the synagogue’s buildings) were not rare. Fortunately, in the last few years such cases are less frequent.
3. The threats addressed to specific individuals, or so-called “telephone terrorism” (a message about non-existent explosive device allegedly planted in the building). Such a phone call disrupts normal activities of the institution for a few hours.
4. So-called “poster-terrorism” became a special event of 2002 in Russia. It was a series of anti-Semitic poster-bombs that exploded when people were trying to remove them. Several explosions caused serious damage to the health of people who were trying to remove them, and one person was killed. The first victim of this kind of terrorism was Tatiana Sapunova.
Typically, the identity of these crimes has not been defined. In cases when the investigation reached a success, the offenders were sentenced. However, many government members have the tendency to ignore the ideological nature of the crime, presenting it, for example, simply as “hooliganism”.
Multicultural relations in the Russian Federation have deteriorated and the situation is very serious. Xenophobic attitudes are prevalent in the society, and violence on racial and ethnic grounds is not something out of the ordinary. However, Anti-Semitism is not the most frequent phobia in Russia, and the Jews do not stand as “enemy number one” in xenophobic consciousness.
Anti-Semitism as a political force is virtually nonexistent in Russia. Right-wing parties and movements are in a state of profound crisis. The anti-Semitic direction can be used in the regional elections, but without much success. On the other hand, there is no mandatory public consensus on the rejection of any anti-Semitic acts in the of public policy in Russia.
In the recent years, the authorities have begun to apply concerted efforts to prevent counter extremism in general, and anti-Semitism in particular. And if some specific measures caused a lot of claims, then general efforts to combat anti-Semitic propaganda are praiseworthy.