White Riot

 

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George Ciccariello-Maher
Facebook
August 4, 2019

Two and a half years ago, I sent a tweet mocking the white supremacist myth of “white genocide,” which posits that white people are being “replaced” by a combination of migration, birth rates, and racial mixing. Twitter and the media briefly lit up, with thousands discussing the absurdity of the white genocide myth—this was a good thing indeed.

But a great coalition of liberals, conservatives, and cowardly academics, hand-in-hand with white supremacists, found my words too controversial (more controversial, apparently, than the words of the Nazis themselves). Today, two and a half years later, I don’t have a job as a result.

Since then, the myth of “white genocide” and “the great replacement” has metastasized, fusing seamlessly with Trump’s demonization of Central American migrants among others. It has been the direct cause of—among other things—the mass slaughter of 51 in Christchurch, New Zealand, only a few months ago, and in just the past week, 4 deaths in Gilroy (targeting “hoards of mestizos”) and now at least 20 in El Paso (targeting the “invasion” of Texas by Mexicans—explain this to the people who were there before 1848).

Despite this roaring cognitive dissonance, too many Democratic Party hacks, handwringing liberals, and trash professors continue to make excuses for the Nazis in our midst. CNN headlines grant credence to the myth of a disappearing white America. They tell us that Antifa and the Nazis are the same things, that fighting white supremacy only makes it stronger. When liberalism coddles the right and legitimizes its theories, the deaths in El Paso and elsewhere are the only logical result.

But we know that material force defeats material force, that fascism and white supremacy will not go away until we make them go away. We know that white supremacist movements and ideas must be destroyed before they kill again.

Every Proud Boy, neo-Nazi, and Identity Europa member is a mass shooting waiting to happen. And every mealy-mouthed liberal is an accomplice.

Death to the Klan. Death to fascism. Death to white supremacy. Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.

Thanks to Nazir Khan for the heads-up. Comic strip courtesy of Keith Knight // TRR

“White Riot” by The Clash
SongFacts

In this song, Clash frontman Joe Strummer is expressing his view that young white people should be outraged over their oppressive government just as blacks were, and should demonstrate through direct action and protest. He made it clear that the song—and the group—in no way advocated violence, and that it was certainly not racist.

Strummer explained to NME: “The only thing we’re saying about the blacks is that they’ve got their problems and they’re prepared to deal with them. But white men, they just ain’t prepared to deal with them—everything’s too cozy. They’ve got stereos, drugs, hi-fis, cars. The poor blacks and the poor whites are in the same boat.”

This song was inspired by the Notting Hill riots in west London on August 30, 1976. The carnival was a celebration of Caribbean culture, but it turned violent when police were attacked after arresting a pickpocket. Over 100 police officers were hospitalized along with about 60 crowd members. A lot of the tension was along racial lines, with black youths clashing with white officers, although gangs of white youth were also involved. Clash members Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, and their manager Bernie Rhodes were at the event and got caught up in the riots, which led to this song. They included a photo of the Notting Hill riots on the back cover of the album.

Released in the UK on CBS Records March 26, 1977, “White Riot” was The Clash’s first single. It became one of their signature songs and was an indication of things to come. The Clash spent the next eight years speaking out for the lower class and against the establishment. Targets of their scorn included the British government and their record company.

Predictably, this song caused some problems during Clash concerts at times when audience members—often political punks—would use it as an excuse to cause trouble. Whether they should play it or not was sometimes a source of tension in the band.

At a gig in 1979, Joe Strummer was determined to play the song as an encore but Mick Jones vehemently disagreed, saying he was sick of the song and wanted to leave it behind. The argument became heated and Strummer for the only time in the band’s career punched Jones, leading to an odd situation during the encore where Jones had a bandage around his eye and nose whilst playing on stage—he gave up playing it halfway through and left the rest of the band to play on. Other tales abound of promoters requesting the band not to play the song for fear of wrecking the venue. Naturally, The Clash, being the troublemakers that they were, would play it anyway.

Clash members Mick Jones and Joe Strummer played this together for the last time in November 2002. Jones was in the audience for one of Strummer’s solo shows and came onstage to join him. Strummer usually didn’t like to play this, but he turned to Jones and said, “This one’s in ‘A’, you know it.” Strummer died of a heart attack a month later.

The album wasn’t released in the US until 1979. Over 100,000 copies were sold there as an import in 1977.

Xenophobia. Interrogation. Deportation

[This is a message from the American Civil Liberties Union I found in my mailbox this morning. Why have I reproduced it here? Because the best way to take the wind out of the sails of Putin and his Herrenvolk back in the Motherland is to demonstratively reject and dismantle all the quasi-fascist and nationalist practices that the so-called western democracies have been indulging in more and more often in recent years. By rejecting them, we also encourage the brave folk in Russia who are fighting the same evils. TRR.]

ACLU

Last week President Trump tweeted plans to unleash a wave of ICE raids across the country to conduct mass arrests and deportations. Whether or not the raids occur, he’s playing games with millions of people’s lives and stoking fear and uncertainty in our communities.

ICE has already been out of control under his administration, and one reason why is because of controversial 287(g) agreements that give local law enforcement the authority to racially profile, detain, and deport members of their communities. Your state or local police could be doing ICE’s dirty work as we speak.

