Xenophobia in Kaliningrad region

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Kaliningrad Region: General Information

      According to the 2002 all-Russian census, population of Kaliningrad Region
numbers 955300 persons. Of them 98% (936000) are citizens of Russia; 6000
residents have citizenships of other countries and another 6000 are stateless
persons. 83.3% of the foreign citizens permanently residing in Kaliningrad Region
(5000 persons) are CIS citizens (Armenia, Byelorussia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine:
around 1000 from each state). According to the latest census, Kaliningrad Region
is one of the most multinational regions of Russia: the population consists of
representatives of 132 nationalities. To compare: at the time of previous census the
population of the region consisted of 109 nationalities. The largest in number
group - Russians, Byelorussians, Ukrainians and Lithuanians – together amounts to
94.1% of the population. Russians are still leading. Over the period between
censuses it increased by 15.1% (103300 persons) and came to 786885, which
equals 82.4% of the total population of the Region. However, this population
growth was caused entirely by the positive migration balance with the CIS States,
the Baltic States and other regions of Russia.
      Immigration has led to sharp increase in population of Germans (by a factor
of 6.4), Armenians (5.2), Koreans (4.3) and Chechens (2.7). The following
populations also considerably increased: Tajiks (by a factor of 2), Lezgins (1.9)
and Azeri (2.6). For the first time in the region a large community of Yezids (504
persons) moved from Transcaucasia and settled in the Region.
      Data on languages considered native by the residents was also gathered
during the census. 85.6% of the representatives of nationalities inhabiting the
Region consider the language of their nationality to be their native language.
77.8% of the non-Russian population of the Region (130 979) called Russian their
native language. This so-called Russian-speaking population consists mostly of
Byelorussians (34.5%), Ukrainians (29.9%), Lithuanians (7.0%), Germans (5.6),
Armenians (3.3%), Tatars (2.8%) and Poles (2.5%). Altogether the Russian-
speaking population of the Region including Russians amounted at the time of
census to 911186 persons.
Among other native languages the most widespread are Ukrainian, Byelorussian,
Lithuanian, Armenian and Azeri.
      Peculiarity of Kaliningrad Region is that the major factor of the population
forming until 2002 was immigration that over the period 1989 - 2002 amounted to
135000 persons. The factor of migration increase was far above the average for
Russia (55.4 to every 10000 in the Region against 11.1 in Russia on average).

The following is the national distribution of the immigrated population:
 Russians: 97800 persons (71.6%);
 Ukrainians: 12900 persons;
 Armenians: 6200 persons;
   Byelorussians: 5500 persons;
   Germans: 4900 persons;
   Tatars: 1800 persons;
   Azeri: 800 persons;
   Poles: 800 persons;
   Other nationalities: less than 300 persons.

Due to migration processes Jewish population of the region decreased by 700
Over the last 4 years the inflow of migrants from the CIS States and the Baltic
States has sharply decreased. According to the forecasts, migration inflow will
come down to 3000 by 2015 in comparison to 11000 in before 2002.
6 regional and 6 local national – cultural autonomies are registered in Kaliningrad
Region (Azeri, Armenian, Byelorussian, Lithuanian, German, Polish, Russian and
Ukrainian). 87 national - cultural organizations comprising representatives of 18
nationalities function in the Region. Advisory council on issues of national—
cultural associations was formed at the regional administration. Head of the
administration (governor) of Kaliningrad Region V.Egorov chairs the council.
Committee on issues of national – cultural associations was also formed at the
Kaliningrad Region Public Chamber.

Xenophobia in Kaliningrad Region


     Starting from July 2003 anti-Semitic materials have been being actively
distributed in Kaliningrad Region.
In July 2003 the Regional Prosecutor brought an action pursuant article 282.2.a of
the RF Criminal Code in connection with distribution of the letter “Delicate
suggestion for the kikes of the Kaliningrad region and their accomplices”. The
purpose of this letter was inciting ethnic hatred; it contained threats of physical
violence to certain officials. The investigation was later suspended due to absence
of defendants. During the 2003 State Duma elections campaign a newspaper
financed from the election fund of one of the candidates to the Regional Duma was
distributed. Published in the newspaper article "SPS Deputy Zelinskaya is a patriot
of the USA and Israel" was of clear anti-Semitic nature.
Materials of anti-Semitic nature (calendar “Let us rebuilt the synagogue together”,
newspaper “Danger: Zionism" published at the request of Chairman of the Russian
Autonomy of Kaliningrad Region V.Levchenko, leaflet "Open address of chairman
of public association A.Stepanov to the President") were distributed in the Region
in August - September 2004.
On September 18, 2004 an unapproved meeting “in defense of Russians” took
place on Victory Square. Participants demanded to ban Zionist organizations.
Chairman of the Russian Autonomy of Kaliningrad Region V.Levchenko (who
also calls himself “commissioner of the Supreme Ruler of the Russian Republic in
East-Prussian Guberina”) organized the meeting.
On September 15, 2004 Regional Prosecutor brought an action (criminal case
No.022348) pursuant the article 282.1 (Inciting ethnic and religious hatred) in
connection with distribution of anti-Semitic materials.
Some local politicians provoke anti-Semitic sentiments in the public. Regional
Duma Deputy V.Lopata in his article “Honor for 20 pieces of silver” (the
Baltiiskaya Reclama newspaper, issue 56 released on March 7, 2005, p.11)
debating with a journalist raises the issue of her nationality “It is good that not all
of Jews are Judases but only few… Judas is a vicious but not standard for Jews
image…Among Jews there a lot of decent and talented journalists – patriots of
On February 16, 2005 at the press-conference dedicated to the credit allocated by
the Dresden bank former Governor of the Region L.Gorbenko, co-chairman of the
Rubezh Rodiny (Frontier of Motherland) movement, permitted himself a number
of anti-Semitic statements stressing that of 2500 Jews residing in the Region 500
were on the top positions in business and administration. On March 17, 2005 at the
meeting of the Regional Duma LDPR Deputy V.Seleznev when discussing one of
the issues on the agenda declared that the name of Regional Duma Deputy
S.Giszburg was not Semyon but Solomon. All above facts testify to the fact that
anti-Semitic trends rise from the grass-root to political level and are actively used
in politics.
As it is well known, on January 23, 2005 a group of Russian State Duma Deputies
of nationalist viewpoints petitioned Prosecutor General for banning all Jewish
organizations for being "extremist". State Duma Deputy from Kaliningrad Region,
member of the Rodina faction Vladimir Nikitin was among the signatories.
On February 28, 2005 V.Nikitin held a press-conference in Kaliningrad. The
reported raised the issue of V.Nikitin motives for signing the petition to Prosecutor
General. A journalist of the Kaskad newspaper in the issue of January 29, 2005
reported: “Though yesterday State Duma Deputy V.Nikitin said a number of sound
things about monetization, still there was a fly in this ointment. The Holocaust
Remembrance Days and 60th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz were among
the major events of the last week, however it did not prevent 20 State Duma
Deputies from signing the document to Prosecutor General. The authors of the
petition claimed that “Jewish religion was anti-Christian and man-hating”.
According to them, Jewish organizations “deliberately provoke anti-Semitic
manifestations to apply penalties against patriots”. The blood of innocent babies
was also mentioned. And Vladimir Petrovich has signed this opus. What was the
deputy guided by? He responded by unclear unconvincing statements that "certain
actions of certain organizations demonstrate clear disrespect towards Russia and its
culture”. So to say, they spit Russians in the face, among them Mikhail Shvidkoy
who, according to Nikitin, directs obscene programs on TV and Vladimir Pozner
who praises the USA on the First All-Russian TV Channel. Somehow Deputy
Nikitin acts very inconsistently. He fiery criticizes monetization and at the same
time signs the document evidently inspired by this administration. There is no
better way to distract the public from the failed monetization than to play “the
Jewish card”. This practice was well-developed in Germany in the 30s and in pre-
revolution Russia. Nothing to be surprised at…”
Deputies of the Regional Duma have repeatedly drawn attention of the law
enforcement agencies to extremist manifestations. However, effective measures
have not been undertaken; nobody has been punished. Considering that those
manifestations contain a number of features falling within the article 282 of the RF
Criminal Code "Inciting ethnic, racial and religious hatred” this impunity promotes
even more active distribution of provocative materials.
On October 21, 2004 the Kaliningrad Regional Duma examined the issue of
measures to be undertaken for suppressing extremist manifestations aimed at
ethnic strife kindling and at promoting preponderance or inferiority of citizens on
the basis of nationality. In this regard the Regional Duma adopted the resolution
No.391 of October 21, 2004 where it was stressed that, taking into consideration
the extreme hazard of such unlawful actions, the Regional Duma insists on
thorough investigation for determining the guilty and bringing them to justice as
envisaged in the RF legislation.

Religious intolerance and ethnic xenophobia

    18 religions are present in the Region. 143 public religious organizations
function today at its territory.
The largest of them are the following:
Russian Orthodox Church (47 congregations), according to its representatives two
thirds to three fourths of the residents consider themselves Orthodox;
Roman Catholic Church (23 congregations), according to its leaders around 25
thousands of the residents consider themselves Catholic;
Moslem community: up to 30 thousands Moslems reside in the Region;
Evangelic Lutheran Church (15 congregations): around 3 000 residents are
affiliated with it;
Christians of Evangelic Faith and Charismatics (29 organizations): total number of
parishioners is around 1500;
Judaism: around 2000 persons; 2 religious organizations;
Society of Consciousness of Krishna: one community comprising around 200
Church of Jesus Christ of the Last Days (Mormons) is represented by one
community with 250 members. Up to 20 missioners from the USA permanently
work in the Region.

It is necessary to note that there were no houses of prayer in Kaliningrad Region
before the disintegration of the USSR due to historical circumstances: this territory
belonged to Germany till 1945. Construction of houses of prayer started only in the
80s of the previous century. Representatives of different confessions coexisted
In 2004 a conflict broke out in Kaliningrad in connection with allocation of a land
lot for construction of a mosque. Already ten years Moslems have been trying to
get a permit from authorities. Altogether there were nine attempts to start a
construction but every time certain obstacles emerged. One of the land lots was
allocated in the Moskovsky District of Kaliningrad. However, in 2003 a letter-
address against construction of a mosque was distributed among the residents: “We
are not against the construction of mosque in the city However, since the majority
of the population is affiliated with Orthodoxy, construction of a Moslem house of
prayer in the center of the city is unacceptable. And the size of it must correspond
to the small number of religious Moslems (and we stress, religious!) in the city".
Further in the letter Buinaksk and Volgodonsk were mentioned. The authors of the
letter raised the question: "Whether the mosque is needed for worship". The letter
was concluded with the appeal “Let us gather our strength! Let us not beg but
demand and prevent this evil from coming to our city!"
The Russian Orthodox Church (and it was its representatives who had distributed
the letter) went even further demanding to organize a public action of installing a
cross at the land lot allocated for a mosque since "an Orthodox monastery once
stood there”. Now they are trying to find prove thereof in St.Petersburg archives.
According to the NPTs data on registering, usage and restoration of historical and
cultural monuments a Lutheran church stood at this place till it was demolished at
the directive of authorities in 1972.
Archbishop Baltic Seraphim even attended the March session of the Kaliningrad
City Council to gain the deputies' support for banning the construction of a mosque
in the Moskovsky District of Kaliningrad. His argument was that the Moslems
planed to build not only a mosque but a spiritual center as well. His Grace stressed:
“We do not oppress Moslems. And we are not against construction of a modest
mosque. But somewhere at the outskirts of the city. And its size must be
proportional to the number of believers in Allah". The deputies have heard out this
address without comments; there were no decisions made in this regard... At the
Internet forums Kaliningrad residents display tolerance: the majority believes that
the Region must accommodate religious institutions of different confessions.
In 2004 the Kaliningrad Mayor’s decree No. 1144 of May 17, 2004 allowed the
Muslims to develop a construction project for a mosque in the Mosovsky District
of Kaliningrad. Today the Mayor’s office is in the process of concluding a lease
contract on the land lot allocated for construction of a mosque.
Chairman of the Kaliningrad regional department of the public organizations
"Union of Armenians of Russia" R.Alexyan informed that a land lot of 2.5 hectares
had been allocated for construction of an Armenian Spiritual Center. The
Armenian Spiritual Center includes: Armenian Apostolic Church; Armenian
Sunday School; an open air museum of Armenian sculpture and paintings of artists
from different countries. Baltic Khachkar (stone – cross, example of Armenian art
of the Middle Ages) was installed at the allocated land lot. Today all necessary
documentation for construction is prepared and approved. The construction was
planned to start in the second quarter of 2003.
But now the start of construction is set aside for indefinite period. In the immediate
vicinity of the allocated for the Spiritual Center land lot a businessman has built a
guest house occupying 0.78 hectares of the allocated for the Center land and a
stone fence around it. The Armenian Cultural Association “Garun” has turned to
the architectural department of the Mayor’s office and to the Prosecutor of the
Leningradsky District. There was no reaction. The Prosecutor advised them to go
to the court. And while the representatives of the Armenian community were trying
to reach the authorities, the businessman has organized a petition from the local
residents, the contents of which could be summarized in the following statement:
“this is not the place for Armenians; we do not want them to gather here”. Today
the issue is still unresolved.
The most wide-spread kind of ethnic intolerance in Kaliningrad region is
Caucasian- phobia. Expressions as “persons of Caucasian nationality” could be met
in some regional newspapers. In October 2004 the Komsomolskaya Pravda
newspaper dedicated several materials to Chechens residing in Lithuania. In the
article “Jihad in Vilnius" (October 10, 2004) the journalist raises the question
whether “a small Ichkeria arises in Lithuania, close to the borders of Kaliningrad
Region, whether they have really opened a Sunni Moslem spiritual center and not a
refuge of Shakhids”.
In 2004 the organization “League of the women – voters in Kaliningrad Region”
conducted a survey among the high school students in the Region. The survey
revealed that 50% respondents thought negatively of all "newcomers". The most
negative attitude was demonstrated towards migrants from the Caucasus. More
than 20% of the respondents considered this group of population “dangerous” for
different reasons, in the first place explaining their dislike by the notion that they
are terrorists and murderers of innocent citizens; they are guilty of explosions; they
take hostages; they behave as if they were superior etc. A lot of representatives of
Caucasian nationalities experience on themselves manifestations of everyday
xenophobia expressed in different addressed to them comments the mildest of
which is “All of you dropped upon us”. Some of the representatives of these
nationalities have even had to move out (the Izvestiya (News) newspaper of
September 27, 2004 wrote about a migrant from Dagestan who, having spent 10
years in the area, moved back to Dagestan since he and his family suffered from
being humiliated both by police officers and common citizens). For migrants from
the Caucasus it is very difficult to obtain a passport for traveling abroad; they are
convinced that local officials would address their problems only when given a
Anti-Lithuanian trends are also spreading in the Region. In the first place it is
caused by the difficulties with obtaining visas and crossing the borders with
Lithuaia. Sociological survey carried out by the Lithuanian company Sprinter
Terimay (see the article "I see the enemy across Nyamunas” in the Khroniki
Ambera of November 24, 2004) revealed that residents of Kaliningrad are not
enthusiastic about their neighbors and more than 50% of Lithuanians consider
Russia hostile to Lithuania state. In Kaliningrad nationalists regularly organize
actions against the new rules of passing through Lithuania for the residents of
Kaliningrad Region. In 2004 an incident happened that turned out to be a trivial
political sham: Lithuanian customs officer was with brain concussion and injuries
in the train Moscow – Kaliningrad; inscription in blood on the wall of the carriage
platform read “Lithuania for Russians”.
Residents of the Central District of Kaliningrad actively oppose construction of the
“Center for regional partnership Lithuania – Kaliningad”, in the fist place due to
the fact that local residents would loose an open market and a playing ground
because of the construction. General Director of the Ethnic Minorities in
Emigration Department of the Lithuanian Government expressed his concern:
“Recently we have opened similar centers in St.Petersburg, Minsk and Poland. We
never have had such problems there".
It could be noted that xenophobic trends in the region are on the rise. Despite of the
fact that the Region is multinational and high level of tolerance always was typical
for the residents, today against the background of complicated social and
economical issues, problems, fears and terrorist people are in search of enemies to
blame and xenophobic trends are therefore on the rise. A lot of politicians use
those trends in their political games often playing on patriotic feelings of the
residents of Kaliningrad Region.

Author: I.M.Gerzik
March 2005

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