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News: Russians pay the price of new anti-Turkish measures

News: Russians pay the price of new anti-Turkish measures

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 Saint Petersburg, Russia - Before starting his one-man rally in front of the Turkish consulate in early December, Timur Bulatov consulted police officers guarding the building in the historic area of Russia's second-largest city.

He showed them a photo of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Turkey's moon-and-star national emblem turned to the side so that the crescent formed two horns above the mustachioed politician's head.

The officers warned Bulatov that a public display of the offensive image would get him arrested.

But the bespectacled and outspoken activist of the People's Council, a pro-Kremlin, neo-conservative vigilante group, still posed with the photo - proclaiming Erdogan a "non-Muslim" and "the son of Satan" - and walked on undeterred.

Warplane down

Similarly any Russian who lambasts Erdogan and his country after the Turkish air force downed a Russian Su-24 bomber on November 24 appears to escape sanction. This is despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's own rhetoric. In his national address earlier this month, Putin was very forward about distinguishing between the "back-stabbing" Ergodan and average Turks.

"The Turkish people are kind, hard-working and talented," the president said. "I'd like to emphasise, they have to know that we don't [hold] them and part of [Turkey's] current leaders directly responsible for the death of our servicemen in Syria."

But it seems like nobody in Russia heard this part of his speech - and paid attention only to Putin's threat that Turkey "won't get away with tomatoes or some restrictions in construction or other industries".

"They will regret what they've done many times," Putin said. "We know what to do."

Russia-Turkey sanctions?

Russian officials, public figures and Kremlin-controlled media surely knew. Within days after the plane's downing, they seem to have started a competition for the harshest anti-Turkish measure, tirade or prank.

Turkish nationals throughout Russia have been kicked out of universities, searched, detained, interrogated and had their visas discontinued, Russian media reported. Turkish-owned plants have been searched or ordered to suspend their work, and the customs service started suspending Turkish goods, the reports said.

Russia's foreign policies have never been this bad, never.

Gennady Gudkov, opposition leader

The NTV television network purported that Turkey buys cotton from ISIL-controlled areas and provides them with high-speed internet connections.

In other NTV reports, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was said to have received medical treatment at a Turkish hospital - and a bearded Greek monk "predicted" that Turkey "will fall into Russia's hands and split into three or four parts".

Russia's top brass accused Erdogan's family of buying oil from areas controlled by the ISIL. A group of Cossacks, descendants of frontier warriors that once spearheaded Russia's wars with Turkey, burned Turkish and US flags and rag dolls of Erdogan and Barack Obama. 

A nationalist Russian politician said that Turkish sweets should be banned because they may cause cancer. Restaurants started removing or renaming anything Turkish from their menus. And Mikhail Turetsky, the head of a popular Russian choir, joked that he would change his last name because it means "Turkish."
Georgians, Ukrainians and Tatars

Little seemed unusual about the anti-Turkish campaign in Putin's Russia, because in the past decade, massive detentions, deportations and harassment of people from ex-Soviet Georgia, Tajikistan, Poland and Ukraine began right after the Kremlin's diplomatic spat with their governments.

The current anti-Turkish hysteria "is not just reminiscent" of these past campaigns, it has "surpassed them" and reflects Moscow's recent conflicts with many former allies and neighbours, said the Russian opposition leader Gennady Gudkov.

"Russia's policies are now aimed at isolation and confrontation, because one has to try really hard to fall out with everybody," he told Al Jazeera. "Russia's foreign policies have never been this bad, never."

The Kremlin is using tried-and-tested propaganda tools to besmirch Turkey and revive the old image of vile Ottomans, archetypal foes of anything Russian. Over the past five centuries, tsarist Russia and Ottoman Turkey were at war a dozen times. Tsar Nicolas called the Sublime Porte a "sick man of Europe" right before the Crimean war that pitted Istanbul and Western powers against Russia in the 1850s.
Crimean Tatars clash with pro-Russian groups

A century and a half later, Moscow's annexation of Crimea prompted another conflict between roughly the same players - and Crimean Tatars, a Muslim minority with close linguistic and cultural ties to Turkey, have been accused of siding with the new, old enemy.

Sergei Aksyonov, Crimea's Moscow-appointed prime minister, reportedly claimed that hundreds of Tatars who studied in Turkish universities and madrassas are potential spies, and promised to rid the peninsula of "Turkish companies, Turkish businesses and public Turkish-Tatar organizations".

Source: Aljazeera

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