287(g) agreements expire on June 30 and have to be affirmatively renewed. That means we have a chance to squash them before the month’s end. Tell Congress to eliminate 287(g) agreements in one fell swoop by passing the PROTECT Immigration Act right now.

Under 287(g) agreements, police get federal ICE authority that can lead them to racially profile people who look or sound “like immigrants” and interrogate them about their immigration status. They also use ICE’s database to deport people who come into contact with local police for minor non-immigration offenses. And they can hold people for up to 48 hours on ICE detainers, even if all charges have been dropped.

To date, local police have helped deport over 12,000 immigrants in the Trump years alone – but we can fight back. If passed, the PROTECT Immigration Act would eliminate 287(g) agreements altogether.

Sign the petition demanding that Congress pass the PROTECT Immigration Act and restore trust and inclusivity in our communities.

It’s not easy going up against Trump’s deportation machine. But if enough of us speak out, then we can put an end to this administration’s anti-immigrant agenda, one abusive policy at a time.

gutenheimflugThis is just one of several dozen racist European parliamentary election posters I found less than a month ago near the commuter train station in Buch, Berlin’s northernmost district. All of them were in support of the neo-Nazi Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NDP). A local friend of mine said the fact the posters were still up a week after the elections could have been interpreted as a violation of election law on the part of local authorities. In any case, the sheer profusion of Islamophobic and racist hate speech near its train station is at odds with Buch’s status as a place chockablock with cutting-edge medical research clinics and life sciences labs. If you were, say, a scientist from India who had come to Berlin at the invitation of Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and you saw what I saw in Buch, the center’s home, would you accept a job offer to work there, knowing your new neighbors and the local officials were cool with neo-Nazi propaganda gracing their town’s streets? As it was, despite their efforts to make Buch look like Neo-Naziland (they scared me away for good, that’s for sure), the NDP won no seats in the elections and were relegated to the “Others” category in the final tallies. But their “more respectable” friends in the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), who would also no doubt wish that all immigrants of a certain type would have a “good flight home,” received over four million votes on May 26, 2019, meaning they would have six seats in the new parliament, up one from the previous sitting. Photograph by the Russian Reader

 

Щасливого Різдва!

thugocratic council.jpegA recent meeting of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin. Image courtesy of kremlin.ru

I am not sure what to do with the canard, beloved of “anti-imperialists” the world over, that, because Ukraine has been less than perfectly governed, has been lousy with human rights violations, and has featured an inordinate number of neo-Nazis and other unsavory characters, it has deserved what Putinist Russia has been doing to it since 2014.

If “anti-imperialists” were consistent, they would want the same fate visited on every other country that is badly governed and has a dicey human rights record. I imagine that would mean a hundred or more countries would have to be invaded simultaneously to right all the wrongs in our world, at least as these wrongs are seen, allegedly, by “anti-imperialists.”

This begs the question of why a country with an even worse human rights record, a country governed by a tiny clique of unbelievably corrupt, violent secret police officers who have no intention of ever yielding power to any other group, much less to the country’s people, was the best qualified to invade Ukraine and show it the “anti-imperialist” light. {TRR}

Who Makes the Nazis?

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Scuplture on the Albert Speer-inspired Galeriya shopping center in downtown Petersburg. Photo by the Russian Reader

“In 2015, for instance, St. Petersburg hosted one of the most outspoken gatherings of far-right ideologues Europe has seen in years. With speakers rotating across the dais, a pair of Americans—Jared Taylor and Sam Dickson—railed against Washington’s turn toward civil rights and racial equality. Taylor, a man Spencer himself has cited as inspiration for his political baptism into white nationalism, and a man who recorded robocalls on behalf of Trump during the campaign, joined Dickson, erstwhile lawyer for the Ku Klux Klan, as the latter praised Putin for encouraging high birthrates among white Russians. The organization pulling the Americans to the conference was itself an outgrowth of a Russian party founded by Dmitry Rogozin, Moscow’s deputy prime minister.”

—Casey Michel, “America’s neo-Nazis don’t look to Germany for inspiration. They look to Russia,” August 22, 2017, Washington Post

Nikolay Mitrokhin: God-Given “Extremists”

God-Given “Extremists”
Nikolay Mitrokhin
Takie Dela
April 26, 2017

I met Jehovah’s Witnesses in the mid 1990s in the former Soviet Central Asian republics. I was researching the region’s religious life. When I arrived at each regional capital, I would survey all the prominent communities in turn. The Witnesses were different in one respect from other western-inspired Christian communities. There were lots of them and they were everywhere.

Like now, many were certain back then the Witnesses were a product of the perestroika era’s freedoms. This, however, was not the case. The Witnesses were a legacy of the Soviet Union.

An American Salesman’s Religion

The Witnesses are a typical American eschatological religious group. Put crudely, they believe the world will end soon, during their lifetimes. They believe in one God, Jehovah, a name used during Christianity’s first century. On Judgment Day, Jehovah will destroy sinners and save the elect. The Witnesses reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit). They do not consider Christ God, but they revere him. The day of his death is the only holiday they celebrate.

