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"Youth Racism, Hate and Violence in Europe" Consultation Cosponsored by UNESCO, St Petersburg Governor and Verbe et Lumière - Vigilance

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"Youth Racism, Hate and Violence in Europe" Consultation Cosponsored by UNESCO, St Petersburg Governor and Verbe et Lumière - Vigilance

Paris, 25 May 2009

A two-day Consultation was convened by the State University of St Petersburg, the Russian human rights organization "Citizens' Watch" and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre-Europe, featuring academics, law enforcement, local government officials, school inspectors and a youth counsellor of the Russian Orthodox Church.

UNESCO and the French educational foundation "Verbe et Lumière – Vigilance" cosponsored the participation of:
- a Polish expert on racism in football
- a Dutch monitor of hate on the Internet
- a German Lutheran Youth Pastor
- a British governmental advisor on Muslim youth
- a former Skinhead who is now a youth violence consultant to the Israeli police.

Twenty graduate students of St Petersburg State University – five from each of the departments of sociology, psychology, philosophy and journalism – provided research findings from their respective academic disciplines.

A Police Commissioner illustrated the influence of British and American White Power movements on the development of Russian neo-Nazi groups in the vacuum of post-Communism. He stated that "petty criminals have become homicidal... plans were made and aborted to occupy a Jewish school and die Jihad-style in a mass murder of the schoolchildren...
Their support for Muslim fundamentalists in Palestine, Pakistan and Iraq is based on their conviction that Hitler would have first targeted Jews and Zionists, and only then deal with the Blacks and the slant-eyes..."

A study of Russo-Western links between neo-Nazis pointed to animosity from, on the one hand, the Anglo-Saxon radical right who reviled Slavs, and on the other, Russian nationalists who redefined Slavs as true Aryans.

State University Vice-President, Nikolai Skvortsov, stated that "Skinhead murders of non-whites in St Petersburg have grown exponentially and the University has created a committee of violence victims to work with researchers."

Citizens' Watch Chair, Boris Pustyntsev, stressed "the central role of judges in the reorientation process of delinquent racist youth,"
explaining his own training activities within the justice system. He pointed to "the inadequacy of Russian legislation regarding racist hate crimes."

The Governorate of St Petersburg had prepared pedagogical materials on the City's multiculturalism, exhorting the public to understand that "the issue of the Consultation is not childish pranks or a distorted nationalism – it is terrorism."

The organizers declared the St Petersburg Consultation as "the first of a series to continue in other European countries with problems of youth racism, hate and violence in Europe... which will also return each spring within the context of the State University's Tolerance-Building programme."
This project will be facilitated by Magenta – a Dutch human rights organization focussing on cyberhate – together with Citizens' Watch and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre-Europe.

Likewise, the link with "Football against Racism in Europe" (FARE) will be reinforced through the University's research projects in Sports Sociology and brought to UNESCO's Youth and Sport section in the lead up to the next UEFA European Cup, to take place in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.

The Wiesenthal Centre made available its Clio award-winning film clip "SkinHitler", and its 2009 CD-Rom, "Facebook, YouTube +: How Social Media Outlets Impact Digital Terrorism and Hate", to the St Petersburg Police Department.

The Consultation was also attended by representatives of the St Petersburg Consulates-General of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France, all of whom endorsed continued programming by the Consultation in developing strategies for the containment of hate incitement.

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels on +33 609770158.