Inter-Minority Xenophobia in the Russian Federation: The Security Dilemma Complex

Inter-Minority Xenophobia in the Russian Federation:
The Security Dilemma Complex

Mikhail Alexseev, San Diego State University


Having documented a rising wave of hostility, violence, intimidation, and destruction targeting Russia�s migrant minorities since the late 1990s, local and international scholars, human rights groups, government agencies, and the media have focused predominantly on the relations between the ethnic Russian majority and the non-Russian ethnic minorities. Much less attention has been paid to another growing, if counterintuitive, problem in Russia�s ethnic relations: the emergent xenophobic extremism among ethnic minorities, or inter-minority xenophobia. This problem, in part, has been illustrated over the last year by the Chechen-Kalmyk violence in Astrakhan and by the Armenian-Azerbaijani, Chechen-Dagestani, and Chinese-Korean-Vietnamese clashes in Rostov. This is the first systematic study of minority perceptions that potentially fuel these hostile and violent behaviors in Russia. Even though specially designed surveys oversampling five non-Slav minorities across Russia found that these minorities are significantly more tolerant toward migrants than ethnic Russians, they also found anti-migrant hostility to be substantial and to vary widely across individuals and ethnic groups. In this paper, I examine these controversies empirically drawing on the NCEEER-funded surveys in conjunction with my earlier surveys on immigration attitudes and ethnic relations in Russia that were supported by the MacArthur Foundation and the National Science Foundation. As I re-examine the titularity and the Caucasus-Asian findings, I also test alternative explanations rooted in theories of social contact, socialization (media impacts), and the security dilemma (association of other minorities with security threats such as terrorism and territorial claims.

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