“A History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia,” a display in the museum at the Administrative Center of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, located in St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of Alexander Demyanchuk/TASS

A completely and regularly revised theology has produced a set of permissions and prohibitions aimed at maintaining the way of life and behavior of a decent traveling salesman from the lower middle classes.

The Witnesses are allowed the moderate use of alcohol (immoderate use is cause for expulsion) and the use of contraceptives. Premarital sex and smoking are forbidden. The Witnesses must not “rend to Caesar what is Caesar’s”: they are forbidden from being involved in elections, engaging in politics, honoring state symbols, and serving in the army. They are most roundly criticized by outsiders for forbidding blood transfusions and organ transplants. The Witnesses suddenly had something to say when the AIDS epidemic kicked off. They support blood substitutes.

Something like family monasteries—”administrative centers”—have been organized for the most ardent followers. The schedule in the centers is strict, but the conditions are relatively comfortable. The Witnesses can live and work in them, practically for free, for as little as a year or as along as their entire lives.

Waiting for the world’s imminent end is an occupation common to many religious groups, from Russian Old Believers to the Mayan Indians. Such groups isolate themselves from a sinful world, some by retreating into the wilderness, others, by restricting their contact with outsiders.

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The cover of a 1928 Russian-language edition of The Watchtower. When the Russian edition was founded in 1925, it was originally entitled The Guard Tower, but in 1964 the name was changed to The Watchtower. Photo courtesy of Boris Alexeyevich/Wikipedia

The Witnesses differ from similar movements in terms of how they disseminate and maintain their doctrine. The method is based on the commercial practice of distributing magazines in the nineteenth century. Essentially, the entire organization meets twice weekly to read its main journal, The Watchtower, which is produced by church elders in Brooklyn and then translated and disseminated in dozens of languages. Members pay a nominal fee for subscribing to and reading the journal, fees that are scrupulously collected and sent along the chain: from local groups to the regional office, then to the national headquarter and, finally, to the head office in Brooklyn. Free distribution of the magazine and going door to door asking people whether they want to talk about God are aimed at the same thing: increasing the audience who subscribes to and collectively reads the magazine.

Ninety-five percent of today’s public find these religious activities strange and ridiculous, although from a sociological viewpoint they barely differ from going to political party meetings, networked sales of cosmetics, visiting sports clubs, getting a tattoo, the Russian Healthy Lifestyle Movement (ZOZh) or stamp collecting.

If you believe the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ own figures, they operate in 240 countries, which is more than belong to the UN.  At the same time, the organization is numerically quite compact, albeit growing rapidly. It has a total of 8.3 million members.

A Religion for Soviet Individuals

The story of how the Witnesses took root in the Soviet Union has been well told in a book published three years ago by Emily Baran, Dissent on the Margins: How Soviet Jehovah’s Witnesses Defied Communism and Lived to Preach About It. Polish and Romanian peasants and market traders adopted the doctrine of the Witnesses at the turn of the 1920s and 1930s, and before the war they unexpectedly were made Soviet citizens when the Soviet Union occupied parts of Poland and Romania.

The Soviet authorities did not tolerate large groups who maintained constant links with foreign countries, so it decided to send the core group of Witnesses, five thousand people, to Siberia. A considerable number were sent to the camps, while the rest were exiled. The crackdown was a misfortune for the victims, but it was a godsend for the exotic doctrine.

The Moscow Jehovah’s Witness community worshiping at the velodrome in the city’s Krylatskoye District, 2000. Photo courtesy of Alexander Fomin/PhotoXPress.ru

As early as the 1950s, the largest communities of Witnesses had emerged in the main place of exile, Irkutsk Region. In the 2000s, the official websites of Irkutsk Region and the neighboring Republic of Buryatia claimed the Jehovah’s Witnesses were a traditional religious community in the region. Irkipedia provides the following figures for 2011: “Around 5,500 people in Irkutsk Region are members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization. Around 50 of their assemblies operate in Irkutsk Region, each of them featuring 80 to 150 members. The assemblies are united into three districts: Usolye-Sibirskoye, Irkutsk, and Bratsk.”

The camps proved a suitable place for proselytizing, the radically minded youth, especially Ukrainian speakers, eager listeners, and the half-baked amnesty of political prisoners, an excellent means of disseminating the doctrine nationwide. As early as the late 1950s, all over northern Kazakhstan, former members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), who were banned from returning home, and former Russian criminals, who had taken jobs as farm machinery operators and welders, were digging dugouts in the steppes to hide DIY printing presses for printing The Watchtower.

