Church discusses ethnic unrest in Russia
Head of the synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin has urged representatives of the authorities, expatriate communities and the local population to hold a dialogue on common rules of behavior in Russian cities.
"We should think in earnest once again about the authorities, diasporas and representatives of the local population getting together and thinking of common rules of behavior, of what can be done and what cannot be in our cities and villages," he told Interfax-Religion commenting on the Saturday actions of soccer fans against the murder of their friend by a person from the Caucasus.
The problem cannot be resolved "by traditional assurances that everything is alright," the clergyman said. "The situation is very alarming and only prompt and serious action guaranteeing the peaceful coexistence of members of different ethnic groups can lead Russia away from the fatal verge of ethnic bloodshed. We are fated to live together and we must do everything for this," he said.
"The danger of such clashes in rapidly growing," Father Vsevolod said adding that he warned of such problems two weeks ago at the Moscow Civic Forum.
"The difference in cultures and lifestyles is becoming too saddening. I said then that the flame of clashes is burning too close to Moscow and that it can spread to the capital city soon. Yesterday it happened," he said.
"It must become apparent to the authorities and the public today that the old policy in the sphere of ethnic relations no can no longer be pursued," he said.
"There are two great dangers that may lead to great bloodshed," he said.
"The first is the audacious and pushy behavior of some members of ethnic communities and the criminal groups linked with them. This behavior is unacceptable for the overwhelming majority of our pubic and hence must be stopped," Father Vsevolod said.
"Any instances of the inaction of officials and law enforcement with regard to ethnic criminal groups is absolutely unthinkable. Any such instance should mean the end of a career forever," he said.
"I think that the question of tightening legislation should also be considered. It would be reasonable to asked whether it would be appropriate to make an aggravating circumstance the brazen and insulting behavior of an offender running counter to the morals and traditions accepted in specific places," the clergyman suggested.
He described the use of existing contradictions by extremist groups the other threat.
"These people do not truly want anything good for Russia. It is their objective to fan a conflict and with its help gain political capital and maybe even come to power. Russia cannot permit that. The organizers and instigators of the clashes must be found and punished," he said.
"If their ill-willed work continues and if representatives of the ethnic communities continue their brazen and rude behavior, massive bloody ethnic clashes may break out and as this is the capital city, these clashes will overturn all of Russia," the Moscow Patriarchate official said.
"The law must work. That is vital. Not revolt or rioting, not lynching or extremist calls, but law that would inevitably stop the provocations of extremists as well as the rampancy of ethnic criminal groups and the aggressive behavior of individual members of ethnic communities," the clergyman said.
"The leaders of ethnic communities, if they really control them, must come to a situation in which they themselves would expose criminals among themselves and place them into the hands of law," he said.