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The governor of the Krasnodar region in Russia, Aleksandr Tkachev, announced last week that he would be authorizing the creation of an ethnic Russian patrol to tackle the immigration problem in the country, an announcement that enraged many human rights groups. In a meeting with regional police chiefs on Thursday August 2nd, 2012, the governor had announced that he is planning to establish an immigrant patrol volunteer security force of 1,000 Cossack staff members, with an annual allocated budget of more than $20 million. The aim of the force will be to assist the local law enforcement agencies in “upholding public order”, which begins in September this year, in the Caucasus region in Russia.
The governor told the press that what the other forces failed to accomplish, his Cossack force will achieve. He said that the present situation demands a proactive approach like this and that there is no other way to handle the situation.
“When we travel to the Caucasus Republic or to Europe, we always try to adjust our customs and principals,” Tkachev said. “We do not speak in our language too loud, don’t act disturbingly. That is civilized person’s behavior. But we see our guests behaving differently. They can play their national music at high volume or drive where it is not permitted, drawing attention to themselves and acting impertinently and cynically.”
Tkachev also said that the Russian public will feel more safe when they know that the local police and the Cossacks are working together to maintain peace in the society. He said that his administration was focusing on dealing with immigrants who pose a threat to peace and/or are criminals.
Tkachev cited the civil war in Kosovo as an example to his argument. He said that the conflict between the Albanians and the Serbs was enough to start the unrest and destroy lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. He said that the ethnic Russians very seldom welcome migrants from Caucasus, an attitude which might lead to a similar consequence.
The Krasnodar region shares borders with the North Caucasus region in Russia, the latter being victim of social conflicts and high rates of unemployment forcing the locals, who mostly are non-Russian Muslims, to migrate to other regions. Thus, the inflow of migrants from this region is creating unrest in the former region, leading to rise in crime rate and violence in the society.
“Who will answer when the first blood is spilled,” the governor said, “when interethnic conflicts start? And sooner or later it will happen.”
Thursday’s announcements have stirred an outrage among human rights activists and groups, accusing the governor of racial and ethnic discrimination. The Russian Public Chamber has even said that it would request the authorities to conduct an official probe into Tkachev’s administration.
“We will turn to the General Prosecutor’s Office,” The chamber spokesperson Aleksandr Sokolov said, “with suggestion to check the legality of [the Cossack force]. I will also raise the issue during the first session of the Presidential council for interethnic relations this autumn.”
Head of the Moscow Helsinki group, Lyudmila Alekseeva, also condemned the governor’s views and said that both the regions contain Russian citizens and creating a force like this to attack Russians citizens is a civil war itself.
Tkachev’s office, recently, released a statement in response to these accusations. The office spokesperson said that the governor’s initiatives are merely aimed at assisting the Russian immigration authorities and the local police in improvising their immigration processes. Tkachev himself wrote on his Twitter page that he did not intend any discriminating remarks and his intentions were to target the illegal immigrants living in the region.
In a country where almost 15 percent of the population belongs to Muslims, such public statements by state officials are bound to create social unrest and a sense of discrimination among the local citizens.
Tags: Aleksandr Tkachev, Illegal immigrants, immigrants in Russia, racial and ethnic discrimination, Russian Immigration, The Russian Public Chamber