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"Racism in the Russian Army" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2017 4:41 p.m. PST

Quite interesting thread here…

"Sadly, his experience was far from unique. Ethnic Russians dominated the ranks of the Red Army (See this table which I'm too lazy to bother typing out), and racism – both casual and institutional – was rather endemic in the Red Army, especially towards those who hailed from the Central Asian region, but also the western lands such as Ukraine and Poland, although those who were at least Slavs, even if not Russians, were a step above the "Asiatics". Blame for losses was often foisted on the minorities failure to maintain their discipline under fire, and likewise, many Russian soldiers denigrated their general bravery, characterizing them as shirkers who avoided combat anyway possible.

The roots are manifold, much of it stemming back to the Imperial era, with the general assumption of 'Russian supremacy' over the various national minorities who made up first the Empire, and then the USSR. Vast differences in cultural mores only served to strengthen ideas of 'otherness', and this was further compounded by language barriers, as many minority soldiers arrived with little to no understanding of Russian. For a nominally classless society, ethnicity, in the army, became an unofficial class system, with non-Slavs on the bottom. Even in units raised in the far east, being an ethnic Russian was one of the best ways to gain high rank, and distrust of certain minority groups would see them often relegated to labor roles in the ranks, or even excluded from military service in the pre-war years. This latter restriction was mostly lifted due to the exigencies of war, which required the recruitment of just about every minority to fill the ranks, but the Russian-chauvinism remained part of the rationale for it, as seen from one Soviet description of the multi-ethnic Red Army:

Often one encounters the opinion that the Soviet people defended their own Fatherland, Russia, against foreign invasion – which is correct, but not completely so. This desire belongs to all peoples. However, historically in the USSR, it turns out that the patriotism of separate peoples became inseparable from the recognition of the Russian ''elder brother" and "a feeling of family unity." By saving themselves from enslavement, every people together with other peoples defended a single Homeland-the Soviet Union, in which Uzbeks and Kazakhs, Tartars and Chuvash, and many other peoples found their govemment, created their industry, and received the opportunity to develop their language and national culture, to train national cadres, and so on…."
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Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2017 8:02 p.m. PST

Thanks for that one Armand.
My first decade of working in the FSU, Kazakhstan in particular, banged that home to me. My barber (a Kazakh) had, as a young man, been in the logistics train supporting the 62nd at Stalingrad. Humping ammo and shells from the east side rail lines down to the river. Many stories of the casual beatings for supposed failures given out by the Russian officers. Almost nobody in his unit spoke Russian, so failure to follow orders was a common reason for being beaten. And a Kazakh, Uzbek or Tadjik who could speak Russian was considered 'Uppity'.

Fear / suspicion of "the other" is always with us it seems.

Gaz004505 Aug 2017 2:01 a.m. PST

More recently, the Russians have deployed a military police battalion to Syria that is made up of ethnic Chechens and Moslem soldiers……

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 6:33 a.m. PST

I find it interesting when a Georgian (non-Russian) like Stalin can become The USSR's head of state, or an Austrian like Hitler become Chancellor of Germany.

And yet, though they themselves were outsiders, once they were in power they each did horrible things to the "outsiders" in their adopted countries.


Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 6:45 a.m. PST

Gaz0045: "More recently, the Russians have deployed a military police battalion to Syria that is made up of ethnic Chechens and Moslem soldier …"

Well, that might not end up so well for Russia, once those guys return and, for whatever reason, don't get the red carpet treatment. They are probably despised by many members of their own ethnicity for supporting Russia's national interests. So if in Russia they don't get everything they were promised or that they imagined they would get … let's just say there's nothing more dangerous than someone with little or nothing left to lose.


Vostok1705 Aug 2017 9:34 a.m. PST

Hello, Cacique Caribe!

In the Caucasus, service in the army or the police is veeery prestigious (salary + respect + state service). And in any case, the military in Russia is now had a good salary.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 10:42 a.m. PST

Glad you enjoyed it my friend!. (smile)

It seems to me a very good idea to send soldiers of Muslim religion by the Russians to "take care" of other Muslims … I wonder why USA did not …


ITALWARS05 Aug 2017 10:44 a.m. PST

but if they want to do in that way inside the Russian Army plus they do'not cary of bit about opinions from outside and, above all , they dont care about politically correct mantra and those histerical considerations that medias cannot avoid…and finally if everything work well inside the Russian Army and her tradition is supported by the whole nation ….who are we to criticisize?

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 12:34 p.m. PST

In the USA there are very few Muslims. Those few who live here are often not citizens and have been here a very short time. The US military also has laws that prevent discrimination based on religion, so forming Muslims units would likely be illegal. Also, we have an all volunteer military service and not that many Muslims choose to serve.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 1:00 p.m. PST


A while back my wife and I were discussing the use of ethnic "assets" (even second generation ones) to balance things out a little in areas where we fall short.

When it came to the matter of intercepting Russian intel, I proposed a unit of Chechens. To balance out Turkey, create a unit of Armenians, and so on.

