IN THEIR OWN WORDS: EXTREMIST NATIONALISTS IN THE NEW DUMA1
Today, I don’t see it as likely that in the foreseeable future Russia will become a Nazi country. But I do see a danger that there may be movement in that direction. Leonid Radzikhovsky, Russian political commentator speaking shortly before the election.2
Virulent nationalists that characterize Homeland [Motherland] and LDPR are the people who are supposed to be disappearing from the scene, not getting stronger, if Russia is consolidating democracy and integrating with the West. Stanford University professor Michael McFaul3
The new Duma will consist mostly of bureaucrats and national-socialists. SPS leader Boris Nemtsov
The December 7, 2003 parliamentary elections in Russia seem to have set in stone two long-standing trends in the country’s politics—authoritarianism and extreme nationalism. While the Russian and the international media focused on the strengthening in President Putin’s increasing hard-line rule and its negative implications for the country’s fragile democracy, a largely overlooked factor was the extent to which extremist nationalism, as reflected in hate speech by candidates across the ideological spectrum, flourished. The scapegoating of Jews, Chechens, the West (especially the US) and migrants in general was a successful and widespread electoral strategy used by all three of the non-governmental parties that made it into the new Duma, representing both extremes of the ideological spectrum.
The two pro-Western liberal political parties represented in the previous Duma were supplanted by two extremist nationalist parties—Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), which doubled the number of its seats in the previous Duma with 11% of the vote, and the Motherland bloc, a brand new, purely Kremlin creation, which won 9%. To no one’s surprise, the pro-Kremlin United Russia party got the lion share—a whopping 37%. Both United Russia and their nationalist allies benefited from overwhelmingly positive coverage on government-controlled television, a term which can be used to describe all television networks with a national reach since the Kremlin takeover of NTV. The role of an actual opposition now falls exclusively to the newly-diminished Communists, who won only 13% of the vote.
Democracy, a word that had taken on increasingly negative connotations in Russia, appears to have taken a heavy, perhaps fatal, blow, as the voters overwhelmingly put their fates in the hands of the president and his extremist nationalist allies. Kremlin officials failed utterly to live up to their pledges that, in contrast to the 1999 elections, extremist parties and statements would not be permitted. Shortly after the 2003 elections, President Putin condemned nationalist politicians as “either indecent people, simply idiots, or provocateurs,” during a live TV and radio program on December 18. He went so far as to threaten to prosecute politicians using nationalist slogans. “Prosecutors must react to such things if they find the essence of a crime in certain actions. We have a corresponding article in the Criminal Code,” referring to Article 282, which prohibits public incitement of ethnic and religious hatred. At the same time, however, he claimed he had followed the election debates and did not notice any violations of the law. But, he warned, if such incidents of hate speech are confirmed, charges will be brought. (At the time of writing, no such prosecutions have been initiated).
The latest election results show that pro-tolerance and anti-racist government rhetoric, although helpful, has not had a major impact in reducing extremist nationalist sentiment among large chunks of the Russian electorate. Since all of the antisemitic and racist statements recounted below are part of the public record in Russia, it is a reasonable assumption that many voters either deliberately supported xenophobic platforms or, if they voted for other reasons, at least didn’t feel that the candidates’ antisemitism and racism in any way made them unfit for their support. This is a disturbing signal indeed for the future of inter-ethnic relations in Russia and for Russia’s relations with the West. The fact that three parties with explicitly antisemitic and racist platforms and candidates (33% voted for Motherland, the LDPR and the Communists) won roughly the same number of votes as United Russia, the main pro-Kremlin party (37%), proves that xenophobic demagoguery remains a highly effective electoral strategy in Russia.
Who are these extremist nationalist parliamentarians whose election seems to herald a new age in Russia? Below are brief portraits of some of the leading members of the new Duma, representing, with a couple of exceptions, all three of the putative opposition parties that made it past the 5% barrier necessary for party representation. In their own words, these political leaders have regularly expressed paranoid and hate-filled views of Jews, Muslims, Israel, and the West (especially the United States). Those who care about a more liberal, tolerant future for Russia need to take notice.
Favored by a combination of positive coverage on government-controlled television and the indisputable political talents of some of its leaders, the Motherland bloc’s success was the surprise of the electoral season. Put together earlier in 2003, Motherland unites a disparate group of hard-right to moderate nationalists with left-wing populists under the leadership of Dmitry Rogozin—chairman of the previous Duma’s International Affairs Committee and a close ally of the Kremlin—and Sergey Glaz’ev—an economist and previously a rising star within the Communist Party. The mainstream view in the Russian media is that Motherland was created by Kremlin PR specialists in order to siphon off votes from the Communist Party.
The party’s 57 page platform mixes populist economic prescriptions (reducing unemployment to 1%, jailing the oligarchs, etc.) with a paranoid world view and anti-migrant rhetoric. It begins with the alarming warning that:
Today all right-thinking citizens of Russia realize the threats posed by the dying out of the nation, its spiritual and material impoverishment, the degradation of the economy, the weakening of its defense capability, and the loss of the sovereignty, wholeness and independence of our Motherland, which has turned into “the world’s backyard…” Real power in Russia has been usurped by a gang of greedy adventurers who call themselves oligarchs, and their corrupt facilitators. They exchange the sovereignty of the country for the condescending view of their foreign protectors towards the looting, corruption and extortion of the Russian “elite.”
Russia, the party platform claims, is suffering from “the encroachment on our national sovereignty by open and hidden enemies of the Fatherland.” Russia has two choices—either “ceaseless modernization” (a phrase that echoes the urgent rhetoric of Stalin’s Five Year Plans), or “the continued political and economic colonization of the country... the breaking up of Russia into the ‘spheres of influence’ of various states and the populating of it with foreign migrants.”
It is to this later threat that Motherland devotes an entire subsection of its party platform. Here, Motherland argues for the right to ethno-cultural purity in a frank declaration akin to the neo-Nazi slogan “Russia for Russians!”: “We need to address the problem of migration not only from the position of the right of citizens to freely choose where to live, but also from the position of the right of citizens to the preservation of a linguistic and cultural environment.”
The use of a phrase like “genetic potential” later in this section of the platform only reinforces the impression of a party obsessively focused on an exclusionary ethnic (russky) rather than a civic (rossiysky) definition of Russianess. The platform further proposes that any non-Russian migrant should be required to fluently speak Russian, quotas on the number of migrants to a particular town or city should be implemented, and anybody found to have facilitated the importation of illegal migrants should pay the costs of their deportation.4
A fellow traveler in neo-Nazi circles and a former State Duma deputy who lost his seat in the 1999 election. He headed the openly antisemitic “People’s Will” party, which was registered by the Ministry of Justice in early 2003; it later merged with Motherland. “People’s Will” counts among its leading members Yuri Vasin—formerly a top leader in the violent neo-Nazi movement Russian National Unity (RNU)—and Vladimir Davidenko—head of the “Spas” party, which joined with the RNU in order to lend it its registration so that the RNU could participate in the 1999 elections (eventually, “Spas” was stripped of its registration). All three men joined Motherland together.
A few months before the election, some more moderate members of Motherland started getting nervous about having actual neo-Nazis on their party list, fearing that the entire party would be labeled fascist. Both Mr. Vasin and Mr. Davidenko were as a result purged from the party. Mr. Baburin remained, and was given a prominent place on Motherland’s list.
Before the creation of “People’s Will” Mr. Baburin headed the Russian All-National People’s Union (RONS), which published the newspaper Vremya in his native Omsk Oblast. The paper regularly printed antisemitic articles. For example, in a March 2000 issue, Vremya carried an article accusing “World Zionism” of using the media to “zombify” people, and railed against “NATO-fascists, Zionist and CIA agents.”5
A long time associate of Motherland co-chair Dmitry Rogozin, Andrey Savelev served as the party ideologist of the Congress of Russian Communities—a now largely defunct party once headed by Mr. Rogozin. During the 1999 Duma election campaign, on November 19, 1999, he debated Gasan Mirzoev of the liberal party the Union of Right Forces on ORT television. In thinly veiled antisemitic language, Mr. Savelev blamed Russia’s problems on people in the government who, “speak Russian but don’t think Russian and don’t act Russian.” He went on to say: “We believe that our opponents are fully responsible for the current breakdown, for the economic crisis, for diminishing human dignity. They do not know Russian history, their mentality is not Russian, they are not of Russian blood, they are alien to us, they are alien to the country.”
In the 2003 election cycle, Mr. Savelev became even more explicitly antisemitic. During an election debate with LDPR head Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Mr. Savelev accused Mr. Zhirinovsky of being a Jewish activist during perestroika and asked him if he thought Russia or Israel was his true homeland. This charge of being a secret Jew led to a fistfight, one of the lowest points of the campaign.
Mr. Savelev has written extensively for the radical Orthodox magazine Russky Dom (“Russian House”). Many of his articles focus on the “threat” that Islam poses to Russia. For example, in a July 15, 2003 Russky Dom article, Mr. Savelev wrote that the rebirth of Islam among Muslim minorities in Russia is part of a conspiracy against ethnic Russians: “The myth of an Islamic renaissance is needed by the Islamists in order to weaken Russian ethnic self-consciousness.”
Muslims are “actively pushing out Russians from the Caucasus and the Volga region,” Mr. Savelev argues, and thanks to Muslim migrants: “Moscow over the past decade has turned into a new Babylon, where a horrifying mix of styles, faiths and traditions is taking place against the background of the lowering of the general level of spiritual culture of the population. In Moscow, we [the ethnic Russians] clash not with the spiritual traditions of Islam, but with politicized Islamism, which not only is gaining a privileged position within government agencies (that task has already been completed), but is also getting financial support, seizing whole sectors of the economy that are controlled by ethnic gangs.” Muslims are merely a tool of an anti-Russia conspiracy, which Mr. Savelev chooses not to define very clearly: “An International of ethnic minorities is a long-held dream of those for whom a Russian Russia seems like an annoying anachronism... Now the web of neo-Islamism is falling on Russia in order to serve the interests of anti-Russian forces.”6
In an earlier article, Mr. Savelev put these ideas about Muslims into the framework of a traditional Jewish conspiracy theory, arguing that “certain forces” have always “tried to knock our country off the path of Russian civilization” by imposing Communism and later, in the 1990s, liberal reforms on the country. These forces then tried to “reprogram” the minds of ethnic Russians through the expansion of Protestant “sects” and Catholicism, but those efforts have failed. Now there is “a different dream of ‘the reformers’ of Russian civilization—turning Russia from a successor of [Orthodox Christian] Byzantium into a successor of Islam.”
Sergey Kirienko—an ethnically half-Jewish official who serves as the presidential plenipotentiary for the Volga Federal District—is one agent in this supposed conspiracy. Mr. Savelev charges him with trying to build “a new Khazaria” in the Volga region. The Khazars, an ancient steppe people who once ruled parts of what is now Russia, converted to Judaism and are thus a favorite bogeyman for historically minded Russian antisemites.
Mr. Savelev becomes even more explicitly antisemitic further into the article, when he writes under the subtitle “Direct Expansion” that: “A mosque and a synagogue have appeared on Poklonnaya Gora [a WW II memorial complex in Moscow], which is a real insult for a Russian Orthodox person.” He then compares members of this supposed Muslim conspiracy against Russia to Jews: “The Islamist forces in Russia have fully adopted the ‘democratic’ methods of the Jewish diaspora. Most of all, they have set the goal of continuing the debunking of all that is Russian and try to soil every page of the history of the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church. Like the Jews, our politicized Muslims have begun to constantly complain about something: They are being persecuted everywhere.” Further into the article, he abandons his distinction between traditional, “good Muslims” and “Islamists” by arguing that in Russia, even “official Islam” is subversive, because it is linked to separatism. His final sentence pretty much says it all: “We will not give up Russia to the Muslims for anything.”7
Aleksandr Krutov and General Nikolai Leonov:
Andrey Savelev is not the only candidate affiliated with the extremist Orthodox magazine Russky Dom to have been elected on the Motherland ticket. Both Mr. Krutov and [KGB] General Leonov sit on the magazine’s editorial board, and Mr. Krutov hosts a television show of the same name. A typical example of the kind of material broadcast on Russky Dom came in June 1999, when the show hosted an “expert” who claimed that the Holocaust never took place. In shows broadcast earlier that year, Jews were accused of being part of a conspiracy to take over the world and there was a call for Kosher food to be sold at separate stores. According to a July 23, 1999 Moskovsky Komsomolets article, in a show broadcast over the summer of 1999, Russky Dom focused on what Mr. Krutov called the “ancient cabbalistic” murder of Tsar Nicholas II. Mr. Krutov reportedly posed the following question: “In the murder of Nicholas II, did the two thousand year old struggle that has been conducted against Christianity since the crucifixion of Christ find its logical culmination?” Representatives of the neo-Nazi RNU and the Black Hundreds have been guests on the show. Sadly, in October 2002 Patriarch Alexi II sent a congratulatory letter to the producers of the television show in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of its founding.
General Igor Rodionov:
A former Defense Minister under Yeltsin, General Rodionov has spent much of his post-government career publicly warning about the “threat” to Russia posed by “Zionists.” In July 2003, General Rodionov was described by the newspaper Gazeta as a person “who considers it his life’s work to unmask domestic- and foreign-based Zionism” which he claims is waging a “dirty and highly profitable war” against Russia. He is quoted as having said: “The main destructive force in Russia was and still is liberalism. And the ‘democrat-fascists’ who are in actual fact Masons and Zionists are to blame for the wave of liberalism.” In his view, persons of Jewish extraction hold the key posts in the Russian government and control 70% of industry and the majority of the news media. General Rodionov reportedly intends to “demand that the Jewish people condemn Zionism and return what they have stolen from Russia,” and, most importantly, “repent before the Russian people the crimes committed by terrorists and extremists of Jewish extraction.”8
In the August 2003 issue of the monthly newspaper Patriot Mari-el, General Rodionov wrote that in order to save Russia, there had to be a struggle against “international Zionism as an intelligence gathering system acting on the basis of the postulates of Judaism.” He also called on Russians to “throw off the occupation of the Zionist regime” to stop Russians from becoming stateless people subjected to repression such as “the Kurds and the American Indians.”
Mr. Mashchenko was first elected in a single mandate district in Krasnodar Kray; this time around he got into the Duma on Motherland’s party list. He has a consistent record of antisemitic speech. For example, in a February 8, 2003 interview published by the Krasnodar Kray newspaper Kuban Segodnya, Mr. Mashchenko called Zionism “the main enemy of the peoples of Russia.” Mr. Mashchenko’s antisemitic statements came at the very end of a wide ranging interview, when the author of the article asked the following, highly provocative questions—“Could you name the name of our enemy? Is it the countries of the West?”
Mr. Mashchenko’s reply is translated in full below:
To the West, the need for the destruction of Russia corresponds to how much they fear it. After all, we are a nuclear power. The West itself is a prisoner of these terrible forces. The USA is declaring a war that could turn into a Third World War and it doesn’t understand that it is acting according to an alien, unseen order. The main enemy of the peoples of Russia and of other states is Zionism.
Due to the efforts of the media, this theme has become somehow indecent and forbidden. People don’t know what Zionists are and confuse them with Jews. In the end, the Jews are just as much hostages to Zionism as the Germans are to fascism. After all, you can’t say that all residents of Germany are fascists! However, Zionism is a dozen, a hundred, a thousand times worse than fascism. Fascism [Nazi Germany] was visible: Here comes the enemy, he is holding an automatic rifle, there is his tank, his airplane... [ellipsis in the original] And we perceived the target which we could repel. In addition, fascist ideas were preached by a limited number of countries at a defined moment in history.
But Zionism as such we do not see. It isn’t a party from one, defined country, it isn’t a movement, but a way of thought, a many-centuries long trend which unites a large group of people all over the world. And this group aspires to world domination, without hiding, it is founding a world government.9
Later in 2003, he gave a similar statement to the same newspaper:
Do you think that the country is ruled by the president? No way. The president is only a puppet in the hands of the oligarchs who are trying to make him the same kind of nominal figure in politics as the English queen. And the oligarchs, in turn, are controlled by the countries of the West and the international Zionist center, which are interested in the destruction of Russia.10
A historian and researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Narochnitskaya was identified by the weekly Ezhenedelny Zhurnal as “the real ideologist” within Motherland, and in fact, Motherland’s web site has several of her articles on Israel, the war on terrorism, and other international security issues. In a 2003 book entitled “Russia and the Russians in World History,” Dr. Narochnitskaya reportedly argues that a Westernized elite inside Russia has surrendered the country’s geopolitical position to the West: “This elite considers it ‘uncivilized’ to raise even a feeble objection to the West’s unconcealed aim of destroying Russia as a great power and Russia’s historical personality in all its geopolitical and spiritual forms.”11
Dr. Narochnitskaya’s writings are frequently colored by conspiracy theories. In an article posted on Motherland’s web site entitled “The Axis of Washington-Tel Aviv-Istanbul and Others,” she makes the incredible argument that the Mossad and the CIA are behind Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel:
The logic of “cui bone” (to whose benefit) gives rise to a skeptical view of the widespread cliché that Yasir Arafat supposedly stands behind the Palestinian suicide bombers. Just as the mojahedin and the Taliban had a very un-Islamic handler who was able to direct their angry potential along the necessary geo-political arc, the inter-relations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs are a feature of an analytical cultivation and the influence of special services—today the CIA and the Mossad—in the recent past, Soviet intelligence... The goal behind Ariel Sharon’s actions is to intertwine the struggle of the Palestinians for the end of the Israeli occupation with international terrorism and eliminate from the political scene Yasir Arafat as the uncontested historical leader of the movement for a Palestinian state, while at the same time putting off as long as possible the return to the Palestinians of their legal territory.