Why did peasants, traders, brawny lads from the working classes, graduates of provincial technical schools, mothers of large families, and pensioners need to become Jehovah’s Witnesses? I have the same explanation as the preachers do: to radically change their selves and their lifestyles. The everyday frustrations of ordinary people, their perpetually predetermined lives, and their uselessness to anyone outside their narrow family circle (in which there is so often so little happiness) are things that torment many people. Prescriptions for effectively transfiguring oneself are always popular. However, they usually don’t work, because it is hard to stick to the program.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Minsk, 2015. Photo courtesy of Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters/Pixstream

Like other religious groups, the Witnesses offer their members a disciplinary model for joint action. You can sit at home, chewing through your miserly pension, and watching TV, or you can feel like a “pioneer” again (the title given to missionaries who proselytize on the streets and door to door), do the right thing, hang out with other enthusiastic people like yourself, and make friends with young people. You are a young bricklayer. You are facing a lifetime of laying bricks, but your soul yearns for change and career growth. After spending six months in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, our bricklayer might be leading a grassroots group, and two years later he might have made a decent career in the organization. His wife is satisfied. Her husband doesn’t drink, their circle of friends has expanded, and during holidays the whole family can go visit other Witnesses in other parts of Russia. The children grown up in a circle of fellow believers with a sense of their own uniqueness. Free evenings are spent on the work of the organization, but that is better than drunken quarrels, and better than what most “ordinary” Soviet and post-Soviet folks are up to in the evenings.

Wholehearted Atheists

In 2006, I interviewed Vladimir Saprykin, a former employee of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee’s Propaganda Department. His career had kicked off with a vigorous campaign against the Witnesses in Karaganda Region. I was able to get a glimpse into a period when the Party was on the warpath against the Witnesses. In the early 1960s, literally hundreds of people were sent to the camps as part of the campaign against religion per se.

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The Jehovah’s Witness Congress Hall in St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of PhotoXPress

Saprykin had campaigned against the Witnesses wholeheartedly and passionately, and that passion still burned in him fifty years after the events in question. He had dreamed of making them “completely free,” of “returning them to their essence.” He was backed up then by a whole group of provincial demiurges from among the local intelligentsia. They had collectively tried to re-educate the local group of Witnesses through debate, and then they had intimated them and pressured their relatives. Subsequently, they had tried to buy them off before finally sending the group’s core to prison with the KGB’s backing.

Their rhetoric is surprisingly similar to the declarations made by the Witnesses’ current antagonists.

“We stand for individual freedom of choice in all domains, including religion. […] So read, compare, think, disagree, and argue! Critical thinking is in inalienable sign of a person’s freedom. Let’s not abandon our freedom so easily.”

This is not an excerpt from a statement by a libertarian group, but an excerpt from a declaration published by a group of Russian Orthodox clergymen attached to the Holy Martyr Irenaeus of Lyons Center for Religious Studies. It was these clergymen who have now got the Jehovah’s Witnesses banned.

In the early 1960s, the KGB and such local enthusiasts managed to deliver several serious blows to the infrastructure of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Soviet Union. Successive leaders of the organization and hundreds of grassroots leaders and activists were arrested and convicted, and archives, correspondence, and printing presses were seized.

“Is there an end to your suffering? Take a copy for free in your own language.” Tuchkovo, Moscow Region. Photo courtesy of Alexander Artemenkov/TASS

This, however, did not lead to the eradication of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Besides the three regions where they had constantly been active—Western Ukraine, Moldova, and Irkutsk Region—groups and organizations emerged in the sixties and seventies throughout nearly the entire Soviet Union from Arkhangelsk Region to the Maritime Territory, and from Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan.

The movement was spread by ex-camp convicts, labor migrants from regions where the doctrine was strongly espoused, and missionaries.

Soviet construction sites, new cities, and workers’ dorms were propitious environments for the spread of new religious doctrines. The young people who arrived to work there were cut off from their usual lifestyles, family ties, and interests. They wanted something new, including self-education and self-transfiguration—to gad about in suits and have their heads in the clouds. Most of these cadres were promoted through the ranks by the Communist Youth League and other authorities, but there were plenty of pickings for the religious organizations.

By the way, in 1962, Saprykin campaigned to get not just anyone to leave the Witnesses, but Maria Dosukova, a chevalier of the Order of Lenin, a longtime Party member, a plasterer, and an ethnic Kazakh. During an assembly at her construction company, Dosukova had refused to support a resolution condemning the religious organization in which several people in her work team were members.

Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sochi, 2007. Photo courtesy of Natalya Kolesnikova/PhotoXPress

After Krushchev’s resignation, the systematic arrests of the Witnesses stopped, although some were sent to prison as a warning to the others.  Everyone else was subject to the decree, issued by the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, on March 18, 1966, “On Administrative Responsibility for Violating the Legislation on Religious Cults.” You could be fined fifty rubles—a week’s pay for a skilled worker—for holding a religious circle meeting in your home. In his book About People Who Never Part with the Bible, religious studies scholar Sergei Ivanenko records that, during the seventies and eighties, attempts to combat the Witnesses by fining them and tongue-lashing them at assemblies were just as useless. 

Wholehearted Anticultists

Perestroika legalized the Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the post-Soviet space. This freedom did not last for long, however. The new states of Central Asia and the Transcaucasia followed the Soviet Union’s path in their treatment of the Witnesses, achieving similar outcomes.

In Russia, the Witnesses were officially registered in March 1991 and had no serious problems for a long time. They built their central headquarters, Bethel, in the village of Solnechnoye near St. Petersburg, as well as several dozen buildings for prayer meetings.  Of course, due to their activity, relative openness, and American connections, the Witnesses (along with the Hare Krishna, the Mormons, the Scientologists, and the Pentecostals) were targeted by the various hate organizations that emerged in Russia in the late 1990s, including the Cossacks, neo-Nazis, and professional anticultists.