To neutralize some of the recent cyber attacks by China I proposed a unit of Tibetan monks. But she burst that bubble quickly when she reminded me of how afraid we were of upsetting China over the issue of a visit by the Dalai Lama over to the WH that we had him use the rear entrance to the building. And she also pointed out how we apologized profusely afterwards, to China not the Dalai Lama. :)


Ottoathome Inactive Member05 Aug 2017 1:18 p.m. PST

So I live in Sussex County New Jersey, in some ways the whitest of white bread people regions. Just outside the county is the town of Port Jervis. In Sussex County Port Jervis is looked down upon by everyone.

One of the jokes was "what has 1000 legs and one hundred teeth- "The Port Jervis Day Parade."

Another was when they started with the idea of merging municipal services to save money and someone wanted to send the kids from Wantage and Montague (towns in north western New Jersey) to the Port jervis Schools.

"Port Jervis!!! Port Jervis, you want to send our kids to school in Port Jervis??!!! Why people out there go around in rags with snot hanging out of their noses! They have like two teeth in their mouth. Port Jervis!!!??? isn't that the place where the guy was killed in the pie eating contest when the cow sat on his head?

It's a story first floated by Garrison Keillor but it was quickly picked up by people here and the name changed.

Everyone needs someone to look down on. Northern Italians hate the Nabladons (people in Naples and Sicilly) Prussians hate Bavarians and the Bavarians hated them back and both hated the "Smart S……s" from the Rhineland, and all of them hate the Austrians who they brand "Schlamperei" (slovenly) Jews of the Ashkenazim and Sephardim hate the Litvaks from Galicia and the East, Czechs are the worst. Here you have people with utterly German Names who hate the Germans and speak and think only Czech with a vengeance, and Czechs with Czech names who consider Germans the Herrenvolk and are better Nazi's than the Nazi's. I know my mother was one of the latter. It goes on and on everywhere, and of course everyone hates the Jews… and the Irish…

Under the stress of war such mild racism turns Nasty.

Tgunner20 Aug 2017 7:56 a.m. PST

It seems to me a very good idea to send soldiers of Muslim religion by the Russians to "take care" of other Muslims … I wonder why USA did not …

The US doesn´t have to send Muslim soldiers to fight ISIS and other Jihadis. There are plenty of them already over there in the form of Kurds, Syrians, and Iraqis. We just send special forces types over there to train them, money to help equip them, and aircraft to provide air support. Sending an Islamic battalion is really unnecessary.

Besides, as noted above, the US has moved away from segregation so it doesn´t have special units to serve different races or whatever. Their usefulness is a moot point because the American politics wouldn´t tolerate them being formed.

christot Inactive Member20 Aug 2017 8:24 a.m. PST

To put it in the historical context of WWII, what would now be described as "institutional Racism" was pretty much endemic in ALL armies (and societies), not just Russia.
75 years ago racism was the norm, not the exception.

Private Matter20 Aug 2017 3:50 p.m. PST

Bunkermeister – I think you have your facts wrong regarding the citizenship of Muslims in the USA. While Muslims are only 1% to 2% of the nation, the vast majority of those Muslims are American citizens; many having been born here. Muslim immigration to the USA has been going on for over a century and is nothing new. However, between 2010 and 2015 half of the projected growth of the Muslim population was from immigration so the number of not-yet-citizen Muslim is growing. Muslims currently (or at least before January 2017) represented 10% of the annual immigrants to the USA.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2017 1:19 a.m. PST

Wasn't there a big increase in the Muslim population back in the last quarter of the 20th Century as a result of African-Americans (many of them previously non-religious) converting to Islam?

Otherwise, I would endorse the comment of Christot about what we would today describe as racism being "the norm" (and much more universal and complex than just "white-on-black") 75 years ago, in much the same way that slavery was 200 years ago.

VVV reply21 Aug 2017 2:29 a.m. PST

I think you will find Russian society is racist, so their armed forces just reflect that. Used to be there was a lot of bullying in Russian armed forces, does it still go on?

Barin121 Aug 2017 2:56 a.m. PST

Not so much with contractor units, but still some in drafted units.
Racism was always there…when I was in Soviet army we had caucasians against Russians or Ukrainians, Armenians against Azerbaijans, etc. Still, I'd say real serious offences were with "elder" soldiers (2d year in service) against "newbies" (1st year in service). Surprisingly, it was not affecting combat trainings, but there were accidents with soldiers on guard duty (i.e with real ammunition).
If you have sometimes fights between teenagers from various parts of the same city, of course it will be reflected in the army…

ITALWARS22 Aug 2017 1:41 a.m. PST

"Otherwise, I would endorse the comment of Christot about what we would today describe as racism being "the norm" (and much more universal and complex than just "white-on-black") 75 years ago, in much the same way that slavery was 200 years ago."
i'm not very concerned or worried about that..because untill equal right on practical things are granted i do not see the problem….but , in my humble opinion, there is a cause to that..which is anti-racism…let the people in peace and the matter set up smoothly……i used to attend an international school during my youth…with people from all races and countries..we do not even thought about racial issues neither we saw any difference between us..the only bullying was only during Soccer World Cup among different nationalities supporters…well after so many years i read on the media that, today, inside my same very school there had been serious racist issues…

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