29 Oct 2018 16:46

Anti-Ukrainian, anti-immigrant feeling in Russia up in past 5 years - Levada Center head

MOSCOW. Oct 29 (Interfax) - The level of xenophobic tendencies in Russia is higher than it was at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union but has declined since 2013 and about 8-15% of Russia's adult population is xenophobic, Lev Gudkov, the head of the Levada Center, said.

"The level of diffuse, massive xenophobia has increased considerably over the time that has passed since the collapse of the USSR. The most recent outbreak of ethno-national tensions took place in 2013. After that, the total internal xenophobia in the country decreased and changed its structure as a result of the confrontation between Russia and the West and the hybrid war in Ukraine," Gudkov said at the 2nd Moscow International Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Xenophobia on Monday.

In 2013, hitherto prominent anti-Caucasian tendencies were replaced by anti-Roma and anti-immigrant tendencies, especially negative sentiment against migrant workers from Central Asia, racism against Chinese people and black people, and moderate anti-Chechen prejudice, and anti-Ukrainian tendencies also increased, Gudkov said.

Anti-Semitic tendencies remain fairly low, he said.

"The xenophobic core is generally 8-15% of the adult population, and it has increased to 20% at moments of acute social crises," Gudkov said.

Such citizens hold anti-Semitic, racist, and xenophobic views, feel inferior, and are highly prone to aggression, he said.

The second category includes more passive people, who sympathize with xenophobes. These people share racist views, but they are not ready to take open action to support them. Such citizens are ready to approve of repressive measures taken by the state against migrants or people of other nationalities. "This group includes 20-30% of the population in addition to the core," he said.

Gudkov characterized the general situation in Russia as "latent aggression, which can be expressed in open aggression only in the event of national mobilization, if the state is involved."

Levada's study indicates weakening of immunity against xenophobia and anti-Semitism. In the mid-1990s, about half of the population was against any form of xenophobia and racism, but that figure is now 25-30%.

The conference is being held on October 29 and 30. It was organized by the Russian Jewish Congress with the support of the city of Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Federal Agency for Nationalities, the World Jewish Congress, the Eurasian Jewish Congress, the Genesis Foundation, and Sberbank of Russia.