Anyone who thinks that Russia’s ever-expanding tornado of racism has to do with immigration or citizenship is gravely misled.
An outstanding recent report from the AFP’s ace Russia reporter Maria Antonova highlights this terrifying reality in the racist neo-Soviet nightmare that is Putin’s Russia. It’s perfectly complimented by a piece in Foreign Policy from Anna Alekseyeva on the same topic.
A local lawmaker in eastern Moscow told Antonova that parents “come in tears” when they find out there are only five “Russian” children in a class of 25 at their school. And Antonova makes it quite clear what these parents mean when they say “Russian,” and it has nothing at all to do with citizenship, nor even with speaking Russian like a native.
Antonova reports: “Russian parents are now petitioning to have a ‘Slavic’ school in the neighbourhood.” For Slavic Russians, it doesn’t make one bit of difference if you hold Russian citizenship or speak Russian better than they do. What matters is race and religion. If you are Vietnamese, Azerbaijani, Korean, Armenian or Uzbek, then you are not and will never be Russian, no matter what your passport says. You are an unwanted outsider, and Slavic Russians are “really concerned about the number of migrants, about their behaviour.”
In other words, Russians believe that non-Slavs, just like non-heterosexuals, are clearly inferior to themselves, dangerously so. They believe that the only solution to the threat posed by these people is exclusion, never mind that Russia’s Slavic population is rapidly plummeting and that if Russia were to be composed only of Slavis it would soon disappear from the face of the earth.
Russians actually have two different words for “Russian,” one that means “Slavic” and one that means “a Russian citizen, but not Slavic.” Anyone who is not Slavic and Orthodox is a second-class citizen, and Vladimir Putin’s embracing of the the Orthodox Church is the clear representation of this reality. If you are outside this group, especially in Moscow, you live every day in terror of race violence, arrest or ejection.
Antonova and Alekseyeva report that Russian politicians openly cater to this pandemic racism, fanning its flames in a reckless manner, and this includes so-called liberal candidate Alexei Navalny. They approve sweeping up huge numbers of non-Slavs and packing them off to concentration camps , and they approve generating wholly bogus statistics about alleged criminal acts which make the non-Slavs look like a pack of dangerous animals. Antonova quotes Svetlana Gannushkina stating: “I am deeply saddened, because there are no voices of reason left among the candidates.”
Alekseyeva warns that Russia is only just getting started in its frenzied attacks on non-Slavic “Russians.” And things are already bad enough. She writes: “In 2011, for example, the mortality rate of Tajik laborers in Russia was about one in 1,000. In other words, it was as dangerous to be a Tajik immigrant in Russia in 2011 as it was to be an African American in the U.S. South in 1930.” She explains: “The cruelty that has become an all-too-common refrain in today’s Russia stems, at least in part, from the ingrained belief in Russian exceptionalism — the idea that Russian morality is unique and therefore beyond reproach.”
Alekseyeva points out that if you were to actually do what the Russian racists want and purge Russian society of non-Slavs, the Russian economy would collapse. Non-slavs are responsible for a huge part of Russia’s construction industry, and other vast swaths of the industrial and agricultural economy, because although the wages of Slavs are laughably low they are still not low enough to promote economic activity on the scale Russia needs, so slave wages need to be paid to non-Slavs in order to get the job done. This is one of the dirtiest secrets of Vladimir Putin, and telling proof of his total failure as an economic manager of Russia.