It is often said that bullies do what they do out of anger at their own personal insecurities, and in some instances this is very true. In the instance of the recent football hooliganism at Euro 2016, it is definitely true.
Over the opening weekend of the tournament, Marseille took on the appearance of a war-zone, as savage Russian hooligans persisted in attacking England fans wherever they found them. Whilst the French police were partly to blame for failing to contain the Russians, there were a group of 150 Russian ‘ultras’ who were in no mood to listen to the police, and were instead insistent on picking fights with anybody English. Multiple England fans are in hospital after the incidents, with one described as ‘critically injured’. No other sets of fans have had any trouble so far at the tournament.
So why the violence? Why do these Russians feel the need to attack innocent people, reportedly including women and children, at a supposedly happy occasion such as a football tournament?
A clue here is the response of a few public figures in Russia. Igor Lebedev, an MP of the Liberal Democratic Party, posted on twitter “..well done lads, keep it up!” and claimed there was nothing wrong with the fighting, “quite the opposite”. A member of the Russian Football Association later claimed that he saw nothing wrong with the fighting, claiming the ‘ultras’ who attacked England fans were “trained to fight” and interestingly, “defending Russia’s honour”. An MP went further claiming that the tables have turned, and the Russians are now the ‘better hooligans than the English’, not that that is anything to boast of.
This raises an important question. What is it the Russians are so insecure about that they feel the need to play the macho man of Europe?
To understand this ‘defending Russian honour’ mentality, we should look at the ethnicity of the Russian. Yes of course, Russians are white like us, but they’re not quite Europeans. They would probably like to be, and some of them are Europeans in origin especially in the western parts of Russia, but on the whole they are not exactly like us. And, this difference has been a constant thorn in their proverbial sides for years, thanks to this collective complex they have developed. One Russian MP even said recently that the Russian man has “an extra chromosome” and that Russians are “superhuman”.
Perhaps this complex has derived from what Europeans have observed about the Russian people in the past. Back in World War II, leading up to Operation Barbarossa (German invasion of Soviet Union 1941), the German establishment and media often observed that the Russians were ‘unter’ or ‘barbaric people’, something which they ensured the Russians knew about. The latter’s conduct towards the end of the war did them no favours in dispelling these descriptions.
It was not just the Germans who observed the Russians in this way. Benito Mussolini lamented the fact that the slavs were so close to Italy in the form of Yugoslavia. Even some in the west who one may think should be too politically correct for such observations. Here’s what General George Patton, leading figure in the allied invasion of Europe, had to say about Russians:
“The difficulty in understanding the Russian is that we do not take cognizance of the fact that he is not a European, but an Asiatic, and therefore thinks deviously. We can no more understand a Russian than a Chinaman or a Japanese, and from what I have seen of them, I have no particular desire to understand them, except to ascertain how much lead or iron it takes to kill them. In addition to his other Asiatic characteristics, the Russian have no regard for human life and is an all out son of bitch, barbarian, and chronic drunk.”
Furthermore, General Patton particularly lamented that the Russians had taken Berlin at the end of World War II, even going so far as to suggest the west should turn their guns on their soviet allies in 1945. Some sources claim Patton realised that we had “fought the wrong enemy”, but this is disputed.
After a visit to Berlin, he wrote to his wife on 21st July 1945:
“Berlin gave me the blues. We have destroyed what could have been a good race, and we are about to replace them with Mongolian savages (Russians). And all Europe will be communist. It’s said that for the first week after they took it (Berlin), all women who ran were shot and those who did not were raped. I could have taken it (instead of the Soviets) had I been allowed.”
Aside from testimony on the Russian character, there is also the historical evidence of their temperament that highlights the difference with most Europeans. For example, the late industrialisation of Russia in comparison to other western societies. Where the United Kingdom began the process of industrialisation in 1760, the Russian society was largely feudal right up until the 20th century. Many people like to use environmental factors as the cause for this relatively late industrialisation of countries like Russia, but when we look at the searing heat of Australia or the Russian-type climate of Canada, this argument does not stack up.
Then we have this tendency towards communism and the acceptance of externally influenced totalitarianism. Prior to the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Russia was ruled by an all-powerful Tsar, the last being Tsar Nicholas II (who was killed barbarically along with his family by the Bolsheviks in 1918). The Bolsheviks ironically were not even Russian – some estimates claim that the 95% of the Bolshevik/Communist Party in 1917 were in fact Jews. The Russians were ruled by the iron fist of Communism for almost the entirety of the 20th century, from Lenin through Stalin all the way to Gorbachev in the 1980s, until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the east in 1990s. Millions of Russians died as a result of the Communists.
Why did the Russian people accept this totalitarian rule for the majority of their history? Why do Russian politicians persecute their people consistently and have no regard for democracy or justice?
Even now, as all of Europe is relatively democratic and peaceful, Russia still does not know these political systems and their people don’t seem to mind. As the state-owned industries were sold off by Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, it was today’s Oligarchs that bought up all the shares between them and who now today rule Russian business and politics. Vladimir Putin has been the de facto dictator of Russia since his first spell as Prime Minister in 1999, dragging Russia through economic sanctions and ever poorer relations with the west, yet the Russian people still have as high as an 80% favourability rating of the man. Is that a reflection on him, or them?
Why is it, that the English demanded democracy from the days of Oliver Cromwell in the mid-1600s, but the Russians still to this day accept totalitarianism?
This information alone cannot explain why it is that Russians decided to attack England fans in Marseille recently (10/06/16), but perhaps it can give us an insight into the psyche of the Russians, which highlights their difference from Europeans and perhaps the bitterness they feel as a result of it. Of course, nobody is alledging that Russians are ‘sub-human’ like the Nazis did, but it is clear that the fans who were in Marseille on 10/11th June acted like savages in their pursuit of English blood.
Or, maybe they just had a bit too much French wine?