16: At a recent gathering of veterans to celebrate the defeat
of Nazi Germany and remember Russians' terrible suffering in
World War II, a young man was busy handing out neo-Nazi
propaganda. Nobody objected.
With the nubby hair and bulky black boots of the Skinhead
Movement, the man agreed that the holiday marking the May 9,
1945, defeat of Nazi Germany was one of the most hallowed
dates in Russian history.
"That was the day our fathers and grandfathers saved our
country from foreign invaders," said the man, who would
identify himself only as Sergei. And yet he did not see any
contradiction in handing out fliers glorifying the Nazi ideas
that Russians fought against.
Few countries suffered more at the hands of Nazi Germany
than Russia, whose people were regarded as subhuman by Nazi
ideologues, suitable for nothing more than manual labour to
serve the Third Reich. Millions died during the Nazi invasion
in the second World War.
And yet, in the last few months, Moscow has been the scene
of anincreasing number of racist attacks by Skinheads, drawing
attention to a small but violent neo-fascist movement.
Although figures are inconclusive, both neo-fascists and
human rights groups estimate that Moscow has about 4,000
Skinheads, mostly young males. And they are becoming more
"There have been a substantial number of episodes that have
caused us some concern," said Foreign Ministry spokesman
Valery Nesterushkin, who has received complaints of racially
motivated attacks from the Kenyan, South African, Indian and
South Korean embassies, among others, in Moscow.
On Wednesday, a bomb exploded at an orthodox synagogue in
the capital, injuring two people and causing extensive damage.
Jewish leaders blamed fascist groups.
Earlier this month, a Black American marine was badly
beaten by four Skinheads at an outdoor market.
Sitting in his apartment decorated with a neo-Nazi flag and
a poster stating that "race mixers should be deported,"
Konstantin Kosimovsky expounds on the Skinheads'
violentphilosophy, which appeals to the disaffected young.
Often poorly educated and with little hope of finding work,
the Russian Skinheads blame racial and religious minorities
for what they see as Russia's decline as a great power. Bored
and prone to loitering on the streets, they revel in violence
Kosimovsky is the 23-year-old leader of a typical Skinhead
group, the Russian National Union. In his vision of the
future, there are no foreigners or Jews in Russia and
non-whites are the racial enemy.
Women are confined to the kitchens, bedrooms and churches,
and blond Slavic men plan their invasion of the United States,
"whose people are cockroaches," ripe for the conquering.
Kosimovsky says he understands -- and supports -- the
Skinheads who beat the US marine.
"For me, it's offensive to see a Black person walking with
a Russian girl in Moscow. And it raises in me the human desire
to express my protest," he says, either unaware of or
intentionally overlooking the fact that the marinewas with a
Black American woman at the time.
Some anti-fascists fear that the extremist views are
gaining favour among some low-level officials, including the
police, many of whom have nationalist or racist sympathies.
Non-Whites living in Russia complain of frequent police
Indeed, part of the attraction of being a neo-Nazi in
Moscow, Kosimovsky said, is the impunity they seem to have.
"They can go around and beat someone up and no one will touch
them," he said.
In explaining his ideology, Kosimovsky quotes Hitler,
although his is clearly a Russified version of Nazi
philosophy. Sergei, the young Skinhead at the veterans' rally,
was warmly embraced by neo-Stalinists and other extreme
Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay)