Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2017, 14:34 GMT

North Caucasians in Russian Capital Increasingly Target of Hate Crimes

Publisher Jamestown Foundation
Author Mairbek Vatchagaev
Publication Date 27 November 2013
Cite as Jamestown Foundation, North Caucasians in Russian Capital Increasingly Target of Hate Crimes, 27 November 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5296fd0a1.html [accessed 24 May 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Russian government is unable to restrain the nationalist trends spreading in the country. On December 11, 2010, Russian nationalists demonstrated just 20 meters away from the walls of the Kremlin in response to the killing of soccer fan Yegor Sviridov in an altercation with a rival Chechen team's fans (http://rutube.ru/video/74c1115000b4d072ead52a63e3fdca1b/). The location of this demonstration of the "Russian spirit" so close to the Kremlin led many to conclude that the protesters had been sanctioned by the government. Moreover, Vladimir Putin himself highlighted the Kremlin's role as a source of Russian nationalist outbursts when he unexpectedly visited Sviridov's grave at Lyublino cemetery in the Moscow region (http://www.bbc.co.uk/russian/russia/2010/12/101221_putin_sviridov.shtml). This public appearance by the president signaled that the Russian authorities were on the side of the extremists against all North Caucasians.

On November 23, two women were brutally murdered separately in the southwestern part of Moscow. One of the victims was a Dagestani and the other was from Kazakhstan. The police found the body of the 27-year-old Dagestani, Gulnara R., on the sixth floor landing of her apartment block. The victim's hands and legs were cut off and a cross-like wound was on her stomach (http://www.ntv.ru/novosti/734718/). News of this crime would have gone unnoticed had it not been the latest in a recent wave of crimes against North Caucasians.

Just days earlier, the Internet was rife with comments about a video recording of two ethnic Russians shooting at a Dagestani (http://www.newsru.com/crime/22nov2013/2shotdagmetromsk.html). That attack took place on November 17 on a Moscow metro train between the Nakhimovsky Prospekt and Nagornaya stations. The video clearly depicted that, after being on the receiving end of a derogatory comment, the Dagestani, Khashim Latypov, came up to the offender, who pulled out a handgun and shot Latypov in the stomach and then in the face. The train continued on its way for another two minutes, while a younger associate of the perpetrator also pulled out a handgun and pointed it at Latypov and apparently said something threatening. The faces of the attackers were caught on a CCTV camera, but the police have not been able to find them (http://lifenews.ru/#!news/123028). This obvious hate crime did not attract much attention in the Russian media, despite their heavy focus on such crimes when the perpetrators are North Caucasians (http://lifenews.ru/#!news/123066). A week later, the attackers, who did not even conceal their faces, had still not been found.

Such cases have become common. On November 4, an Ingush woman was beaten on the Moscow metro and her attackers expressed indignation about the abundance of "blacks" (a derogatory term in Russia that often refers to ethnic groups originating from the North Caucasus) in Moscow. The Ingush woman was visiting Moscow, having come from Holland for an internship (http://v-strane-i-mire.livejournal.com/276548.html).

The police habitually refuse to launch criminal investigations into attacks against North Caucasians. One such case involves a Chechen, Andi Muslimov, who, on the evening of October 15, was on a bus returning home to Moscow from the village of Nemchinovka outside the Russian capital, where he had been celebrating the Muslim festival Kurban-bairam. At some point, one of the female passengers of the bus cursed and hurled racist obscenities at the bus driver, who was of Tajik origin. Muslimov defended the driver. But later, as Muslimov was speaking on his cell phone in Chechen, one of the other bus passengers slashed him in the neck with a knife, saying "Die, bitch!" Immediately after the assault, the attacker ordered the bus driver to stop, though his female accomplice screamed: "Look, this beast is still alive! Finish him off in the heart!" The knife-wielding attacker did not end up stabbing Muslimov in the heart, however (http://www.newsru.com/crime/23oct2013/cutchechtaxibusmsk.html). Although this was obviously a hate crime and there were numerous witnesses, the police launched an investigation on the grounds of hooliganism (http://lifenews.ru/#!news/121650). The situation changed only after Russian Investigative Committee ordered the local police to launch a criminal investigation in accordance with articles 30 and 105 of the Russian Criminal Code-attempted murder.

Earlier, in August 2013, two Chechens and a Dagestani were killed and dismembered in Moscow (http://kavkasia.net/Russia/2013/1377145375.php). The bodies of the three young people were found in an apartment on Avtozavodskaya Street in the Russian capital on August 9. The victims were identified as Ramzan Merzhoev and Khussein Germikhanov, both from the Chechen village of Katyr-Yurt, and Elkhan Abazov from Dagestan. According to investigators, the men had been renting the apartment. The prime suspects in the murders are the apartment's owner and his associate, who were arrested.

The most egregious aspect of this crime wave is that the police do not launch criminal investigations against those who attack the North Caucasians, while every infraction by a North Caucasian is immediately given the status of a criminal case. This selective justice pushes many young North Caucasians to negatively evaluate the nature of the Russian authorities. North Caucasians begin thinking that they are not considered full-fledged citizens of the country in which they were born and grew up. It is not surprising, therefore, that young people replenish the ranks of the armed opposition and make up the social base of the insurgency.

If the Kremlin's policies are not reversed, the North Caucasian community may boycott the Russian government entirely, something that will further aggravate the situation in the North Caucasus.

Copyright notice: © 2010 The Jamestown Foundation

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