Protest for Slain Football Fan Sparks Ultranationalist Violence

Football fans and ultranationalists gesture towards the Kremlin thumb. Source: Zyalt.livejournal.comImages of thousands of young people masked in balaclavas, setting off flares and chanting “Russia for the Russians” saturated the Russian media over the weekend. More than 5000 football fans and radical nationalists gathered outside the Kremlin on Saturday to call for an investigation of the murder of Moscow football fan Yegor Sviridov, allegedly killed by migrants from the North Caucasus last Monday. The protest turned violent when a group of dark-skinned youths, presumably from the North Caucasus, were spotted by the crowd and violently attacked. The riots soon spread onto the subway, with videos showing police unable to control the unprovoked assaults.

Just days after Russia was chosen to hold the 2018 World Cup, the riots were a graphic example of the blatant racism and propensity for violence that often characterizes Russian football fans and ultranationalist organizations. In a timely article published shortly before Sviridov’s death, the Financial Times provides a lengthy analysis of radical nationalism in Russia – and why the ruling regime finds it beneficial to keep that sentiment alive:

Publicly, of course, Russia’s government is aghast at the recent rise of nationalism and fascism. But it is just as clear that the Kremlin is not above using whatever works to buttress its support in a country where 55 per cent of the population agrees with the statement “Russia for the Russians”. Putin himself has picked up on the rising tide of nationalism in Russia, reflecting it in his rhetoric; playing in many public speeches on a cold-war-era distrust of foreigners.

He has referred on many occasions to “forces” that would like to see Russia remain weak. And in the capable hands of deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov, a master fixer and political operator who handles all domestic political affairs for Putin and now president Dmitry Medvedev, nationalism has been turned into a tool of political consolidation.

Read the full article at

Click here for photographs of the riots