The SOVA Center Released the 2009 Annual Report "Under the Sign of Political Terror: Radical Nationalism in Russia and Counteracting It in 2009"
On January 27, 2010, the SOVA Center released the annual report on 2009 "Under the Sign of Political Terror: Radical Nationalism in Russia and Counteracting It in 2009". We publish our press release. The English version of the report will be available in February.
The new report of the SOVA Center contents an overview of the basic tendencies and phenomena in the field of radical rightist violence, ultra-rightist groups' activity, and xenophobic manifestations on the part of the authorities in 2009. It also reflects the change in the law enforcement practice of ultra-rightist violence and propaganda prosecution during the period.
Last year we registered considerable change of both radical nationalists' activity and the response to racist and xenophobic manifestations in Russia. For the first time in six years of systematic observation we see an apparent decrease in the number of victims of racist and neo-Nazi motivated violence (71 people dead and 333 more injured). This is not in the last place the result of liquidation of the largest and the most aggressive ultra-rightist groups in the Moscow region. Still, we cannot state that the situation has improved: the range of xenophobic violence remains frightening.
Ultra-rightist groups proceed to anti state terrorism more and more willingly and actively. They seek to destabilize the state structures' activity and to aggravate the population's distrust in them. In the field of public activity we observed a deliberate refusal of open racist propaganda which is now generally allowed in a closed mode e.g. during events or discussions for members only. New activists' recruiting is carried out through symbolic actions and sub cultural activity (concert management, in particular).
Among legal Russian nationalist organizations the main characters in 2009 were the :Russian Mode; and the Movement against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) which compete fiercely. It is noteworthy that at the moment DPNI pretends to be a movement in opposition while the :Russian Mode; represents itself as an authorities' ally.
The basic tendencies in nationalism expansion into public life remain unchanged. Xenophobic propaganda is a persistent attribute of election contest, pro-Kremlin youth movements still adopt ultra-rightists' slogans, and government officials at all levels not only use xenophobic rhetoric frequently in their statements but sometimes initiate discrimination campaigns themselves.
As to radical nationalism legal counteracting, in 2009 we observe specification of the respective legislation. Several points related to warnings about extremism to the media were settled up. Racist violence prosecution practice was activated and improved. The number of trials not only of the individual attackers but of the groups practicing systematical racist attacks increases. The number of suspended sentences for violence is reduced. At the same time the authorities almost ceased applying imprisonment for racist propaganda not associated with violence. Almost all the possibilities provided by the Criminal Code are used for qualification of violent crimes.
Still, it is noteworthy, that the authorities continue paying attention mainly to minor crimes which don't really influence emergence of xenophobic attitudes or actions (we mean such activities as Web chatterers or graffitists' persecution, issuing warnings to libraries on the matter of extremist materials collecting, etc.). Many dangerous propagators in practice remain unpunished. Practice of prosecution for extremist community making almost doesn't extend. Problems of law in the field of prohibiting extremist materials distribution aren't settled at all. All of this prepares a wide ground for abuse of law and discredits the actual practice of hate crimes and racist propaganda counteracting.