Racism and Xenophobia: Preliminary Summary for 2013
The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for December 2013. The review also includes preliminary information for a summary of notable incidents and cases for the year 2013 as a whole. It is based on material gathered by Sova Center in the course of our daily monitoring.
In December 2013, three people were targeted in racist and neo-Nazi attacks. In Moscow a Tajik national was killed, while two Uzbeks were assaulted in St. Petersburg.
According to preliminary data for the year, such attacks in 32 regions of Russia resulted in the deaths of no fewer than 20 people and injuries to no fewer than 173. Additionally, nine people were targets of serious death threats.
The capital cities maintained their status as the leading centers of racist violence, with eight killed and 53 injured in Moscow, and three killed and 32 injured in St. Petersburg. There were many victims in the Lipetsk region (four killed, 9 injured); the Chelyabinsk and Moscow regions (both with eight injured); and the Sverdlovsk region (two killed, four injured).
In 2013, the primary victims of attack from far-right activists were natives of the Central Asian countries (13 killed, 39 injured), the Caucasus (three killed, 26 injured), people identified simply as bearing a “non-Slavic appearance” (one killed, 28 injured), blacks (five injured), and Chinese (six injured). Others who faced assault were the same groups targeted by repressive laws passed recently: minority religious groups (24 injured) and the LGBT community (one killed, 25 injured). At the same time, the number of attacks on leftist activists and members of youth groups decreased (seven injured); these had formerly been primary targets for the far right.
We are aware of only a single act of neo-Nazi vandalism in December 2013, carried out against a Jewish community center.
Accordingly, we recorded 79 acts of ideologically motivated vandalism in 37 regions of the country this year. The main targets were Orthodox churches (29 incidents), Jehovah’s Witnesses buildings (11 incidents), and Jewish and Muslim objects (10 and nine incidents respectively).
In terms of public actions, the ultra-right laid relatively low in December.
In St. Petersburg there was a march “Against Ethno-Terror” held on the anniversary of the December 2010 events on Manezh Square in Moscow; it was organized by Dmitry Bobrov of the National Socialist Initiative, with 100-120 people in attendance. Moscow activists organized by Aleksandr Amelin (of the Russian Renaissance) attempted to pull off a similar action, but most were detained before it began.
Additionally, a small rally was held on December 7 at Yauzskie Vorota Square, near the monument to the “border guards of the fatherland,” timed to coincide with the anniversary of the death of soccer fan Egor Sviridov. The action, which brought together some ten people, was organized by the Brotherhood of St. Vladimir (Moscow RONA led by Oleg Filatchev) in conjunction with Pamyat.
December saw a few local conflicts that sparked anti-migrant incidents among residents. The most important was in the Nizhny Novgorod region city of Arzamas, where riots turned into pogroms, leading to detentions. The source of the unrest was a brawl at a local café that ended in a local’s death at the hands of Armenian nationals.
Another notable event was the November 23 murder of boxer Ivan Klimov in Omsk, which was made known on a December 10 edition of the Channel 1 show Let Them Talk. The suspects in the killing are Roma drug traffickers. The broadcast caused new excitement around the case, leading to a few rallies.
No fewer than three convictions were issued this month for racist violence motivated by hatred, in the Vladimir and Nizhny Novgorod regions and the Khabarovsk Krai. Nine people were convicted. The most notable decision was the Prioksy District Court (Nizhny Novgorod) verdict against seven Nazi skinheads of the group White Flock. The convicts had been accused of no fewer than 10 attacks on “nonwhite” people, or those “mistaken for pedophiles” from 2010 to 2012. None of the group was sentenced to prison time – instead, the group’s founder was given a suspended sentence, while two other individuals were sentenced to hard labor. The case against the remaining four was discontinued due to either reconciliation or amnesty.
As such, 2013 saw no fewer than 30 verdicts for racist violence motivated by hatred in 23 regions of the country. These decisions convicted a total of 54 people; four of them were exempted from punishment for various reasons, while 12 were handed suspended sentences without additional sanctions.
There were 14 verdicts (against as many people) in 12 regions of the country for xenophobic propaganda in December 2013. One of those convicted was sentenced to prison time, one was released due to an expired statute of limitations, and the rest were subjected to non-custodial sentences.
For 2013 as a whole, there were 129 cases against 131 people, in 57 regions of the country, on charges under Article 282 (inciting hatred) and Article 280 (public calls for extremist activity). Eleven of those convicted received suspended sentences, 13 were given custodial sentences, and almost all received accumulative sentences with account of mostly violent criminal charges.
For organization of an extremist organization, or the participation therein (Article 282.1 of the Criminal Code), 2013 saw two proper convictions against three individuals, in the Irkutsk and Moscow regions. In Irkutsk, the Molotochniki group was sentenced along with the leader of the organization Spiritual-Ancestral Power Rus.
There were nine convictions for vandalism motivated by hatred (Article 214 Part 2) against 12 people in eight regions this year.
In December 2013, the Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times (on December 6, 17 and 20). Items 2143-2179 were added. In total, 2013 saw the List expand from 1589 entries to 2179 over the course of 46 updates. Entry 1674 was excluded from the list while the number was kept; entry 1844 changed as the number of the materials in question was increased by one. As of December 30, 2013, the list included 39 “zeroed” items (meaning those excluded while their numbers of entry remained); five of these were deletions due to duplicate entries; 34 were deletions based on rulings canceling a material’s status as extremist. Sixty-two entries reflect duplicates of single rulings (not including those concerning the same texts with differing output data), while two reflect decisions already included in the list.
Four new groups were added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations in 2013. As such, as of December 30, 2013, the list includes 33 organizations whose activities have been enjoined by a Russian court, and whose continued activities are punishable under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code: the organization of activities of an extremist organization.
Also in 2013, the Moscow City Court banned the nationalist Autonomous Combat Terrorist Organization (ABTO) as a terrorist group, not simply as extremist. This is the first case where such a label has been applied to a far-right Russian group (indeed, to any non-Muslim group). As of December 30, 2013, the decision is not reflected in the online list of domestic and international organizations deemed terrorist by the Russian government (which is maintained on the FSB website). That list currently includes 19 other groups.