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Born in USSR

Violence against foreigners has been steadily growing in Russia for years. People who lived in one country for decades have now become foes and more and more reports on interethnic crimes in Russia appear in the media.

The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper made a survey to find out why Muscovites have become so intolerant and unfriendly towards people coming from former Soviet republics.

Lev Gudkov, Sociologist

Xenophobia is not just a problem of the capital. The number of migrants to the regions is growing ever more rapidly. In early 90-s the level of xenophobia in Russia was one of the lowest in Europe. The situation changed in mid-90s, after the 1998 financial crisis and the Chechen war. Today Russia is among the most intolerant countries in the world. And I believe the reason for this is that Russia is in a deepest moral crisis. After the reforms of 1990s the living standards remain low in the country. That is why when people from other countries arrive and become successful in their business or simply find a good job, many Russians say it is not fair. They say as the country's ethnic majority they should have special privilege.

It is impossible to fully get rid of xenophobia. You can control it but you can't do away with it once and for all. What we need is to create an atmosphere of disapproval of racism and intolerance. However, it would be hard doing that unless the authorities stop qualifying interethnic crimes as vandalism.

Mikhail Vinogradov, Psychiatrist

As a native Muscovite I can say that Muscovites have always been tolerant to foreigners. Moscow has been a destination for intelligent people who found it hard living in the province, such people have been welcome in Moscow. Native Muscovites have preserved this hospitality. However, those were the temporary resident workers who came to the capital and called themselves Muscovites who were extremely aggressive to migrants. The question is Why are THEY so intolerant towards migrants? Because they simply don't want to share. Another thing is that the number of migrants has been increasing rapidly, and to tell the truth I am sure a big part of them are criminals.

Vakhtang Janashia, Expert in Caucasus studies

Well, I wouldn't exactly say that most of the migrants are criminals. I would rather say most of them are intelligent and honest people. They live and work peacefully, don't have problems with the police, and that's why we don't see them. But we see crooks and hooligans who spoil the image of the country they come from. Most people coming to Russia are coming here because their life back home is full of hardships.

Viktor Gladkikh, Professor

However, the situation is far more complicated than it might seem. Muscovites themselves are often not welcome in the provinces. People simply think Muscovites have more money than they have. A recent research says that more than 45% of the migrants have been nailed on charge. Topping the list are Ukrainian and Tajik migrants. There are Azeris, Georgians, Armenians among them. And the problem is not that nobody can catch them and put an end to it. It's just that much money goes to the officials' pockets, that's it.

Your opinion:

Does ethnic hatred have anything to do with the people's living standard? And does the people's living standard determine their level of moral?

October 15, 2008 11:28

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