[The Neo-Soviet Union is on the verge of fast becoming the “Neo-Nazi Union.” The breakdown of Soviet borders let loose a flow of economic refugees who have further destabilized the already destabilized former Soviet space. Those of us here in the former American Imperial state may also come to consider the break-up of the former Soviet Union as the “greatest catastrophe of the Twentieth Century” before it is all over.]
Russian police officers detain a protestor in central Moscow
MOSCOW – Moscow police arrested more than 1,000 youths Wednesday in a massive security sweep aimed at staving off another ethnic riot erupting following the deadly shooting of a football fan by a Muslim suspect.
AFP reporters at the central Moscow Kievsky train station — the site at which the big clash was reportedly being scheduled through the Internet — saw dozens of young men and girls as young as 13 being led away in handcuffs by helmeted riot police.
The youth chanted “Russia for Russians!” and raised the right arms in Nazi salutes as arrests continued throughout the expansive central Moscow square into the night hours.
Police said the city-wide operation involved 3,000 officers and resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 people and seizure of everything from stun guns to knives and other small arms.
The police also sealed off portions of Red Square and checked the documents of tens of thousands of people as they rushed through major commute points with holiday shopping bags and children in tow.
“Do I look like a thug to you,” one elderly man who left his papers at home shouted at the television cameras as he was led away handcuffed by the police.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin huddled with his most senior security officers in a bid to organise a response to the sudden security crisis as small fights flared across the city centre despite the overwhelming presence of the police.
Similar incidents were also reported in Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg as organised members of the far right descended on a major square that stands in the heart of the city amid modern shops and busy metro stations.
The police there reported making more than 60 arrests.
Rumours of Wednesday’s clashes spread across the Russian Internet following a weekend riot outside the Kremlin involving some 5,000 football fans and elements of the far right.
Saturday’s unsanctioned rally was called to protest the police’s handling of the suspected shooting of a Moscow football fan by youths from the violence-wracked North Caucasus.
Gangs of Muslims were reported to be planning a counter-rally at Kievsky and a major Russian nationalist movement called on its supporters to come armed to the site.
“Trust only yourself and those close to you,” a Twitter feed used by Russia’s far right instructed its followers as the hour of the big street battle approached.
“Do not panic and remove your women, children and the elderly from the streets,” the message added. “Victory is ours!”
Saturday’s racism-tinged demonstration and ensuing tensions have exposed the many problems confronting Russia one week after it was awarded the right to host the 2018 World Cup.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that such riots threatened “the stability of the state.”
Resentment has been rising in Moscow about the number of people from Russia’s south and the Central Asian republics working in the city’s open-air markets and construction sites.
The city administration has been under pressure to limit the number of migrants and give these jobs to ethnic Russians — despite the miserly wages involved.
Medvedev unexpectedly added his voice to the debate by urging the country’s trade unions to make sure that the hiring of outsiders “does not hurt our citizens.”
– AFP /ls