Ethnic and Religious Diversity in Russia



April 22 officially sanctioned nationalist rally in Moscow made a lot of waves in the North Caucasus. The rally's slogan was "Stop feeding the Caucasus” and one of the organizers was the nationalistic Russian Civil Union. Their main proposal was to cut federal budget transfers to the republics of the North Caucasus as allegedly they were getting much more than other Russian provinces.

The North Caucasus bloggers responded that the federal budget transfers end up in the coffers of local bureaucrats, just like they do all over Russia. And even if they went to the people of the North Caucasus, the figures are still comparable and in many cases lower than for some other regions of the Russian Federation. An Ossetian blogger wrote that "maybe an average Russian does think that we swim in so much money here that we are going crazy. And only come to Central Russia to either kill, rape or rob."

One particular remark that ignited the bloggers' anger was the one concerning lack of talented people in the North Caucasus. They started putting together lists of prominent people from the North Caucasus, leaders in all walks of life: cinema and literature, music and fine arts, politics and sports proving wrong the rally’s statement “all they can do is dance and ask for more money.”

The rally on Chistie Prudy was not about either corruption or the lack of talented people in the North Caucasus. It was about pitting different groups against each other, based on ethnic, religious and cultural differences. Violence begets more violence and we can see that the situation is escalating with instigators like the organizers of this rally urging Russians to act. The government should do everything to stop this kind of rhetoric before violence spirals out of control and it will be too late.

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Photo posted by user Sergeyevich

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