Geopolitics

The Most Dangerous Job In Russia: Mayor

Another top official in a city north of Moscow was gunned down this week after he took on allegedly corrupt local forces. Some 40 top municipal officials have been targeted over the past decade.

Sergiyev Posad, a well-know tourist destination in Russia (akk_rus)
Sergiyev Posad, a well-know tourist destination in Russia (akk_rus)

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

SERGIYEV POSAD -- In Russia, mayor has become a high-risk line of work. Over the past decade, more than 40 top city officials around the country have been either seriously injured or killed in targeted attacks. It happened again this week when Evgeny Dushko, mayor of a popular Russian tourist town, was shot dead in broad daylight in what investigators suspect was a contract killing.

Dushko, 35, was killed Monday on his way to a meeting to discuss a crisis over municipal services in Sergiyev Posad, a city 40 miles north of Moscow best known as the home of the Trinity Lavra, a 14th century Russian Orthodox monastery.

Prior to his death, Dushko had aired corruption allegations against local officials. He had a tense relationship with local companies and his father said local officials may have been involved. Police say his death was likely to be connected to his job.

Since 2000, at least 40 mayors or deputy mayors in Russia have been targeted.

Leaving his father's house, Dushko was in his Volvo S60 when an unknown assailant fired at him seven times on the driver's side, before fleeing.

When he heard the gunfire, Dushko's father raced out of the house and saw his son bleeding. His father rushed him to hospital but two bullet wounds to the chest proved to be fatal. His wife and children were overseas on holiday at the time.

Evgeny Dushko, who served as the chairman of the city council, was elected head of the town on April 7.

His father claimed local officials and businessmen may have been involved in the killing and his son had received threats and made repeated pleas for protection after rising tensions over public utilities policy.

Two months ago, Dushko had set up a municipal state company that would handle the transfer of management of city utilities, property and construction. This created conflict with a local management company called Posad Energo, which controls most of the local contracts. Dushko had accused the company of fraud. At the same time, some businessmen and companies had accused Dushko of abuse of power.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently said corruption remained rampant at a municipal level.

Read the full story in Russian by Yuri Senatorov

Photo - akk_rus

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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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