Racism and Xenophobia in March 2014

Настоящий материал (информация) произведен и (или) распространен иностранным агентом РОО Центр «Сова» либо касается деятельности иностранного агента РОО Центр «Сова».

The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government coordination or countermeasures, for the month of March 2014. The review is based on material gathered by Sova Center in the course of our daily monitoring.

This month, no fewer than thirteen people fell victim to racist violence in Moscow and the Moscow and Irkutsk regions, one of them being killed. We are also aware that ultra-right activists staged so-called ‘white cars’ – where non-Slavic people on public transit are targeted for attack – on at least three occasions. (This phenomenon is also known in the nationalist community as ‘cleaning.’) 

As such, since the beginning of the year, no fewer than 29 people have been subjected to racist violence, with seven of them being killed. The violence has taken place in nine regions of Russia: Moscow and the Moscow region; Saint Petersburg; the Vladimir, Irkutsk and Sakhalin regions; the republics of Karelia and Tatarstan; and the Perm Krai. We remind readers that these numbers do not include victims of violence in Russia’s Northern Caucasus.

In March, we recorded no fewer than six acts of vandalism that can be characterized as motivated by hatred or neo-Nazi ideology. That makes at least twelve such incidents since the beginning of this year.

The ultra-right’s activities grew this month. Every notable Russian nationalist organization, more or less, weighed in on the government crisis in Ukraine and the Russian Federation’s annexation (in Russian, generally referred to as “merger”) of Crimea. The annexation was supported by the majority of Russians, who often refer to Crimea as a “Russian land.”

A few ultranationalist groups held actions in support of Ukraine’s Russian-speaking citizens, against the Ukrainian government, and for Russian politics in the region generally. On March 1, the People’s Council held an action that drew between 100-150 people. On March 15, on Moscow’s Novopushkinsky Square, the Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers (Soyuz pravoslavnykh khorugvenostsev) held an action that drew activists from organizations including Great Russia and the LDPR, the party of Duma Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky. On March 9, St. Petersburg’s Mars Field hosted an action featuring activists from the People’s Council, the Great Fatherland (Velikoe Otechestvo) party, Motherland (Rodina), the Russian Imperial Movement, as well as Cossacks.

A few nationalist organizations (as part of the ‘Russian Spring’ campaign) actually sent activists to southern and eastern regions of Ukraine. At the end of March, Ukrainian state security expelled from the country Saint Petersburger Anton Raevsky, a member of the Black Hundreds, for “inciting ethnic hatred.”

Meanwhile, some nationalists participated in the March for Peace held on March 15 in Moscow. Sova staff at the march noted symbols displaying the presence of the following nationalist groups: the Russian Right Party (Rossiiskaya pravaya partiya) of V. Ivanov (Istarkhov); the People’s Will (Narodnaya volya); and also a Russian imperial flag with the logos of the RONA and the RGS. A few people were detained for displaying nationalist symbols.

Nationalists also fixated on the Duma’s March 21 preliminary discussion of amending Russia’s citizenship laws. In this connection, members of the ‘Russians’ movement organized a campaign under the name “Russians Against the Distribution of Citizenship.” On March 19, about 25 of these activists gathered on Pushkin Square for an unsanctioned picket. On that day and the day before, the ‘Russians’ posted stickers in connection with the picket at Khimki and Dolgoprudny. On March 21, similar actions followed in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Orel, and Khabarovsk.

On March 1 in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Astrakhan, Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod, Penza, Ryazan, and Khabarovsk, the traditional Heroes’ Day was held in memory of the Pskov paratrooper battalion killed in action in Chechnya in 2000.

Ultra-right activists continued their raids on residences known to house so-called “illegals.” Unfortunately, the raids continued in coordination with Russian law enforcement. The ‘Russians’ movement posted information to their Guestbusters website showing that on February 17, 2014, it had “inspected” passengers on a Tashkent-to-Saint Petersburg train in conjunction with the Internal Ministry and Federal Migration Service.

We are not aware of any convictions for racist violence in March 2014. There have been six convictions against thirteen people for violent crimes taking into consideration a hate motive so far this year, in five regions of the country.

Russian courts made seven rulings against as many people related to xenophobic propaganda this month in as many regions of the country. As such, from the beginning of the year, there have been no fewer than 24 rulings on racist and other far-right propaganda, with 25 people convicted in 20 regions of Russia.

A noteworthy verdict came in the Ostankino District Court of Moscow on March 17, 2014. ‘Russians’ leader and prominent Russian ultranationalist Dmitry Demushkin was convicted under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code, organization of a banned organization, and fined 200,000 RUB (roughly $5,650 – a major sum). However, the court released Demushkin from the obligation to pay due to an expired statute of limitations. The verdict came as a surprise: it remains unclear why the case was investigated for such a long period of time, and for what reason a litany of other charges were excluded from the case, for example those related to the activities of Demushkin’s banned Slavic Union (SS), which essentially has continued as the Slavic Force (also SS), a member organization of the ‘Russians’ movement.

The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated five times this month, on March 5, 7, 14, 24 and 27. Entries 2225-2269 were added. The usual suspects remained targets for addition to the list: Islamist materials, including videos from insurgents in the Caucasus and the Hizb ut-Tahrir party; articles from the website hunafa.com; an issue of regional magazine New Times of Udmurtia; Boris Stomakhin’s website, including articles by him; articles from the anarchist journal Avtonom; the website of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) and various other ultranationalist materials from the social network VKontakte (including a picture from a page entitled Russia for Cats); the Third-Reich-era anti-Semitic children’s book Der Giftpilz (Poganka, The Poisonous Mushroom) by Ernst Hiemer; and various racist slogans and placards.

The Faizrakhmanists, a Russian-born Islamist movement, were added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations in March following a February 21 ruling by the Soviet District Court of Kazan, in the Republic of Tatarstan, which declared them to be extremist. In this connection, the Federal List of Extremist Organizations now includes 34 organizations (not including a separate 19 that are considered terrorist) whose activities in the Russian Federation have been enjoined by a court, and whose continued activities would be punishable under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code.