Six months after the clashes in Manezh Square, radical Russian nationalists groups are increasing their activity, supported by the increasing number of ethnic Russians who feel that they are second class citizens in their own country because the powers that be are giving more support to North Caucasians and Central Asian immigrants.
In an article in Friday’s “Nezavisimaya gazeta” entitled “Russians Feel a Sense of National Inequality in Their Own Country,” Maksim Glukharev provides a wealth of detail on the activities of radical Russian nationalist groups, pointing out that Moscow has banned only three of “about 30” and allowed the banned groups to operate under different names.
But the most intriguing portion of his article concerns the attitudes among ordinary Russians as opposed to members of elite groups that help explain why an increasing number of the former are supporting the nationalists and why few of the latter are willing to talk about this increasingly dangerous trend (www.ng.ru/politics/2011-06-03/1_nacionalizm.html).
Glukharev points out that “the activity of the [Russian nationalist radicals] frequently has mass support from the side of ordinary people who observe the complete escape from punishment of representatives of diaspora communities. People,” he says, “feel sharply the injustice of the existing situation.”
When leaders, including Vladimir Putin, deny the obvious, claiming that there is no ethnic dimension to this or that crime, Russians become even angrier because from their point of view it is obvious that there is just such a dimension. “This situation gives rise to that objective component of dissatisfaction which was displayed in the Manezh Square” last December.
That component can be described as the sense that many Russians have that they are being treated less well than members of other ethnic groups and that officialdom is protecting the minorities rather than the ethnic Russians. And not surprisingly, such feelings are being used by “various extremist organizations.”