Protest rally against the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in St. Petersburg, 1997. Photo courtesy of TASS

Anticultism was imported to Russia by the ex-Moscow hippie Alexander Dvorkin, who emigrated to the US in the 1970s and got mixed up in Orthodox émigré circles there. In the early 1990s, he left his job at Radio Liberty and returned to Russia, where he made a successful career at the point where the interests of the Moscow Patriarchate and Russian law enforcement agencies intersect. The above-mentioned Irenaeus of Lyons Center is, basically, Dvorkin himself.

Professor Dvorkin has worked for several years at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University of the Humanities. Until 2012, he was head of the department of sectology. In 2009, he headed the council for religious studies forensic expertise at the Russian Federal Justice Ministry. (He now holds the post of deputy chair). It is curious that Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov is also a St. Tikhon’s alumnus and is quite proud of that fact.

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Professor Alexander Dvorkin. Photo courtesy of Yevgeny Mukhtarov/Wikipedia

By supporting the Justice Ministry’s campaign to ban the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Russian Supreme Court has not only put the “sectarians” in a difficult position but also the Russian authorities. In Russia, the Witnesses have over 400 local organizations and around 168,000 registered members. Only full-fledged members are counted during registration, but a fair number of sympathizers are also usually involved in Bible readings, The Watchtower, and other religious events. We can confidently say the ban will affect at least 300,000 to 400,000 Russian citizens. Labeling them “extremists” does not simply insult them and provoke conflicts with their relatives, loved ones, and acquaintances. In fact, this means abruptly increasing the workload of the entire “anti-extremism” system the Russian authorities have been setting up the past twenty years.  The soldiers of the Russian National Guard will find it easy to raid prayer meetings and spread-eagle these “extremists” on the floor. However, given the scale of the organization, they will have to do this a lot and often. And, as experience shows,  there won’t be much point to what they are doing.

Not a single country in the world has forcibly dissolved the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and it is hard to imagine that these 400,000 people will all emigrate or otherwise disappear. Even now, as news of the ban has spread, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have received completely unexpected support from all manner media and numerous public figures, including Russian Orthodox priests. Given these circumstances, the successful state campaign to discredit, dissolve, and brush a major religious community under the rug is doomed to failure.

Marquee being taken down from the Surgut office of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in connection with their ban in Russia, April 24, 2017. Photo courtesy of Alexei Andronov/Ura.Ru/TASS

The authorities will have to decide. Either they will sanction the mass arrests of the organizations leaders and activists and send hundreds and thousands of people to the camps, which ultimately will facilitate the growth of the movement’s reputation and dissemination, as in Soviet times, or they will pinpoint those who, according to the Interior Ministry and the FSB, are “especially dangerous” while turning a blind eye to the actual continuation of the organization’s work.

I would like the country’s leadership to have second thoughts and find a legal way to rescind the Supreme Court’s decision. There is little hope of that, however.

Translated by the Russian Reader

“Smash the Kikes and Save Russia!”

Smash the Kikes and Save Russia (2015)
Hard on the heels of migrants and gays, another minority has begun to fear for its safety: Jews. Svetlana Reiter spoke with two women who feel directly threatened
Svetlana Reiter
March 2, 2015
Colta.ru

Leokadia Frenkel
Program Coordinator, St. Petersburg Jewish Community Center
I set up a volunteer program to help the children of migrants three years ago, in May. Basically, we teach Russian to children of migrants from Central Asia, primarily from Uzbekistan, but there are children from Kyrgyzstan and a few from Georgia. Twice a week, they have Russian lessons, and every Sunday in the summer we go to a museum, take a trip to Pavlovsk or Peterhof, or just walk around the city. The younger group, preschoolers and first graders, we teach conversational language through games. We teach the older children, who already know how to read and write, Russian as foreign language. There are fourteen children in the younger group, and eight in the older group. I cannot say that they attend constantly. Some get ill, while others leave the country.

I myself am a philologist by training. Previously, I taught Russian language and literature in schools. I am Jewish.

detailed_pictureLeokadia Frenkel

When we opened, practically no one was working with migrant children. There were no classes: it had occurred to no one that something needed to be done with them. Naturally, when we opened, various media visited us to shoot segments and write articles. When I read the comments to these articles, I often felt uneasy: people wrote very harshly about migrants and their children. But I could scarcely have foreseen what has happened now.

I posted an ad for volunteers in Facebook and VKontakte. We cannot take just anyone: we need professional philologists, people able to work with children. We cannot take the average person who just feels sorry for migrants, and real teachers are few and far between. So I am constantly posting ads in social networks: look at what wonderful children we have, come and help us.

Not long ago I posted two more ads. A group on VKontakte calling itself Morality reposted one. I had a look. Morality’s moderator, Mikhail Kuzmin, put together an album containing 161 photos of me and published a post in which he wrote that the kike-liberal public goes to protest rallies and teaches Russian to “black” (chernye) children. This group is absolutely fascistic and anti-Semitic. They are constantly writing that migrants commit the majority of crimes in Russia. That “black” children attend our schools and spoil our children, the migrant children are wild animals who are uneducable. And those are the mildest things they write.

