Racism and Xenophobia in January 2018
In January 2018, no fewer than three people were targeted in neo-Nazi attacks in Moscow, the Moscow region and St. Petersburg. One of them was killed.
Radical Russian nationalists participated in the countrywide series of demonstrations For a Voters’ Strike, organized by oppositionist Alexei Navalny. SOVA Center observers present on January 28 at Pushkin Square in Moscow noted the participation of members of the Nationalist Youth Union (MON), the “Black Bloc,” the National-Revolutionary Vanguard (NRA) and the People’s Resistance Association (ANS) in the action. About an hour following the beginning of the event, a group waving a green and black flag, the flag of the NRA and a flag with a Celtic cross, emerged from the crowd, made its way to the monument to Alexander Pushkin and chanted “national socialism.” These activists climbed lamppost and flew their flags there. “Black Bloc” activists on the scene asserted that they were acting as security, and that they had tried to fight the police off when Navalny was being detained. They lit flares on Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street, about a kilometer from Pushkin Square. Young backers of the NRA and ANS chanted “the only movement is resistance” and “boycott the elections.” ANS supporters continued down Tverskaya Street, shouting slogans as MON supporters sporting a plastic Putin mask with “THIEF” written across the forehead, with a megaphone, on Pushkin Square. About 15 young people hung around Pushkin Square with a Nationalists Party banner. Lastly, supporters of the Nation and Freedom Committee were present at the rally.
Nationalists participated in actions calling for a boycott of Russia’s upcoming presidential elections in several Russian cities in addition to Moscow, among them Astrakhan, Vologda, Nizhny Novgorod and Pskov. Additionally, ANS activists assert that their supporters participated in rallies in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Vladivostok, Cheboksary, Tula, Oryol and Krasnodar, but this has not been confirmed.
January 2018 saw no fewer than 11 individuals sentenced in 10 regions of Russia on the basis of xenophobic statements. There were no other sentencing decisions related to “extremist” crimes this month.
The Ministry of Justice website changed the way of informing the public on the Federal List of Extremist Materials updates. Now, instead of simply amending the list on the website, the ministry’s website posts dated news in respect of changes to the list. We do observe a delay in posting, though: for example a January 10 news update referred to a December 29 change to the list. On January 29, 2018 entries 4346-4349 were added to the list; the website recorded this update only on January 25.
New materials added to the list include a xenophobic brochure about Chechens, yet another version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and xenophobic social media posts. Additionally, the statement “Russian power to Russia” (“Russian” in the ethnic meaning), which had been deemed extremist by a Moscow court, was added under entry 4349. The entry does not specify which material was the source of the statement, but it is likely a social media post of a photo of a banner carrying the slogan, for which nationalist personality Dmitry Demushkin was prosecuted in the very case that deemed the statement extremist.
On January 19, people in several cities across Russia gathered for actions in memory of slain human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova. The numbers were low outside of Moscow, where Sova Center observers recorded 450-480 people present, an increase from years past.