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November 10, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9635

Attack In Moscow Suburb Exposes Russia's Inter-Ethnic Tensions

November 10, 2021
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 9635

On November 4, 2021, when Russia celebrated National Unity Day, the unity and harmony within Russia's multi-national country were celebrated as precious and unique.[1] The situation is a bit more complicated, with relations between predominantly Christian Slavic Russians and the Muslim nationalities of Transcaucasia, who demographically outstrip the Russians. The younger Muslim population has increasingly supplied manpower for European Russia, and have relocated to their place of employment. Their numbers have been augmented by Muslim immigration from former Soviet Republics, now independent states in Transcaucasia, whose fluency in Russian equips them for the Russian labor market.

The tensions surfaced after the November 4, 2021, beating of a man in the Moscow suburb of Novoye Vatutinki in front of his four-year-old son by Russians of Transcaucasian ethnicity. The victim claimed that he stood up for his child, who was the first person to be attacked, The video of the incident caused an outcry in the press and social networks. The Head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin gave instruction to view the case under a more serious article of the criminal code "attempted murder."[2]

The extensive coverage of the incident and the fact that the media had identified the assailants as Caucasian touch off a social media spat between two regime stalwarts: the editor-in-chief of the RT (TV network) Margarita Simonyan and Chechnya's ruler, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Simonyan wrote in her Telegram channel: "All these 'newcomers' and 'persons of Caucasian nationality.' will facilitate an introduction of a strict regime in the country with residence registration, and with inspections of this registration at every subway station (I went through similar inspections, when I became a 'newcomer' to Moscow, leaving Krasnodar). And rightly so." Simonyan advised the newcomers to behave as guests, otherwise they would soon be taught "who's the boss". Simonyan claimed that she, as an Armenian could not be charged with prejudice against Caucasians, as she was one herself.[3]


Video footage from the attack (Source: Pravmir.ru)

In two blogposts that appeared in the Echo of Moscow site, Kadyrov attacked Simonyan personally and the media in general for weakening the country's unity – perhaps in collusion with foreign agents. Russian citizens of Caucasian ethnicity were not newcomers but people living in their own home. When Caucasians brought honor to the country, for example in athletic competitions, the press embraced them as Russians, when they were involved in criminal activities they were identified as Caucasians. On the other hand, when the perpetrators were Slavic Russian, the media refrained from identifying them as such. Simonyan replied that honesty about the issue was better than covering things up, and hinted that ignoring the issue was a reason behind the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Below are the posts by Kadyrov and Simonyan:

In a post titled "Stop Advertising Your Information Product via Caucasians!", Kadyrov charged the media of stoking ethnic tension to peddle its product. He wrote:[4]

"I, like every other Caucasian, am fed up with these eternal accusations about every incident, even small ones. Over a couple of days, the entire Internet became spammed with statements about the inappropriate behavior of all Caucasians without exception. Wherein, such statements were even heard from seemingly politically literate people, who call themselves patriots. When Caucasians are victorious on tatami, on the wrestling mat or at the ring, they're called 'Russians,' and the entire Internet takes pride in the success of Russian athletes. When they get into fights and speak broken Russian, they're called in media 'immigrants, who should have their registration checked.'

"I'm sick and tired of this kind of media and their overseas masters.

"Okay, let's say a Caucasian got into a fight. What prevents you [the authorities] from apprehending him silently at putting him behind with the full force of the law? Or law enforcement agencies are afraid to do it without additional media hype?

"For several days, the parties to the fight in Vatutinki were called natives of the republics of the North Caucasus Federal District. Not a single corrupt media outlet has apologized for spreading false information or inciting hatred.

"I state, we, the residents of the North Caucasus (Chechens, Ingush, Dagestanis, Kabardins, Balkars and others, all without exception!) are citizens of the Russian Federation, and not migrants. We live in our home country, whether you want it or not, it will always be so! This is our motherland, and by the way Caucasians have always served as a wall in defense of our motherland.

"And for those, who are not well versed in modern history, I want to remind you that more than 20 years ago, when the foreign security services, with the support of [Boris] Berezovsky and traitors like him, tried to sell out Russia and incite a war within the state, we, the residents of the Caucasus republics, who live on the southern border of Russia didn't allow this to happen and eradicated the international terrorist group. Otherwise, the consequences of these terrorist threats would have eventually caught up with anyone who shoots his mouth off at Caucasians today.

"After the complete failure of the plan to incite a war in the North Caucasus the Western intelligence services came up with other options for the collapse of Russia: the war in South Ossetia, Ukraine's eternal discontent with Russia, sanctions, restrictions. All these [tools] are another stage of a silent war against a large, strong and great country, that cannot be vanquished in direct confrontation.

"I am surprised at the incompetence and brainlessness of certain "political scientists" who, in any conflict situation, have nothing better to propose than "to fix responsibility for what happened on the heads of regions." Before making such statements public to the entire country, you should first find enough intelligence in yourself to understand the political structure. Otherwise, it turns out that the head of the constituent entity is responsible for the collection of electricity and gas bills, law enforcement and the terrorist threat.

"Despite the fact that all of the aforementioned is not the domain of the regions. No one takes into account that the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Security Service, the Prosecutor's Office, and the Investigative Committee are all federal bodies, not regional ones. Thus, I personally perceive such statements a direct provocation made in order to force us to pass decisions which will contradict the political system and, as a result, exacerbate the unfolding events.

