Explaining Increases in Xenophobic Outcomes in Post-Communist Russia
30 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 22 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2009
Since 2000, Russia has witnessed a stunning increase in xenophobic voting and violence. Unlike manifestations in Western Europe, Russian xenophobia is significantly more likely to end in fatal encounters or large-scale infringements of domestic liberties. Russia is home to half the world’s skinheads, averages several dozen fatal attacks on ethnic minorities yearly, and has seen local ordinances and pogroms intended to reverse the access of immigrants to Russian markets.
Our paper collects data on three dimensions of Russian xenophobia: votes for xenophobic parties, legislation restricting immigrant minorities, and explicitly xenophobic crimes. We then test three competing explanations for the increase in xenophobic outcomes since 2000. We find that increases in xenophobia are driven primarily by increases in inter- and intra-national migration, due a combination of a more attractive Russian economy combined with political instability in the Caucuses. We reject two alternate explanations: that xenophobia is driven by high or increasing levels of economic instability or inequality, or that xenophobia is driven by increases in nationalist sentiment utilized by the Putin regime to consolidate power, though we cannot rule out that Russia’s weak rule of law and indifferent civic culture play a role in facilitating violence.
Keywords: post-communist, Russia, xenophobia, hate crime
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation