Expatica news

Russian ultra-nationalists merge

Russian far right groups have merged to create a new ultra-nationalist movement which could establish itself as a formal political party ahead of elections this year, one of its leaders said Thursday.

The movement, which is simply called “Russians”, includes several groups which are currently banned and its formation comes at a time when xenophobia appears to be on the rise in Russia.

The merger comes ahead of parliamentary elections in December followed by presidential polls in March 2012 and Dmitry Dyomushkin, one of the new body’s founders, told AFP that the movement could turnn itself into a political party.

“I don’t rule out work on creating a party,” said Dyomushkin, who is the leader of the banned ultra-nationalist Slavic Union.

Dyomushkin could not say how many members the new organization already has, but said that there has never been such a large association that “speaks in the name of all Russian people.”

Last month a Moscow court banned the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, another major nationalist organisation, whose former leaders are also listed as founders of “Russians”.

Xenophobic attitudes have grown in Russia in recent years as economic growth attracts workers from Central Asia and the predominantly Muslim south to large cities.

Last December, scores of football fans and ultra-nationalists clashed with police near the Kremlin in a protest ostensibly at police handling of the shooting of a Spartak Moscow football fan in one of the most violent riots in recent years.

Critics say the Kremlin has deliberately courted nationalists for years but that the December riots showed that the authorities cannot entirely control the situation.