Staunton, January 21 – The Russian media have done everything they can to “normalize” the recent outbursts of violence in Russian Federation schools, linking them to the Internet, to the Columbine attack in the US, and to alienation among many young people, the media acknowledge, who now sense that they and their country have no future.
All of those factors undoubtedly have played a role, but there is another one that not only deserves to be mentioned but highlighted: the extent to which at least some of those involved were animated by xenophobic attitudes toward non-Russians and have identified with otherwise forgotten Russian fascist leaders from the 1930s.
Immediately after the attack, an acquaintance of the pupil in Buryatia told the media that the perpetrator “often joked about the Buryats, even in their presence and di not conceal his racism,” although before Friday, “he rarely engaged in physical aggression” toward them (lenta.ru/articles/2018/01/19/school_5/).
The acquaintance also acknowledged that the student involved was affected by the AUE, a youth “subculture that romanticized the criminal world” that is widespread throughout “Eastern Siberia.” The school where the attack occurred, he said, was “relatively good” in that respect. “There are worse.”
Now, the Meduza news agency reports that just before the violence, the attacker changed his screen name to a more Russian-sounding name and that one of his friends changed his to Konstantin Rodzayevsky, the leader of the All-Russian Fascist Party in Harbin who was executed on his return to the USSR in 1946 (meduza.io/news/2018/01/19/buryatskiy-shkolnik-pered-napadeniem-smenil-nik-v-sotssetyah-ego-znakomyy-vzyal-sebe-imya-lidera-partii-russkih-fashistov).
Rodzayevsky is hardly a household name in Russia, and it is likely that the pupil in question picked up what he knew about him from the article on him in the Russian edition of Wikipedia (ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Родзаевский,_Константин_Владимирович), although there are other works to which he might have turned.
Among the most comprehensive is Petr Balakshin’s Final v Kitaye (“The End Time in China” in Russian, San Francisco, 1959) that was republished in Moscow in 2013. For English readers, the definitive text is John J. Stephan’s The Russian Fascists: Tragedy and Farce in Exile, 1925-1945 (New York, 1978).
Other fellow students of the pupil who attacked his classmates with an axe have confirmed that the individual involved as “inclined to Nazism (kp.ru/daily/26783/3817272/) and that he was always speaking ill of ethnic and other minorities he said he despised (rbc.ru/society/19/01/2018/5a61c5db9a794782c99b3c43).
On the one hand, picking as a screen name that of a Nazi sympathizer may be nothing more than the effort of an alienated individual to identify with a group that he believes is the most despised by the society around him. But on the other, and even if that is the case, this situation is worrisome because it suggests such information is now widespread in Russia.
Combatting it may not be easy; failing to combat it will likely lead others who share the views of the attacker to repeat his crime, further exacerbating inter-ethnic tensions between ethnic Russians and non-Russians inside the country and thus creating an ever more fertile ground for the growth of such viciousness.