When this community was informed that a Jewish woman was teaching migrants, they were faced with what they understood as pure evil. Three and a half thousand people gladly lashed out at me. Kuzmin posted information about my son and my husband, and published an additional post about my family. He was outraged: how could it happen that kikes were teaching savages?! There is no place for either group in our society. Down with the kike-liberal opposition! Moreover, judging by his photographs, Kuzmin himself goes to LGBT rallies and beats up gay activists. He has an athletic physique: he practices boxing and fisticuffs at Sosnovka Park. In one photo, he is wearing a police uniform and sporting a badge. I don’t know whether he is really a policeman, but the photograph exists, just like snapshots where he is giving the Hitler salute or standing next to Deputy [Vitaly] Milonov [author of Petersburg’s infamous homophobic law].

The worst thing, of course, is that he not only haunts the social networks but that he walks the streets. I complained to the administration of VKontakte. They replied that if I didn’t like this group, I shouldn’t look at their postings, and that they close only those groups that directly threaten someone’s life.

I have said nothing to the migrant children. I am a good teacher; I know how to work with children. Ultimately, my job is to help those who have it worse than I do, not to make their lives even more unbearable. You see, in the schools these children accumulate hatred: teachers don’t like them and classmates fear them. These things give rise to reciprocal aggression.

It is hard to say whether the folks from Morality are threatening my life. If they practice fisticuffs at Sosnovka Park, what prevents them from visiting our Jewish center? Maybe one of their three and a half thousand subscribers will decide to harm me directly. And you know, I am less afraid to read things like “the black-assed bastards are uneducable, ask any teacher” and “the kike lady is out of her mind for black-assed goys” than to read what Kuzmin wrote about my son and my husband. I’m really afraid for my family.

The level of aggression is now completely crazy. Some moron could show up when I am teaching the children. We have no security guard armed with a machine gun at our center. The only thing I can do to protect myself somehow is talk about it publicly.

I always remember that the migrants have it worse off than I do. Their children have no beds. They sleep on the floor, and they are lucky if they have a mattress. And yet they go to school and study as much they can until they leave for home.

I have noticed that if I really come to like a pupil, he or she leaves immediately. Rarely do they study with us longer than two years. There were two lovely girls, half Kyrgyz, half Uzbek. They drew beautifully and sang beautifully. They were here for three years, now they have gone back home. I still correspond with one girl from Uzbekistan, Sitora, who is now seventeen years old. I remember she once told me she had never been to the theater in her life. Not once, can you imagine? But we take the children to the theater when we get free or discounted tickets.

During the winter break, we went to the Kunstkamera. Some Uzbek girls later asked why the Chinese have such strange, narrow eyes. And I told them, “Well, I have a big nose. What’s strange about that? All people are different.”

Tamriko Apakidze
Former lecturer at the Petersburg Institute of Jewish Studies
I moved to Germany this fall. I am trained as an Orientalist and religious scholar, and I taught at the Institute of Jewish Studies in Saint Petersburg. I encountered the Morality group quite by accident. A year ago, on March 14, I went to a demonstration at Kazan Cathedral. I had two small placards with me: “Crimea is Ukraine” and “Make love, not war.” Despite the warnings, I took the placards out periodically, not realizing that they turned my actions into a solo picket, especially because there were other people with placards.

fileTamriko Apakidze. Photo by Nikolai Simonovsky

The police nabbed me fairly quickly, at first along with my husband, but he was soon kicked out of the paddy wagon, and I spent four hours in the company of seven rather rude, in my opinion, police officers. It was they who took me to the station.

I had never been to a police station before, so at first I thought it was fun. But when they confiscated my internal passport and did not let me make a phone call, I was not amused. Aside from the rude cops, there was a nondescript young man who was quite polite. He listened courteously and attentively to the questions the police were asking me. He got quite excited when he heard I worked at the Institute of Jewish Studies. He asked what I taught there and whether I had worked there long. Then this guy was released, and I was given an arrest report and told to wait for a summons to court.

I left the police station late at night, believing I had got off very lightly. The next day, acquaintances sent me a link to the group Morality. It turned out that my companion at the cop shop had been Mikhail Kuzmin, the group’s moderator. He had posted his report, where he wrote something to the effect that he had being going to God’s temple to pray, but the police took him for a liberast and arrested him. The report was entitled correspondingly: “Who attends liberast rallies.” My entire biography was there. What surprised me most was that there were details there that he could not have found out from our conversation. He quite obviously had access to other sources.

Naturally, it said there that I worked at the Institute of Jewish Studies but that I pass myself off as a Georgian, although it is not clear who I am. There was this phrase: “The young woman herself is not involved in homopiggery, but she supports homos.” And the best part was an album of photos of me, twenty-five of them: one from the protest rally, and the rest pilfered from Facebook. This was so that the comrades would know their enemy by sight. The album’s crowning touch was a screenshot from the Institute of Jewish Studies website containing my schedule. I felt sick.

