Accessibility links

Breaking News

Europe's Migrant Crisis Brings Out Ugly Side Of Russian Internet

Migrants arrive on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on a dinghy on September 9.

Although the European Union's ongoing migrant crisis has not seriously affected Russia directly, it has certainly fired up the Russian-language Internet.

"They lie to us when they say [the migrants] are sick with dysentery. It isn't true. They live side-by-side with diseases from birth. It is the Germans who are going to die from these infections."

"I stopped going to France a long time ago. French girls can't wear miniskirts anymore and all the cafes are full of Ibrahims with their harems."

"I feel sorry for Europe's cities, which used to be so pretty and so clean."

These comments are among the more than 500 posted on just one thread with the headline The Truth About The Refugees. And there are thousands of disturbingly similar ones, such as here and here.

Although such open racism is rarely found in official Russian media, coverage of the events has been alarmist and tinged with schadenfreude over what they say is the impending collapse of Europe.

"The sheer quantity of barbarians is distressing Europe," writer and nationalist politician Eduard Limonov said in Izvestia. "The influx of barbarians is punishment for the fact that you have been raping the Middle East, Asia, and Africa for millennia. Remember your achievements: the Crusades, followed by the forced Christianization of whole continents, followed by colonization under the excuse of bringing progress to captured colonies, and now -- 'human-rights wars,' under the excuse of spreading human rights around the entire planet."

Dmitry Kiselyov, head of the Russia Today media holding, on his popular weekly news roundup program for Rossia television on September 6 said that Hungary was being "blackmailed" by the European Union to give up its "centuries-old culture" for the sake of the "new rules of the European Union where there is no room for Christian traditions."

'Takeover Of Europe By Muslims'

Many Russian media, including the state RIA Novosti news agency, reported a specious claim first put forward in Britain's Sunday Express newspaper that "more than 4,000" militants from the Islamic State (IS) terror group had already entered Europe with the refugees.

Perhaps the most inflammatory piece appeared in the popular daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, purporting to be the diary of a Russian woman living in Munich. "In the press there is a new topic of discussion: how to force the refugees to clean up their own excrement?" she writes in her entry for August 18. "The Germans simply can't understand that these people don't clean up after themselves. They have never cleaned up after themselves, going back for generations."

In a piece analyzing the Russian reaction to the crisis on the website, Aurelia Georgiyeva declines to link to the original article, writing, "There is nothing there anyway except direct lies and distortions."

Andrei Dittsel, a native of Novosibirsk who has lived in Hamburg since 2002 and who is actively providing food and other necessities for refugees there, tells RFE/RL that he is not surprised that many Russians living in Europe -- themselves economic migrants -- are among the most anguished about the crisis.

"These people usually continue to live in the Russian-language information space, even if their bodies are physically in Tel Aviv or Dortmund," Dittsel says. Such people are "genuinely concerned about the 'dilution of European identity'" and the "takeover of Europe by Muslims," he says.

Liberal political analyst Vitaly Portnikov connects the Russian anger over the refugee crisis with the overall growing aggression within Russian society, as well as with "a xenophobia that is insane, incomprehensible, and unacceptable for a former empire." The reaction shows that "the Russian is not the defeater of Hitler, but rather Hitler himself."

"Contemporary Russia is a state with the mentality and fears of a scared adolescent," he wrote in a September 4 commentary. "Otherwise it would have occurred to its citizens that among the migrants that are today trying to find a place in Europe might be the father of a great scientist who will bring about a revolution in physics or the mother of a brilliant pianist or renowned filmmaker. And maybe that same renowned filmmaker or actor is getting off a boat somewhere -- maybe he is only 5 years old, but he survives and tomorrow the same people in Russia who are talking now about 'the dirty migrants' will be standing in line to see his films.