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Skinhead russia { June 9 2002 }

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Skinhead leader rails against Putin

Sukharevsky wants to continue the job Hitler started against Jews

Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow
Sunday June 9, 2002
The Observer

He is considered the leader of Russia's skinheads - brutal extremists who have killed and attacked foreigners across the country. Dressed in a suit and tie with a Russian swastika on his arm, he rails against the 'non-Russians' who have infected his race and feels he has to continue the job Hitler started.
But the racist, xenophobic views of Alexander Ivanov-Sukharevsky, leader of The People's Nationalist Party, may be made illegal this year when the state Duma (parliament) passes new laws being rushed through by the Putin administration.

'This law is about the government consolidating power,' he told The Observer . 'It is a very general law - a draconian, scary law,' he said, bizarrely echoing the human rights groups who firmly oppose his party.

A series of brutal attacks against foreigners have rocked Moscow and the surrounding regions over the past months. While Sukharevsky denies involvement in any violence or threats, in the days before Hitler's birthday foreign embassies received anonymous emails demanding all 'non-Russians' leave or face certain death. Ethnic minorities are attacked with increasing regularity, and last month a Jewish woman lost an eye when she tried to take down an anti-semitic sign. It had been booby-trapped and blew up in her face. A day later a rabbi's son was beaten in Moscow and signs saying 'Death to Jews' appeared in Voronezh, a city south of Moscow.

In response, Putin's administration rushed through a new set of laws designed to combat religious hatred and racism. But campaigners feel the final text is a blow to a free society, rather than an endorsement of it. Putin's authoritarian reputation has shone through in the small print, they say.

Sergei Kovalyov, a member of the Duma and human rights advocate, said: 'The real aim of the law is to put political and social groups under control.'

But the broad nature of the new powers have led Sukharevsky's party to read from the same script as human rights campaigners.

'This law is anti-democratic,' says Sukharevsky, who gives interviews in his dark office hidden in the bowels of a block of flats near the centre of Moscow.

Sukharevsky aligns himself with Hitler's legacy. Three candles sit before him - a symbol of the Holy Trinity. He speaks of the 'chance to solve the Jewish question' by voluntary repatriation to Israel, and how the real extremists are the Chechen mafia, together with the Armenian and Azerbaijani groups that have 'infected' Moscow.

To Sukharevsky, skinheads are wayward youths, 'Dostoyevskean adolescents' who need a good clip around the ear, rather than years in jail. When asked about the violence they perpetrate, he shrugs his shoulders and says: 'Russians get beaten all the time, and nobody complains about that.

'Of course, we are against violence. I do not want to be remembered in history as one who drew blood, but one who changed the world. During the time of the Bolsheviks we confused Asia and Europe, importing Asians into Russia. Globally, white people are now 8.5 per cent of the population. We have the right to ask for minority status and to protect ourselves.'

Sukharevsky's international ambitions stretch to planning a congress next year in Kaliningrad for the British BNP, German and Dutch far right to meet. While he says he opposes violence, he talks openly about how he shot an Uzbek who tried to assassinate him, and has little problem in letting two hooded recruits stand either side of him for photographs.

Although Russia is becoming more multicultural, many resent the increased presence of foreigners in 'the Fatherland'. Amid the economic degradation and crime of Russia, Sukharevsky and the skinheads are a strong threat to many. For Sukharevsky, skinheads are a means to an end: a united, white, Christian master race for Europe: 'When we first saw skinheads in Russia I realised it was a sign there was some European culture left here. We need to organise them into a disciplined group and come to power.'

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