During the Russia-Belgium football match in St. Petersburg, the players of the Belgian team bowed their knees in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The players of the Russian national team did not join the gesture and Russian fans booed the Belgian players. FARE (The anti-racist football network “Football Against Racism in Europe”) reacted to the whistling of the Russians to the Belgian national team, calling it a “racist signal.”
Russian propaganda promotes an image of Russia as a liberator from fascism and the “brown plague”. At the same time, the Russian president claims that Russians are “special people” at the genetic level, their best kind. Additionally, Ivan Ilyin, Putin’s favourite philosopher, was a theorist of Russian fascism, welcomed German National Socialists and considered Hitler as a savior of Europe.
“Curb the diaspora”
Kneeling in solidarity with the discriminated black population of the United States does not mean voluntary humiliation or even an apology, it was introduced to the political culture of the United States long before 2020.
The story of the gesture dates back to 1965 and is associated with Martin Luther King-junior. After the arrest of dozens of protesters during three nonviolent protest marches fighting for the right to vote for black Americans, King and his associates knelt to pray in front of the Dallas County Courthouse in Alabama. This action referred to leaflets distributed by opponents of slavery in the late eighteenth century. They depicted a black man and woman standing on one knee in prayer, asking, “Am I not a man or a brother? / Am I not a woman or a sister?”.
Since 2016, kneeling took on a new meaning: the gesture became an act of protest practiced by black athletes, refusing to stand while performing the anthem. Since then, it has been associated primarily with disagreement with police action against racial minorities. Following the black athletes, the white athletes began to repeat the gesture — in support of colleagues who were threatened with sanctions, up to exclusion from the games.
It is worth noting that, according to opinion polls, in 2020, almost two-thirds of Americans supported the demands of BLM protests (in particular, 59% of adult white Americans). In the cities where the data were collected, the vast majority of protesters were white — with the highest percentage in Minneapolis (85%), followed by Los Angeles (78%), Atlanta and New York (both 76%).
At the same time, Russian propaganda claimed that the protests were driven by “racism against whites” and that they “brought the United States to its knees”: “White police, military, politicians, TV presenters bow to the ground, begging forgiveness from black people.”
The deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Vitaly Milonov in his interview to the “Sport-Express” described BLM movement: “The movement is shit! Absolute shit! Totally leftist theme. It was created from the sweaty socks of the antifa movement. Who went outside? Who were they? Gays, Communists and Marxists… I had a grade of five at school for naming Negroes Negroes! The race is called a negroid. This is normal.”
When the chief inspector of the traffic police mortally wounded 19-year-old Azerbaijani Vekil Abdullayev, during his detention in Novosibirsk, Russia, the Russian press wrote — “they made a George Floyd from him”: “Maybe we will still be forced to kneel in repentance following the example of the United States and Western Europeans? After his death during the arrest,drug addict and recidivist George Floyd, became a national hero. We have to curb the diasporas, or the American shameful scenario will become a reality for us.”
Russia permanently denies the existence of racism, however, when Barack Obama was the President of the US, he was regularly compared to a monkey in Russian media.
For example, in 2014, advertising posters with f Barack Obama as a monkey who was opposing the infamous Igor Strelkov (Also known as Igor Girkin appeared on the streets of Moscow. The billboards were promoting non-existent movie “Maydan obezʹyan” (Monkey Square). The title of the posters referred to the Hollywood movie “Planet of the Apes”.
In August last year, the Yuri Levada Analytical Center conducted a survey on xenophobia and nationalism in Russia. According to the survey, only 3% of respondents are willing to see black people among their family members. A similar result — and with the answer to the question “are you ready to see blacks among close friends” — was answered positively by 4%. 6% are ready to see black people among the neighbors. In addition to this, Russians do not like Jews, Chinese, Central Asians, Chechens, Roma, and Ukrainians.
The Racist Federation, under this headline The Insider, a Russian independent online newspaper, published a report on how national minorities in Russia face aggression and discrimination.
In June last year, a company Yandex.Taxi faced a wave of criticism on social media after firing one of its drivers for refusing to drive a black client. The incident took place in Bryansk, and the passenger turned out to be a student from the Congo. Yandex decided that their employee made racist gesture and fired him. The driver himself stated that he was a racist.
Twitter users called on Yandex.Taxi to apologize to the taxi driver and take him back to work. To make the company pay attention to the problem, Russian social media users have launched the hashtag #yandexcuckold ( in this context it means “subordination” to “foreign ideology”).
According to TJournal, the hashtag was launched by Twitter user @Fatalist_Rus. He stated that Yandex.Taxi “infringed on the rights of Russian drivers” by its actions, because a Russian in his country has the right to deny anyone a seat in his car.
Last summer, a black St. Petersburg Instagram blogger, Maria Magdalena Tunkara, revealed threats of beatings and murder based on racism. She attached screenshots of the comments. She was told that “Negroes have no place in Russia”, “Russia for Russians, monkey”, and also threatened: “Petersburgers, find her and explain that it is impossible to do so, she is not in America”, “if you, ** *, you will be close to me, I will ***** kill you”.
People in Russia like to talk about the genocide of Indians in the United States and do not like to talk about the genocide of the indigenous people of Siberia. Many articles and books describe the process of conquest or, as it is often called, the “development“ of Siberia by Russian “pioneers” (as if they were walking through an uninhabited territory) as a predominantly peaceful interaction of aliens with local tribes.
This compares the Russian and American methods of colonization not in favor of the latter. Russia’s development of Siberia is presented exclusively in a positive light.
