Racism and Xenophobia in February 2018
The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for February 2018. It is based on material gathered by SOVA Center in the course of our daily monitoring.
No fewer than 2 people suffered as a result of racist violence in St. Petersburg and Kaluga, with one of them being killed. Since the beginning of 2018, according to our monitoring, 2 people have been killed, and 3 injured or otherwise beaten, in four regions of Russia.
We are aware of only one act of ideological vandalism in February 2018. In Novokuznetsk, vandals hoping to insult Jews mistakenly destroyed a monument to Russian-Armenian friendship. In all, since the beginning of 2018, we have recorded three cases of ideologically-motivated vandalism – in St. Petersburg and the Arkhangelsk and Kemerovо regions.
The participation of right-wing radicals in public actions has been negligible in February 2018, though few such groups participated in the march in memory of Boris Nemtsov on February 25 in Moscow. About 40 people from the Nation and Freedom Committee, the Black Bloc, the National-Revolutionary Vanguard and the Association of People’s Resistance participated. Another group calling itself the Nationalist Column marched behind them. This included about 30 members of the Party of Nationalists, the Youth Union of Nationalists (MON) and the Russian Human Rights League. Ilya Sotnikov, secretary of the Party of Nationalists, led the column. Prior to the start of the march, police denied entry flags with Celtic crosses carried by Black Bloc members, as well as banners reading “Russian, Wake Up! Russian, Fight!” They also detained Black Bloc’s leader Vladimir Ratnikov. As a result, participating nationalist groups did not chant xenophobic slogans, using oppositional ones instead.
We are aware of only one conviction in a case of racist violence – in the Kemerovo region. For all of 2018 we have recorded two such decisions, against three people in cases of xenophobic crimes, in the Kemerovo region and St. Petersburg.
One decision was issued this month related to ideologically-motivated damage of property, the only such ruling of which we are aware for 2018 so far. In Tatarstan, Anton Ushachev was convicted for placing insulting inscriptions on the fence of the Borovets Church of the Holy Ascension. We also note a Ekaterinburg vandalism conviction that did not consider the hate motive, where Other Russia activist Igor Schuka was charged with attempting to set a statue of Boris Yeltsin on fire.
Meanwhile February 2018 saw no fewer than 16 convictions of as many people on the basis of xenophobic statements, in 13 regions of Russia. Among them is the apparent supporter of the Will party, Alexandra Makarova (Kukushkina) of Ulyanovsk, who received a conditional term for the distribution of a leaflet, Appeal to Officers of the Russian Army, as well as supporters of the Artpodgotovka (“Artillery Preparation”) Movement in Tomsk, who also received a conditional term for calling for revolution on social media. Since the beginning of the year, no fewer than 34 convictions have been issued against 34 people in 23 regions of the country on the basis of xenophobic declarations.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times in February (On February 7, 11 and 22) with the addition of entries 4350-4388. It was supplanted with a wide variety of Islamist materials, including the latest issue of the al-Waie journal, as well as ultra-right-wing publications and audio recordings, and an article by Kirill Alexandrov entitled Bandera and the Banderovtsy: Who they Really Were published in Novaya Gazeta, which was very clearly improperly deemed extremist.