Racism and Xenophobia in April 2017
In April 2017, we learned only about one victim of xenophobic violence, a Kyrgyz native in the Novosibirsk region.
In total since the start of the year, at least 13 people have suffered from racially motivated violence, of which three victims died. This violence took place in six Russian regions: Saint Petersburg, the Krasnodar territory, the Novosibirsk and Rostov regions, the Republics of Mordovia and Tatarstan. (We remind our readers that these statistics do not take into account the victims of incidents, which occurred in the republics of the Northern Caucasus.)
Arguably this month’s most notable incident was the attack by 17-year old gunman Anton Konev on the regional office of the FSB in Khabarovsk, which ended in the deaths of two and the shooter himself. The motives behind the incident are still unclear. However, quite soon after the attack, a neo-Nazi version of his motivations appeared: the young man was a member of the neo-Nazi group “Stolz Khabarovsk” (a small group of ultra right-wingers, who cooperated with the local cell of Maxim Martsinkevich’s Occupy Pedophilia group), and on his social network page, it was discovered that he had posted about his intention to go to Valhalla (among neo-Nazis, Germano-Scandinavian mythology is usually very popular). On the other hand, another version of the motivations behind this emerged, that Konev converted to Islam and was motivated by jihadist considerations.
In April, we learned about four acts of xenophobically motivated vandalism. In total since the start of the year, there were at least nine acts of xenophobic vandalism in eight regions of Russia.
Nationalist organizations held relatively few demonstrations during the month. On April 5, the Other Russia party held the Day of the Russian Nation, which coincided with the Battle on Lake Peipus (Chudskoye Lake), in several Russian cities. The demonstration was conceived of by Eduard Limonov as a supplementary event to November 4 (Unity Day) and as an analogue to the May 1 demonstrations held by the ultra-right. In Moscow, at Suvorovskaya Square, the activists held a demonstration at which Eduard Limonov spoke. Besides the capital, demonstrations took place in Veliky Novgorod, Vologda, Krasnodar, Nizhny Novgorod Rostov-on-Don, Sarov and Severodvinsk.
On April 20, several activists from the Nation and Freedom Committee held a one-night picket on Tverskoy Boulevard in defense of Dmitry Dyomushkin and Alexander Belov (Potkin). Note that the date was not tied to any event in these two cases, but it did coincide with Hitler’s birthday.
On April 29, the Russian National Front, the Great Russia party and several other groups participated in a march from the Oktyabrskoe Pole metro station to the Shchukinskaya station “For a People’s Trial of Oligarchs and Corrupt Officials”, 200 people participated.
In addition, on April 29, activists from the National Liberation Movement (NOD) and SERB participated in an opposition demonstration by Open Russia, “Nadoel” (meaning “Fed Up”, “Tired” (of the government)) in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Novosibirsk.
In Moscow, the police detained several people from the Nation and Freedom Committee, who collected appeals from Russian citizens for United Russia party deputies. They were detained and held for an hour and a half in a prisoner transport van and then let go. Members of the New Opposition also participated in the “Nadoel”demonstration, after it ended they went to Red Square, the blogger Vyacheslav Maltsev went to the square as well.
Threats continue to appear on radical right internet pages again people working on cases concerning incitement to hatred: Dmitry (Schulz) Bobrov published the personal data and workplace of one of the expert witnesses, giving opinions in criminal cases on extremism, commenting that such people “justify political repression”.
We do not know about convictions made against those who committed racially motived violence in April. In total since the start of the year, three convictions were made against those who committed violent crimes, which the courts determined to be motivated by hatred, in the Lipetsk, Novosibirsk and Tula regions. Five people were convicted during these cases.
In April, there were 20 convictions against 21 people for xenophobic propaganda in 15 Russian regions. The most notable of these convictions was that of the ex-leader of the banned “Russians”, “Slavic Union” and “Slavic Power” organizations, Dmitry Dyomushkin. On April 25, 2017 the Nagatinsky District Court of Moscow sentenced him to two and half years in a minimum security penal colony in accordance with Part 1, Article 282 of the Criminal Code (the incitement of national hatred and enmity) for two pictures posted on the VKontakte social network: a banner with the inscription “November 4 is the Russian March, give power in Russia to the Russians” on a background of the imperial flag; and a picture with the image of a child and the inscription “November 4 is the Russian March, only for pure, white children… And adults”. Such a harsh conviction for two pictures provoked a wide public discussion. Undoubtedly, the decision was made with account of the personality and previous convictions of the accused. Dyomushkin has repeatedly figured in criminal and administrative cases and has violated travel restrictions put in place by the court. However, it seems to us that it is worth more carefully choosing the materials for which such well-known people are held accountable or that the courts should not resort to criminal repression. Such condemnations of well-known ultra-right activists on dubious grounds only leads to bitterness and radicalization.
In total since the start of the year, at least 54 convictions have been made in cases concerning racist and other ultra-right propaganda, 56 people in 36 regions were convicted in these cases.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice in April (on April 20 and 26), items 4075-4094 were added. The following were added to the list: materials of neo-Nazis and Islamic militants from social networks, Michael Laitman’s book “Kabbalah. Secret Jewish Study. Part 10. The Fruits of Wisdom”, and a brochure entitled “A Call for All Mortals to Immortality”.
In April, the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in Birobidzhan was added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations, it was recognized as extremist in a decision made by the court of the Jewish Autonomous Region dated October 3, 2016. This is already the eighth Jehovah’s Witnesses organization on the list. It must be said that now all Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations in Russia may be treated as extremist: on April 20, 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia made a ruling in favor of the Ministry of Justice on recognizing the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witness in Russia as an extremist organization. According to the court’s decision, the Administrative Center and 395 local religious organizations as its branches must immediately be shut down. The decision was appealed.
In total, the Federal List of Extremist Organization includes 59 organizations (not counting the 26 organizations recognized as terrorist groups), whose activity has been banned in court and this activity’s continuation is punishable according to Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code.