Racism and Xenophobia in October 2011
The following is our monthly review of the traditional problems posed by radical nationalism in Russia, as well as any counteraction by the government, for October 2011. The results are prepared using information gathered in the course of Sova Center’s daily monitoring.
This month, 14 individuals were attacked in racist and neo-Nazi incidents in seven regions of the country. The victims were representatives and members of leftist and youth groups (eight people), people of “non-Slavic appearance” (three people), blacks (two people), and a native of China.
As such, since the beginning of the year we have recorded 18 deaths and 109 injuries stemming from racist or neo-Nazi attacks, and seven individuals have received death threats. Racist violence remains a fixture in thirty regions in Russia, and the main problem areas are Moscow (eight killed, 23 injured) and the Moscow Region (four killed, seven injured), and Saint Petersburg (three killed, 23 injured).
This month we recorded no fewer than seven acts of nationalist vandalism. During this period, Muslim graves were desecrated once again in Nizhny Novgorod (in two cases); since the beginning of this year Muslim graves have been desecrated in acts of nationalist vandalism on no fewer than ten occasions in Nizhny Novgorod. Additionally, ideological targets were vandalized in two cases; Jewish targets in two cases; and Protestant targets in one. As such, since the beginning of the year we have recorded 68 acts of ideologically motivated vandalism in 27 regions of the country.
At least four convictions in racist violence trials considered the hate motive this month; they were in Moscow and the Kaliningrad, Kaluga, and Tver regions. Seven people were convicted. Of these, six were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment and one received a suspended sentence. It is Sova’s position that the suspended sentence, given in connection with a stabbing conviction, was unduly soft.
Since the beginning of the year, at least 47 convictions have been given in racist violence cases that considered the hate motive. In total 172 individuals were convicted in 27 regions of Russia: eight were sentenced to life imprisonment, 98 to varying prison terms, 54 given suspended sentences, two assigned to correctional labor, and one to detention in a disciplinary military unit. Nine people are exempt from punishment, and three were acquitted.
At least six individuals were convicted of spreading xenophobic propaganda in as many cases. There were in Moscow; the Khabarovsky Krai; the Chelyabinsk Region; and the Adygea, Chuvashia, and Komi Republics. These decisions sentenced two men to suspended imprisonment, two to fines, one to compulsory labor, and one to prison. Denis Kuznetsov (Dima Skhe), the 21-year-old leader of the North-East-88 neo-Nazi group, was sentenced to a prison term. Members of his group were suspected of committing six assaults and murders, but Kuznetsov’s involvement could not be proven so he was convicted under a propaganda charge instead.
A total of 58 verdicts in cases of racist propaganda have been delivered against 64 people in 38 regions so far this year.
One notable verdict was that passed on 28 October against individuals involved in the December 2010 Manezh Square disturbances. Five people (three of whom are members of the Other Russia Party) received between two and five years in a penal colony.
The interregional Russian National Union was added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations this month after the Vladimir Regional Court deemed it extremist in a May decision. As such, the list – which is available publicly on the Russian Ministry of Justice’s website – includes 27 organizations (not including those considered terrorist).
There were no additions to the Federal List of Extremist Materials in October.
The Ministry of Justice put forth a bill this month proposing that the control and registration of political parties and nonprofit entities be transferred to other state agencies. In particular, the Ministry of Justice proposed removing from the law “On Countering Extremist Activity” its authority to issue warnings to public and religious organizations due to extremist activity, the right to demand the cancellation or prohibition of public organizations in court, and the obligation to maintain a list of extremist materials. These duties would be transferred to the Prosecutor General’s Office. Due to a negative reaction from other official bodies in the government, the bill is unlikely to be officially considered.