The coming of April 20 inspires fear in Russia. Skinheads threat that they will smash foreigners to celebrate Hitler’s birthday. The reaction of the Russian authorities to the news was strong, especially when foreign ambassadors demonstrated their extreme anxiety as well. E-mails with skinheads’ threats sent to numerous embassies working in Moscow became the cause for the anxiety. The embassies of Sweden, Japan, India, Benin, and Zambia, as well as the UN High Commissioner’s representative office in Moscow, received the e-mails.
Police and internal troops have been put on a state of full alert; total number of guards in Moscow will make up 15,000 policemen and servicemen. However, nobody can guess so far what people will face when the intensified defense measures are to be lifted on April 22.
Skinheads are the scourge of the whole of the civilized world. Skinhead organizations function in many countries of the world, not excluding even such successful countries, such as Great Britain and Sweden. Unlike Russian skinheads, Hitler worshippers abroad are populists with the capital letter. Due to easy and cheap popularity, they are gaining political authority. They are less aggressive than Russian skinheads, who are gradually becoming more and more impudent because of the connivance of the authorities. It is a bad manner in the West to hush up the skinhead problem. On the contrary, people touch upon extremism and the neo-nazi problem every time they have a chance. It is really very important there to make people see the horror of extremist manifestations. Do you believe it happens because people abroad are more humane and merciful? We cannot believe this!
It is a great success that the authorities have finally paid sufficient attention to the extremist problem. A part of the presidential address to the nation was devoted extremism and neo- nazi problems this year. As far as I remember, it is for the first time over quite a long period. The growth of extremism in Russia, in the view of the Russian president, poses a "serious threat to stability and public security". "I mean above all those who, using fascist national slogans and symbols, stage disorders, beating up and killing people," the president said. The police and prosecutors often lack sufficiently effective means to call to justice the organizers and inspirers of such crimes, the head of state pointed out. In many cases, only direct perpetrators are brought to trial. "Actually, gangs of extremists act in effect as organized criminal communities and must be persecuted similarly," the president emphasised. Soon, a bill on the struggle with extremism is to be submitted to the State Duma, the president says.
It sounds nice, but not more, as long as these are only mere words so far. The authorities seem to have learnt no lesson from the pogroms in Moscow’s districts of Yassenevo and Tsaritsino.
Many politicians are sceptical about the government’s idea to crack down on skinheads. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky thinks that the Russian authorities are the main peopelo who should account for the skinhead activity. In the words of Yavlinsky, the nazi problem in Russia is connected with everlasting Chechen war; sometimes, even Russian politicians allow nationalistic statements. Head of the Extreme journalism centre Oleg Panfilov shares this opinion as well. “I do not think that Russian skinheads are so powerful and well-organized to exert pressure and intimidate such structures as foreign embassies. I suppose, Russian special services are involved here. If not directly, then indirectly may be. The inactivity of the special services made it possible for the extremism organizations to be impertinent and exert pressure on foreigners.”
Oleg Panfilov thinks that civilized people should go into the streets and protest against skinheads. “Skinheads expect to profit from the silence of intimidated people; however, the extremists are really afraid of courageous and reasonable protests.”
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/04/20/40028.html