While she makes no effort to condemn Palestinian terrorism, Dr. Narochnitskaya describes Prime Minister Sharon as “steeped in blood.” Israel, according to Dr. Narochnitskaya, is little more than a tool of Western Imperialism in the Middle East whose “function n world history” is to play the role of “the champion of Anglo-American interests in the region.” The destructive consequences stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are “not because of the actions of Hamas, but instead are in full compliance with the new Anglo-American geo-strategy which demands a new situation in the Near East and in which there is no room for Arab-Muslim ‘centers of strength’—Iraq, Syria and Iran.” In a deeply hypocritical statement, given how many lives were lost as a result of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Dr. Narochnitskaya describes the 2001 US-led war against the Taliban as having resulted in the “total destruction of Afghanistan” and charges that it had nothing to do with hunting down Al Qaeda, but was instead motivated by the US government’s desire to control the Afghan opium crop.12
In another article posted on Motherland’s web site, Dr. Narochnitskaya cites the American conspiracy theorist Lyndon Larouche’s claim that the US government was behind the September 11 terrorist attacks. Either out of profound ignorance of the American political scene or in an attempt to bamboozle her Russian readers, she goes so far as to call the politically obscure Mr. Larouche “a well known critic of the American administration.” She cites his theory that (unnamed, for some reason) “influential forces” in the world want to see a clash between America and the Arab world, and goes on to compare the supposedly self-inflicted attacks to Pearl Harbor (citing the conspiracy theory that Roosevelt knew about it ahead of time) and the Nazis setting the Reichstag on fire.13
A long-time de facto ally of the Kremlin, the extremist nationalist LDPR received favorable coverage on government-controlled national television in what many experts believe was an effort to steal nationalist voters away from the Communists. The LDPR remains a one-man show, dominated by the flamboyant extremist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a Vice Speaker of the State Duma. His antisemitic and racist comments over the years are far too frequent to catalog here; below are just some recent, and typical, examples.
In late October 2003, Mr. Zhirinovsky became the only major league Russian politician to issue a statement in support of then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, who earlier that month garnered international condemnation by claiming that: “Jews rule the world and recruit others to fight and die for them” and that “The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy.”
Speaking to a press conference in Yekaterinburg, Mr. Zhirinovsky raved: “He told the truth! There are over a billion Muslims on the earth, they see that a fourth world war is being waged against them. They see Israel as their main grave digger, and they should. Newspapers that write bad things about Islam, they are headed by people of Semitic nationality. The biggest banks and world corporations are also ruled by Jews... A people of 16 million have seized power over the world. All banks, companies and critical points have been seized by them, here in our country too.”14
In the wake of a terrorist bombing on a suburban train in southern Russia shortly before the election, Mr. Zhirinovsky was quoted as saying that the Chechens were obviously guilty of the atrocity, and once their identities are established, their families should be murdered:
A suicide bomber has already condemned himself to death. The criminal code for him is useless. He can only be stopped by killing his family—his father, mother, brothers and sisters. Then he will stop.15
Earlier in 2003, Mr. Zhirinovsky called for migrants to leave Russia. “We must not keep uninvited guests. The Russian people has a right to be the master of their own country,” he told a rally in Moscow. “If you Asians and Africans are dying of hunger, Russia will take you in but we have a right to ask you to behave properly in the city of Moscow. You have seen how people live in a civilized country. Now go home, build there schools and hospitals and have one or two children, but no more.”16
On August 21, 2001, on his way to Belarus to support the election campaign of President Aleksandr Lukashenko, Mr. Zhirinovsky addressed around 200 enthusiastic supporters in the Russian city of Smolensk. He devoted almost an hour to talking about the Jews, saying at one point: “Communists, Jews and homosexuals have seized power all over the world.” When one spectator asked him, “Who has done so in Russia?” Mr. Zhirinovsky answered, “The same people.” He then gave Jews some back-handed compliments for their “healthy brazenness” and “talent.”17
With the nomination of Senator Kondratenko to the #2 slot on the KPRF’s party list, the Communists signaled their intention to exploit to the hilt the antisemitic sentiment of many of their voters. Senator Kondratenko, who was at one time the governor of Krasnodar Kray, is well know in Russia for being a pathological antisemite who has in the past blamed “Zionists” for destroying the USSR, somehow “inventing” homosexuality, and plotting to import nuclear waste into Russia. His performance in the run up to the 2003 elections more than justified his reputation as the country’s best known Jew-hater.
In late October 2003, during a visit to Orenburg, Senator Kondratenko tried to draw a distinction, in the worst traditions of Soviet era antisemitism, between “good” Jews and “bad” Zionists, explicitly linking Zionism to Nazism: “It needs to be understood, that a Jew is a nation [sic], but Zionism is a policy. In their day, our fathers and grandfathers understood well what are Germans and what are fascists.”
He then attempted to throw off accusations of antisemitism by telling the story of how, when he was governor of Krasnodar Kray, he once supposedly authorized the payment of a million ruble ransom for a Jew kidnapped by Chechens, but he then immediately launched into a typical Jewish conspiracy theory:
I don’t think I need to give any other examples to prove that I am not an antisemite. At the same time, I could not help but see how in the Yeltsin government, there was not one Russian, nor was there one Russian in the financial structures, and there was not one Russian among those who seized industries. On television you don’t see any Russian faces... Everything in Russia will burn, explode, slide downhill, and drown while within all the leading structures, a decent position for Russians isn’t restored.18
In early November, Senator Kondratenko traveled to Volgograd, where he held a series of meetings with top Communist Party activists, regional officials, media, and students of the Volgograd Agricultural Academy, during which he blamed “Zionism” and Jews in general for many of Russia’s problems. A local newspaper covering the event, which on the same day printed an article blaming Soviet Jews for helping to destroy the USSR as part of a Western conspiracy, was filled with praise for Senator Kondratenko, who it claimed was often “interrupted by wild applause” during his speech at the Academy.
