Amid the flow of negative coverage in British media, such as The Daily Mail, The Daily Star or The Mirror, about how hard the life of a black football fan in Russia can be, it is easy to miss the thing that matters most — what black people residing in Russia have to say. A rare example of coverage from such an angle is a video made by the BBC, where British media showcases testimonies from people of color, living in Russia.
For example, Samson Sholademi, one of the interviewees, believes that there is no racism problem in Russia. He was born in Russia, but his father is of Nigerian origin. Sholademi said that over the years living in Moscow he "never felt different" due to his skin color. He's admitted that those who meet him for the first time are usually surprised when they hear his perfect Russian, but he doesn't hold a grudge against them.
Two other speakers said that ordinary people tend to look at them, as if they are different. The BBC claims that many racist incidents take place on public transport, with one black female student confirming it, by saying that once a woman disturbed her and her friend because of race. Although, she noted that one can come across such people in any country.
At the same time, another individual, a teacher, told the BBC a story from his life, when passengers on a bus stood up for him, defending him from a racist chant by a fare inspector. According to him, that incident positively changed his attitude towards Russians.
Several interviewees mentioned that the situation with racism had significantly improved over the last few years. The British media brought up statistics from the Russian NGO SOVA, according to which some 71 people were victims of violence, motivated by racist or neo-Nazi-ideology in 2017 (in 2016 the number was 92).
Although they fail to mention that at least 21 of those were victims of conflicts between far-right and Anti-Fa and anarchist movements, while only 28 attacks were motivated by "ethnic considerations." According to official data, the number of racist crimes in England and Wales grew by 29%. So it comes as no surprise that England manager Gareth Southgate said in March 2019 that the UK shouldn't "keep pointing the finger at Russia about racism," when "there are still things going on in [the UK]."
Another episode of "Racism in Russia" that caused anxiety among British media, took place in January this year, when Spartak Moscow and Russia international defender Georgi Dzhikiya posted a video with a joke-comment: "Watch the chocolates melting in the sun." The video captured three Brazilian players, namely Pedro Rocha, Fernando and Luiz Adriano, training on a pitch in Dubai. The video, posted on Twitter, caused a massive campaign in the Western media, which blamed the Russian team for outrageous racism.
At the same time the comments by three Brazilians themselves, eluded the authors of accusatory articles. In several videos and interviews they repeatedly assured that the comment was a joke, that it was well-received among black players of the club, despite what Western media had suggested, and had offended none of the players.
In the wake of the Western media attack on the Russian FC, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had warned that UK "journalists, several media [outlets], had received a state order to launch a media campaign to create an image to tarnish the [upcoming] World Cup."