I looked at the pictures of Kuzmin himself: he was giving the Nazi salute and wearing a Nazi uniform. My husband wrote, “You shitty Nazi, remove the photographs of my wife immediately.” “I’m not a Nazi, because all Nazis are kikes,” Kuzmin eagerly replied. There was no more discussion with him, but his comrades in the struggle wrote comments under the photographs of me: how many Banderites had fucked me, and stuff like that. I never thought that I would encounter something like this in life. We sent a complaint to the management of VKontakte, but the group was not shut down.

For a while, I was very afraid. Of course, this was not the reason we left for Germany, but when I saw that screenshot of my schedule at the institute, I was quite scared to go to work. I became paranoid that I would be assaulted on the street or that our dog would be poisoned. I suspect that Kuzmin works in tandem with the police. First, I think he was with me at the police station as a provocateur. Second, when I was in the paddy wagon, the cops uttered his surname several times.

We moved to Germany at the end of August. We had been planning to do this for a long time, but had kept delaying and putting it off. After last March, my husband immediately found a job and we left Russia. I haven’t heard anything more about Kuzmin.

The community Morality has been active on the VKontakte social network for a year and a half. At present, the group numbers around four thousand subscribers. The group’s founder and moderator, Mikhail Kuzmin, was born April 12, 1986. He is married, a graduate of the Northwest Branch of the Russian Academy of Justice, and a member of the Petersburg branch of the Great Russia party.

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VKontakte group close for inciting hatred
Ethnic strife flares up on the social network. Petersburg woman with Jewish surname fears for her life
Polina Khodanovich
March 4, 2015
Metro

Petersburger Leokadia Frenkel, who teaches Russian to migrant children, has been victimized by the social network group Morality and its administrator Mikhail Kuzmin.

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Mikhail Kuzmin. Screenshot courtesy of Metro newspaper

“He reposted 161 photographs of me and wrote a text to accompany them entitled ‘The Kike-Liberal Opposition,” Frenkel told Metro. “That Jews were teaching migrants was the ultimate source of indignation for him.”

According to Frenkel, openly threatening comments appeared under photographs of her, and she seriously feared for her life.

“But when my friends complained to VKontakte management, they got evasive replies to the effect that if you don’t like this group, don’t look at it.”

Mikhail Kuzmin himself likes to do the Nazi salute and have his picture taken in Nazi uniform. He invariably refers to Jews as “kikes,” and conducts surveys on topics such as “Should migrants be sterilized?” The group consists of about 3,500 active participants. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach Mikhail Kuzmin for comment.

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“Morality” group  page on the VKontakte social network. The highlighted passage reads, “Reminder: only the total deportation of ALL the Central Asians and Сaucasians who have overrun the country in recent years can solve the problem. For us there is no such thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ immigrants. For us there are only occupiers.” Screenshot courtesy of Metro newspaper

Metro asked the Saint Petersburg office of the Investigative Committee’s Investigative Department to comment on the situation. Sergei Kapitonov, head of their press service, was terse.

“Anything is possible anywhere. I don’t understand what the matter is. I suggest you send an official inquiry addressed to our general and explain what you want to him.”

Roskomnadzor told Metro that they could do nothing themselves.

“The law on extremism in the Internet is administered by the Prosecutor General’s Office,” press secretary Vadim Ampelonsky said. “Only they can send us a request to block the group.”

Ultimately, Metro had no choice but to personally ask VKontakte’s press secretary Georgy Lobushkin to pay close attention to the controversial group Morality. And soon the newspaper received the following reply: “Good day. Our moderators are now checking this group for violations of website rules and Russian federal laws.”

On the evening of March 3, the group was temporarily blocked “for incitement to acts of violence.”

Vera Alperovich, expert on nationalism and xenophobia, SOVA Center for Information and Analysis:

“Any incitement to ethnic violence is covered by Article 282 of the Criminal Code. The activities of this group and its administrator should definitely be investigated. That the Investigative Committee is paying no attention to this group means they are waiting until someone is killed. In addition to a criminal complaint, one could start with a warning, which can facilitate getting the offending content deleted. Aside from the Criminal Code, there are also ethical norms. Such groups should cause a wave of public outrage.”

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The Fall of “Morality”
A neo-Nazi group on VKontakte that has bullied a Jewish woman was closed only after public pressure
Veronika Vorontsova
March 5, 2015
Novye Izvestia

Yesterday, after repeated requests by users, administrators at the social network VKontakte blocked the group Morality. The community had positioned itself as a platform for instilling “Slavic values,” but in fact it contained a lot of material prohibited by law, including neo-Nazi material. The group’s closure had long been sought by a female Saint Petersburg resident against whom group members had organized a genuine hate campaign. For a long while, administrators at the social network had turned a blind eye to her complaints, and she succeeded in having the group blocked only after broad publicity and intervention by the media.

The group Morality, which allegedly promotes “moral education based on historical Slavic values,” has been closed for a month for calls to unlawful actions, VKontakte spokesman Georgy Lobushkin informed Novye Izvestia. If the community’s creators do not remove the illegal content within thirty days, the group will be blocked in perpetuity.

The cause of the group’s closure was the campaign of persecution its members organized two week ago against Leokadia Frenkel, program coordinator at the Saint Petersburg Jewish Community Center, whose activities include teaching migrant children and helping socially adapt.