Senator Kondratenko began his speech by posing as a brave “truth teller” in contrast to journalists, whom he accused of “closing their eyes” to the country’s problems. He also had harsh words for the government: “I cannot agree with the policies that are being implemented today. Policies of open genocide, policies that are destroying my people, my nation, our state.” He then laid the blame for these policies squarely on the Jews, accusing them of being behind some of the worst Communist and post-Soviet atrocities, somehow without actually blaming the Soviet regime or his own Communist ideology as a whole:
They accuse me of not liking Jews. Yes, I name the names of the Jews who figure on the darkest pages of the history of my Motherland: The order to de-kulakize the peasantry, the order to kill the Tsar’s family, the order to destroy the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. But what does this have to do with the nation as a whole? Zionism is a policy. The UN back in 1975 recognized Zionism as a form of fascism, a form of nationalism. There was not one Russian in the Yeltsin government, nor are there any today, not in financial structures, nor in industry. But we, the Russians, make up 85% of the population. How can we not be ashamed for Russia? It has our name on it, the name of the Russians. Maybe it’s already time to change it?
Senator Kondratenko’s colleague on the Federation Council representing Volgograd—A. B. Golovanchikov—added a truly surreal touch to the evening by reading a poem dedicated to the guest speaker. The poem consisted of the following lines: “We won’t be broken, we won’t be driven to our knees, while we have such strongmen (vozhdy). We welcome Kondratenko, for his mind, his conscience and his honor!”19
On November 12 and 13, 2003 Senator Kondratenko visited Astrakhan, where he blasted Jews once again, according to a KPRF political ad published in the November 19, 2003 edition of the local newspaper Astrakhanskaya Pravda. Senator Kondratenko accused Jews of planning the mass murder of Russians and compared them to bloodsuckers. Below are some excerpts from his presentation, during which he openly challenged Russian law enforcement agencies to apply the law against his clearly illegal hate speech:
Mortality rates are 2.5 times higher than the birth rate, during 12 years of “democracy,” 15 million people have died (that is how much the population of Russia has shrunk).
But this isn’t enough for Zionist capital. From the television screens they constantly say that in the coming decades, there will be 70 million, or maybe 50 million of us. These gentlemen have already planned to kill through hunger (what sort of food does an unemployed person have?), cold, and moral torture, when at every step they remind you that Russians are nothing more than lazybones and drunks, no less than 70 million more people...
They try to ascribe to me nationalism, chauvinism, even Russian fascism. They even say that the Astrakhan FSB got interested in the fact that I was going to speak here. Probably, somebody from the FSB is present here. So write down, little brother, that I am against Zionism and against the Zionists who have seized all the natural riches of Russia, who have seized power in Russia (try and find within the governments of presidents Yeltsin and Putin representatives of the native peoples of Russia), and who have seized the media.
This un-satiated Zionist capital (American capital is also Zionist capital) is sucking all the living juice out of Russia and Russians. Not I, but the UN has defined Zionism as racism... Our task is to return our country, Russia, to us.
The text of the ad concluded by claiming that the audience “received his speech with great attention and approval, several times interrupting it with applause.”20
General Albert Makashov:
Best known for his October 1998 public call to murder Jews (the general promised to “send to the next world at least ten kikes” and also yelled out “To the grave with all the kikes!” during a Communist Party rally21), General Makashov was widely expected to win re-election in 1999, but he was taken off the ballot at the last minute by an election commission decision of dubious legal validity.
On February 22, 1999 while addressing a meeting of Cossacks in Novocherkassk, General Makashov declared that his Movement to Support the Army should be renamed “The Movement Against Kikes.” He also declared that Jews: “Are bold and so impudent because we are asleep. The women present will forgive me, but allow me to put it in my own way, like a soldier: It’s because none of us have knocked at their doors and pissed through their windows so far. That’s why those creeps are so bold.” General Makashov then yelled, reportedly to applause and cheers from the audience: “We will be antisemites and must be victorious!”22
In an October 28, 1998 article in the radical newspaper Zavtra entitled “Usurers of Russia,” General Makashov compared Jews to bloodsuckers and blamed them for nearly all of Russia’s problems:
Life in our country is getting worse and worse. Never before has it been this bad in Russia. Even under the Mongol yoke.
Who is to blame?
The executive branch, the bankers, and the mass media are to blame. Usury, deceit, corruption, and thievery are flourishing in the country. That is why I call the reformers Yids.
Who are these Jews?
