Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Migration Changing Ethnic Mix in Daghestan and in Western Siberia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 25 – The influx of North Caucasians into major Russian cities like Moscow has attracted a great deal of attention because of clashes between them and the indigenous population, but another migration flow – migration from the North Caucasus to Western Siberia – is affecting not only where people go but where they have left.

            In a new article, Ramazan Alpaut notes that Kumyks, Lezgins, and Nogays are “migrating in massive numbers to the northern regions of Russia” from their homelands in Daghestan, complicating life in Western Siberia but also dramatically affecting the fate of these communities at home (kavkazr.com/a/kak-dagestancy-stanovyatsya-sibiryakami/28755945.html).

                The Radio Liberty journalist notes that according to the 2010 census, there are now about 19,000 Kumyks and more than 16,000 Lezgins living in Tyumen oblast, about 14,000 Kumyks and more than 13,000 Lezgins in the Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous District, where there are also more than 5,000 Nogays. In the Yamalo-Nenets AD, there are smaller numbers.

            At the same time, Alpaut points out, there have been declines in the numbers of the members of these nationalities in particular areas of Daghestan, reducing the ability of these peoples to defend themselves and opening them up to assimilation by other Daghestani nationalities.

            Officials there blame the outflow on high levels of unemployment and on the background and training of many in these communities who in Soviet times worked across the USSR in the oil and gas industries. They suggest that what is happening is simply a return of a pattern quite common at that time.

            But however that may be, the impact of outmigration on Daghestan and  in-migration in parts of the Russian Federation where the population is smaller than in major cities and that any new arrivals can do more to change the ethnic balance than is the case in urban areas are phenomena that few are yet considering.

            On the one hand, the departure of Kumyks, Lezgins and Nogays inevitably affects the status of these groups within Daghestan, almost certainly guaranteeing that they will have less power and get fewer resources for schools and other native language institutions and thus putting them at risk of assimilation.

            And on the other, the arrival of these groups in predominantly Russian areas almost equally inevitably guarantees clashes between them and the local Russian population, clashes that may make these peoples and also the Russians there more rather than less sensitive to ethnic questions. 

Not Just in Chechnya: Gays are Being Attacked and Killed Across Russia, New Study Shows

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 25 – Last spring, many in Russia and abroad focused on the mistreatment and even murder of LGBTs in Chechnya, a development that called attention to the impact of the Russian law against gay propaganda but had the effect of distracting attention from the mistreatment and even murder of LGBTs not just in the North Caucasus but across Russia.

            Now, Aleksandr Kondakov, a sociologist at the European University in St. Petersburg, has corrected that imbalance in a new book, Crimes of Hatred Against LGBTs in Russia, which focuses on court cases where the sexual orientation of victims or perpetrators is noted. He gives his findings to Natalya Granina of the Lenta news agency (lenta.ru/articles/2017/09/25/gey/).

            According to Granina, Kondakov has found “on average” about 20 to 35 crimes directed against lesbians and homosexuals in Russia in recent years, a figure she suggests that give Russia’s size is “not shocking.”  But the sociologist says that these figures are incomplete because today “for the police crimes motivated by hatred to LGBTs don’t exist.”

            Consequently, he and his colleagues were forced to make use of the most reliable “but also the most conservative source, the courts,” and then extrapolate. But at the same time, Kondakov says, “even when one person dies, this is a tragedy, and here dozens are dying only because they are gays and lesbians.”

            He reports that he encountered only two cases between 2010 and 2015 when the victims in cases were identified as the victims of hatred on the basis of sexual orientation.  But a search of court records using various terms allowed him to identify far more cases where that in fact was the case.

            “If before 2013, there were on average 32 cases based on hated to LGBTs, in 2015, there were already 65,” Kondakov says. But not only have the number of crimes of this kind increased: they have become more severe. Now, a far higher percentage of the victims are in fact killed, and deaths from this cause have gone up far faster than murders for other reasons.

            In some regions, such as the North Caucasus, prosecutors and judges simply don’t talk about this cause and therefore it appears there is less of a problem, he continues. In fact, the situation is worst in small cities and least bad in the major metropolises where people are generally more tolerant of differences.

            Despite the anti-gay propaganda law and widespread propaganda against gays, most Russian judges in fact appear to view anti-gay attitudes not as an extenuating circumstance but rather as one that justifies even more severe punishments, a pattern reflecting the general view that crimes committed against groups are worse than those against individuals.

            More research on this and other questions is needed, the sociologist say. But unfortunately, in Russia today, “there are practically no monographs or dissertations on this issue.” Most work in the area is done by psychologists rather than anthropologists, sociologists or political scientists. 

            A major reason for that pattern is that grants for research are only rarely given for investigators working in this area.  Another is that prejudice continues to inform even nominally scholarly articles. Thus, in some, he says, one encounters unsupported claims that “same sex marriages will destroy Russia.”

Monday, September 25, 2017

Possibility that Telephone Bomb Threats a Test of Russia’s Security Services ‘Can’t Be Excluded,’ Babchenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 25 – In the absence of any specific findings, “it is not excluded,” Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko says, that the anonymous telephone warnings about bombs that have forced the evacuation of facilities in Russia over the last two weeks may be “a test of [Russia’s] special services.”

            That was what appears to have happened in 1999 in Ryazan, he points out; and there is no reason to assume that this tactic could be repeated now (gordonua.com/news/worldnews/ne-isklyucheno-chto-lzheminirovaniya-v-rossii-proverka-specsluzhb-v-1999-godu-takoe-bylo-v-ryazani-pochemu-by-ne-povtorit-babchenko-208867.html).

                Ukraine’s Gordon news agency to which Babchenko made this comment notes that “after a series of terrorist acts” in 1999, police found explosives planted in Ryazan.  The then-director of the FSB said that “analogous explosive materials had been placed by FSB officers in several cities in the course of training exercises to raise the professionalism of the special services.”

            “Why shouldn’t this be repeated?” Babchenko asks rhetorically. “I completely allow the possibility of such a variant” -- although he acknowledges that there are many other possible explanations from genuine telephone terrorism to hooliganism to copycat crimes of one kind or another. He doesn’t address whether more than one of these factors might be involved.

            The journalist adds that Russians have been living with a terrorist threat and warnings of terrorist threats for 20 years and in a certain sense have become used to such things. As a result, they aren’t inclined to show as much concern or alarm or even devote as much attention as many other peoples might.  “That is what the country is like,” he says.