Racism and Xenophobia in April 2015
The following is our review of racism and xenophobia in Russia during April 2015. The data we report are collected in the course of Sova Center’s daily monitoring activities.
This month, no fewer than eight people were victims of ultra-right-wing violence, in St. Petersburg, Volgograd, and Murmansk. One of them was killed.
As such, since the beginning of the year, no fewer than 30 people have fallen victim to such attacks, with three of those having been killed. These attacks have happened in nine regions of Russia: Moscow and the Moscow region; St. Petersburg; the Volgograd, Murmansk, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara and Sverdlovsk regions; and the Republic of Karelia. Recall that these numbers do not include similar attacks in the Northern Caucasus or Crimea. Additionally, two people received serious threats against their lives.
In April, we became aware of four acts of xenophobically-motivated vandalism. Since the beginning of 2015, we have recorded 14 such acts.
The public activities of Russia’s ultra-right were relatively low this April. We can note one public event by the “Russians” movement: a picket related to the March 30 murder in St. Petersburg of ultra-right-wing football fan Ivan Stanin in a brawl with natives of the Caucasus. Nationalists at the picket held banners reading, for example, “The Murder of a Visitor is Fascism, but the Murder of a Russian is a Domestic Conflict.” Six people participated. In addition to that, there were two pickets held in support of “Russians” leader Alexander Belov, who was arrested on allegations that he was involved in the embezzlement of some USD $5 billion from Russian and Ukrainian depositors of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank. The first picket was held on April 5 by the Astrakhan chapter of the group, and attracted seven people. This included the chapter head, Igor Stenin. The second picket was on April 19, and included nationalists from the RONA on Manezh Square in Moscow. Four people held placards and Belov’s photograph, and demanded his release.
Ultra-right activists continued to participate in raids. For example, on April 12 in St. Petersburg, the first “Russian Cleaning” of 2015 was held. It was organized by the National Socialist Initiative (NSI), and included its leader, Dmitry (Schulz) Bobrov. About five people marched from the Vladimirskaya Metro station to the bank of the Obvodny Canal, and “discovered” a migrant worker selling vegetables on the street. Police examined the migrants’ documents on Bobrov’s request, and subsequently forced two women to cease from selling fish out of a van.
There was only one court ruling on racist violence this month, but it was an important one: on April 21, the Moscow City Court held its decision on the case of the well-known neo-Nazi group, the Combat Organization of Russian Nationalists (BORN). Maxim Baklagin and Vyacheslav Isaev were sentenced to life in prison, while Mikhail Volkov was sentenced to 24 years for a series of racist attacks and murders. Yury Tikhomirov was acquitted in this case, but had been sentenced to ten years in 2012 for the murder of anti-fascist activist Ilya Dzhaparidze.
In total for 2015 so far, there have been six rulings for violent crimes where a court considered hate as a motive, in five regions of the country. Ten people, total, were sentenced.
There has been only one ruling issued from the beginning of the year for hate-motivated vandalism. On April 17, Ivan Novitsky and Boris Streltsov were sentenced in Krymsk (the Krasnodar Krai) for desecrating a memorial to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War.
For xenophobic propaganda, April saw 20 separate rulings against 21 individuals in ten regions of Russia. Among those sentenced were well-known St. Petersburg neo-Nazis. On April 24, Nikolai Bondarik was sentenced to a one-and-a-half-year suspended sentence, with three years’ probation – with a ban on using the Internet, speak to the press, or participate in even permitted demonstrations during this period. On April 22, Dmitry (“the Mad”) Yevtushenko (of Slavic Force and “Russian cleanings”) was sentenced to three months of restricted liberty.
Since the beginning of 2015, for racist and other xenophobic propaganda, there have been no fewer than 51 rulings, against 55 people, in 32 regions of Russia.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated ten times in April 2015 (on April 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 23 and 28). Entries 2681-2772 were added. The additions include: neo-Nazi skinhead and militant Islamist materials, publications from Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, neo-pagan materials, and anti-Ukrainian advertisements of Irkutsk Duma candidate Ivan Gushin. At least one duplicate was added this month, as entries 2742 and 2725 reflect the same information. We also note entry 2762, which is a joke “demotivator” featuring Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh.