Moscow - 2001.

Pogrom on Tsaritsino food market. Nothing Unusual. Just Regular Fascism.

The last several days Moscow was preparing for the meeting of anti-globalists against the World Economical Forum. Moscow police was patrolling the area where the meeting the meeting was supposed to take place. They even brought a couple fire hoses. But they waited for the wrong people. On Tuesday evening neo-nazi-skinheads attacked Tsaritsino food market without any resistance from the police. The blood of innocent people was shed. But the next morning the pogrom was not mentioned in the Headline News. People of Moscow were not worried about the bloody slaughter at all.

Nothing unusual had happened. Racism became a regular thing for Moscow.

This Tuesday the Fate played a bad joke on the Russian Armenian Vartan Kulidzhanian. Every day Vartan, 37, came back home through the Tsaritsino metro station. But two days ago his brother, wife, and two daughters, 5 and 11 y. o., saw him alive for the last time. A quiet man, who, according to his relatives, never hurt anyone, came across the angry youths. The sadists beat him to death…

Vartan has been living in Moscow since 1985. He graduated from a technical college in Armenia, then he was drafted and got into a construction regiment near Moscow. After getting out of the army, he moved to the capital. Here he got married, his wife had two kids. His family lived in a small two-room apartment on Biryulevskaya st. (just 5 minutes away from the market). Vartan was the main “source of income” at the household. He also really loved music, himself he played piano, clarinet and duduka (an Armenian national instrument).

On Tuesday, Vartan was supposed to get home by 9 p.m., but he did not. His family was very worried, because just a few years ago Vartan and his cousin were attacked by a group of drunk skinheads near the Tsaritsino metro station. That time they managed to run away.

Early in the morning on the next day the Kulidzhanians got a phone call. Their friends wanted to tell them that they saw the fighting on the Tsaritsino market on the TV. They ran to the market and then to the police station, where they learned the terrible news. They identified his body by a passport that he always carried in his pocket. Like many other people of  “Caucasian origin” (“Caucasian” here means not the white race, but one of the many nations that populate the Caucasus Mountains) he was often stopped by the police for a document check…

Policemen told the relatives that Vartan was killed by accident. He got into the way of the furious mob and was literally stomped to death.

“He was a real family man”, the relatives of the victim say, “He always wanted to spend as much time home with his children as he could. He never smoked, never drank, he never hurt anyone, even with the words. Oh my god, why did it happen, why?…”

…Four victims were brought to the neuro-surgical hospital #7, located not too far away from the market.

“We got an emergency alert at around 9 p.m.”, Vladimir Ramishvili, the manager of the surgical department tells, “All the patients were here by 10 p.m. There were three men and one woman. The Armenian woman who had head bruises refused to stay at the hospital after the examination. She said the felt not very bad and was going to receive treatment from the doctor at the local public clinic. She got into the fight near the Sevastopol Hotel by accident.

The second victim, an Indian citizen, died without gaining conscience. We could not help him, he was in agony and could not breathe on his own, but we prepared for an operation anyway. He died before we could do anything. The only thing that we know about him is his name, Sharma Pradis Kumar. So far, none of his relatives contacted us.

The third victim is an Afghani citizen, John Mamadov Karamhudo. Right now he is in a critical condition, his skull’s base is broken in several places, and a brain haemorrhage. He was probably hit by a heavy metal object. His brain is damaged so badly, that it is not very likely to recover… We did our best to save him, took out the pieces of bone and removed haematoma. The operation lasted for several hours. A person cannot recover completely from injuries like that. Even if there are some signs of recovery (right now the patient is in coma), he will need at least 4 to 5 months, then we will have to implant an artificial bone, and only then we can draw conclusions.

Bashir Ali Shafa, 27, the other Afghani that came to us that night said he did not need medical help. He had a head bruise.

Around 2 p.m. on the next day another patient, Yuriy Sergienko, was delivered to us. He was also attacked by skinheads, although he was Russian. Probably they had taken him for an “immigrant” because of his dark hair and big nose. He was going home from work when he saw a group of Afghanis running towrds the Sevastopol Hotel…

“There were about ten or eleven Afghanis,” he says, “they were chased by at least fifty skinheads. I could not even understand anything until a guy hit me in the head with a club. I fell on the ground and tried to cover myself with my hands. I do not remember how many times I was hit. But it did not last for a very long time.”

According to Yuriy, all the skinheads were around twenty years of age, all of them were dressed in black “bomber” coats, brown camouflage pants and heavy army shoes, they also had hoods on their heads. They beat everyone who did not look “Russian enough”. Yuriy has a craniocerebral injury and both of his hands are broken. But he was happy just to stay alive. “A guy lied on the ground right beside me. His whole leg was literally shattered, you could see pieces of bones sticking out of skin.”


