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Rally Shows Rise of Nationalist Sentiment

Published: November 6, 2013 (Issue # 1785)



  • Participants in the nationalist Russian March, held across Russia on Monday, hold a banner at one of the Moscow events.
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / SPT

Thousands of Russians poured into the streets of dozens of towns across the country Monday to voice nationalist sentiments on a holiday that was established by the government in 2005 to celebrate the unity of Russia’s diverse population.

Nationalism has been on the rise in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with both the state and numerous civil society organizations trying to pigeonhole it within formalized limits, but it has come to a fever pitch in the aftermath of ethnically charged riots in Moscow’s district of Biryulyovo on Oct. 14.

The riots, triggered by the killing of a young Russian man, allegedly by a migrant worker, led to numerous public calls to toughen the country’s immigration legislation, apparently emboldening many nationalists.

The task of keeping nationalism contained has proved to be a tough challenge for authorities, as radical nationalists are still able to attract many young people to their cause by providing what many say the nation as a whole lacks: a guiding ideology and a sense of purpose in life.

In a sign of the intensified nationalist atmosphere ahead of Monday’s Russian March, the country’s biggest annual nationalist rally, the Nazi flag was displayed during a football match Wednesday between Spartak Moscow and Shinnik Yaroslavl.

On Monday, crowds made up mostly of neo-Nazis put their discontent into words, chanting various slogans, perhaps the least inflammatory of which was: “Stop taking it and take up arms!”

Other slogans insulted Islam and urged violence and drastic measures against minorities.

The crowd, which according to police amounted to 8,000 people, consisted mostly of young men in tight jeans and black jackets. They marched across the southeastern Lyublino district, with a nationalist thrash metal band, Kolovrat, performing at the end.

The organizers claimed that at least 20,000 people attended the march.

“Who are we?” one of the ringleaders kept asking participants, with the crowd shouting “Russians!” in response.

The march was escorted by a helicopter and hundreds of policemen. Thirty people were detained for covering their faces and shouting Nazi slogans, police reported.

“There is no doubt that the Russian nation is in danger today,” said Gleb, 32, who declined to give his last name in order to conceal his identity. “People are losing patience — this is exactly what you see here,” he said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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