Racism and Xenophobia in May 2018
SOVA Center is not aware of any information related to any attacks in May 2018 motivated by racism or neo-nazi ideology. According to our data for the first five months of this year, 3 people in Russia were killed in such attacks, while no fewer than 5 were injured – in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the Kursk and Moscow regions (these data do not account for any incidents in the North Caucasus or Crimea).
We recorded information related to a single ideologically motivated attack on a statue in May 2018, when the Victory monument in Yaroslavl was vandalized. As such, since the beginning of this year, we have reported no fewer than 7 attacks on buildings or other structures in 7 regions of Russia.
May 1, 2018 saw May Day marches, including those led by nationalist organizations and movements under the traditional name “Russian May Day.” These took place in St. Petersburg, Bryansk, Kansk, Kaliningrad, Pskov, Saratov, Sevastopol, Sergiev Posad, Syktyvkar and Tula. For the first time in many years, Moscow nationalists failed to stage a single notable May Day rally, although we were aware of a few attempts.
Nationalists participated in general actions of Russia’s political opposition. For example on May 5, 2018 in Vologda, Pskov, Tver and Tula, nationalists took part in demonstrations held by Alexei Navalny’s supporters, under the common theme “He’s Not Our Tsar.” In Moscow, ultra-right activists were represented by the National Resistance Association (ANS) and their leader Dmitry Karasyov; activists from the National-Revolutionary Vanguard (NRA); as well as some members of the Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS) and the Black Bloc. Several ANS activists were detained at and prior to the demonstration. Prior to the rally Dmitry Golikov, a leader of the Right Bloc (formerly the Party of Nationalists), as well as Black Bloc leader Vladimir Ratnikov, were detained.
There were nationalists on the other side as well: media coverage showed people in Cossack uniforms at the protest attacking the participants with whips and fists. Later the Central Cossack Army confirmed that its members had been on Central Moscow’s Tverskaya Street at the time of the demonstration. Among the attackers were camouflaged activists from the National Liberation Movement (NOD), who grabbed flags from protesters and dragged opposition supporters away as they tried to climb a monument to Alexander Pushkin.
Nationalists further attempted to participate in a city-sanctioned rally in support of the Internet on May 13. Those on the scene included a united column of supporters of KNS, the Black Bloc, the identitarians’ movement, ANS and NRA. As a result, 23 of these 40 people were detained, though they were all released by evening after being written up under Article 20.2 of Russia’s Administrative Code, violation of the established procedure for holding a rally. Additionally, NRA activist Lilya Osipova was written up under a separate section of the same law for repeat offenders of the same offense; she was sentenced to 140 hours of community service.
SOVA Center is aware of a single criminal verdict in May 2018 arising out of racist violence, under which a radical right-wing St. Petersburg group was convicted of: (i) the murder of an Uzbek national, (ii) six attacks on migrant workers, (iii) arson of a church, (iv) robbery and (v) burglary. As such, since the beginning of the year, Russian courts have delivered no fewer than 5 verdicts in cases of racist violence that account for hate as a motive, with 28 individuals being convicted in 5 regions of the country.
May 2018 saw 13 convictions (of the same number of individuals) on charges of xenophobic statements in 13 regions of Russia (these numbers do not account for those court decisions which we view as inappropriate). Nearly all of the charges arose out of videos and other content posted to social media. In one decision issued against a minor in the village of Shchuchye in the Kurgan region, the subject matter concerned anti-Caucasus graffiti on building walls. Meanwhile only in a single case have SOVA’s analysts been able to determine concretely the content of the material giving rise to the charges, in a case against an RNE supporter in Novgorod. In that case, the defendant had posted two files – “Jewish Persecution of Christians” and “How to Know a Yid by his Speech” – one of which contained an image of “a man with the characteristic look (locks, yarmulke, Star of David around his neck), holding a severed child’s head as a church burns in the background.”
So far in 2018, racist and other ultra-right-wing statements have given rise to 81 convictions against the same number of individuals, in 43 regions of the country.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice, in May 11 and May 24, with the addition of entries 4244-4450. The List was supplemented by materials of the Islamic theologian Said Nursi, a book by Ukrainian Banderite Mikola Lebed on the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and a range of ultra-right-oriented audio and video files. Meanwhile five ultra-right-wing videos were excluded from the List in May (entries 4216-4220) on the basis that they were duplicates of existing entries. Unfortunately, quite a large number of duplicates remain in the List – at the end of 2017, SOVA noted no fewer than 187 such duplicate entries.