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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

White Radicals Hold Rally Against Racism




Blaming the "capitalist" Russian government for a growing number of attacks on foreigners in Moscow, a small group of radical leftist demonstrators pledged their vocal support Friday to the Asian and African students of the People's Friendship University.


Although the demonstration was billed as a show of support for the thousands of foreign students at the university in southwest Moscow, they were noticeably absent from the gathering held across from the main gate.


The university rector had posted an appeal around campus advising them to stay away from the planned protest. The leftist demonstrators are attempting "to use the students' interests to advance their own political interests, including dragging them into internal Russian politics," read a university statement distributed Friday.


The handful of scruffy demonstrators, carrying a Che Guevara flag and banners denouncing President Boris Yeltsin's government, took turns speaking through a microphone during the two-hour protest, addressing passersby who barely slowed down.


"Nobody will help you, but us," one demonstrator shouted into the wind as two policemen filmed the proceedings.


Spewing anti-capitalist rhetoric, the protesters accused the government of spawning the rise in far-right groups and tolerating the recent spate of racist attacks. The demonstrators also called for another workers' revolution.


"This is not about racism really," said one literature student from Bangladesh who was waiting for a bus across the road. "What makes them think the Soviets were so much more tolerant?"


Vadim, a demonstrator who said he was a member of the Confederation of Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists, denied they were using the students to draw attention to their leftist causes.


He suggested the university was shunning the demonstration for fear of provoking skinhead attacks. Vadim, who would not give his last name, said he was not a student of the university.


Emmanuel Crutch, who says he has been subject to regular harassment since his arrival from Sierra Leone nine months ago, was among the handful of students who watched but did not participate in the protest.


"I don't want to blame all Russians for the activities of a minute group, but nobody steps in to help us when we are in trouble," said Crutch, a political science student, who was joined by his cousin from Liberia.


Crutch added that the Russian university administrators couldn't identify with the fear associated with racial attacks. "We don't enjoy the same kind of security that they do," he said.