Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Young Muscovites Far More Xenophobic than Other Russian Groups, Studies Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 3 – Young Muscovites are far more likely to be xenophobic than are their counterparts in other Russian cities and in rural areas, according to a recent paper by Mikhail Topalov presented to the All-Russian Sociology Congress last year but now summarized on the Tolkovatel portal. 

            In his paper, “National-Political Conflict in the Youth Milieu and Its Role and Consequences in Contemporary Russia,” Topalov, a senior researcher at the Center for Regional Sociology and Conflict Studies, says that 42 percent of young Muscovites dislike members of other nationalities and 62 percent see them as offensively challenging (, pp. 4234-4241, and

            “Young ethnic Russian Muscovites,” the scholar continued, “relate in an ever more negative way to the growing national diversity of Moscow.” According to surveys he cited, twenty-two percent of them say they don’t like that diversity, and 37 percent have a negative attitude toward immigrant groups.

            Moreover, Topalov noted, a study of Muscovite attitudes toward the Manezh Square demonstrations found that nearly one in every three (32 percent) young Russian residents of the capital said that the group for which they had the greatest level of sympathy was the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), which has now been banned by the authorities.

            The Moscow sociologist said that in part he understands these attitudes. On the one hand, there is enormous corruption in the law enforcement organs and growing amounts of ethnic crime. And on the other, the behavior of those arriving in the Russian capital from the Caucasus or Central Asia is itself a problem.

            “In no other country could arriving young people and not only young people but also adults organize street dances at midnight or speak loudly at 2:00 am under the windows of high-rise apartment buildings,” Topalov said, adding that “it is also impossible to imagine” Russians doing the same in the North Caucasus republics.

             Fortunately, the  negative attitudes of young Muscovites toward “people from the Caucasus” are not found elsewhere in the Russian Federation. As Leonty Byzov of the Moscow Institute of Sociology wrote in his “The Shape of the New Russian Transformation,” most young people elsewhere in the country are more accepting of the new arrivals.

In part, of course, this may reflect the fact that gastarbeiters in Moscow are far more numerous, something that may give them more self-confidence to put their ethnic customs on display but that beyond any doubt means that the indigenous ethnic Russian population and especially young people are more likely to come in contact with them

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