Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Toward a Third Reich in the Third Rome?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 16 – Ayder Muzhdabayev, deputy chief editor of “Moskovsky komsomolets” and himself a Crimean Tatar, says that some recent comments he has heard in the Russian capital have helped him to understand all too well “how the Third German Reich arose” and thus the threat that Russia now faces.

            In a post on Ekho Moskvy, Muhdabayev says that he has been shocked by some of the things he has heard.  One friend, he says, suddenly remarked, “I don’t like how these Jews conduct themselves,” adding “I hate the Jews! Let them all disappear somewhere or other” (

            Just where the Jews were supposed to go, the editor continues, was not his concern just as initially it was not a concern of many people in Germany in the 1920s who complained that the Jews “has seized all trade” in that country.  Other people, “druzhinniki and activists,” would deal with that.

            “First the Jews, then the Roma, then the gays, then the mentally ill – everything went in its turn,” Muzhdabayev says.  That is how Nazism began in Germany, “in simple conversations which did not appear to mean anything … Some spoke openly; others remained silent.” But such conversations made what happened later possible.

            Not long ago, the editor said, one of his acquaintances said, “I hate Chechens.” When he asked him why, the woman replied “I simply hate them, and that is all there is to it.”  She hadn’t fought in Chechnya and she clearly felt that she could say this “without risking anything” because she clearly felt that “everyone was in solidarity with her.”

            Another friend recently told Muzhdabayev tht “we are building a Russian Orthodox state.”  When asked about the constitution’s promise of a secular and multi-national society, his friend couldn’t answer because “clearly he still hadn’t thought about it. But his words were “hard.”  The state must be Russian and Orthodox “and all others must have fewer rights.

Although the editor expressed the hope that such hateful phrases were nothing more than chance remarks, “the fact remains that one after another, people whom I have known well for a long time, people of my circle, are having their nationalist coming out [he uses the English term] in front of me.”

The “strange and demonstrative hatred never lived in these people before,” Muzhdabayev says. It’s possible they are simply following the fashion of the day. But he says, “a wall is growing between us. Yes, this is not the wall of a ghetto or a concentration camp (although time will tell), but a wall which precisely divides us into ‘us-them’ or ‘you are for these or for ours?’”

What is truly disturbing about this, the editor concludes, is that these ideas aren’t being expressed by “a clutch of skinheaded Nazis.” If that were all, they could be easily dealt with. Instead, such ideas are entering the daily converstions of ordinary and even educated Russians.  Consequentlly, fascism in Russia is growing because it has become “presentable” – and all the more dangerous because of that.

Some might be tempted to dismiss Muzhdabayev’s words as merely anecdotal, but there is lots of evidence to show that tragically that is not the case.  A new poll shows that 81 percent of Muscovits support the demands of the Russians of Biryulevo and worse 41 percent approve of the methods that the protesters used against the gastarbeiters (

            And such attitudes are currently found among Russians across the country, with demonstrations in support of those who attacked the gastarbeiters in Moscow now having taken place in Stavropol, Krasnodar, Yekaterinburg, Saratov, Rostov-na-Donu, and Astrkhan, among other places (

            Moreover, other close observers of the Russian scene suggest that anti-immigrant and anti-minority sentiments are intensifying with many now favoring not just visas for anyone coming to Russia but blocking their ability to purchase housing or using public services nd even “banning them” outright (

            Russians have long comforted or at least justified themselves by saying that the nation that defeated Hitler could not be fascist, but the attitudes that Muzhdabayev and the others report and the slogans of the Russian March set for November 4 suggest that there is ever less comfort in and justification for that assumption (

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