The reality of this peaceful development was quite different: “In the 1690s, the Koryaks, Kamchadals, and Chukchi were exterminated. When the Cossacks did not receive the required amount of yasak (Turkic word for “tribute”) from the natives, the governor of Yakutsk, Petro Golovin, hanged locals on meat hooks. 70% of the Yakut population from the Lena river basin died within 40 years, rape and enslavement were used against local women and children to force the natives to pay yasak
The genocide of the Chukchi and Koryaks was ordered by Rusiian Empress Elizabeth in 1742 to completely expel them from their native lands and wipe out their culture. A command was to “completely eradicate” the natives. “The genocide of the indigenous population led to the complete destruction of entire ethnic groups (about 12 exterminated groups).”
Modern Russia can be called a “cemetery of peoples”, considering the number of peoples who disappeared as a result of “development” of lands: ves, golyad, kamasintsy, kerkety, melanchleens, mayor, meshchera, motors, murom, polovtsy, eels, and so on. They, like most other nations, were conquered to become “Moscovites”, “Russians”.
Russian Empire officially had a a status of “foreigner”, who was infringed on civil rights.
As a researcher of Tatar culture, Azad-Aize Rorlich, noted: “The racial marker of identity remained a strong boundary of difference everywhere… When Russian imperial lawmakers divided the population into locals and foreigners, they established a clear division in the representation of the imperial social self. The notion of a foreigner as a marker of identity was based on the denial of racial communion with Russians by descent. It was “exclusive” in nature and deliberately sentenced a person.”
Special people for a ”special destiny“
Back in 2016, more than half of Russians — 57% — believed that Russians are a great nation that has a special significance in world history (for comparison: in 1992, only 13% of respondents thought so). At the time, in 2014, almost 40 % of Russians believed that Russia had its own special destiny, which is associated with Putin.
“Now there has been some restoration of this special destiny, and this nourishment was given by Crimea. People have identified a “special destiny” with Putin, not with Europe. Part of the population remembered that Russia was a great empire, it rose from its knees, began to rise, became a powerful country, and this part moved to the concept of a special destiny,” — said the president of the Center for Political Technology Igor Bunin.
Putin has been promoting the “special” image of Russians. In 2012 he was talking about a special “cultural code” that someone is trying to “break”. In 2014, the “cultural” was replaced by the “genetic”. In March 2021, talking to the Crimean people, contrasting the Russians with the Americans, he said: “Although they think we are the same as them, we are different people, we have a different genetic and cultural-moral code, but we know how to defend ourinterests… And they will have to reckon with it.”
Earlier, in February 2021, Putin stated that the Russians have an “infinite genetic code”: “I believe in passion, in the theory of passion. This, in fact, as in nature and society — development, peak, extinction. Russia has not reached its peak. We are on the march, on the march of development… We have an infinite genetic code. It is based on mixing blood, so to speak, in a simple, popular way.”
There is an initiative to edit the Constitution of the Russian Federation to create a new ideology based on the genes of the nation, the Daily Beast reported. A member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Talia Khabrieva, suggested that the new ideology include “genetically inherent values of the Russian people,” which would be defined in the Constitution.
According to Anton Hopka, general partner and co-founder of ATEM Capital, the management company of the US biotechnology investment fund: one of the ideas in the collective consciousness in Russia is that the “spirit” and beliefs are determined by genes and that new biotechnology will “reprogram” the individual. For example, in the recent movie “Blockade Blood. Genetics”, which was shown mostly at private screening for the country’s leadership, suggests that the “children of the winners” born in St. Petersburg (directly mentioned, including the President of Russia and Patriarch Kirill),” connects a common manner of behavior, high responsibility for what is happening in the country “in connection with their genes.”
Back in 2017, Putin claimed that some foreigners with unclear goals “professionally” collect biomaterials from the people of Russia: “Do you know that biological material is collected throughout the country? And from different ethnic groups and people living in different geographical locations of the Russian Federation. Here’s the question: why is this being done?”.
Putin also believes in the possibility of “designing” a person: “A person can create a person with given characteristics — it can be a genius mathematician or a genius musician, but also a military man; a man who can fight without fear, without pity, without pain.”
According to Riga-based online newspaper, Meduza, Genetics has already become Putin’s favorite toy: the total cost of theprojects in this area in the coming years may rise to 230 billion rubles. Putin personally monitors the implementation of the program, his relatives (first of all, the eldest daughter Maria Vorontsova) and close friends (cellist Sergei Roldugin’s genetics is in charge of genetics), and the main partner is the Rosneft oil company.
It is worth to mention, that in Nazi Germany they explained their superiority and difference between peoples by genetics, and also looked for ways to create a “superhuman”.
All this is combined with a systematic search for fascists among Russia’s neighbors. According to Kremlin propaganda, Ukrainians, Baltics, and Poles are all experiencing a resurgence of Nazi movements in their countries. The Czechs have recently joined the list. After the Russian special services blew up warehouses in the Czech Republic, Kremlin channels began to talk about how obedient and “with light” the Czech Republic once worked for the Wehrmacht.
This technique is not new. It allows the aggressor to justify his attacks by saying that the enemy has “wrong” values, so the aggressor allegedly receives a moral right to aggression.
Russia is actively using gaps in communications and jumping in the definitions before they are becoming available to the general public. In this way, it promotes its agenda. These days gender and racial equality movements are heavily impacted by those attacks. Therefore, it is important to be careful and make sure that the information we receive is not distorted by a veil of propaganda, manipulation and misidentifications.