28 November 2010

The 'NEVER AGAIN' Association sets out to assist anti-racist activities in Russia. Members of the Warsaw-based anti-racist 'NEVER AGAIN' Association have participated in important round-table discussions on racism taking place in Moscow this week.

On 24 November, 'NEVER AGAIN' took part in the high-level event at the Moscow State University entitled 'Networking for Intercultural Dialogue', together with Russian anti-racist and ethnic minority NGOs and authorities. The East Europe Monitoring Centre and the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) Eastern European Development Project were presented by the 'NEVER AGAIN' members. The Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Regional Development, the General Prosecutors Office, the Moscow City Council, the United Nations, and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE were represented, among others, too.

'NEVER AGAIN' Association Subsequently, the 'NEVER AGAIN' activists took part in the European-level conference organized by UNITED for Intercultural Action and the Russian Centre for Interethnic Cooperation, held in the Odintsovo District near Moscow. They conducted a workshop on 'Sports Against Racism'. The workshop's topic corresponds to the subject of the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association's high-profile campaign 'Let's Kick Racism out of the Stadiums' developed over the last years.

Finally, the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association participated in the round-table discussion on hate crime victim assistance held at the Moscow Andrei Sakharov Museum on 26 November, co-hosted by the Russian Youth Human Rights Movement. The experience of many years of hate crime monitoring and victim assistance by 'NEVER AGAIN' was shared with the participants.

'Irrespective of whether Russia hosts the 2018 World Cup or not, we are going to assist Russian anti-racists in their activities' - said Dr Rafal Pankowski, who participated in the above mentioned events on behalf of 'NEVER AGAIN', the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network and the East Europe Monitoring Centre. - 'It is important to get rid of racism in Russian stadiums and in Russian society at large and we wish to help by sharing our experiences'. The Russian visit by the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association was accompanied by a British TV crew.

The subject of racism and neo-fascism in Russia was highlighted again by an incident reported by the East Europe Monitoring Centre that took place during the Andorra-Russia EURO 2012 qualifier in September 2010, when a sizeable section of the Russian fans repeatedly chanted "A tutti! Avanti! Benito Mussolini!". The fascist chants were so loud they were audible on TV. According to eye-witnesses, so-called monkey chants against Black players were heard at the Champions League game Spartak-Olympique Marseille in Moscow on 23 November 2010, too.

The 'NEVER AGAIN' Association is an independent monitoring organization established in Poland in 1996. It runs the 'Let's Kick Racism out of the Stadiums' campaign. Since 2009, 'NEVER AGAIN' has coordinated the FARE East European Development Project supported by UEFA in the lead up to EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. 'NEVER AGAIN' has set up the East Europe Monitoring Centre documenting racism and xenophobia across the region.

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