Non-Slavic appearance in Russia can be deadly

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Ukrainian citizen Roman Muzychenko, 37, died in the intensive care unit without regaining consciousness, after he had been violently beaten by a group of 21 Nazis in Moscow, Russia. The incident was recorded on surveillance cameras near the Silikatnaya subway station. Large group of individuals surrounded their unsuspecting target and started viciously beating him. Chilling footage shows passers-by calmly minding their own business and walking along, as a violent group of young men brutally pummeled Roman Muzychenko.

Russian media uses images of homegrown Nazis to illustrate alleged fascism in Ukraine

Courtesy of Rossiya 24, VPK, “Russian March”

The investigators determined that the ages of the attackers ranged from 15 to 20 years old. Members of the group of ultranationalists were trained in Pankration – a martial art style that combines boxing and wrestling. Ethnicity of the victim was the sole reported motive for the attack. Three suspects have been arrested and admitted their guilt. Two of them were released from police custody and placed under house arrest. One of the suspects was released and remains under police supervision.Police specified that Muzychenko was in fact “of Slavic appearance,” while the perpetrators wrongly assumed he wasn’t white. One hour after this cowardly assault, the nationalists attacked another man, simply for being “non-Slavic.” The second victim ended up in a hospital with serious injuries.

The alarming number of racist and neo-Nazi violent attacks in Russia over the last decade continues to grow. Between 2004 and 2012, 556 people were murdered in far-right nationalist attacks in Russia. Some of these assaults were extremely savage and heinous, including decapitation of a Tajik migrant worker. The socio-political climate in Russia is downright dangerous and often deadly for persons who are not considered to be “Arian” or “Slavic.” Recruiters of the attendees for government-sanctioned, paid celebrations and demonstrations specify that they are seeking people of “Slavic appearance.”

Contributing to this atmosphere of hate is an increase in the number of racist and xenophobic statements in Russian mainstream media, targeting ethnic minorities such as Chechens and other persons originating from the Caucasus or from Central Asia, Roma, Africans, as well as ethnic minorities of Muslim or Jewish faith. Additionally, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine unleashed an onslaught of anti-Ukrainian propaganda and ethnic hatred against minorities. Crimean Tatars are again facing severe persecution by the authorities, as reported by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. Ukrainians are being hounded along with ethnic minorities, because their appearance isn’t considered Slavic enough by fanatical Russian Nazis.

Mirroring this atmosphere of hatred and intolerance, some of the social media comments about Muzychenko’s murder are extremely racist and shocking:

  • (Addressing Ukrainian commenter) – “They’ll get you too.” “It’s hard to tell you apart from Tajiks or Gypsies.” “Don’t worry, you’ll join him [murdered victim] soon.”
  • “It’s an easy mistake to confuse a Tajik and a Ukrainian. Tajiks are a mix of a small percentage of Arian Scythians with Mongols, Turks and other swarthy fellows. The same goes for Ukrainians.”
  • “It’s easy to make that mistake. You look at the majority of Ukrainians, “true Slavs,” as they like to call themselves – almost all of them have black brows and are dark-skinned. Turks.”
  • “It’s hard to tell Galicians apart from Tajiks, so they could have been mistaken.”

Other commenters predictably blamed the Right Sector and called the murder a “provocation” of some kind. All the while, Russian mainstream media continues to use the images of the Federation’s homegrown Nazis to illustrate the alleged “fascism” problem in Ukraine. The main “provocation” that stokes the flames of racism, hatred and ethnic tensions lies within Russia itself.

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