Meet a football ultras 'all of Russia hates'

Moscow, Russia - When Murat Mizov listened he was removing a sheet for a opening diversion of a World Cup between Russia and Saudi Arabia, he was ecstatic.

The day of a match, Zaur Apshev, an MP from a internal council in Kabardino-Balkaria, a tiny Russian commonwealth in a North Caucasus, called him to contend he had an additional sheet for him.

He wanted Mizov, a conduct of a ultras transformation of Spartak Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria’s categorical football club, to be there with him to paint a republic. The usually requirement was that he move flags from home.

“I had them all! I had a Russian dwindle with Nalchik combined on it, a Kabardin/Circassian flag, a Balkar flag, a Kabardino-Balkaria flag,” Mizov says. When he got to Luzhniki Stadium, he lined them adult along a vituperation of a reduce mount to a left of a Saudi idea line.

It was in front of a jubilant Mizov and his flags that a Russian organization distinguished their initial dual goals in a match.

Unlike leaders of other ultras movements in Russia, Mizov was not barred from attending World Cup matches by a Russian authorities. And, distinct many of them, he does not fit a form of a extremist ethno-nationalist Russian ultra ubiquitous media warned about forward of a sporting event.

In fact, he has spent some-more than 20 years compelling comradery and acceptance in football stands.

The ultras transformation he founded in 1997 in Nalchik, a collateral of Kabardino-Balkaria, embraced farrago and anti-racism and eventually became a rallying indicate for many anti-fascist football fans.

Russia’s Yuri Gazinsky celebrates with teammates after scoring a idea during a compare opposite Saudi Arabia. Murat Mizov can be seen in a white tip and shirt on a right above a immature Circassian flag. [AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin]

The arise of a Red-White Djigits

When Mizov was still in center school, he would watch, enthralled, a singular footage of English Premier League matches that would make it onto Soviet TV.  

“I favourite a crowds of fans, how they sang, how they did their choreography – this unequivocally vehement me, yet no one else found it interesting,” he said.

By a time he got into university, Mizov was already personification for a internal football organization and forgetful of carrying an ultras bar like a English ones he had listened about. He found like-minded associate students and in 1997 together they combined a “Red-White Djigits” – red-white for Spartak Nalchik’s colours and dzhigits (a Turkic word definition a male clever in horseback roving and weapon-wielding) for who they were – organization of a Caucasus. Soon after, Mizov and his friends started to pull their initial banners and pattern their trademark and initial fan rigging to use during Spartak Nalchik’s matches in a reduce divisions.

At that time, only 150km easterly of Kabardino-Balkaria, a grossly unpopular quarrel in Chechnya had only ended, after killing thousands of immature men forced into imperative investiture and tens of thousands of civilians. Two years later, a Second Chechen War would start, unleashing a lethal overthrow in a North Caucasus and triggering a fibre of attacks opposite Russia.

The Red-White Djigits’ trademark [R.W.D.]

Meanwhile, in Russia’s bigger cities in a north, a ultras transformation was flourishing and elaborating rapidly. Neo-fascist and neo-Nazi elements had already seeped into a organisations, with swastikas on banners and Nazi salutes by fans a unchanging steer during matches. Violent clashes started erupting in stadiums opposite a nation with Russian military struggling to control them.

The poisonous multiple of dual unbroken wars, mercantile crisis, organized crime and a unabated arise of a distant right would indurate anti-Caucasian and anti-Muslim sentiments during football stands and among a ubiquitous population.

By a mid-2000s a distant right in Russia would be during a peak, reigning over stadiums and streets opposite a country, with a series of aroused loathing crimes augmenting dramatically. In 2007, a arise year of loathing crimes in Russia, almost a third of those murdered by extremist and neo-Nazi groups were from a North Caucasus.  

It was around that time that Spartak Nalchik done it into Russia’s tip division, a Premier League, and Mizov’s flourishing ultras organization strike a highway to support their organization during divided games. From Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan, a Red-White Djigits were unprotected to loathing and consistent threats of violence.

“All of Russia hates a fans […] given for them we are ‘hachi’, ‘churki’, we are from a Caucasus,” says Rustam Kalibatov, who runs a Moscow section of a Red-White Djigits. “This we can't know – a nation that degraded fascism has some-more fascists than Germany.”

“Hachi” and “churki” are derogative Russian difference used to report people from a Caucasus. According to Kalibatov, this flourishing loathing opposite Caucasians joined with chronological grievances over Russian function and forced banishment fed racial nationalism in a North Caucasus, too.

“They constantly see on TV, on a internet that they don’t like Caucasians so they get automatically incited opposite a [ethnic] Russians given they loathing them,” he says. The arise of internal nationalism reflected on football too, inspiring a ultras cultures of Dagestan’s FC Anzhi and Chechnya’s FC Akhmat, he says.

In Kabardino-Balkaria, however, things panned out differently. The Red-White Djigits embraced diversity, welcoming organization and women of all racial groups in a commonwealth – Kabardins (a Circassian clan that faced racial clarification in a 19th century), Balkars (a Turkic racial organization that suffered forced deportations by a Stalinist regime), Koreans, racial Russians, and others.

