2009 24/01

06__441087.jpgThe Belarusian Helsinki Committee has addressed the General Prosecutor’s office with a statement expressing its deep concern regarding the repeated acts of vandalism at a number of memorial sites, including the Kurapaty memorial forest and Hebrew cemeteries of Vitsebsk, Barysau, Homel and Minsk. As yet, all of the crimes remain unpunished.

It is no secret that radical youth groups do have troubles with the law. However, the police have never called these offences manifestations of the neo-Nazi ideology, some of the crimes being attributed to racial hatred.

Homel resident was convicted for injuring an anti-Fascist

The Fascist insignia is not uncommon for the regional town of Homel, ‘decorating’ house walls for years. It is students of African or Asian origin that attract hatred of neo-Nazi groups in Homel. Neo-Fascists are opposed by anti-Fascists, some of the fights turning into street wars. In January 2009 a 20-year-old resident of Homel was sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment for knifing a local anti-Fascist during a street fight in summer of 2008. However, the court failed to treat the case properly, rejecting any neo-Nazi inducement in the crime. ‘A state would never admit there exist such groups, just like the accused did not admit his membership in a Fascist movement,’ says the victim.

Every town has its own group of neo-Nazis

‘They are usually ex-football fans. At first they get used to fighting and disorderly conduct. Then older members brainwash the teenagers and enlarge their ranks. Their aim is to advertize themselves, paste leaflets and attack foreigners,’ says representative of an anti-Fascist lj community. ‘They live in separate groups, often hostile to each other. But they are more numerous than AntiFa. They used to be opposed by rappers, ravers and punks. Now it has turned into a separate movement. Unlike AntiFa, we cannot be told from the others by our clothes or hairstyle – everyone is an individual and joins the movement on the ground of his beliefs.’

Swastika is a good symbol

As for their concepts, Belarusian neo-Fascists resemble that of Russia – the purity of the Slavonic race uber alles. No nationalism at all – most Belarusian neo-Nazis think themselves to be Russians. Neo-Fascists use the German Nazi insignia. ‘To me, swastika is a good symbol. As for the war veterans, well… I don’t know…,’ says one of Homel Internet users.

Meanwhile

On an October morning a number of foreign students of Homel Medical University refused to go to the classrooms. They gathered in a conference-hall instead and demanded a meeting with representatives of the town police. The students wanted to draw the attention of the police to the repeated facts violence used against the Indian students of the university. The next day the police set up a patrol at the university hostel. Meanwhile, the university ideological department claims that, unlike Russia and Ukraine, there are no organized groups of neo-Nazis in Homel.

Comments by the police

‘A teenager drawing swastikas on the walls and calling himself a neo-Fascist is not always a real Nazi. He may do it for money. And he can only be prosecuted for anientisement. In 2007 one of leaders of the pro-Nazi RNE organization was sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment for an armed assault. However, he did not admit his membership in a neo-Nazi movement and we were not able to prove his activity in the RNE organization. After the trial we tried to suppress their activity and there have not been any significant incidents in the town lately. We keep them all under control – skinheads, neo-Fascists, football fans, ‘says representative of the town police.

Comments by a psychologist

Why do teenagers join radical groups? ‘Most of them have unsatisfied ambitions to affirm their significance and belonging to the elite ‘, says Yauhenia Bashkintsava, psychologist. ‘The need for self-esteem is often romanticized – they want to stand out of the ‘grey life’. Among neo-Fascists there are many teenagers underestimated or even morally humiliated by their parents. Their inner uneasiness is a cry from the heart – I can do anything to fight my fears. They are afraid of life, but do not fear the inevitable punishment. They do not gather to make friends, they have to find an enemy – foreigners, laws, society in general, but first of all their enemy is us, the adults. The longer their parents ignore their shaven heads and high boots, the more they are absorbed in the movement.’

How to tell a neo-Nazi?

Right, white, close-cropped or shaven heads, short black flight jackets, tight jeans, high army boots.

Paval Mitskevich,
www.kp.belkp.by

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