By Paul Goble
Many North Caucasians no longer consider Moscow to be “their” capital, a “Russky reporter” journalist who specializes on ethnic conflicts told a Friday roundtable on ethnic relations in the Russian megalopolis; in large part, she said, because of their specific experiences with ethnic Russians.
“Who is a Russian for [the residents of the North Caucasus]? In the first instance, someone in a camouflage uniform with an automatic weapon.” And if a North Caucasian comes to Moscow to work, Mariya Akhmedova said, he or she is doing so only to “survive because in the Caucasus a war is in fact going on” (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/181553/).
That reality, she told a meeting on “Multi-national Moscow: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” convened by the Rosbalt news agency in cooperation with the city government, “very strongly influences the relations of the peoples toward one another” and explains why there is so much hostility on both sides.
Other speakers at the meeting, which Rosbalt said was only the first of many, highlighted other ethnic issues. Vladimir Kozlov, a specialist on Moscow at the Russian State Humanitarian University, stressed that “initially on the territory of Moscow lived Finno-Ugric peoples.” Only later came the Slavs. And “until recently,” there were no ethnic conflicts.
A third speaker, Vladimir Bokov, who heads the nationality policy administration of the Moscow city Department of Inter-Regional Ties and Nationality Policy and who is known for pushing the idea of a “Moscow Code” for immigrants, argued that Moscow, “as a megalopolis,” has “its own rules of behavior” which “if everyone will follow them will lead to less aggression.”
According to the Kavkaz-Uzel report, participants in the meeting agreed that inter-ethnic conflicts are “a problem of all Russia” and not just its capital and that among the most important triggers of such conflicts are “corruption, greed, and low wages.”