Thai Student Attacked Outside Metro
- By Julia Solovyova
- Mar. 20 1999 00:00
Thai student Pititul Chavanachid was walking home past the Belyayevo metro station when he was suddenly attacked by a group a four young Russians. He hasn't attended school for a week now, resting at home with stitches in his forehead, headaches and dizziness whenever he walks.
Most importantly, he has lost his faith in the Russian people.
"I don't trust Russians because of the way they treat me," said Chavanachid, 18, sporting a bandage on his swollen forehead and a Band-Aid on the fingers of his left hand, which he used to protect himself from the blow from something he recalled as "a bag of rocks." He remembered that one of the four attackers had a Russian flag on the sleeve of his black leather coat.
The attack was typical of what some say is increasing racism toward Moscow's Asian community.
This isn't the first racist attack the skinny young man with a ponytail and an earring has been subjected to during his seven years in Moscow. Last year, he and an American friend from the Moscow International School were assaulted by skinheads in Fili park.
"We are heartbroken," said his father, Chainaning Chavanachid, who has spent 14 years in Russia working as a correspondent for the Thai newspaper Manager Daily. "Do Mr. Yeltsin and Mr. Luzhkov govern Russia by day and the thugs govern it by night?"
Gabriel Kotchifa from Benin, president of the Foreign Students Association, has spent eight years fighting racism in Moscow, and says the number of cases of violence against Asians has been growing. "I used to think Russians were racists against the blacks, but lately both blacks and Asians have been getting beaten up," he said.
Kotchifa said it is nearly impossible to keep track of all the attacks, but estimated the number at about 10 a month. He said there are eight or 10 well-organized racist groups, including some with female members, which systematically beat people who don't look Russian - mostly during summertime in parks and at metro stations.
The worst thing, Kotchifa said, is that police seem to tolerate skinheads. "I haven't heard of a single case of arrest," he said, adding that the court case now under way against a skinhead who attacked a U.S. Marine last year was exceptional.
Spokesmen for several Asian embassies said they haven't noticed an increase in racist attacks lately. Late last year, the Japanese Embassy sent out faxes to its citizens warning of several attacks that happened between March and December 1998.