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Feature Story November 15, 2001
 
Get With The Pogrom
By Matt Taibbi Browse author
 
 
A Young Skindhead

The latest death was just three days ago, on Monday, November 12. Unless you were looking for it, you didn't hear about it -- it was just a three-sentence item on the Interfax. That's despite the fact that it was one of the odder murders you'll ever hear of: four skinheads killing a 58 year-old woman by literally scaring her to death.

The woman, whose name has not been released by police, was accompanying her 30 year-old son as he walked his dog on Ulitsa Yunikh Lenintsev, near the Kuzminki Metro station. At some point the victims, who were apparently Russian, were approached by four skins, who surrounded the woman's son and started threatening him. When the situation heated up, the woman panicked -- and died on the spot of a heart attack.

Another day, another skinhead attack. These days scarcely a day goes by without a violent skinhead incident in the capital, and it is a rare for a week to pass without a serious mass disturbance. Occasionally, as in the case of the notorious "pogrom" of October 30 that left three Caucasians dead, the skins make the papers. But more often than not, skinhead violence in Moscow goes unnoticed, as the beatings and riots and vandalism by the city's growing number of teenage neo-Nazis have become so common that they are no longer considered news.

But make no mistake about it, the skinhead phenomenon is evolving into a very serious problem in Moscow, and in Russia in general. This is no longer a question of a few scattered extremists who every now and then drink too much and get a little out of hand. The issue now is five to ten thousand vicious teenagers who have developed a taste for violence through regular attacks on "undesirables", and who appear now -- if the Oct. 30 pogrom is any indication -- to be growing more and more organized, and moving away from spontaneous outbursts into the realm of planned, premeditated assaults.

Five to ten thousand. The Helsinki group places the number of skins in Moscow at about 4,000, but others -- including several Islamic organizations -- say the real number is about double that. That means that in a city with the world's second-largest police force (after New York), there's one violent skinhead for every three to four policemen. If you happen to be an "undesirable" -- an African student, for instance, or a Dagestani produce vendor -- those numbers are not very encouraging. That's particularly of you suspect that the police and the skins are on the same side, a theory that more and more minorities are finding reason to believe these days.

"Absolutely," Yabloko deputy Sergei Mitrokhin told the eXile. "The police tend to sympathize with the skinheads... This was aptly demonstrated on the night of the pogroms, when a mass of 300 armed teenagers, not exactly a stealthy gang, was allowed to wander the city committing mayhem. There is no love lost between the police and the Caucasians."

Mitrokhin added that a simple look at the history of neo-Nazi groups like Alexander Barkashov's RNE, or the RNP (Russian National Party), or Russkaya Tsel' (Russian Goal) is enough to find reason to believe that the skins have friends in high places.

A YEAR IN SKIN CITY

A list of violent incidents involving skinheads over the past twelve months or so:

Map of Moscow with marks showing places of incidents

1. Oct. 22 2000 , Ulitsa Usiyevicha. A group of skinheads beats up a group of

Vietnamese. Police arrived in time to defend skinheads from arriving Vietnamese.

2. Oct. 29, 2000 , Arbat. Two skins kill a 16 year-old.

3. March 17: Iranian man beaten by skins at "Akademicheskaya" station.

4. March 24: Nepalese man beaten by two skins at Kievskaya metro station.

5. April 20: Hitler's birthday "Pogrom" at Yasenovo markets. 53 arrested. 10 injured.

6. April 21: Two skins kill a Chechen on Manezhnaya Ploschad.

7. May 17: Sokolniki. Three skins, the youngest 12 years old, beat a student

from Zimbabwe with lead pipes.

8. May 21: Five skinheads attack two Zambian men on Ulitsa Vilis Latsis.

9. June10. Kutuzovsky Prospekt. Skins slice the throat of a Nigerian. He lives.

10. June 13. Sportivnaya Metro. Senegalese man beaten by skins.

11. June 18. Two skins beat a Chinese man between the Avtozavodskaya and Kolomenskaya Metro stations.

12. June 22: In Zelenograd, a 38 year-old Dagestani man is severely beaten by skins.

13. August 23: Skins beat an Angolan refugee outside the UN refugee center. He dies of his injuries two weeks later.

14. Sep. 8. A group of skins beat an Angolan student to death after a showing of the skinhead-themed movie "Fanatic". Yugo-Zapadnaya.

15. October 29: Eight skins raid the TV-Center studio.

16. October 30: Three killed in pogrom at Tsaritsino and Kakhovksya.

17. October 31: Dagestani man shot by youths outside Kievskaya McDonald's.

18. November 1: 100 skinheads riot on Bolshaya Naberezhnaya street.

19. November 3-4: 250 skins arrested in clashes with police in Timyaryzevskaya, Domodedovo, Altufyevo, Petrovsko-Razumovskaya, and Orekhovo-Borisovo Yushnoye regions.

20. Novemeber 12: Woman dies of fright after being confronted by four skinheads on Ulitsa Yunikh Lenintsev.


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