Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy concerned by racism
Published 12 July 2012 | ASSIST News Service
After a break of a year-and-a-half, Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy's 11-year-old Racial Task Force (RTF) is back in business.
Its first two quarterly reports for 2012 listing incidents of racially-based, physical and verbal abuse in Moscow were released 5 July.
The reports indicate that April 19-21 of every year is an ideal time to stay at home. The first two reports for 2012 describe 10 attacks and four instances of serious verbal harassment.
They detail one 30-year-old male from Congo who was attacked three times in Moscow on 21 April.
On 18 February, a 42-year-old Nigerian had his face sprayed with gasoline by rowdies shouting racial epithets, seriously irritating skin and eyes. He died on 21 April following a stroke. Since he is no longer able to send money home to his family, MPC is supporting his desperately poor family in Nigeria for an interim period.
The RTF notes that its limited, largely-volunteer forces can only document a tiny percentage of all racially-motivated incidents.
One of this year's victims has been physically attacked four times over a ten-year period; another twice during a three-year stay. A man from the Congo has been attacked five times within a two-and-a-half year period and says he is "verbally harassed on a daily basis".
In one incident on a streetcar this year, an elderly woman reportedly shouted: "You monkeys are overrunning our country! What are you doing here? Stalin would have dealt with you. Russia is for Russians!"
A major problem is that persons of colour cannot count on protection from bystanders and police. In more than one instance, onlookers have been seen filming attacks on people of colour.
During the night of 18 May, a 38-year-old Ghanaian male was beaten seriously while sleeping in the flat of African friends.
Five Russian burglars had broken down the door in order to enter. Afterward, the Russian landlord demanded the Ghanaian pay for the door as his skin colour had been the source of the problem. The matter ended with the landlord asking the renters to move out.
On 8 June, an African was taken to a forest and robbed by Moscow policemen.
In only one of the 14 incidents listed in the two reports is a court case expected.
The very weak legal support of Africans is compounded by the fact that many of them lack sufficient visa documentation and are for that reason highly reluctant to contact police.
Another serious problem is insufficient medical insurance. After being beaten on 15 April, a 17-year-old Congolese youth was released after one month from Moscow's Butkin hospital with his arm still broken and dislocated.
A nurse at MPC's medical clinic was able to obtain hospital access and the required operation. MPC secured funds for the treatment and the patient is now recovering. The RTF reports this was the second physical attack the victim had suffered during his first six months in the country.
MPC's pastor, the United Methodist Matthew Laferty, states: "We believe that our faith in Jesus Christ speaks powerfully to welcoming strangers in a foreign land. We are compelled to provide hospitality to all people regardless of color or nationality.
"As an American, I do not point fingers or seek to shame Russians. My country continues to grapple with racism. Our goal is to help strengthen Russia by celebrating its achievements and progress on race issues and struggling with Russians on lingering concerns of racism and race-motivated violence."