Friday, June 6, 2008

Window on Eurasia: Skinhead Attacks Lead North Caucasians Set Up Self-Defense Group

Paul Goble

Vienna, June 6 – The rising tide of anti-migrant violence in Moscow and other Russian cities has prompted the Russian Congress of Peoples of the Caucasus (RCNC) to set up a new group to provide both legal assistance to victims of such violence and physical protection to migrants when migrants take part in public demonstrations or community activities.
In announcing its formation yesterday, Den’ga Khalidov, an RCNC vice president, went out of his way to stress the group’s commitment to non-violence and to working with the authorities. But his announcement that the group will also offer physical protection to migrants is likely to disturb many.
On the one hand, it is a clear indictment of the Russian militia, many of whose members openly sympathize with the skinheads in their attacks on what they call “persons of Caucasus nationality.” And on the other, it is an indication of the desperation many migrants from the Caucasus now feel. They obviously believe that they can now count only on themselves.
Khalidov said the new group sees its first task as providing “timely warnings” about potential clashes between Caucasus and Russian youth and “provocateurs” interested in stirring things up not only to its own constituency but to the Moscow militia and other Russian security bodies (
He added that the RCNC had taken this step only after receiving a flood of reports about the murder of Caucasus migrants, other violent acts by skinheads, and official malfeasance. And he said he was confident that the new body will be able to prevent small problems growing into larger ones.
The group, to be headed by Magomed Yandiyev, a former senior militia official himself, will consist of three parts: a legal assistance office, an analytic section, and “a group of physical defense, in the ranks of which [there will be] thousands of activists.” The Russian authorities are likely to welcome the first two, but they are certain to be nervous about the last.
The physical defense group, he said, will maintain order at meetings, demonstrations and holidays.” In addition, it plans to “take under control all Caucasus movements, including criminal groups,” and to create “a data base about [their] opponents, including skinheads, the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), and “other anti-Caucasus groupings.”
“The enemy is not sleeping,” he said, but everyone should remember, as the new group highlights that today, “there are millions of us across Russia,” something he implied “the enemy” should not forget. Whether this will lead to more violence or less, however, very much remains to be seen.

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