Yesterday the reporters of MK visited the place where the slaughter happened and spoke with the witnesses of the tragedy.

Here is what Nina, the administrator of the Georgian café located right where the “main events” took place.

“They looked just like a flock of wild dogs… They started gathering around six o’clock that night. Most of them were young men about 15 to 20 years of age. At first we did not even understand who they were. Then, at about 8 p.m. they disappeared, and at around half past eight they returned and started the attack. My husband was outside and he saw that poor man that later died at the scene. They screamed, “Smash the blacks!” and if you looked at their eyes you could tell that they were under influence of drugs or something like that. A Kurd woman that was selling flowers saw that one of them was going to hit her five-year-old daughter with a piece of metal tube, so she had to cover the girl with her own body. They broke her nose and ribs. One Afghani ran into our café, and the nazis followed him. We managed to close the door before they were close enough to enter. The frightened Afghani hid himself in the kitchen. Our staff members and clients were holding the door while the skinheads were trying to break it. Almost everyone got by the pieces of broken glass. Thanks God we have bars on the window… One big Russian man helped us hod the door and his friends were trying to get out to stop the fascists… It was over in about 15 minutes. The Afghani later disappeared…”

The owner of the little food store said looking sadly at the display window,

“My mother called from Azeibardzhan, she saw my store on the TV. She was very worried, she didn’t even know if I was alive or not. I live in Russia since 1975 but I’ve never seen anything like this…”

Moscow police department says that they did not expect anything like that. They prepared for rioting in  other parts of the city, near the Dinamo stadium and near the Parliament building where the meeting of anti-globalists was supposed to take place. The events in the Southern Moscow, near the Tsaritsino metro station happened absolutely unpredictably and rapidly.

People from the Moscow police department who were trying to stop the riot on Tuesday helped our reporters figure out what exactly happened.

Now it is absolutely clear that the skinheads were supposed to meet at a little spot between the railroad tracks and the market. The market had already been attacked several times before, of course not like that. And usually all the attacks started at that same spot. Usually on the “dangerous days” the market does not work, but that day was not considered to be “dangerous”. It closed at 8 p.m., just as usual, and the attack began at around 8:30 p.m.

Did the teenagers know what was the main purpose of the meeting? They certainly did. People from all around Moscow and the suburban areas were called. There was one main slogan, “Smash the blacks!”. Some of the teenagers at first were unarmed, but they were given clubs and pieces of iron pipes right at the spot. The organizers of the attack might not have even participated in the slaughter, or, if they did, they managed to get lost at the right time. The policemen are worried about finding them rather than the “regular” participants of the attack.

After getting drunk, the teenagers rushed through the alley past the flower shops, fast food and ice cream kiosks towards the bus stop. The shops and kiosks were still open, there was quite a lot of people around… The nazis beat literally everyone who stood in their way, “without looking at the passport”… Of course, their main target was the people of “Caucasian nationality”. That’s when the first blood was shed, Vartan Kulidzhanian “died at the scene” and Kumar Sharma Provid was fatally injured. Besides them, 6 more people were seriously injured.

In two or three minutes the police appeared and tried to stop the riots. “We could not stop them without shooting”, sergeant Andrey Ivanov says, “we had to shoot the air two or three times. After that the youths ran towards the metro station”.

But the nazis did not calm down after they entered the metro. They attacked every passenger that had a “southern appearance”. By the way, this “underground” strategy is by skinheads used quite often. Just a couple days before these events the neo-nazis went from one car to another one harassing almost every person with a darker skin. There was no reaction from the other passengers, no one called the police.

At 8.48 on the Kashirskaya station the group split up. About 150 men went on with the “crusade” and took a train towards the Kakhovskaya station. Obviously, that way was chosen before either. A lot of Afghani immigrants live at the Sevastopol Hotel located near the station. The Southwestern police department already knew about it, but the skinheads managed to get there earlier than most of the policemen. On their way they were breaking the windows in the shops and damaging cars. Right by the hotel they, unfortunately, met three people of  “southern appearance”. The sadists even beat up a seven year old girl (she’s got a brain damage). Almost all the windows on the first floor of the hotel were broken. Policemen had to shoot into the air once again. Then the evening madness was over. Two people were killed, twenty-three were seriously injured and only twenty-five (out of more than 300) skinheads were arrested. But almost none of them will spend behind the bars more than three days.


After the slaughter the whole Southern District of Moscow was “declared a war zone”. And every stranger is an enemy at the war zone. That was probably how the riots were chased. The policemen just went around the South of the city and took every 15-18 year old they saw to the police department.

MK spoke with some of the parents of the teenagers that were on the “black list”.

“Last time that day I saw my son at around 8:45”, says mother of one of them, Dmitry Melnikov, 15, “Every evening they gather in the yard together with all the kids from the neighborhood just to hang out. Usually, there is about 10 or 11 kids there, most of them are high school or college students. They just sit there and don’t do anything “illegal”. I saw my son among them and asked him to be home by 9. But he did not come at nine. I waited for another two hours and called the local police department. They said that my son was there. They could not explain how he got there, all they said was, “Nothing terrible happened. We just had to bring the kids here for public security reasons. Watch TV and pay a little more attention to your child”.

My son came home only at 2 a.m. As he told us, at first a police car stopped by and the officer asked the kids for their ID’s. Then he asked for another 4 cars over the radio; all the kids were forced to get into the cars. They brought them to the local police department. There already was a lot of teenagers. Everyone was put in the cell. Dmitry was inside the police station for the first time in his life, and that was a shock for him. The kids weren’t eve allowed to call their parents.

 I found out about the slaughter on the Tsaritsino market only the next day. But our house is quite far away from the market and the kids that were taken from the police from our yard did not even look like skinheads. Why did they have to take everyone?


The skinhead movement is one of the most active and least known part of ultra-radical youth movements. Everyone has heard about the skinheads. But no one knows who their leaders are. No one eve knows if there is a certain leader in the movement. When most of the people mention skinheads, they mean the part of the skinhead movement that is close to nationalistic, neo-fascist and racist organizations. Nazi-skinheads are the largest part of the skinhead movement not only in Russia, but in most of the other countries.

All of them like to fight. That is one of the reasons why most of the Russian skinheads are soccer fans too. Not because they like soccer, but because soccer match is a good reason for a good fight. They either fight immigrants from Caucasus or other skinheads that are fans of other soccer teams. (Soccer fan movement is very popular not only in Russia, but in Europe too).

Sociologists say that in Russia there is at least twenty thousand skinheads willing to “protect the purity of the nation” with their fists. It is a lot of people, but some officials still tend to say that skinhead movement is just a myth of the yellow press. The first Russian skinheads appeared in 1994, right after the tragic events of 1993 (when 150 hostages were taken in the Goverenment building by Rutzkoy, then vice-president, and his people). Then many of them helped Russian National Unity and other ultra-right-wing organizations. The growth of the number of skinheads was also influenced by the next following period of “special state” in Moscow; at that time racist terror was even supported by government. 

As a result, there are skinheads in every big Russian city.

The first time when the officials had to pay attention to this radical movement was in 1998, right after the embassies of South Africa, Benin, Sudan and Nigeria made official complaints to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia about the skinhead terror. Two wives of Pakistani diplomats were attacked by 20 skinheads on the Arbat street. A pregnant Indian woman was attacked by nazis in the same area. After that she had miscarriage.

Usually, Moscow skinheads attacked Africans and Indians; victims of St. Petersburg skinheads were from Africa, Nepal and China. The police treated skinheads “very well”, refusing to start investigations.

Skinheads also participated in a slaughter in Savelovskiy Park last year. That time, almost 300 people gathered in a nightclub for a punk-rock concert. After police had to stop the concert, about a hundred aggressive and drunk people headed towards the Dmitrovskoye avenue, crashing everything that got into their way, cars, etc., and attacking the people who were unlucky enough to get into their way. The witnesses heard many of them scream “Sieg Heil!” Five people were arrested, among them Semyon Tokmakov and Andrey Kail’, members of racist party “Russian Goal”.

Tokmakov “became famous” in May of 1997, when he and several of his friends attacked and seriously injured an African-American US Navy Seal who worked as a security guard in US Embassy. Semyon Tokmakov was born in city of Rybinsk in 1978. That time he worked as a security guard in one of the publishing companies and was a leader of a one of many nazi-skinhead parties “Russian Goal”. In his free time he wrote poems about the “Great White Russian Nation”. That time he told the reporters that “nig…ers are evil and they must go through a procedure of euthanasia”. Since that time the victim was not just an African student, but an embassy employee, the police had to arrest Tokmakov. But he was out of jsil pretty soon.

Now many Moscow skinheads became the members of PNP, People National Party. It started “active work” in February 1999 after its leader, Alexandr Ivanov-Sukharevskiy got into the same cell with the leader of the “Russian Goal” Tokmakov.

The other active skinhead organization is “National Front” led by Ilya Lazarenko. This organization changed its name quite often, at first it was called “The Church of Navi”, then “The Saint Church of United White Race”.

The following are the groups that are most well-known due to the press.

Russian project “The Great Russia”. Sergei “the Spider” Troitskiy, leader of a popular heavy-metal band is the author and main ideologist of the project. The project was “created” in the beginning of the Summer of 2001. According to Troitskiy, most of the members of the project are “patriots” and football fans (i.e. skinheads). Since that time the “project” conducted about 20 “actions”. One of the main was called “March against southern foreigners that occupied all the markets”.

The main thesis of organization is “All Russians are friend and brothers!”. In one of the interviews “The Spider” mentioned that his plans for the near future are to legally transform into National-Socialist party and get a spot in the Moscow Parliament. Organization has about 1000 members in Moscow and at least 200 hundred members in every big city of the Moscow Area.

But “the Spider” claims that he is not related to the events of the Tuesday night. He says that his band was preparing for an upcoming concert that time and he had heard nothing about the planning slaughter before.

Probably the most famous Russian ultra-right-wing organization is Russian National Unity (RNU). Alexandr Barkashov was the leader of the organization until the summer of 2000. He was expelled from the party for “drinking problems”. But the real reason for kicking him out of the organization was the statement he made after the mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, forbade the meet of the RNU in the capital. Barkashov then promised to bring out 150 thousand of his followers on the streets of Moscow. But he did not keep his promise. The other leaders of the party probably did not like that and decided that it was time for Barkashov to go.

Now there are at least 5 organization that have “RNU” as their official name. They all have about 3 or for thousand members combined, but they never cooperate with each other. All the other former members of the “original” RNU either became unorganized skinheads or criminals. Everything that Barkashov has right now is a few dozen young men that go under the name of “Barkashov’s Army”. But, as the chairman of Russian antifascist center Yevgeniy Proshechkin says, all they can do is draw swastikas along the railroads at night…

It is obvious that the arrested teenagers will soon get out of jail. For example, the police already let 7 young men go after their names were put in the database. The Moscow Police department says that at first they need to watch a thousand hours of videotape to determine who really participated in the slaughter. The main suspect is Sergey Polyakov, 17. Unlike many other skinheads, he never had any troubles with police before, has never been put on probation. Was he really the one who killed the first victim? Now nobody can give a certain answer to this question, and, probably, nobody will be able to answer that question in future. It is possible that Polyakov will “share” his punishment with some of the other “active participants”. The Moscow Police Department said that they have names and addresses of at least another 50 skinheads who participated in the riot, but it is questionable if their guiltiness will be proved.

The Police was not ready for the riot. The police officers complain that they do not have enough information to prevent such things. It is very hard to have an informer in a skinhead group, because most of the skinheads are less than 18, and no police officers are that young. No one knows who told the teenagers to gather near the market, no one knows who gave them the “weapons” and “valuable advice”.

The Moscow Police tried to answer the eternal question of  “What to Do?” yesterday, right after the tragedy. Representatives of MPD (Moscow Police Department) met with the leaders of Caucasian (once again, “Caucasian” in this case have a meaning of an ethnic group from Caucasus in South Russia) communities, and with the managers of organization where many natives of Caucasus work.

As the head of the MPD Major General Vladimir Pronin said, the main reason for this is to prevent the protests from the relatives of the victims. Pronin also said that he sent the mayor a letter about necessary security improvements for the Moscow Metro. For example, one of the things that should be done as soon as possible is equipping the metro cars with video cameras. Right now there are only 20 equipped trains in Moscow. Besides that, Pronin thinks that the number of the security guards in the metro should be increased (at least two or three in every train). Also, he thinks that Moscow should be given a special status as far as immigration and registration of immigrants.

As MK was informed, besides these “prophylactic” there will be some more “unpopular” actions. For example, the police will pay more attention to soccer fans (this is not the first time they promise to so that). A program of working with the “hooligans” was developed this summer. The police planned to “penetrate” into the fan organizations and gather information about the planning actions. As we can see, this plan is still nothing more than a plan. But now, after the slaughter, there is a possibility that skinheads and fans will really be closely looked at. On of the other ways of punishment for them will probably be drafting (many of the skinheads are supposed to be drafted, but somehow they avoided going to army).

Just as it happened before, the arrested teenagers were only accused of two things, murder and hooliganism. “Racism” was not in the official report. By the way, two years ago the organizers of the fight on the market in Pechatniki, were also accused only of hooliganism, although some things clearly showed that it was hooliganism on racist basis. That time, all the criminals were put on probation, none of them was actually put behind the bars. No racist that committed crime in Russia was put in prison yet.

A few years ago similar events happened in France and Germany. That time the leaders of both countries along with the mayors of the capitals went in the head of demonstration against racism. Many thousands of citizens participated in both demonstrations. All the world could see that there will be no more support of racism in those countries.

Can you imagine president Putin and Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov in the head of such a demontration?

There would just be no demonstration, no people would agree to participate in it.

Racism is a normal thing in Russia.

Yevgeniy Karamian, Marina Velikanova, Stanislav Skoblo, Oleg Fotchkin, Maksim Pulemetov, Yulia Grishina, Dmitriy Kafanov.

“Moskovskiy Komsomolets” (referred to as “MK” in the text), November 1 2001.  

Translated by Anton G.


Copyright © 2002 [Anton G.]. All rights reserved. Все права защищены.

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