Baku, April 4 – Russian skinheads are attacking non-Russians in ever increasing numbers both to intimidate the latter and to recruit additional people to their movement, thus extending “a mass fascist terror” throughout the country, according to the chief editor of Moscow’s Novaya gazeta.
Speaking on Ekho Moskvy on Wednesday, Dmitry Muratov pointed out that over the last three months “fascists [in the Russian Federation] have killed 38 people and wounded 113 more,” and they have advertised what they have done in order to scare some and “recruit” others (http://echo.msk.ru/programs/personalno/505039-echo/ ).
Indeed, he warned, what is taking place in Moscow and elsewhere in the Russian Federation must be described as “a recruitment campaign for a fascist army.”
But as disturbing as that development is, Muratov said, even more worrisome is the failure of the Russian government and especially the FSB to combat it. “Where is the FSB?” the editor asked rhetorically. Can anyone really believe that its officials “do not know about the massive actions” of the last month?
Others, including the SOVA Analytic Center whose documentation of these attacks Novaya gazeta has published, have issued similar warnings. But Muratov’s comment is particularly important because he describes the way the “fascists” are now seeking to frighten off journalists who try to cover this wave of violence.
After his paper carried an article at the end of last month on skinhead attacks (http://www.novgaz.ru/data/2008/21/03.html), its author, journalist Valery Shiryayev,received a series of threats. Listen, he was told, “you are a puppet,” working for other unspecified forces.
“You do not deserve to live,” the hate messages continued. “Death to the kikes, glory to Russia. Russia for the Russians. Success to all who struggle. Zieg Heil!” Muratov said that his newspaper had reported all this to the authorities, including the FSB, which has primary responsibility for responding to such attacks.
Unfortunately, he said, that agency has done little or nothing to stop what is going on, raising questions as to whether the FSB is doing its job, penetrating such fascist groups or whether at least some of its officers view these groups as “socially close” to the intelligence service, its virtual allies.
Given both the attacks on minorities and the threats journalists who cover them have received, Muratov was asked by his host whether he had ever considered seeking political asylum abroad, much as Elena Tregubova, the author of an insider’s account on the Kremlin, received this week in Great Britain.
The Novaya gazeta editor responded that he had never considered this possibility for himself. “That would be “impossible. We will continue to work here.” But he did make several comments about the Tregubova case that highlight just how bad things now are in Russia and how implicated the Russian elite is in this deterioration.
Muratov said that some “among the so-called Russian elite” will be pleased, not only because Tregubova won’t be around to describe them any more but also because her arrival in London will send property prices there down since it has become “dangerous” for Russians to live next to someone with “principled views who does not conceal them.”
While Tregubova’s desire for asylum is completely understandable given the nature of the Putin regime, Muratov’s continuing effort to combat this rising tide of fascism in the Russian Federation is not only noble but calls out for the kind of support from the West that he and others like him often do not get.
And that is all the more so because his comments about the threats his journalist has received show that he understands, as Pastor Niemuller did in Nazi Germany, that attacks on “people from the Caucasus” can lead to attacks against Jews and against Russians who are prepared to speak out against such viciousness.