Racism and Xenophobia in August 2018
The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for August 2018. It is based on material gathered by SOVA Center in the course of our daily monitoring.
In August 2018, SOVA Center learned of four injured in attacks motivated by hatred in St. Petersburg. In total since the start of the year, three have been killed and at least 22 injured in attacks motivated by racism or hate across six Russian regions.
Of the public demonstrations by nationalists, it is worth noting a series of one-man pickets in support of the figures in the case against the Novoe Velichie group, which were held by the far-right movement Right Bloc at VDNKh in Moscow.
In addition, on August 15-16, the far-right association Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS) held demonstrations in several cities in honor of the anniversary of the Tambov Uprising.
In August, SOVA learned of three acts of vandalism targeting cemeteries and religious sites in the Smolensk and Leningrad regions, and the Republic of Karelia. In total since the start of the year, we have registered at least 11 of such acts against religious buildings and objects in 10 Russian regions.
In August 2018, one conviction was made for ideologically motivated violence. On August 1, 2018, in Elista, six members of the Bugor group were sentenced for a mass brawl in which one person died. In total since the start of the year, there have been at least 10 such convictions against 45 people in nine Russian regions.
The conviction, which was made against well-known Russian nationalist Roman (Zuhel) Zheleznov in absentia in March 2018, came into force. He was convicted for his participation in the Ukrainian Azov Battalion as a mercenary. According to the investigation, Zheleznov arrived in Ukraine in 2014 and voluntarily joined the Azov Battalion. From 2014 until 2016, Zheleznov participated in military operations in the southeast of Ukraine against the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. The court convicted Zheleznov in absentia to four years of imprisonment at a maximum security penal colony. The nationalist appealed the verdict. In August 2018, the Moscow City Court denied the appeal and the verdict remained unchanged.
In August 2018, at least 15 convictions were made for xenophobic statements against 15 people in 15 Russian regions. Only in six cases can we say something about the materials that caught the police’s attention. In three cases, this concerned xenophobic posts with calls to violence against Jews and natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia. One case concerned posting ISIS videos. In the case against the leader of the Stavropol cell of the ultra-right wing Russian National Unity (RNE) and the ideologue of the neo-pagan religious group Children of Perun, Vladimir Diachenko, there were audio recordings of conversations, in which he talked about how he killed non-Slavs, by blunt force trauma to the head and by scutting their throats. An activist of the Volya (“Will”) party Yelena Lobacheva was convicted for distributing flyers with the “Statement to the Servicemen of the Russian Army,” which had twice been recognized as extremist, on the streets of Troitsk.
In total, in 2018, 135 convictions have been made for extremist statements against 140 people in 55 Russian regions (here we do not cover the verdicts which we see as arbitrary).
During August, the Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice. Items 4490-4503 were added. Ultra-right-wing songs with calls for violence against and the deportation of natives of the Caucasus, Central Asia, and dark-skinned people were added to the list, as well as Muslim videos with calls for jihad, materials by Turkish theologian Said Nursi, and books by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Four new items were added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations. These included two football “firms,” Sector 16 Union of Football Fans of the Bugulma district of the Republic of Tatarstan (S-16, BugulmaUltras), which was recognized as extremist by a decision of the Bugulma City Court on May 28, 2018, and a Tula fan group “Pokolenie,” which was recognized as extremist by Tula’s Proletarsky District Court on June 14, 2018.
In addition, the Regional Public Foundation for the Promotion of National Self-Determination of the Peoples of the World “Nezavisimost” (Independence) was added, which was recognized as extremist by the decision of the Moscow City Court on December 1, 2017. The foundation was established by the members of the ultra-right-wing National-Sovereign Party of Russia (NDPR), which was active until the 2000s.
Finally, the religious group In Honor of the Icon of Our Lady Sovereign (“Derzhavnaya”) was added to the list, which was recognized as extremist by the Tula Regional Court on July 25, 2016. About 70 followers of Orthodox priest Vasily Novikov, who served in the village of Ivankovo of the Kimovsky district of the Tula region and died in November 2010, are members of this group. Some of Novikov’s sermons from the disk “Orthodoxy or Death” had been previously recognized as extremist. So, there are 69 items on the list (but item 62 includes about 400 organizations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses; above this, 27 organizations recognized as terrorist are included into a separate list maintained by Federal Security Service).
The number of courts sentences for “extremist” misdemeanors issued in August were as follows: 16 people were fined according to Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offences (production and distribution of banned materials) for sharing xenophobic songs by Kolovrat band popular among the neo-Nazi, videos with calls for the violent deportation of migrants, and songs by the bard of armed Chechen resistance Timur Mutsurayev. Fifteen people were convicted according to Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and the symbols of banned organizations) for posting swastikas and other symbols of the Third Reich on VKontakte and wearing of tattoos with Nazi symbols.