Russia Journal: The Neo-Nazi Scare

It is Hitler’s 123rd birthday today. And here I am, little scared and a bit nervous in Moscow.

For the past two days, there has been some discomforting feeling in the Russian capital.

On Wednesday evening, as we were sitting on the floors of an empty kitchen in our dorm, one of our friends got us some information: The neo-Nazis in Moscow could be targeting foreigners during or in the eve of Hitler’s birthday.

At first, I totally brushed off the information. And then we started getting a little paranoid. We asked some other Chinese students studying at Moscow State University. They said they did not leave the university compound during this time since there have been attacks during the past years.

In need of more information, we seek help from our best friend, Google.

According to St. Petersburg Times, in January 2012, neo-Nazis attacked supporters returning from an anti-facist event in St. Petersberg metro. Similar incidents have been reported in Moscow in the past years. One of the most prominent attacks by neo-Nazis in the recent times is the 2010 incident where they attacked concertgoers in Miass, 900 miles east of Moscow.

In 2010, human-rights group Amnesty International said that racism in Russia had become “out of control.”

Since 2000, there has been more than 300 racism-related deaths and and over 3,000 injuries. According to the Russia’s Center for Information and Analysis, at least five people were injured this December in neo-Nazi or racist attacks. In 2011, 20 people were killed and injured 130 across 34 regions of the Russian Federation.

Moscow is supposedly home to some 85,000 neo-Nazis.

But when I asked some locals, they assured us not to panic or worry.

I wasn’t really panicking, but still there was this strange feeling that something might just happen. But I have been to places where this sort of feeling has always tagged along as a baggage.

I said to myself, Moscow is much better than Kabul at the moment.

The past two days, I took the metro by myself. The first time, when I wasn’t aware about the neo-Nazi information, I was glad that I was able to make it to class, and I didn’t get lost.

But yesterday I was a little nervous. My eyes were literally browsing for some neo-Nazi. Well, I couldn’t have spotted one for sure or I was getting scared by every skinhead-ish men I noticed.

Today, as the D-day approached, I had a little fear within me: what if something happens?

But come to think of it, that something could happen anywhere in the world, right outside my house, within the periphery of what I consider the safest place on earth.

So I walked out with a couple of my friends and took the metro to the university in central Moscow. We then took several other metro rides and walked to the newsroom of Vedomostri, one of the Russian financial dailies, in one of the suburbs outside central Moscow.

Then we went for grocery shopping, bought some wine and food.

And here I am, safe and sound in my room. A skinhead didn’t stab me or anything unfortunate happened.

Sometimes letting go of your fear is the best thing you can do, otherwise it will just take over you. Had I let my fear taken over, I would have been sulking within the four walls and the ceiling, looking outside the window as the blue sky turned dark and grey, and the day turned into darkness.

But that did not happen and instead I got to experience something new in this city, which is completely a stranger to me.

So I shall drink some wine to that and might as well even say, “Happy Birthday Hitler.”

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