Racism and Xenophobia in October 2018
The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for October 2018. It is based on material gathered by SOVA Center in the course of our daily monitoring.
In October 2018, at least two were injured in racially and ideologically motivated attacks in Moscow and St Petersburg. In total since the start of the year, according to our information, three died as a result of such violence and 31 were injured in nine regions of Russia. Unfortunately, our data is incomplete: crimes motivated by hatred happen more often than they are reported. On October 30, 2018, links to two video clips were posted by neo-Nazis with scenes of the murders of and attacks against at least 15 people, who were intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics. In the video, the attackers beat their victims, stabbed them, and sprayed aerosol substances into the victims’ faces. However, it is impossible to tell where and when the majority of these events happened.
On the social network pages of ultra-right-wing groups, photographs were published with the personal information of judges who presided over cases against nationalists, with an emphasis upon the “non-Russian names and surnames” of their relatives. Threats were also leveled against “traitors,” i.e. participants in group trials concerning racially motivated attacks, those who testified against their “comrades.”
In October the activity of members of nationalist pro-Kremlin groups were notable, especially that of South East Radical Block (SERB). In the last month, they twice blocked the office of the movement “For Human Rights,” not allowing people to leave the building and accusing them of “anti-Russian activity.” In addition, on October 28, activists from SERB attended the demonstration “For Our and You Children”, which had not been approved by the authorities and was held on Lubyanka Square by parents and supporters of those involved in the notorious cases of the “New Greatness” movement and “Network” group. SERB activists interrupted speakers and demanded that attendees disperse, and also tore a sign from the hands of one of the demonstrators, after which there was brawl. One of the attackers, Alexander Petrunko, participated in the April 27, 2017 attack against Alexei Navalny, where green dye was poured on him.
In October, SOVA Center learned about four cases of vandalism at places of worship and shrines in the city of Moscow, the Sverdlovsk region, and Stavropol krai. In total since the beginning of the year, we learned about at least 15 attacks on religious buildings and objects in 12 Russian regions.
We did not learn about any convictions made in October for violence motivated by xenophobia. It is worth mentioning the acquittal of neo-Nazi Rikhard Sobolev, who was accused of murder motivated by hatred, issued by the Moscow City Court on October 25. In total this year, 12 convictions were made for ideologically motivated violence against 46 people in 11 regions.
In October 2018, at least seven convictions were made against seven people in seven regions for xenophobic statements. Only in two cases we had some information about the materials that drew the attention of law enforcement agencies. One case concerned the publication on social networks of ISIS videos, and the other concerned the posting of racist songs and xenophobic cartoons with calls for attacks on people from the Caucasus on the VKontakte public page “14/88x.”
It is worth noting that while considering ‘extremist’ cases the law enforcement started to follow the recommendations issued in September 2018 by the Plenum of the Russian Supreme Court (see the SOVA Center’s commentary). Thus, in October, a case under Article 282 of the Criminal Code against a 35-year-old resident was dismissed in the Krasnoyarsk krai due to the absence of a crime. The investigators pointed out that posting eight xenophobic images which attracted no public attention did not constitute a significant offense.
In total in 2018 in cases concerning “extremist statements,” 162 convictions were made against 168 people in 61 regions. We provide this information without account of the convictions we consider inappropriate.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated five times in October, on October 5, 11, 18, 30 and 31. Items 4511-4537 were added to the list. Materials included aggressive videos with calls for jihad, anti-Buddhist articles from the Altai newspaper Amadu Altai, a book by Artyom Snegov entitled “Russians from the point of view of race,” which called for “racial hygiene”, and also videos and songs calling for attacks against people from the Caucasus and Jews.
In October, SOVA Center learned about 14 people who were fined according to Article 20.29 of the Administrative Code (the production and distribution of banned materials). Three people were fined for the publication on social networks of songs by the bard of the armed Chechen resistance, Timur Mutsuraev, one – for the publication of a banned neo-pagan anti-Semitic film called “Games of the Gods,” two – for sharing songs by Kolovrat and Psikheya bands popular with the far-right. We do not know what the others posted.
We learned about three punishments according to Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code (propaganda and the public demonstration of Nazi symbols and the symbols of banned organizations). Two people were fined for tattoos with swastika, two – for posting on VKontakte of images with Nazi symbols.
Unfortunately, our information about administrative and criminal punishments is incomplete. In October 2018, statistical data about the activity of Russian judges and conviction rates were published on the website of Judicial Department of the Russian Supreme Court covering the first half of this year. According to the department’s information, in the first half of 2018, 337 people were convicted according to articles of interest in the Criminal Code, those concerning public statements and banned organizations (counting only those with these articles as the main charge). 2,096 people were charged under Administrative Code articles about the distribution of banned materials and symbols. Criminal convictions have demonstrated a downward trend for the first time in several years, while administrative convictions continued to grow.