Thursday, December 16, 2010

Racial Riots in Moscow

It has been a tense week in Moscow... Yesterday the problems really erupted. (You can read about it all in this article from The Moscow News or in this one from The Economist.) I was oblivious to it all, rushing from work to get some items I needed from IKEA, OBI and Auchon before the school holiday assemblies and my guests arrive from the USA. Traffic was really bad, but then again, isn't that now a given in Moscow?

On the way back I noticed it was really bad, so I turned on the news—and I was so surprised to hear about Red Square, Kievskiy, Evropeyskiy Mall and other places being closed down and swarming with OMON soldiers dealing with skinhead rioters... It even spread to Park Kulturiy metro and Frunzenskaya as the rioters ran away from cops at Park Kulturiy—and skinheads had gathered nearby at Luzhniki since many immigrants work at the big market there.

It seemed hard to believe until Katya and I were leaving her school building, and suddenly a Russian man started to beat an Asian immigrant who works as a "dvornik" (think street cleaner, outdoor janitor) in our neighborhood. It was really loud and scary; I grabbed Katya by the coat and we ran to our car. I let a security guard know about it; I hope the man wasn't hurt too badly and that someone came to help...!

Katya wrote about it last night in an email; I'm reprinting her text because I think she did a really good job.

Dear people,

Any one of you probably hasen't heard of this, but you might have. Has any of you heard the news of the Moscow Riot?

This Monday, there was some soccer chapmpionchips. And at the championchips some man named Yegor Sviridov died. I don't know the connection, but some Russians believe it has something to do with racism (the color of your skin). And ever since, there have been some attacks. The people who believed that Yegor Sviridov's death had to do with racism, got together and decided to TRY TO kill ( hurt ) anyone who's not white. And when mom picked me up from school today, right next to my school a fight between one of the weird Russians and an Asian man broke out. But I'm O.K. Some of those Russians surrounded Evropeyski, one of the most widely known malls in Moscow, waiting for immagrints to exit or enter the building. It is so bad, that there are police and soldiers in the bussiest streets. A lot of places were shut down, such as some metro stations and Red Square.

I'm so scared (but interested in the depths of the story),



Anonymous said...

Yegor Sviridov was a Russian who was killed by a Georgian, that is why the skinheads are upset. Then the Chechen and Georgians got upset and vowed revenge to the skinheads. But it was not that bad and the police kept it under control. I work close to the Kievskaya metro station and saw just a big crowd, no beating, no fights, nothing. Maybe you saw that, but it really was not as bad you you say.

MoscowMom said...

Anonymous--I know what you mean about it also seeming totally calm as if nothing is going on. But good Lord, the coverage on the radio about it! It seemed a bit hyped up until we witnessed that fight right in front of us. A friend who lives over by Red Square noticed a lot going on, too. Glad that in general it was just crowds but not violent.

Tina in CT said...

Anonymous: "Not that bad"? Should my daughter and granddaughter have to be next to this? This is not what a 10 year old should be living near. Can you tell that I wish my family lived back home in the US?

Tami: I know you are going to want to take your guests to Red Square, the Kremlin, Gum, etc. next week but worry about that because of the rioting. I hope you are not going to the market where you normally go for produce as I believe there are a lot of foreign vendors there.

Michelle said...

I am SO glad to see you are posting again, I have missed reading the daily life in Moscow. That said I am saddened that this is happening and you and Katya are finding yourselves in the midst of the chaos.

Katya's letter is so well written and so grown up.

Please stay safe and please keep posting!

Tina in CT said...

I meant to add that I am very impressed with the maturity shown in Katya's writing. She expressed herself so well. I'm just sorry that it had to be about something that scared her.

She will do very well in her creative writing in school/term papers, etc.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is terrible. Just stay as far away from the mob as you can.
I grew up in Russia, walked the streets of Leningrad day and night as a child, I just can not believe that things like that can happen there. These people lived together for hundreds of years. What is wrong with them now?
Capitalism does not seem to fit Russia too well.