Staunton, July 18 – Ethnic Russians form the majority of skinheads in the Russian Federation, but they are not the only nationality involved in such groupings there, a discovery that calls into question the widespread assertions that this brutal subculture is simply a branch of extreme Russian nationalism.
In an article on the Nazaccent.ru portal yesterday, Maksim Sobesky points out that among the Russian Federation’s skinheads are to be found Tatars, Bashkirs, and other nationalities and that at present “the non-Russian skinhead is hardly a rarity in our poly-ethnic country” (nazaccent.ru/content/8452-nerusskie-skinhedy.html
Nonetheless, at least until a year or two ago, the Superskins Front continued to function in Sakha but the role of the ethnic Russian radicals has declined.there.
In the Middle Volga, according to Vladimir Basmanov, a DPNI activist, “half of the skinheads in Tatarstan are ethnic Tatars” and “together with ethnic Russians,” these skinheads “attack those of ‘a definite nationality’ arriving from elsewhere. Relations between Tatars and ethnic Russians are “normal.” Both groups are interested only in expelling outsiders.
One of the reasons why Tatars and ethnic Russians work so well together in skinhead groups in the Middle Volga is that the Tatars see themselves as a European group, stressing their descent not from the Asiatic Mongols but from the Volga Bulgars, and Russians accept them as such especially because the two groups agree on their common enemy – immigrants.
According to one ethnic Russian skinhead in Kazan, “the Tatars do not consider those coming from Central Asia to be related to them because in this case, [even the existence of a common religious faith] is secondary.”
Sobesky concludes by pointing out that despite all the attention skinheads have received in Russia’s yellow press, such groups are relatively small and do not play as large a role as do nationalist and anti-fascist organizations. But the authorities won’t be able to use a divide-and-rule approach against them: “ethnic distinctions … are not an obstacle” for the skinheads.