In relation to the 20th anniversary of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families on December 18, Anti-Discrimination Center Memorial urges the Russian Federation to ratify this most important document and ensure the respect of the rights of migrant workers in the country, which has one of the highest numbers of migrant workers in the entire region.
The question of migrant rights is most relevant in the current context, especially for those migrants coming from Russia’s southern and eastern borders- so called “visual minorities” who are often discriminated against based on their appearance. In the December of this year there were a series of massive nationalist demonstrations in Moscow, St.Petersburg, and other cities, which fulfilled every criteria of a “pogrom”: individuals identified by aggressively set groups of nationalists as “non-Russians” were subject to indiscriminate attacks, beatings, and physical and psychological terror.
Actions of the security forces were clearly inconsistent with the seriousness of the situation: victims of the enraged crowd didn’t receive protection or assistance, while racists were allowed to easily overcome the barriers set up by the police. The ostensibly “spontaneous” actions of the enraged crowd (stemming from the death of a Spartak fan in a fight on December 6 in Moscow) were in reality undoubtedly carefully orchestrated by leaders of neonationalist groups, who used the conflict as a pretext for the mobilization of racist groups, so as to incite ethnic tensions. The mass hysteria was merely bolstered by the reactions of the media and politicians to the events, who merely condemned the violence, and did little to call for a rejection of the nationalist fervor that was a backdrop to the disorder.
According to “Fontanka” (АЖУР), the demonstrations of nationalist youth in St.Petersburg, which included a massive procession through the main streets with attacks on bystanders whose appearance was not “agreeable” to the demonstrators, was organized by the famous Dimitriy Bobrov, a neonazi whose previous conviction was a racial hate crime. It is absolutely apparent that criminal and fascist organizations used the death of a Moscow fan as a pretext for launching a decisive attack on the rights of national minorities, and for inciting pogroms and ethnic conflict. Such a situation requires a serious evaluation and strong condemnation on behalf of the city government and society as a whole, as well as an individual protest from each of us.
Amidst discussions about “the most tolerant city” and the “multicultural Petersburg,” a significant segment of the population openly accepts and supports radical nationalism before our very eyes. This is likely the most terrifying ramification- our society must realize where it has been led by false nationalist prejudices and the tendency to blame “others” and “foreigners” for all of it’s ills.
It is paramount to immediately abandon all nationalist ideas and slogans, not only in word but in deed- to accept the multi-ethnicity of the city and country, and to recognize equality and the value and interest of every nationality and individual.
We express our support to the residents and guests of St. Petersburg; to all peoples, ethnic groups and nationalities. We call for the respect and appreciation of diversity, for not succumbing to the provocations of nationalists, for the development of inter-ethnic ties, so as to struggle together for a truly multi-ethnic city, country, and world.
By defending the rights of immigrants, migrants, and foreigners, we defend ourselves from the destructive ideologies of hate, racism, and fascism.