In English they are called Jews, in French--Juif, and in Yiddish--Yid.
Yid is not a nationality, Yid is a profession. Balzac's Gobsek is a Juif, the Gogolian skinflint Plyuskhin is a Yid. These images have become a permanent part of world literature. Whoever reads Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, or Shevchenko knows no other word to designate the ravager, the bloodsucker feeding on the misfortunes of other people. They drink the blood of the indigenous peoples of the state; they are destroying industry and agriculture.
They are destroying the Russian army and navy and its strategic nuclear forces. They accept the population's money to be kept in the banks and then give it away, leaving nothing for funerals, for rent, or for old age. Having taken over television, radio, and the press, they do not give a damn about the history and culture of the country that nurtured them, saved them from the furnaces and gas chambers of fascism, and took responsibility for educating them...
In all the synagogues, the heders and yeshivas, the Center for the Study of Judaism, the Jewish Maymonides University, in the teachings of the rabbis and the Jewish teachings they read the Torah and the Talmud and speak about the superiority of “God’s chosen” Jewish people over all the others, including the Russians. And nobody from the Ministry of Justice threatens them...
In the future or, better, now, we should establish proportional representation of each ethnicity in all branches of power.
Usurers have never been liked in any place or at any time. Especially today, when the Russian people are waking up.23
Despite these clearly illegal statements, the Russian government consistently refused to bring charges of inciting ethnic hatred against General Makashov.
Mr. Ilyukhin lost his bid for re-election in his native Penza, but his position on the KPRF’s party list brought him back to the State Duma. A former prosecutor, Mr. Ilyukhin played a major role in efforts to impeach President Boris Yeltsin. On December 15, 1998, during a meeting to discuss impeachment proceedings, Mr. Ilyukhin, who was then head of the Duma’s Security Committee, claimed that Jews were responsible for what he called the “genocide” of the Russian people. He charged that most of Yeltsin’s cabinet was of Jewish background and that because of this, the government had run the country into the ground, killing millions of people who died of bad health care and other consequences of Russia’s economic crisis.24 Since that time, Mr. Ilyukhin has joined with General Makashov to head the Movement to Support the Army, a Communist-aligned group.
The leader of the KPRF, Mr. Zyuganov has consistently engaged in antisemitic statements, usually via the use of somewhat subtle code phrases aimed at portraying himself as a champion of ethnic Russian rights.
A typical example is his February 2003 statement that “there has been a glaring ethnic bias in the makeup” of governing bodies. “Earlier, people were not interested in the so-called Jewish issue, nowadays, at meetings, even in remote villages scores of comments on this problem come in,” Zyuganov claimed.25 Three years before, Zyuganov said Russia has not had a government to date in which “the Russian spirit and the Russian mood” reigned.26
In the late 1990s, before the Putin era, the Communist leader was more open in his opinions about Jews. For example, on December 23, 1998 an official KPRF statement signed by Mr. Zyuganov read, in part:
Our people are not blind. They cannot fail to see that the spread of Zionism in the state government in Russia is one of the reasons for the current catastrophic condition of the country, the mass impoverishment and the process of extinction.27
Head of the Yekaterinburg organization “City Without Drugs,” Mr. Royzman is a controversial local figure, having pioneered extreme, allegedly violent, methods against drug dealers and addicts. He has also made frequent racist statements, blaming the drug trade on ethnic minorities. A Canadian newspaper reported shortly before the election that:
On television, he [Mr. Royzman] has threatened his city’s more than 100,000-strong ethnic minorities with a pogrom if they do not leave voluntarily. At a drug rehabilitation centre he runs in Yekaterinburg—part of his effort to forge an image as a Good Samaritan—patients claim they are handcuffed to iron beds and beaten by staff. According to officials at the mayor’s office, at least one woman has been raped.
Despite this, he was allowed to run under the aegis of the main “party of power.” A local United Russia official told the Canadian paper: “Of course we would welcome Mr. Royzman into the party. All the allegations about him are just myths and wild stories.”28
On September 12, 2002 the Ural Inter-Regional Territorial Administration of the Ministry of the Press sent a recording of an August 26 interview on local television to the Sverdlovsk Oblast branch of the Congress of National Associations for an expert evaluation of its contents. The subject of the interview was Evgeny Royzman. According to the transcript, provided to UCSJ by Mikhail Oshtrakh—head of the Jewish National Cultural Autonomy of Sverdlovsk Oblast—Mr. Royzman blamed various ethnic minority groups for the drug trade in Yekaterinburg. While admitting that some Russians are drug dealers, Mr. Royzam asserted that “the main drug dealers are Gypsies and Tajiks” and added that: “Once again I want to emphasize that Gypsies, Tajiks, Azerbaijanis and other representatives of ethnic minorities on our land are occupiers.” He characterized his organization as being made up of “guys from the street who decided to fight back” against drugs.