1425494405051Leokadia Frenkel

It all started when Frenkel placed an ad on the social network recruiting volunteers to work with the children at the center. The call was copied to the Morality group, where it was commented in an abusive and illegal manner. As Frenkel told Novye Izvestia, a genuine campaign of persecution was unleashed in comments to the post: group members insulted her ethnicity, and some threatened her with violence. Later, the group’s moderators made a selection of photographs featuring not only Frankel but also her husband and her son, placing it in open public access.

Frenkel decided to send a written request to VKontakte to close the group. Many of her friends followed suit. They soon received a rejection letter. The social network’s administrators explained there was nothing illegal in the information contained in the community. “If you do not like the group, do not look at their materials. We close only those groups which directly threaten someone’s life.” This was the response from VKontakte management.

This explanation did not hold water, says Frenkel. She notes that VKontakte’s published rules contain a list of actions prohibited by company management. Paragraph “e” disallows the “incitement of racial, religious, and ethnic hatred, as well as the promotion of fascism or racial supremacist ideology.” In the group Morality, which was completely open to the public, one could see many images of swastikas and direct calls for violence. Examining group moderator Mikhail Kuzmin’s personal page, Novye Izvestia also found many images of Nazi symbols. In some photos, he was posed in a Wehrmacht uniform; in others, in front of a Russian imperial tricolor.

Initially, VKontakte administrators really did see nothing illegal about the group, the social network’s press secretary Georgy Lobushkin explained to Novye Izvestia.

“There are many discussion communities where users discuss various issues. We do not block them, even if some comments are outside the scope of the Constitution,” he said in conversation with Novye Izvestia. However, “after a more thorough study of this group, experts nevertheless concluded that it contains incitements to violence.”

Two weeks passed between the time of Frenkel’s complaint and the group’s closure. She believes the reason for a more thorough review of her complaint was several reports in the media and the broad publicity they generated.

Although the group Morality has been closed, Novye Izvestia has found a number of similar communities where Frenkel’s identity and ethnicity continue to be discussed to the hilt.

As Novye Izvestia reported yesterday, early in the week, a court ordered Smolensk journalist Polina Petruseva to pay a fine of 1,000 rubles for “promoting Nazi symbols.” The court case was occasioned by Petruseva’s publishing a photograph of her own building’s backyard during World War Two on her social network page. The photograph shows German soldiers standing in formation next to the flag of the Third Reich. On Tuesday, the Russian Constitutional Court confirmed the ban on displaying any Nazi paraphernalia or symbols.

But law enforcement agencies have not yet responded to the controversy involving Leokadia Frenkel. The police are reluctant to accept such complaints, because there is almost no mechanism for working with such cases, Mikhail Pashkin, chair of the Moscow Police Union’s coordinating council, told Novye Izvestia. According to him, criminal charges are filed in such instances only to make an example of someone, “which is probably what happened in the case of the journalist from Smolensk.”

Ilya Matveev: The Childish Face of Russian Fascism Today

Our friend Ilya Matveev writes:

I have noticed, incidentally, that the focus in the current state-sponsored fascist upsurge is on children—moreover, both as objects of various bad actions (“propaganda,” pedophilia, etc.) and as subjects, as “young militants.” For example, teenagers were clearly involved in the “attempt to clean up the dormitory” in Moscow’s Kapotnya District: I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were thirteen or fourteen. This was all shown on national TV almost as an example to be emulated. Children also play a large role in convicted Russian neo-Nazi Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich’s Occupy Pedophilia campaign (likewise hyped on TV). The same kids have opened up their own shop (Occupy Gerontophilia) and set to bullying their gay agemates. Kids beat up activists at LGBT protests. Eighty percent of attendees at the so-called Day of Russian Rage were children. Finally, a sixth-former (!) has detected homosexuality in T.H. White’s Once and Future King, and again it has made the TV news. This stuff is served up completely seriously, as the new moral standard.

In general, I see two major differences from previous years. Very rapidly, just as described by Hannah Arendt, whole groups of people are denied the status of human beings. For example, it is taken as a given in fascist rags like Komsomolskaya Pravda that the Interior Ministry is using a gang of teenagers against illegal immigrants. Legally, migrant workers are no longer human beings; the issue of “purging” them is a technical matter, not one of law enforcement, and anything goes here. LGBT are also not human beings, but defective biomaterial, so their “hearts should be burned” and so on.

That is the first difference. The second is the focus on children. In the noughties, “youth policy” was about the eighteen- to twenty-year-olds who embedded themselves in a fake albeit political organization (Nashi), with its own program, ideology, and so on. (Although Nashi leader Vasily Yakemenko and Kremlin ideology chief Vladislav Surkov daydreamed of units of stormtroopers combating the “orange menace” on the streets.) Now it is a matter of fourteen- to sixteen-year-olds, with a distinct taste of hatred as something absolutely irrational, along the lines of school bullying. The state has no doctrine or theory of hatred: there is only the pure emotion displayed by laboratory mice-like children. Grown-up “psychologists” and “educators” comment on this, arguing that we really are facing a gay threat and IT SHOWS in children. In short, the shit has hit the fan. Now things really are serious.