Mr. Bullough interviews a supposedly educated engineer and skinhead, who calls himself Tesak (hatchet). Tesak heads a group called Format 18 which posts videos on its website of their attacks on "non-white" foreigners (Armenians, Chinese, Tajiks in his words).
Some points that Mr. Bullough asserts:
Most Russians strongly disapprove of such assaults, but opinion polls suggest passive racism is widespread. Foreign visitors to Russia are often shocked by casual racist language and behavior that has long been taboo in their own societies.Although these groups claim to not be organized, there are signs of organization in the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) as well as smaller neo-nazi groups.
Late last year, polling firm Levada Centre said 53 percent of 1,600 respondents supported the phrase “Russia for the Russians”, while the numbers supporting a limit on immigration were markedly higher than the year before.
"Tesak is the future of the skinhead movement. He is clever and confident, he doesn’t take drugs or drink. You can only kill him, you can never make him abandon his ideas,” said Sergei Belikov, a lawyer who works with skinheads and has written three books on the phenomenon.I would not want to give a traveller to Russia the impression that they are going to be rounded up and beaten as soon as they leave their hotel. I've certainly not found that to be the case. However, in some cities, even native Russians avoid going out to certain places at night. Our Russian taxi driver in Yaroslavl - talked in rather black tones - about avoiding parts of the city at night. Apparently a friend of his was still in the hospital from a beating at the hands of some drunken hooligans.
“This is becoming a middle class movement ... It has become a national idea when nothing else is left. Teachers have become market traders, doctors have become bums, but they can all say at least they are white and European.” Until more of an effort is made, Belikov said even the precautions Cameroon urges on its citizens are not enough.
“Basically, I would advise Africans and Asians not to come to Russia, there is nothing good for them here,” he said.
Crime statistics for Moscow also compare favorably to similar crimes in New York City, for example. The one notable exception being public drunkeness which was higher in January for Moscow (New Years was a 10-day holiday in Russia this year.)
Increasingly however, it appears that semi-organized gangs of racially-motivated skinheads are making the rounds in cities in Russia. I've heard similar stories from friends and acquaintances in cities such as Ryazan, Veliky Novgorod, and Ekaterinburg. Certainly such things find their way into the headlines of newspapers both in the West and in Russia. It is also worth noting that there are organized anti-facist protests in various cities in Russia as well.
Some examples of other similar recent stories, just in St. Petersburg, include:
St Petersburg prosecutor's office has sent the criminal case over the murder of Vietnamese student Vu An Tuan to court. The city prosecutor's office brought charges against 17 people, 14 of them minors, facing a charge of hate murder committed by a group of people. A few adolescents charged with Vu An Tuan's murder will stand trial for other crimes as well. The attackers are indicted for a total of seven crimes.
An African student has been beaten up in St Petersburg's Vyborgskiy District, the city prosecutor's office reports. On 24 January several unidentified people attacked the 24-year old student at Forestry Academy. They beat him up and ran away. The student was admitted to hospital with broken bones and bruises.
Five people suspected of assaulting students Timur Kacharava and Maksim Sgibay were arrested in St Petersburg on 5 December, Fontanka.ru said. Four of them are said to have pleaded guilty of taking part in the assault. The arrested men allegedly admit to belonging to a skinhead movement.