Sunday, March 2, 2008

Window on Eurasia: Kabardino-Balkaria Leaders Call on Moscow to End Violence against Caucasians

Paul Goble

Baku, March 2 – Social and political leaders in Kabardino-Balkaria have appealed to President Vladimir Putin to take steps to end the rising tide of xenophobic violence in Russian cities directed against people not only from their republic but from other parts of the Caucasus as well.
The letter, portions of which were reported by the portal on Friday, noted that “in recent weeks in Moscow alone were killed three citizens of Kabardino-Balkaria, who because of the unfavorable economic situation in the republic and the high level of unemployment were forced to work in the capital.”
“To our great regret,” the letter continued, “attacks on migrants from the southern region and their murders have become a regular phenomenon in Russia. [And] the nature of these actions demonstrates that they are being committed on the basis of ethnic hostility and hatred” (
The authors of the letter said that they were “seriously concerned” that any future attacks of this kind will exacerbate the already “complicated situation” in Kabardino-Balkaria itself, especially since people there believe that Russian police not only do not try to bring the perpetrators to justice but even support these actions.
.”The situation which today exists in our country in the sphere of inter-ethnic relations does not allow migrants from the North Caucasus republics to enjoy their constitutional rights and freedoms – the right to choose their place of residence and to move about freely.”
Such restrictions, they said, are creating a situation of “real inequality of rights and freedoms of the citizens of the country based on ethnicity.” That should generate “deep concern,” especially since “unfortunately, we do not see” the authorities taking “real measures” against this “abnormal and extremely dangerous” trend.
The authors, who signed their names, asked that Moscow move against nationalist youth groups, focus on “the struggle with manifestations of Nazism and xenophobia with the necessary commitment to principle and firmness,” and “take measures” to block “the anti-Caucasus, nationalist and chauvinist propaganda in the media.”
The day before the Kabardino-Balkaria appeal appeared on Regnum, the Moscow city committee on inter-ethnic relations and nationality policy organized a meeting between interior ministry and FSB officials and the leaders of non-Russian groups in the Russian capital (
At that session, the authorities promised to step up their efforts against skinheads and others who have been beating and even killing people from the Caucasus in increasing numbers over the last several months. But the ethnic leaders in attendance indicated that they had little confidence in these latest promises.
The meeting itself, one report suggested, became especially heated when several of the latter said that they were “convinced that the militia and the FSB could deal with the Nazis and skinheads and even knew how to do this, but do not want to.” Or, in the words of one, “they have not received an order [from above] to do so.”
Given the media focus this weekend on the “election” of Putin’s hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev, this rising tide of anger among those Russians often dismiss as “persons from the Caucasus” may not attract much attention. But compared to that carefully scripted vote, it will almost certainly prove more important in the long run.

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