Saturday, January 31, 2009

Window on Eurasia: Kyrgyz Ambassador Meets Russian Neo-Nazis to Try to Defend His People

Paul Goble

Vienna, January 31 – The Kyrgyz ambassador in Moscow has met with the leader of the neo-Nazi Slavic Union in the hopes of deflecting that group’s violent anti-immigrant actions away from Kyrgyz nationals working in Russia, an action that highlights the deteriorating situation in Russia and one that two leading human rights groups have now denounced.
Raimkul Attakurov, Bishkek’s senior diplomat in the Russian capital, announced on his own website that he “had met with Dmitry Dyomushkin, the leader of the Slavic Union [which describes itself as] the National Patriotic Movement of Russia” and which refers to itself by its Russian initials, the “SS” (
The ambassador said that he and the man most Russian media have identified as a neo-Nazi had agreed on “the need to establish a constructive dialogue on the basis of mutual respect” in the course of a meeting which the Kyrgyz diplomat said “had taken place in a warm and friendly atmosphere.”
Attakurov told Kyrgyz journalists that he had sought the meeting because “as they should remember, there had been a large number of cruel attacks on citizens of Asian appearance, including our own citizens, in the Russian capital and Moscow oblast at the beginning of last year.”
At that time, he continued, his embassy had sent a note to the Russian foreign ministry and appeared to the Russian parliament, the Federal Migration Service, the procuracy, the interior ministry, and to Russia’s human rights ombudsman. Despite that, some attacks have taken place since, and thus, Attakurov said, he had decided to seek “unconventional solutions.”
The ambassador said that at their meetings Dyomushkin had behaved “absolutely correctly.” The latter arrived on time and demonstrated that he was “a very well-educated” man, who now “lectures at one of the universities of Moscow.” Attakurov said that they had discussed the possibility of the Kyrgyz diplomat giving a lecture on tolerance in Kyrgyzstan.
Among the issues they discussed – and Attakurov said that he was not in a position to talk about all of them – was the treatment of Kyrgyz citizens in Russia at the hands of skinheads and radical nationalist groups. Dyomushkin, the ambassador said, was “very well informed” about these attacks.
Indeed, the SS leader said he was “often invited to meet with officials in the Moscow city government and the force structures to discuss [such] crimes,” adding that “his people are not involved in any way with them.” Dyomushkin added that “these are not our methods,” but rather those of less well-organized and disciplined groups.
The neo-Nazi told the Kyrgyz diplomat that after their first meeting in December for which he was criticized by other radical nationalists he had “given the order to his subordinates in 64 regions of the Russian Federation to treat citizens of Kyrgyzstan in a loyal fashion.” While Attakurov said it was “still early” to talk about results, he planned to continue these meetings.
But yesterday, two leading Russian human rights organizations, Memorial and the SOVA Center, put out a joint appeal urging that the ambassador should cease and desist and that neither he nor anyone else should conduct negotiations with or seek the assistance of neo-Nazis like Dyomushkin (
“The SS methodically advocates racism and violence,” the appeal says, and the organization’s website “published a congratulatory telegram” to the man who organized the killing of 14 people at the Cherkizov market in Moscow, as well as taking part in other “racist murders and beatings.”
“We strongly condemn such flirting with neo-Nazis,” the appeal continues, because “we are convinced that neither the authorities nor representatives of NGOs can cooperate with those who advocate racism but approve of violence as a form of political action.”And it said, that it was especially troubling that an ambassador should speak with them.
That is because such contacts “lead only to the legitimization of neo-Nazi leaders in the eyes of society.” And consequently, the appeal ended with a call to the Russian authorities to “undertake measures to protect both Russian and foreign citizens from hate crimes so that no one will feel the need to talk with aggressive racists.”
Unfortunately, the Russian government has not been able or in some cases perhaps willing to do so, a truly disturbing development that helps to explain but certainly does not justify the kind of “flirting with neo-Nazis” that the ambassador of a sovereign country felt he had to undertake to defend its citizens in Russia.

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