MINELRES: Anti-gypsism in a popular Russian textbook

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Thu Dec 23 17:47:22 2004

Original sender: Roma Network <romale@zahav.net.il>

Received from Nadejda Demeter <demetera@mtu-net.ru>
“Touching the homeless and Gypsies, their clothes, their hands, the
objects they have been using, even the place where they sat or lay (in
the metro or in underground passages)… Possible is infection with
pediculosis, gastric and enteric diseases, respiratory virus diseases,
dysentery, typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, grippe, syphilis, spotted
One might suppose this is a passage from a tabloid piece. But no, this
is a quotation from a new textbook on “Basics of private security”, by
M.P. Frolov, E.N. Litvinov, A.T. Smirnov and others, intended for the
secondary school’s 10th form. The textbook was commissioned by the
Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation and produced by the
Ministry of Emergency Situations. It has been highly praised and won a
diploma of the All-Russia Exhibition Center.
That’s the end of it. 
For fifteen years have we been trying to improve, as best we could, the
situation with the media who were constantly urging upon the society the
idea that the Roma were a criminal lot — but to no avail. Yet, to foster
xenophobia at school, to equate the Roma and the homeless in
schoolchildren’s perception — isn’t it too much? Reading this text one
can hardly believe one’s eyes. Entertaining such perceptions has tragic
implications not only for the Roma but for the society as a whole. One
can’t but recall a law adopted in Bavaria, Germany in 1926, one “against
Gypsies, tramps and parasites”. Having published such textbooks, the
authorities can talk a lot about “positive ethnicity” and tolerance, and
finance long-term integration programs, and call the Roma people to
integrate into modern society. 
Now try to imagine how the Roma children should feel hearing the above
passage at their security class. 
I can’t do that. I am scared.
At all levels of power, however, I keep being assured that the Roma in
Russia have no problems whatsoever. 
Nadezhda G. Demeter,
Doctor of History,
Vice-President of the International Roma Union.
Moscow, Russian Federation.
On 16 July 2004, The Bavarian "Law for Combatting Gypsies, Vagabonds and
Idlers" proposed at the 1925 conference is passed. It is justified in
the legislative assembly thus: 
"[Gypsies] are by nature opposed to all work, and find it especially
difficult to tolerate any restriction of their nomadic life; nothing,
therefore, hits them harder than loss of liberty, coupled with forced
labor." The law requires the registration of all Roma and Sinti, settled
or not, with the police, registry office and unemployment agency in each
district. Bavarian State Counselor Hermann Reich praises "the enactment
of the Gypsy law. . . This law gives the police the legal hold it needs
for thorough-going action against this constant danger to the security
of the nation." 
When Hitler took power in 1933, anti-Gypsy laws remained in effect. Soon
the regime introduced other laws affecting Germany's Sinti and Roma, as
the Nazis immediately began to implement their vision of a new Germany —
one that placed "Aryans" at the top of the hierarchy of races and ranked
Jews, Gypsies, and blacks as racial inferiors ...