By Paul Goble
The police raid on a Muslim prayer room on October 20 and the impressment of Muslims into the Russian army attracted widespread attention (newizv.ru/news/2023-10-22/posle-namaza-v-boy-migrantov-s-rossiyskim-pasportom-massovo-zabirayut-v-armiyu-422016 and dialog.tj/news/v-podmoskove-omon-ustroil-oblavu-v-mecheti-i-zabral-prikhozhan-v-voenkomat).
But this raise was only the tip of the iceberg of a rising tide in such actions, The Insidersays; and coverage of it ignored three important things: the growth in xenophobic attitudes among Russians about migrants, the recovery of organizations of the extreme right who feed on that, and the ways in which these groups cooperate with the police (theins.ru/obshestvo/264590).
According to the portal, dozens or even hundreds of such raids “have been taking place on the initiative of special detachments of nationalist snitchers who cooperate with the government’s siloviki. They became more active over the last summer and already now form a special subculture” that has prompted Muslims to organize in response.
The most prominent of these groups, the Russian Community, 40 by 40, and the Northern Man, are growing rapidly, The Insider says, attracting tens of thousands of followers on the Internet and working closely with the police who can use them to attack Muslims when the authorities want to maintain a fig leaf of official non-involvement.
To date, these links and the activation of the extreme right have passed largely under the radar of Moscow and Western media which have tended to assume that the passions of Russian nationalists are focused on supporting Putin’s war in Ukraine. But anti-immigrant and especially anti-Muslim attitudes are changing the situation and deserve more coverage.