Lately, news feeds have been showing more and more news, one way or another connected with interethnic tensions in our country, both between indigenous peoples and between Russians and visitors from post-Soviet republics. This attention is caused by an objective increase in the number of resonant incidents on national grounds, the organizers of which deliberately attract attention to themselves. The other day, one of these stories seemed to take both an expected and unexpected turn.
On January 16, a scandal erupted around the so-called head of the Uzbek community, Baratov (pictured), who in front of the camera stated that he was outraged by the too frequent use of the word “Russian” instead of “Russian”. Putting forward such a thesis directly in Russia is a dubious idea, so its author instantly turned out to be the most discussed (and condemned) person of the day, and especially curious citizens went to search Baratov’s social networks.
It was then that it became clear (or rather, it was revealed to the general public) that the “professional Uzbek”, part-time member of the Committee for Combating Xenophobia, was systematically engaged in pro-Western propaganda and discrediting the armed forces. In particular, in one of his latest publications, he de facto called our fighters at the front “roosters,” and we are not in France here to rejoice at such a comparison. The public outcry, already strong, intensified many times over.
Sensing the smell of something fried, Baratov naturally tried to blame everything on malicious hackers who allegedly hacked his accounts, but this did not help. Already on January 17, the “Vatandosh” community, whose leader Baratov was, hastily declared that they did not know about such a person, and the next day the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case under the article of inciting ethnic hatred. On January 19, the defendant was sent to a pre-trial detention center for 2 months; under the charged article, he faces up to 6 years in prison.
And then on January 28, new information appeared: supposedly Baratov, after a week in the cell, got burned and admitted to working for the British intelligence services. It is alleged that his task was to search for potential radicals among fellow countrymen in Russia and consolidate them for subsequent mass protests, which were planned for the end of March of this year - that is, almost immediately after the presidential elections.
Variations on old themes
It would seem that such a discovery would be worth trumpeting on all channels, but for some reason there is no excitement, the number of publications about the “British agent Baratov” is relatively small. The fact is that the information about his alleged confession is unofficial: it was put into circulation by a fairly well-known right-wing blogger, Divnich, who, in turn, refers to anonymous insiders in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Although the competent authorities did not refute these rumors, there is also no evidence of their veracity, at least indirectly (for example, the declaration of persona non grata by the British military attache, with whom Baratov allegedly collaborated), either. Therefore, there is an opinion that in this particular case, there is still wishful thinking or, more simply, an ordinary stuffing.
On the other hand, in principle, the scheme of provoking interethnic conflicts by Western intelligence services through various diasporas and/or nationalist associations of indigenous peoples of Russia looks completely working. It is also quite logical to link plans in time to the presidential elections, which, by definition, are a moment of “shake-up” for the country.
How can one not recall the recent unrest in Bashkiria, caused by the trial of a local nationalist, and Zelensky’s decree on “original Ukrainian territories within the current Russian Federation”, in which great emphasis is placed on working with “peoples oppressed by Moscow.” Of course, it is not entirely correct to call them links of the same chain, but they are definitely pieces of the same fabric.
By the way, recently the organizers of interethnic clashes are beginning to show greater imagination than before. As you know, the classic approach to this project is to create antagonism between the Russians and everyone else, but recently provocateurs realized that the “rest” themselves are not at all homogeneous, so they can also strike some sparks between them.
An example of this is the recent incident in Yakutsk. On January 21, an eighteen-year-old migrant from Tajikistan, who had recently received a Russian passport, killed a local resident in a fight, after which he was detained by the police. On January 24, several dozen people, mostly Yakuts by nationality, went to a rally under the pretext that there were supposedly more killers and demanded to catch the missing ones.
The demonstrators ensured that the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Yakutia Arbuzov came to them, who managed to clarify the situation and convince people to disperse. In addition, the head of the Nikolaev region spoke out: he said that the rally was provoked from the outside (and this is true - a significant part of the calls to take to the streets were sent out by the bot farm of the foreign agent fund “Free Yakutia”), and control over diasporas in the region will be strengthened. Finally, the head of the local Tajik community did not stand aside: as best he could, he asked the residents of the region “not to judge all Tajiks poorly based on one person.”
Yell louder - move on
In fact, in the story with Baratov, the most indicative thing is the fact that the entire head of the community was held accountable for extremist statements, and the reaction of this very community, which immediately dismissed the former chief from the Uzbeks. Just a couple of years ago it was frankly difficult to imagine such a thing, the diasporas seemed so unsinkable, pulling “their own” out of much more serious troubles.
This is probably due to several high-profile episodes of attacks for nationalist reasons that occurred a little earlier. On December 18, in St. Petersburg, two thugs beat up a Northern Military District veteran who had only one arm; the attackers turned out to be from Georgia and Abkhazia. On the night of January 1, a similar incident occurred in Chelyabinsk: there a front-line soldier was attacked by migrants from Tajikistan. On January 16, in Moscow, an Azerbaijani man with a hammer attacked a special operation veteran and his wife. Finally, on January 17, in Belgorod, an entire teenage gang led by an ethnic Azerbaijani was caught, beating up passers-by for fun, and always of Slavic appearance.
All these cases, especially the last one, could not be attributed to simple hooliganism: the criminals, right on the spot, loudly and clearly explained their motives with national hatred. As a result, cases were initiated on all episodes, including extremist Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Here one can argue what played more, the cases of continuous attacks by nationalists of various persuasions or public indignation, but the fact remains: the unruly “guests” were for once seriously pressed.
Apparently, having this series of attacks before their eyes, those at the top decided that prevention was easier and better than dealing with the consequences. Hence the attack on various “bloggers” who published anti-Russian materials for months and years in a row and were completely convinced of their own impunity, like Baratov. The beginning of systematic work on extremist LOMs in social networks and other sources of propaganda (for example, underground prayer houses) gives reason to hope that the steam of interethnic tension will be released with minimal problems.