Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Russian neo-Nazis mistake bubble blowers for gay pride marchers, beat them up

The Moscow Times, eternal font of all weird Russian things, has this dispatch from the motherland:

Young people who gathered to celebrate spring by blowing bubbles at an annual flash mob in central St. Petersburg were attacked by a group of suspected neo-Nazis who mistook the gathering for a gay pride event, flash mob organizers said.

Some 500 people stood blowing bubbles on the steps of Gorkovskaya metro station and in the surrounding Alexandrovsky Park at about 4 p.m. Sunday — the agreed time for the start of the flash mob — when about 30 men ran up and started beating them and firing rubber bullets.

Several people fell to the ground before the attackers fled at the sight of approaching OMON riot police officers. A reporter saw officers detain at least one attacker. Police also detained about 30 bubble-blowers for five hours on suspicion of walking on the grass, a charge that they denied, organizers said.

Emphasis mine. True story: I've actually been vaguely threatened with arrest by Romanian police officers because I was standing on the grass (an Eastern European euphemism for mud, as far as I can tell). I think they were shaking me down for a bribe (or at least sizing me up/priming me for one), though eventually they left me alone.

In this specific case, I think the, uh, "mix-up" was probably genuine and not directed on high, but I think the Kremlin deserves ultimate responsibility for the rise of Russian neo-Nazism generally. And not just for indirect reasons like a poor economy and the government's political scapegoating of immigrants; rather, the Russian is literally training them:

Human Rights researchers in Moscow have published documents showing "Nazi skinheads are being encouraged, organized, and used by Russia's ruling circles in their own interests." And Isvestiya reported that "Nazi skinheads from an openly fascist organization, the NNP (People's National Party), were being trained at the Moscow OMON special-purpose police detachment facilities and that they were being trained specifically by OMON coaches." Several years ago Russian historian Vladimir Ilyushenko asserted that "some parties view skinheads as their reserve. The process of encouraging fascist sentiments in Russia is steered by government officials."

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