Writing back to the Ministry, the Sverdlovsk Oblast branch of the Congress of National Associations, which is made up of local leaders from the Jewish, Tajik, Roma, Tatar and other minority communities, termed Mr. Royzman’s statements “blatant incitement of ethnic hatred” which “violate the rights of ethnic minorities, and further the incitement of ethnic hatred and national-extremism in society. The fight against one type of crime [drugs] should not be accompanied by the committing of other illegal acts.”29 Despite this evidence of illegal hate speech, no charges were ever successfully brought against Mr. Royzman.
The former mayor of Vladivostok. On October 24, 2001 he held a press conference with two other Duma deputies to describe their trip to the Palestinian Autonomy, where they met with Yasir Arafat. Mr. Cherepkov reportedly used the press conference to publicly blame a “Jewish-Masonic conspiracy” for the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. He reportedly accused Israel of using “the world system of Masonry” to organize the September 11 attacks in order to grant “at the sunset of the career of Ariel Sharon his old dream—Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates.” Even the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi by Palestinian terrorists earlier that year was blamed on this supposed Jewish conspiracy, since in Mr. Cherepkov’s opinion, only the Israeli special services could have penetrated such a well guarded hotel. As for Mr. Arafat, Mr. Cherepkov revealed that after meeting him, he prayed to God that Mr. Arafat would live a long life.30
Since the elections, a number of ostensibly independent deputies have joined the United Russia faction in the Duma, giving the Kremlin for the first time a super-majority of 300 seats. It is therefore likely that Motherland, the LDPR and the Communists will not have much of a direct influence on most of the Duma’s decision-making. Instead, their influence will be more indirect—using the Duma as a bully pulpit from which to spout their newly legitimized hate speech (Duma deputies are immune from criminal prosecution) and occasionally serving as a vehicle for trial balloons that the Kremlin doesn’t want to be directly associated with.
The importance of the Duma election, therefore, lies less in its impact on policy, and more on how it reflects public sentiment. It bears repeating that last month, three parties with explicitly antisemitic and racist platforms and candidates won roughly the same number of votes as United Russia. Intolerance is clearly on the rise in Russia, threatening to aggravate already inflamed inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions, and casting into some doubt the ability of President Putin to continue on a generally pro-Western course in the foreign policy arena. We in the West should not ignore these alarming developments.
1 This report was written by UCSJ’s Research and Advocacy Director Nickolai Butkevich. More on Russia
2 Stenogrammy press-konferentsii radio “Ekho Moskvy,” December 3, 2003.
3 “United Russia Grabs a Gigantic Lead,” Moscow Times, December 8, 2003.
4 “Programma deystviy izbiratel’nogo bloka ‘Rodina’ (narodno-patriotichesky soyuz). “Sotsial’naya spravedlivost’ i ekonomichesky rost.” http://www.rodina-nps.ru/programma/show/?id=3.
5 Vremya, #11, March 2000.
6 “Islamizatory,” Russky Dom, July 15, 2003.
7 “Islamizatsiya Rossii—polumesyatsem po krestu,” Russky Dom, November 15, 2002. 8 Gazeta, July 13, 2003.
9 Kuban Segodnya, February 8, 2003. 10 Kuban Segodnya, June 21, 2003. 11 “Rodina’s Roots,” Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, posted on www.tol.cz, December 19, 2003.
12 “Os’ Vashington-Tel-Aviv-Stambul i dal’she,” www.rodina-nps.ru/article/show/?id=15
13 “Voyna s terrorizmom ili vyzov miru?” www.rodina-nps.ru/article/show/?id=32
14 Regions.ru, October 29, 2003.
15 “Moscow: Russia Buries Its Head in the Past,” Chicago Tribune, January 11, 2004.
16 Interfax, June 12 ,2003.
17 Rabochy Put’, August 23, 2001.
18 Vecherny Orenburg, October 30, 2003.
19 Volgogradskaya Tribuna, November 14, 2003.
20 Astrakhanskaya Pravda, November 19, 2003.
21 “Communist Party Cleared Over Antisemitic Remarks,” Agence France Presse, April 16, 1999; “Russian Left Descends into Dark Well of Anti-Semitism,” Guardian, November 5, 1998.
22 NTV, February 22, 1999.
23 “Rostovshchiki Rossii,” Zavtra, October 28, 1998.
24 Reuters, December 15, 1998.
25 Interfax, February 5, 2003.
26 Interfax, May 17, 2000.
27 Agence France Presse, December 23, 1998.
28 “Racists, Killers and Criminals Run for Duma,” National Post, December 6, 2003.
29 Information provided to UCSJ by Mikhail Ostrakh.
30 Kommersant, October 25, 2001.
Copyright 2001, Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.
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