Radio Free Europe reports that on Tuesday night “a sports school was torched in Kondopoga, a small city of 35,000 inhabitants in the northwestern Karelia Republic. Reports say that one of the trainers employed there is of Caucasus origin and that several families from Central Asia were living in the school at the time.”
Looks like Chechens are not the only ones ready, willing and able to launch attacks on Russian schools.
As RFE notes, this comes after “angry mobs burned down the restaurant where the Russians were killed and destroyed a street market and several stores owned by Chechens and other people from the Caucasus. The violence has been accompanied by street rallies in Kondopoga demanding the expulsion of immigrants.”
Meanwhile, RIA Novosti reports that huge numbers of dark-skinned people have fled the town and are now refugees, impoverished and imperiled. To its credit, RIA refers to the actions of the local population as a “pogrom.”
Even more horrifying than the violence itself, RFE documents various political leaders in Russia expressing support for the racists, while “President” Putin has remained nauseatingly silent:
Several nationalist parties have expressed support for the riots. Some reports claim these parties actually orchestrated them. Aleksandr Belov, the leader of the radical Movement Against Illegal Migration, denies involvement in the rampage. But he backed the protests in Kondopoga during a news conference in Moscow on September 5. “People gathered spontaneously to express their demands,” Belov said. “Their demands were simple: [foreigners] get out of here, you have 24 hours. Why? You’ve come here without invitation and we’re fed up with you. These are the two reasons behind the problems in Kondopoga and elsewhere.” Belov said representatives of his movement, know for its aggressive xenophobic rhetoric, had plans to station representatives permanently in Karelia to “help,” in his words, local residents.
But the Movement Against Illegal Migration is not the only group to publicly support the events in Kondopoga. Nikolai Kuryanovich, a deputy from the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, joined forces with Belov at the news conference. This is the solution he proposed to tackle ethnic tensions in Russia: “Once again, this time totally, subjugate the Caucasus and toughen migration laws,” Kuryanovich said. “Total cleansing. All criminal elements must be brought to responsibility — even destroyed — like the president said. We are waiting for him to make good on his promise to ‘wipe them out in the outhouse.'” Kuryanovich also proposed to build what he called a “wall of China” that would separate the North Caucasus republics from the rest of Russia.
Despite President Vladimir Putin’s silence, the crisis in Kondopoga has spiraled into a national issue. Ramzan Kadyrov, the prime minister of the pro-Moscow government in Chechnya, has blamed Karelian officials for failing to stop the riots and has vowed to restore order if necessary.
It’s quite amazing, even by Russian standards, that a “liberal democrat” in Russia can not only openly call for “ethnic cleansing” but purport to be merely following the edicts of the president of the country, without any challenge from the president himself to that claim, much less public opposition.
Interfax quotes Communist Leader Gennady Zyuganov as seeking to rationalize the violence by claiming that “despair, substandard living conditions, the absence of jobs and respect for the past engender extremism and aggressiveness.” It’s a sad day indeed, as it was when the Communists presented the only credible opposition to Yeltsin and Putin, when a Commie Pinko like Zyuganov is a source of truth, but he’s right when he says Russia is an economic disaster despite the rising price of oil. How can Russians favor “President” Putin with 70%+ approval ratings when this is so? Ah yes, riddle wrapped in a mystery stuff. But Zyuganov likes to overlook the fact that the only reason Russia is in this economic state today is because his party bankrupted it, and the current president is a proud KGB spy.
But the most horrifying prospect of all is “President” Putin using these events as an excuse for even more draconian crackdowns on civil liberties which will do nothing (as he stands mute on the topic) to quell race violence but which will slam the door on freedom and democracy in Russia, dooming the country to a bleak and hopeless future.