Last Saturday, 11 December 2010, a riot broke out in Russia’s capital. More than 5 000 people gathered at central Moscow’s Manezh Square, not far from the Kremlin and nearby Okhotny Ryad metro station.
There were football fans and activists of nationalistic organizations who gathered to commemorate the death of Spartak (Moscow football club) football fan Egor Sviridov, who was killed a week ago. Sviridov died in the drunken brawl, crushed out on December, 6, between Spartak football fans and some men born in Russia’s North Caucasus. Later on, five detained Caucasians were released with recognizance not to leave. The fact gave rise to the mass riot in the city this weekend.
Another action was held in the second capital of Russia, St-Petersburg, on Saturday morning. Around 2 000 people, football fans and other youth pour out into the central streets in sympathy with football fans in Moscow. The action was unauthorized, however the police could hold back the crowd. The scenario in Moscow was different. Police seemed not to be ready for such clashes, though the actions in memory of killed Egor Sviridov were announced before by Spartak fans. In the morning several thousand of football fans came to the place where Sviridov was killed, then moved to Manezh Square. Soon the movement went out of control and came to clashes with OMON (Special Purpose Police Unit in Russia).
Some eyewitnesses blamed police to be rude and brutal while neutralizing the riot, from another point of view, one can clearly see in photo and video reports how OMON soldiers protected several Caucasians from infuriated crowd. After getting the reinforcements special units started attacking the crowd.
According to official statistic, 32 people were injured in the riots. Later several people of different nationalities (Russian, Caucasians, Central Asians) were injured and several killed in Moscow’s Underground. One more football fan, Sergey Kazakov, 19, was killed on December, 10, near Volzhskaya Underground station. Though, his death was overshadowed by the latest developments.
On Monday afternoon, December, 13 police closed Manezhnaya Square and a nearest shopping mall. The measures were prompted by reports received by police about new possible gathering of football fans and members of the North Caucasian diaspora, Interfax news agency reports. However, nothing abnormal happened in the center of Moscow that night.
Russia for Russians
Young people, faces covered with scarves, one hand is lifted to the sky (the famous Roman salute, a gesture in which the arm is held out forward straight, it was made compulsory within the Nazi party since 1926, and was also adopted by other fascist movements), shouting nationalistic slogans “Russia for Russians”.
Discussing the clashes in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, government authorities, football clubs’ leaders and different Caucasus diaspora representatives altogether named current events a provocation of ultra radical, nationalistic movements forces.
To say the truth, it is quite difficult to determine any exact political force in Russia, especially speaking about the political minorities. Whatever you call them, democrats, liberals, communists, radicals or other, the faces will be the same. It’s very easy in Russia. One can be with the majority, ruling party “Edinaya Rossia” (United Russia) or with the “rest”. More over, even those who attach themselves with majority can often be seen participating in the actions of the “rest”. As it probably happened this time (for example, LJ user palmoliveprotiv http://palmoliveprotiv.livejournal.com/130086.html noticed a known provocateur, attached with ruling powers, being arrested be police at Manezh Square).
Holding a speech at Ceremony formalizing promotion of officers to higher command positions, on December, 13, President Dmitry Medvedev commented on the recent events: “The recent riots and assaults in Moscow should be qualified as crimes, and the people who committed them must pay the penalty. I say this not just to the Interior Minister, but also to the Prosecutor General and Chairman of the Investigative Committee”.
“Acts that seek to incite hatred and enmity on ethnic or religious grounds are especially dangerous and threaten the country’s stability. The police can and must use all lawful and necessary means and powers at its disposal – and I stress this point – to counter such acts. We cannot allow anarchy on our streets and public places”, – President added.
As opposed to official statements and reports of Russian TV channels, which can only reflect the official views of Kremlin, the bloggers community looks like anthill of conflicting opinions. People ask whether what is going on is the sign of democracy? Whether for these Nazi slogans, advanced by youth at Manezh Square our grandfathers fought with fascists during the World War II? Whether the powers and police are able to protect the citizens? Whether justice and law procedures become pointless in the face of corruption?
The internet community is filled with calls for new riots, from both sides – Russian nationalists forces and the Caucasian diaspora.
“Salam, brothers and sisters. I want to appeal to all who consider themselves Caucasians, dzhigits, abreks, and so on, or has some kind of positive attitude towards our great nation. Perhaps it is not a secret to you that in Moscow there was a case of riot with our brother, a native of Kabardino-Balkaria – Aslan Cherkesov, namely a fight with the Russian on one of the stations in the city where a Russian boy Egor Sviridov was killed. Perhaps someone feels sorry, personally I feel sorry for this Russian guy. But as always, we are exposed in the wrong way. I personally, on the site of Aslan, may have done exactly the same. And what else to do when the jackals attack from the back, and you have a gun for self-defense – of course you will defend our honor and dignity and our lives and health. When you are being attacked by a group of drunken, frostbitten <…> fans, there is nothing left but to defend from them. <…..>
It is also not a secret for you that fans (nationalists and fascists) are gathering in huge crowds to have a large “peace” campaign in Moscow. Of course, we will be <…> the object of these action.
I call upon all our fraternal peoples of Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Ossetia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia to resist this actions <…> I call to you to arm yourselves AS POSSIBLE * … without collapsing and being afraid and sitting snug at home. I just want to say to our girls – our dear beauties, in the time interval from 10.12.2010 to 30.12.2010 please do not go out to the streets of Moscow without need, it is not difficult to understand the reason I think.
On this occasion, I suggest to gather on 15th (15/12/2010) near Mall “European” at 18:00. WE will decide on further actions at place <…>”.
This post was named as “one more provocation”, though, as we mentioned above, the police kept a closer watch over the center of Moscow.
The next post appeared a bit earlier in one of the nationalists (or pretending to be such) blogs.
“Ruling party today let the Caucasians go to the Manezh Square where they tried to dance a “lezghinka” while the funeral ceremony was holding by football fans in memory of E.Sviridov. FUNERAL. RF ruling authorities showed their attitude towards the problem….Its obvious that it’s a cheap provocation. Try to bring a pig’s head into the mosque – the reaction will be unequivocal <…> More over, ruling regime finally decided on priorities, took the side of Caucasian mobs. This is the official declare of war on Russian nation <….>”.
These two entries can only give the brief idea of the public mood here in Russia. There are more than 30, 000 posts of thousands of users. Every one has his own beliefs and his own truth.
That goes without saying, what happened at Manezh Square was not the single example of ethnic confrontation. The killing of a football fan was not at all the first killing. The major violence over Caucasians and Central Asians in Underground is just an echo of savage reprisal continued for many years.
An ethic conflict is one of the weakest points of the world’s largest country, which, by the way, won a rally for hosting the next FIFA World Cup just a week back. Seems like football is still the first to be in the news here in Russia. No matter, what colors the news, the blood, the petrodollars or both.
Photo reports here
http://novayagazeta.livejournal.com/282234.html#cutid1 Vadim Sidorov, “Novaya Gazeta”
http://www.facebook.com/novgaz#!/album.php?aid=30256&id=132740460101983 Vadim Sidorov, “Novaya Gazeta”
http://zyalt.livejournal.com/330396.html Ilya Varlamov (user zyalt)
http://yellow-reporter.livejournal.com/ Sergey Kazakov (user yellow_reporter)
http://aleshru.livejournal.com/ Mitya Aleshkovsky (user alershru)
http://taek.livejournal.com/16390.html#cutid1 (LJ user TaEk)
http://community.livejournal.com/live_report/795557.html#cutid1 (LJ user martin_sqare)