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A Russian's Devastating Verdict on Norway

Among the real-life Norwegian phenomena made gentle fun of in the 2012-14 Netflix series Lilyhammer, starring Steven Van Zandt as a New York mobster who has moved to Norway under the Witness Protection Program, were natteravnene -- the “night ravens,” groups of unarmed citizen volunteers, including little old ladies, who patrol the night streets to talk wayward youths out of breaking the law. The concept is a quaint one, originating in a time when virtually all crimes committed in the middle of the Norwegian night were petty misdemeanors and when the perpetrators were Norwegian kids who, if confronted on the verge of a transgression by somebody their parents' or grandparents' age, could be expected to hang their heads in shame and go home.

No more: last Saturday night, a gang of “youths” in the Groruddalen area of Oslo, the physical descriptions of whom in the media made it clear that they were not ethnic Norwegians, threw rocks at a group of Natteravner. The next night, a youth gang roamed around Tøyen, another Muslim neighborhood of Oslo, and threw rocks at passersby. Minor crimes, perhaps -- but, in the Norwegian context, marks of a sea change. I've written my share of pieces about the consequences of the Islamization of European cities, Oslo among them; not long ago, in a longish piece for City Journal, I chronicled the decline and fall of Muslim-heavy Groruddalen over the past couple of decades.

Don't believe my reports? Fine -- listen to what Yuri Snegirev has to say. Snegirov, a reporter for Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Russian government's newspaper of record, visited Norway recently and recorded his observations in a three-part series of articles. (Though I was alerted to their existence by an Aftenposten headline, that paper's summary of Snegirev's pieces was behind a paywall, so I hunted down the original texts, which, to my surprise, were made almost entirely comprehensible by Google Translate.)

Snegirev's account of his visit focused largely on such dry matters as the competition between Russia and Norway over oil drilling and fishing in the Bering Sea. Far more interesting were his social and cultural observations, such as his shock at the price of beer (and, even more, the price of a bottle of water, even though Norwegian tap water is exceptional). Snegirov marveled at the range of accommodations on the short train trip into Oslo -- the first- and second-class compartments, the quiet car, the family car (noisy kiddies). He was appalled by how costly it is to travel by car, given the high tax on imported cars, the hefty tolls (and the extra charge to drive into Oslo), and the staggering price of gas (the world's highest). He highlighted one thing that I've griped about every winter since moving to Norway two decades ago: nobody shovels snow, so that the city sidewalks, except where underlaid with heating pipes, are covered for months at a time with deadly sheets of ice.