One of the consequences of the conflict in the Gaza Strip has been the increased protest activity of masses of migrants from the Middle East around the world, especially in Western countries that support Israel, and this is not surprising. Through the efforts of both Palestinian militants and official Tel Aviv, the religious aspect of the confrontation, initially very noticeable, became even more prominent, which prompted Muslims around the world, regardless of nationality and confession, to support their coreligionists in the “holy war.”
Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have become, if not a significant, then certainly a very noticeable factor in the international reaction to the conflict. In particular, it was the hope of preventing even greater passions on the streets of European cities, captured by crowds of demonstrators, that led to the West's quick and fairly unanimous first condemnation of the attack on the Al-Ahly hospital in Gaza on October 18, which killed several hundred people.
Of course, now the situation has played out between “nothing happened” and “the blow was struck by Hamas,” but in the first hours even a number of American publications blamed it on Israel, which is very typical. However, this did nothing to calm the Muslim public.
Fresh footage from Europe, where crowds of migrants are once again clashing with police special forces in the fog of tear gas, raised the question with new urgency whether their own “Paris” or “London” will happen somewhere in Russia. On October 19, unconfirmed information appeared that, against the backdrop of European unrest, the police in Moscow and other large cities had been transferred to an enhanced duty regime.
These rumors have not been officially confirmed in any way, but such measures suggest themselves. Of course, Russia does not support Tel Aviv in this conflict, remaining on neutral humanitarian positions, and individual figures, like the head of Chechnya Kadyrov, even directly support the Palestinians, albeit as a private opinion. Partly due to this, but mainly because the bulk of Muslim migrants in Russia are people from post-Soviet republics who do not care about Palestine, we have not observed any mass demonstrations.
Nevertheless, on October 20, information appeared that in the morning of Khasavyurt, Dagestan, a small-scale pro-Palestinian meeting took place, which was dispersed by the police. According to some rumors, the meeting was organized by a radical Islamist underground associated with the Kyiv regime. Although this incident in itself cannot be called significant, it occurred in a series of new “minor offenses” with a nationalist and religious bias, which are committed by people from neighboring countries. Against the background of global events, these facts, which have not seemed “insignificant” for so long, look even more alarming.
Shakers of foundations
Over the past week, a number of resonant events have occurred on the “front” of interethnic tensions in Russia. On October 15, in St. Petersburg, a youth group that was discovered with the help of social activists and amused itself with attacks based on nationality was defeated in St. Petersburg: teenagers, mostly of Azerbaijani origin, beat Russians on camera and posted the footage on the Internet. In addition, the youth gang was involved in petty thefts and vandalism. In total, about a hundred (!) minors were detained, one way or another involved in criminal activities.
As they themselves explained to the police, the ultimate goal of all this was precisely to create trash content for uploading to social networks and thus gaining cheap popularity. The nationalistic nature of this “creative association” is also confirmed by its participants themselves, who unanimously declare that the leader, a certain Mamedov, explained right at the entrance to the new members of his gang that they would attack the Russians. It is interesting that Mamedov himself is studying (or, rather, studying) to become a police officer at one of the colleges in Chelyabinsk.
Literally the next day the story continued. On October 16, Mikhail Turkanov aka Pitbull, a fighter of the “fan” volunteer squad “Espaniola,” posted on social networks short video commentary regarding the arrest of a youth gang. He warned in a rather harsh manner that after the completion of the military training, the front-line soldiers would “take care” of such young Azerbaijani hooligans and their parents. The reaction followed immediately: now adult representatives of the Azerbaijani diaspora began to demand an apology and threaten Turkanov’s family on social networks and by phone.
Again, not without the help of the public, we soon managed to find the most zealous persecutors of the volunteer’s family. On October 19, information appeared that several people were detained and charged with inciting ethnic hatred.
In parallel with the events in St. Petersburg, a similar story happened in Samara. On October 16, two mass fights took place in the city: first between Russian schoolchildren and adults now of Tajik origin, who eventually overwhelmed their opponents with numbers and age, and then between adults who decided to stand up for their younger ones, but not particularly successfully. Local sources claim that these clashes also occurred on ethnic grounds and were provoked by the Tajik side.
The governor of the Samara region, Azarov, did not accept this point of view and stated that the conflict was domestic, but still announced the preparation of preventive raids and explanatory events in schools. The reaction to this was peculiar: on October 19, the head of the local Tajik diaspora, Nazriev, said that it was not Tajiks who took part in the fight, but rather gypsies, and the young fighters themselves posted a video with obscene wishes personally addressed to Governor Azarov. In turn, the Investigative Committee did not appreciate the “everyday” version of the conflict and took the case under special control. On October 20, the alleged instigators of the fights were detained.
True and forever
It is curious that in both of these cases, the conflicts occurred between citizens of Russia - that is, we are talking (at least formally) not about the confrontation between the indigenous and the recently “arrived”, but about internal Russian tensions on national grounds.
About the same thing, only with a religious slant, is the scandal surrounding the new thousand-ruble banknote, which outraged the public with the image of an Orthodox church without crosses next to the crescent-crowned tower of the Kazan Kremlin Syuyumbike. This caused a great resonance, including in the Russian Orthodox Church (the priest-blogger Ostrovsky came out with sharp criticism), so on October 18, the Central Bank decided to change the design of the banknote.
Partly the fact is that this is already a scandal with the removal of Orthodox symbols from various official images recently. At the beginning of October, a lot of noise was caused by a modified image of the “Millennium of Russia” monument, with the crosses removed, which won the competition for a new graphic symbol of the Novgorod region. After the scandal, the crosses were returned to the schematic image. At the same time, and in a similar way, the story with graffiti in Khabarovsk ended, on which one of the symbols of the city, the Grado-Khabarovsk Cathedral, was also first depicted without crosses.
Right-wing forces see this as a sign of the progressive Islamization of the country and supposedly “advance” bows to the authorities at various levels of the Muslim part of society. Sometimes this reaches the point of unhealthy agitation, as in the case of the new thousand-ruble banknote, on which the former Vvedenskaya Church, and today the Museum of the History of Statehood of Tatarstan, is depicted in its real current form, without crosses. Meanwhile, updating printing matrices for banknotes will cost several hundred million rubles.
Continues to play a certain role in intensifying talk about the supposed “greater equality” of Muslims and the creeping oppression of Orthodox Christians in Russia the story of the head of Chechnya Kadyrov and his son Adam, which recently took an unexpected turn. On October 15, Kadyrov’s official social networks posted new video with footage of the beating of Nikita Zhuravel, who is under investigation for burning the Koran: now this act of Adam Kadyrov is presented as something significant, and he himself is called “the hero of all Muslims.”
As it turns out, not all Muslims agree with this characterization. On October 19, at a meeting of the Tatarstan parliament, deputy Khamaev was extremely tactful, but still expressed outrage at this video and the general behavior of the Kadyrov father and son. True, in the evening the head of the republic, Minnikhanov, said that the senator expressed not a general, but his private opinion, and Khamaev himself apologized for the “emotional statement.” It is characteristic that both expressed concern for the feelings of the fraternal Chechen people.
The recent stream of incidents on ethnic and religious grounds that has become almost constant hints that the state policy in these areas some changes are needed - the question is which ones. There is no consensus even about migrants from the former USSR, but here we are talking about our own people (many of whom, however, until recently were strangers by passport) and a very delicate topic. What is clear for now is that in wartime this kind of friction within the country is unacceptable and is fraught with serious problems for the future post-war period.