Friday, March 21, 2008

Window on Eurasia: Moscow, Rights Groups Guilty of Russophobia, Nationalists Say

Paul Goble

Baku, March 22 – The Russian government, human rights organizations and many non-Russian groups there are guilty of active discrimination against ethnic Russians, according to an analytic report on Russophobia in Russia, 2006-2007 prepared by Rodina party member and former Duma deputy Andrei Savel’yev.
The 12,500-word document, which was released on Thursday by Rodina’s Russian Information Center, documents what it says are widespread instances of “hostility, hatred, antagonism [and] other negative feelings regarding Russia, Russians or their language” (
It discusses what it calls the six major manifestations of this phenomenon: First, “the denial of the right of Russians to equality and of the status of Russian culture and the Russian language as the chief state-forming factors in the Russian Federation, the denial of the historic mission of the Russian people as the creator of Russia.”
Second, “accusations against Russians, who are struggling for their rights, honor and dignity of chauvinism, provoking inter-ethnic and inter-religious hostility, the dissemination of Nazi ideology, and also the definition of Russian nationalism as fascist, racist and anti-Semitic.”
Third, “repressions against Russian social and political organizations, against organizations which speak out in defense of Russian national interests, the rights of the Russian majority in Russia, the rights of Russian compatriots abroad, and of the political rights of Russians.”
Fourth, “policies that limit the social rights of Russians by leading to super-high mortality rates, a lowering of birthrates and the demographic crisis of the Russian people.” Fifth, “policies that facilitate migration.” And sixth, “anti-Russian ethno-banditism and terrorism.”
Like the human rights surveys on which it is modeled, Russophobia in Russia, 2006-2007 provides numerous examples of each of these, with references to the texts of relevant Russian laws. But unlike its models, this report focuses on what it says are the three main authors of anti-Russian attitudes and actions inside Russia today.
First of all, the report says, an “extremely dangerous system of state power” has been created in the Russian Federation, one in which law enforcement bodies and “formally independent mass media and ‘human rights’ groups actively discriminate against the [ethnic] Russian majority.”
This system which undermines the rights of the ethnic Russian majority of the population, the report argues, must be changed or else “Russia, having lost its Russian face, will cease to be a historically significant state and will be condemned to a rapid and inevitable ruin.”
Second, the report singles out for particular criticism the work of the Moscow Human Rights Bureau and SOVA Center, Western-backed organizations which it says “systematically distribute information about ‘Russian fascism’” and seeks to exacerbate relations between ethnic Russians and non-Russians.
And third, it suggests that many non-Russians, convinced that they can act with impunity because of the policies of the government and the actions of groups which “imitate human rights activities” feel free to attack Russians and their state and even to turn to what the report calls “ethno-banditism” against them.
As obviously extreme as this report is, “Russophobia in Russia, 2006-2007” is nonetheless significant in a double sense. On the one hand, it provides a window into the anger that many Russian nationalists currently feel about their government, human rights groups and other minorities, an anger that threatens the future of all three.
And on the other, like the Russian government’s own establishment of centers abroad to “monitor” human rights in the West, this report – and future releases are promised – represents a recognition by such groups that they can exploit the confusion between balance and objectivity among some in the West.
That is because, however tendentious such reports may be, more than a few in Western countries can be counted on to cite them whenever they discuss human rights in Russia, an action that will undercut the efforts of others to defend human rights there and lend legitimacy to extremist views whatever the Western authors think they are doing.

No comments: