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1958 Grozny Riots

Soviet cogitations: 2408
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 26 Nov 2013, 01:57

I just read about this incident. It is a very interesting instance of ethnic tensions in the Soviet Union. Does anyone have more information on this subject? Interestingly enough it took place at about the same time as the 1958 Notting Hill race riots in the UK. Both incidents seem to have been about the issue of immigration.
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Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Post 26 Nov 2013, 09:35
Well it's known that Russian and other national chauvinisms persisted in the USSR, having been not only actually encouraged under Stalin but even made pretty much the official policy in the post-WW2 period.
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Soviet cogitations: 4494
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 26 Nov 2013, 11:01
I would recommend reading the Russian version of the article (use googletranslate to get at least some of the main points) to get a more balanced picture. The English version is not only biased; it's factually wrong in many places. It also seems to rely heavily on a John Dunlop's "work", which is stupendously one-sided.

The Russian language article notes that the contours of tensions were complicated and multidimensional, and not a simple matter of racist Russian settlers looking as Chechens and Inguish as ethnically "less than them". It mentions the hastiness of the leadership in Moscow of rehabilitating these Caucasian peoples legally without providing an infrastructure for rehabilitating them factually (i.e. providing social infrastructure, shelter, jobs, etc). It also notes the resulting aggression and violence on the part of the disenfranchised Chechens/Ingush toward their new neighbours, with robbery, vandalism, street fights, attempts to take back housing by force, etc. skyrocketing in the period leading up to the murder.

I don't know where Dunlop got his information about a Russian sailor trying to pick up an Ingush woman, but the memoirs of KGB Colonel-General Belchenko, who was a witness to the events, note that the victim was a worker in a chemical plant, and that he died as a result of a drunken fight with a group of Chechens. That same night this same group had stabbed and wounded another Russian in a bar in another part of town.

The riots, which began during the factory worker's funeral march, were initially led by women, who complained that the authorities weren't doing enough to curb the recent rise in violence and general chaos upon the return of the Chechens and Ingush to the capital.

The so-called draft resolution for the meeting was created by a man by the name of Georgi Shvayuk -Russian engineer, not a female former party representative.

I don't know about the 'beating to death of one elederly Chechen', but in the Russian article it is stated that two civilians died, ten people hospitalized, and that "among the victims, many were officials, and few had Chechen names, which KGB Colonol General Belchenko regards as proof that what began as unrest with anti-Chechen slogans turned into a rebellion against the government."

The most outrageous assertion in the English language article is the idea that "no one was held accountable". The Russian language article clearly states that "93 people were detained, 57 of them arrested, 7 placed under house arrest, 9 transferred for investigation by the KGB, 2 to the prosecutor, and that the KGB arrested another 19 organizers and active participants, with 58 criminal cases begun. Shvayuk, author of the draft resolution, was also arrested, and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and confiscation of property. The allegations that the authorities stood completely idly by during the events are also ridiculous. By the time of the funeral march militsiya and KGB had been brought in from outside Grosny to try to keep the situation under control. Regional party committee secretaries urged people to disperse and go home. As assailants attacked the regional party office, militsiya and KGB had to clear it several times. It was really more a matter of insufficient resources to deal with the uprising than a deliberate tolerance for ethnically motivated attacks, as argued in the English language wiki.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
Soviet cogitations: 2408
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 26 Nov 2013, 12:56
Thank you for clarifying. Yes, the Russian Wikipedia article has several contradictions with the one in English.

Would you say the main cause was the ethnic tension created by the return of the Caucasus people from Central Asia who could not find employment?

Was it even an ethnic based disturbance?

To me it looks like the result of poor management on the part of the Soviet state. They brought the Caucasians back to their native lands without providing them the employment opportunities and housing. The result was that there was competition for resources between the Caucasians and Russians. The Russian Wikipedia article says that ethnic tensions in Grozny began only after housing was seized.
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