From Football to Fascism in Russia

In Russia, 2010 ended with an unprecedented upsurge by ultra-nationalists, with images of rioting, fascist-minded thugs dominating TV broadcasts. Worse still, the government's effort to re-assert control has been hampered by its own hand in stoking the passions motivating the rioters – and in sponsoring many of the rioters themselves.

MOSCOW – In Russia, 2010 ended with an unprecedented upsurge of ultra-nationalist violence. Images of rioting, fascist-minded thugs have dominated TV broadcasts.

The violence began following an ordinary conflict between two small groups of young people over a taxi. One group consisted of young people from the Northern Caucasus, the other of fans of a Moscow football (soccer) club. One of the leaders of the Moscow fans, Yegor Sviridov, was murdered.

Rumors raced around the city the next day that the police had released all those accused of Sviridov’s murder (as it happens, the rumors were true). Spontaneous protests erupted in front of police headquarters, but the police did not intervene.

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