Spartak Nalchik fans during a compare with CSKA Moskva in 2010 [Courtesy of Maxim Kerzhentsev] 

Mizov himself is of churned credentials – his father a Kabardin, and his mom a Balkar. He says a arise of injustice and far-right ideas he saw worried him from early on.

“I found it bizarre that Russia before didn’t have revolutionary fans. So we motionless to generate antifascism, internationalism, so there is some-more positivity, reduction charge in fandom,” says Mizov, who defines his possess domestic views as “leftist and internationalist”.

The Red-White Djigits started regulating Che Guevara as their pitch and adopting Antifa ideas, that reflected in their banners and slogans. As they trafficked around a nation to attend matches, several Antifa groups started removing in hold and display adult during games to support Spartak Nalchik. By afterwards a Antifa transformation in Russia had grown substantially.

In response to theh arise of a distant right in stadiums, a series of other Antifa ultras movements had appeared, ancillary mostly reduce multiplication teams like Zvezda Irkutsk and Karelia Petrozavodsk.

At a arise of Spartak Nalchik’s football success, hundreds of fans would transport together to divided games; Moscow matches would see thousands join a Red-White Djigits. Mizov even determined an ultras organization called R.W.D., that drew hardcore fans peaceful to quarrel other groups.

By a mid-2000s, underneath vigour from a police, fights between ultras had to be taken out of Russian stadiums and remade into an internally organized matter, whereby firms (set adult along a indication of English hooligan firms) would call any other and arrange to accommodate during meadows outward a large cities to have a brawl.

No one would call a R.W.D. however.

“It didn’t work out for us to quarrel with anyone. They were fearful of us. They suspicion that we in a Caucasus are all wild, [that] we wouldn’t only fight, though we’d gash with daggers,” says Mizov. “For them, a picture of a Caucasian is someone who is assertive and doesn’t like [ethnic] Russians.”

On a few occasions that a Red-White Djigits were attacked, they were mostly outnumbered. Two years ago, Mizov was exceedingly beaten and mislaid 4 of his teeth after a few dozen hooligans pounded him and a tiny organization of Spartak Nalchik ultras during an divided diversion in Rostov region.

Mizov says when Spartak Nalchik players listened about a incident, they lifted income to compensate for a dental work he needed.

Murat Mizov and Rustam Kalibatov during a Spartak Nalchik – CSKA Moskva compare in 2011 [Courtesy of R.W.D.] 

Antifa, politics and football

The Antifa transformation never managed to settle a foothold in a stadiums of vital football clubs. One by one, a Antifa ultras clubs of reduce multiplication teams also disappeared, withdrawal Red-White Djigits as a final one standing. Antifa fans and smaller unknown groups continue to uncover adult during Russian stadiums though nothing have managed to settle a durability manifest presence.

According to one Antifa football fan of Lokomotiv Moskva, this is given a distant right is too strong.

“Given a prevalence of a distant right in stadiums in Russia, it is formidable to pull in anything new,” says Leonid, who asked that his genuine name not be mentioned. “[The problem is] that those who attempted to form Antifa groups were not genuine football fans.”

Many Antifa activists would support a football organization only so that they could plea far-right groups or start fights with them, he says.

Leonid himself is partial of a organization called Lokomotiv Moscow Action (LMA), that has captivated dual dozen Lokomotiv fans, many with revolutionary and Antifa views, who have motionless to keep politics out of a stadium. LMA is a ideological inheritor of another ultras organization called REACTIVE that existed for about 8 years before disbanding after a dispute with a vital far-right fan organization in 2012.

Leonid and his associate LMA members still censor their identities out of fear of being pounded by other ultras, though he says far-right politics during a Lokomotiv stadiums and elsewhere have been weakened.

This trend started with the crackdown in a mid-2010s on a far-right transformation after tools of it motionless to support a Ukrainian Maidan. The decimation of the All-Russian Union of Football Supporters, a central organization that represented Russian ultras, following a violent clashes between Russian and English fans during Euro 2016 and a security debate opposite ultras in a run-up to Russia 2018 have also contributed to that decline.

Despite warnings by ubiquitous media that assault was to be approaching during a World Cup, there have not been any vital incidents. According to Mizov, not even a common nationalistic chants could be listened during Russia matches.

“With this World Cup, people see that they can suffer a certain aspects [of a game] and that charge is not needed,” he says.


Murat Mizov with Red-White Djigits ultras during a impetus on a approach to a compare between Spartak Nalchik and Amkar Perm in 2015 [Courtesy of R.W.D.] 

In new years, a Red-White Djigits have not fared well. After Spartak Nalchik mislaid their appropriation in 2012, a organization forsaken out of a Premier League and has been personification in reduce groups since.

As a result, many fans mislaid interest, and a Red-White Djigits shrank into a tiny group.

“In a end, this pushed divided a ‘one-day fans’ and a core remained. So we now have 50-70 people, who share a same ideas as me,” says Mizov.

After 20 years of constant fandom, he stays only as dedicated to his organization and, notwithstanding a hardship, he says he will not give up.

Follow Mariya Petkova on Twitter:@mkpetkova

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