"This is not problems solution, but a naive splattering of responsibility for it among regions and structures. The authors of such fantastic ideas should be found out and verified regarding their contacts with foreign agents. I think a lot of interesting things could be found.

"I would also like to remind a 'native of the Caucasus,' [Margarita] Simonyan that before making statements the editor-in-chief of a serious, authoritative media agency should first verify the information and only then draw conclusions and to advertise [your media] on the fresh topic

"For example, in Halimat Taramova's case, a 'native of the Caucasus,' Simonyan had a nice opportunity to talk to her and find out the details. We exchanged phone numbers and got to the bottom of the situation. So, what happened now? Why was Simonyan's practice of obtaining reliable information suddenly sidelined while the so-called "hype" came to the fore?

"Incidentally, when we ask the heads of a number of media agencies why they mention the North Caucasus or Caucasians in a negative context without cause, we have more than once heard the direct answer, "without such a mention, we do not get any hits."

"Stop advertising your information product via Caucasians! The ostensibly serious media are falling to the level of tabloid yellow press, taking advantage of a short-sighted audience. Such dirty tricks can lead to irreparable consequences. We have just celebrated National Unity Day. But the Russian media act as if there were only two categories of citizens: Caucasian and person without nationality. Why aren’t natives of other regions named as such? Thousands of other incidents, which didn't involve Caucasians, are swept under the rug, or the ethnic or regional affiliation [of perpetrators] isn't mentioned.

"School murders, major corruption schemes, state treason, and other high-profile crimes… let's name the nationality [of the perpetrators] in these cases too, or at least use such words as "person of Slavic nationality," "native of Moscow." Would you like it? It will be fair and just to all peoples.

"I repeat, such methods won't result in the unity of our state. An entire generation will grow up thinking that the Caucasus is a separate state. You're well aware what tragic consequences [it may bring]. Nothing will remain of the united identity of the citizens. Today, out of the thousands of crimes committed in various parts of the country by different people, the media deliberately chooses only those, in which natives of the North Caucasus republics can be mentioned in a negative light, and start to belabor the topic. Why don't the media write about the Caucasians, who protected a girl in the subway from drunken ruffians of Slavic appearance?

"I appeal to the Presidential Administration, the State Duma, human rights activists and everyone who gives a damn about the country’s future, this trend must be stopped, it shouldn't be allowed to offend the national and religious feelings of millions of Russians on the Internet.

"There are agents of foreign countries operating in the country, who use this topic to undermine under the guise of freedom of speech. It is high time for the intelligence services to get involved in this.

"The instigators and provocateurs are not difficult to find, but it must be done before the person, they insulted to the breaking point, finds them and commits a crime to protect his honor and dignity. But this will turn into a new round of inter-ethnic discord between citizens of the same country, and it will only get worse.[5]


Kadyrov vs. Simonyan (Gazeta.ru)

Simonyan replied"

"I would like to draw Kadyrov's attention to the fact that I always check information before 'making statements.' That is why my information turned out to be correct: all four detained for the attack in Vatutinki are indeed natives of the Caucasus. Every single one of them.

"For inexplicable reasons, many obviously do not understand that the Caucasus is not only the Chechen Republic, Dagestan, Ossetia, etc.

"I would like to remind you that the Caucasus is Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and then some.

"I myself, from a classical geographical perspective, am equally a 'Caucasian'.

"And that precisely is why I have every right to criticize the misconduct by some representatives of this collective term.

"Separately, I draw Kadyrov's attention that I never mentioned anywhere the NORTHERN Caucasus, mentioned in his post, precisely because I had no information that the child was beaten and cursed by NORTH Caucasus natives.

"But besides the North Caucasus, there is also the South Caucasus.

"As for the question, it is necessary or not to mention where the latest detainee is from.

"Once I myself thought that this should not be done. I, too, as a 'person of Caucasian nationality', was offended and outraged by such references.

"But with the years, it became obvious to me that by publicly suppressing those things that people are now talking about in WhatsApp chats, and earlier in kitchens, we are not solving the problem, but exacerbating it.

"Once we lost our country because of this.

"I really do not want to lose it again.

"Kadyrov has always been distinguished by the fact that he strictly suppressed the misdeeds of his fellow tribesmen, not hiding that they are his fellow tribesmen.

"It is all the more surprising that now my post aroused such a harsh reaction regarding a situation that has nothing to do with either the Chechens or the peoples of the North Caucasus in general.

"According to this logic, the Armenians should be indignant as well.

"They / we are also Caucasians.

"By the way, when I wrote this post, I knew that the attackers were natives of one of the Caucasian countries, but I did not know which one.

"They might as well, have been Armenians. That would not alter the essence of my post in any way.

"It is not the first time that I criticized my fellow tribesmen when, in my understanding, they behaved incorrectly.

"At the same time, I urge the State Duma, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Investigative Committee and other departments not to pay attention to the massive threats and insults addressed to me and my children.

"History will judge everyone."

 

[2] News.ru, November 6, 2021.

[3] Gazeta.ru, November 6, 2021.

[4] Echo.msk.ru, November 6, 2021.

[5] Echo.msk.ru, November 6, 2021.

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