Cultural Revolutions

Russian Migrants

December was a tense month for Russia’s ruling “tandem.”  President Dmitri Medvedev and Premier Vladimir Putin were confronted with violent protests after “Kavkaztsy” (natives of the volatile North Caucasus) killed Yegor Svidirov, a leading member of one of Russia’s unruly and often violent soccer fan clubs, in a Moscow brawl on December 6.

On December 8, a mob of “fans” surrounded the detention center where the Svidirov murder suspects were held, chanting “Russia for Russians!” and “Russia is not the Caucasus!”  They blocked the streets and demanded that no other suspects in the killing be released.  (Several suspects had been released following a threatening gathering of Kavkaztsy at the detention center.)  A flurry of mass meetings around Russia followed, including a December 11 gathering of thousands on Manezh Square in Moscow, just a stone’s throw from the Kremlin.  The gathering turned violent as the crowd clashed with riot police and attacked people of “non-Slavic appearance.”  Brawls erupted throughout the Russian capital as rioters were met with retaliation from the Kavkaztsy.  The authorities called in Internal Ministry troops to restore order, riot police blocked off Red Square, and militia (the regular Russian police force) fought mobs in Moscow metro stations.  Medvedev denounced the “pogrom.”


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