Did you hear about the fanatical woman who decapitated a four year old? No, no, not in Ukraine! In Moscow. Yes, this actually happened, and it is every bit as horrifying as it sounds. Of course if it had happened in Ukraine, the Russian state media would be all over it. Hell, they’d be all over the story if it never actually took place outside the imagination of some random “Donetsk People’s Republic” official’s imagination. But although Russian state media often isn’t shy about sensational crime stories, they were silent on this one yesterday.
This morning an explanation has emerged as to why the state news agencies kept silent about the barbaric crime of this obviously deranged individual. According to RBK, one motivating factor for not airing the story was the fear inciting ethnic hatred among the viewers, as the woman in question was a hired nanny from Uzbekistan. Now that brings up a few interesting points.
First of all, the Russian media was more than happy to not only stir up ethnic hatred towards migrants, but to do so with a completely fabricated story- so long as this was done outside of Russia’s borders. For those not in the know I am of course referring to the story of Liza, a 13-year-old Russian-speaking girl living in Berlin. As their story lacked any evidence, a major component of the narrative was that the Berlin authorities were deliberately engaged in a cover-up for the sake of deterring racist reactions.
Second, in a way the Russian state media chiefs are rightly concerned about how the story will be received, but for a horrible reason. Some of them must be conscious of the fact that their own media has for years slandered Europe using racist themes, specifically those about hordes of Muslim immigrants displacing and dominating the native population. They might also realize that they have promoted the most primitive worldview, whereby any misdeed by one member of a large group justifies hatred, even violence, towards any other member of that group. We’ve seen this in action in recent times, when Turkish citizens working in Russia suddenly reaped a wave of harassment just because their government shot down a Russian plane which was taking part in a foreign war. Years ago, race riots in Moscow and other parts of Russia typically followed an alleged crime committed by a non-Russian, typically a Caucasian. All Caucasians are expected to answer for the crime of any Caucasian. It’s idiotic in the extreme, but the Russian media played a role in stoking such tribal concepts.
The sad thing is that authorities actually help fuel racism by not publicizing stories like this and making sure everyone knows the circumstances and details. While the Russian state media didn’t report on the killing, it was all over Russian Twitter, and no doubt on VK and other Russian social networks as well. People with ideological motivations also tend to use the internet, so rest assured plenty of people saw what happened. When it comes to far-right, racist narratives, attempts to suppress facts relating to nationality are perceived as a deliberate cover-up by the authorities. This is by no means unique to Russia; authorities in several European countries have had policies about not releasing ethnic or religious details about suspects out of fear of stoking the far right. The problem is that the far right inevitably finds out, often invents their own details, and then uses the “cover-up” as proof that they are being persecuted.
The cat’s out of the bag, whether the Russian state media acknowledges it or not. I’m sure they’ll report on it eventually, assuming they haven’t already started as I write this, but I’m quite certain that they’re all secretly wishing this had happened in Ukraine instead of Moscow.