Racism and Xenophobia in November 2018
The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for November 2018. It is based on material gathered by SOVA Center in the course of our daily monitoring.
No fewer than 2 people were targeted in racist and/or neo-Nazi ideologically motivated attacks in November 2018, with both occurring in Moscow. So far this year, according to our data at least 4 people have been killed, and 48 injured, in such attacks across nine regions of Russia.
We are also aware of three additional ideologically motivated incidents in November: vandalism of a Russian Orthodox church in Moscow, as well as of a statue of Immanuel Kant – and of his grave – in the Kaliningrad region. In 2018 so far, in total we have recorded no fewer than 19 acts of vandalism against historically significant buildings and other similar objects in 14 regions of Russia.
Traditionally, one of the main autumn events organized by the Russian ultra-right has been the so-called Russian March. This year, a few different nationalist events were held around Moscow on November 4, the Day of National Unity, a federal holiday.
The main nationalists’ event in Lyublino, which was put together by the Association of National Resistance (ANS), the Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS) and the National-Revolutionary Vanguard (NRA), drew few participants – no more than 150 people participated in the march to the meeting. Before the march had even started, several group leaders and activists were detained. And on November 2, five individuals on their way to the event were removed from a bus from Tula to Moscow.
The organizers of the Lyublino event had been in a dispute with a separate nationalist coalition, led by the so-called Right Bloc, over the right to host. On the eve of the Russian March, Ivan Beletsky, the leader of the losing coalition, implored his supporters on social media to arrive at the Lyublino march two hours early to "intercept the initiative" of the march, and also to Pushkin Square in central Moscow for a gathering of “autonomous” far-right activists. Practically none of his supporters came to either.
The rival march beginning at the Oktyabrskoe Pole Metro stop, which had been organized by the Permanent Council of National-Patriotic Forces of Russia (PDS NPSR) and the Russian National Front (RNF), drew about 350 people despite designation as the "alternative march" – but as in the previous year, it drew many more participants than the main event. One person was detained following the event.
Aside from those events, the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), a parliamentary party, held an action in honor of the Day of National Unity on Pushkin Square on November 4. Representatives of the Forty Forties Movement, an ultraconservative Russian Orthodox movement, attempted a mass procession by the Passion (Strastnoy) Monastery, but failed to get permission to do so, leaving participants to read the akathist instead.
Outside Moscow, Russian Marches were held in one form or another in 9 cities (as opposed to 7 in 2017), though participation was low in basically all of them.
Among the other nationalist actions in November 2018, one of note was the November 14 visit of autonomous neo-Nazis to a rally held by antifascists on Uprising Square in central St. Petersburg to commemorate the death of activist and musician Timur Kacharava, who was stabbed to death on that date in 2005. The ultra-right limited themselves to drawing neo-Nazi graffiti and subsequent sharing a video.
On November 11, a delegation of Russian nationalists took part in the “March of Independence,” annual rally of Polish nationalists in Warsaw.
We are not aware of any court decisions this month related to violence motivated by hatred or the desecration of monuments. In 2018 as a whole, Russian courts have handed down no fewer than 10 convictions for racist violence in which hatred was considered as a motive, against 39 individuals in 9 regions of the country. There has only been one such vandalism conviction this year, against 5 individuals, in St. Petersburg.
No fewer than 11 convictions against as many individuals were handed down for public xenophobic statements this month, in 11 regions of Russia. In the majority of cases, we have not been able to verify the bases of the charges. Only one official statement provides a full description of the offense: a photograph posted to social media of a 20-year-old resident of Izobilny, in the Stavropol Krai "with a raised hand in the form of a gesture resembling the Nazi salute" near the monument to Soldiers Who Died in the Great Patriotic War. The court sentenced this individual under Part 3 of Article 354.1 of the Criminal Code (desecration of symbols of Russian military glory) to 150 hours of community service.
For 2018 so far, we are aware of 179 such verdicts against 185 individuals in 64 regions of Russia. However, these numbers do not include verdicts which in our view were patently inappropriate.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated six times this month, on November 2, 7, 8, 9, 16, 23 and 27; entries 4538-4616 were added. This month, the List was updated on the basis of court decisions from 2010-2013. Among the points added: ultra-right-wing songs inciting to racist violence; ISIS videos inciting to jihad; online publications of Bashkir nationalists; an article by radical publicist Boris Stomakhin; materials of the banned Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir and books of Said Nursi. Such intense updating led to the inclusion of more duplicate entries than usual (five this month).
November also saw the Federal List of Extremist Organizations updated, with the addition of entry 70, the Karelian youth organization, the Youth Human Rights Group of Karelia (MPG), liquidated in a December 18, 2014 decision by the Supreme Court of the Karelian Republic. The Karelian chapter of MPG was liquidated on the basis that its founder, Maxim Efimov, was included in the "Rosfinmonitoring List," a list of individuals and organizations participating in terrorist or extremist activities, as alleged in a case under Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred or enmity, as the humiliation of human dignity on the basis of religion). It is the position of SOVA Center that the case against Mr. Efimov was instigated improperly, and the inclusion of MPG in the Federal List of Extremist Organizations was not based on law: the group was liquidated, not banned as extremist.
SOVA Center is aware of the fining of 19 individuals under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (manufacture and distribution of banned materials) in November 2018. One individual was so charged for sharing on social media of songs by the Chechen bard Timur Mutsuraev; another for sharing the banned neo-pagan anti-Semitic film Games of the Gods; four for the publication of songs by the bands Kolovrat and Argentina, which are popular among neo-Nazis, and a song entitled "88 – White Power Skinhead;" and two for publication of well-known xenophobic video clips and images. We were not able to verify the bases of the remaining charges.
We are also aware that 7 individuals were fined under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). Three were fined for swastika tattoos, while the others were fined on the basis of social media posts featuring Nazi or ISIS symbols. Note that our data on sanctions based on the Administrative Code do not include the court decisions we count as arbitrary.