Racism and Xenophobia. December 2018 and Preliminary Results for the Year
In December 2018, three were injured in racially or ideologically motivated attacks in the Volgograd and Kaluga regions.
In total, as at the end of December, four were killed and at least 52 were injured in such attacks in 10 Russian regions in 2018. We must again emphasize that these and other data for the year are preliminary and it would be premature to come them with our data for past years.
In December we learned about the vandalism of the obelisk commemorating concentration camp victims in St Petersburg and the Church of Elijah the Prophet in Petrozavodsk in the Republic of Karelia. In total in 2018 we reported 21 incidents of ideologically motivated vandalism in 14 Russian regions.
Of the public demonstrations held by nationalist groups in December, one can note the December 6, 2018 march in Moscow that was held in memory of football fan Yegor Sviridov who was killed in 2010 during a fight involving people from Kabardino-Balkaria. The demonstration was organized by the Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS). In addition, KNS activists conducted a series of one-man pickets on Pushkinskaya square in Moscow on December 6 “against political repression.” On December 8, similar pickets were held by Right Block activists. The following convicted nationalist activists were declared to be political prisoners: the leaders of the banned “Russians” association Dmitry Dyomushkin and Alexander Belov, Andrei Linok, who was arrested for the attack at the Tsokol club, and the leader of the nationalist-socialist movement Black Bloc Vladimir Ratnikov, who was arrested for the creation of an extremist association.
In December the activity of Russian nationalists abroad was also notable. In particular, on December 7-8, KNS members Igor Stenin and Alexei Kolegov, the former leader of the National-Democratic Alliance Ilya Lazarenko, and the former leader of the Defense League of Moscow Daniil Konstantinov participated in the VI Forum for a Free Russia, which took place in Vilnius. Stenin and Kolegov even held demonstrations in defense of the human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, who was arrested in Russia.
In December 2018, six people were convicted for racially motivated violence.
In particular, Alexander Zenin was convicted, who for 12 years was on the federal wanted list for involvement in the homicide of anti-fascist activist and musician Timur Kacharava. The Smolensky District Court of St Petersburg determined Zenin was guilty and sentenced him to one and a half years of imprisonment, because Article 105 of the Criminal Code (murder) was excluded from the charges and the conviction was based upon paragraph “a” of Part 2 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (inciting hatred with the use of violence).
In addition, a court in the Chelyabinsk region convicted four members of the ultra-right-wing organization Misanthropic Division (MD was recognized as extremist at the decision of the Krasnoyarsk regional court in August of 2015). Three young men were sentenced to lengthy sentences of imprisonment and one was given a conditional sentence.
In total since the start of the year, at least 15 convictions were made in cases involving violence in which hate was considered a motive. In these cases, 52 were convicted (one more was acquitted) in 12 Russian regions.
In December 2018, nine convictions were made in seven regions for xenophobic statements. Nine people were convicted. Among them was ultra-right-wing activist Dina Garina, who was sentenced to 120 hours of community service by a St Petersburg court for insulting police “E-Centers” staff. Garina did not have to serve her sentence due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. With regard to the other eight verdicts, we did not have access to the content of the statements in question.
In total since the start of the year, we learned about 195 guilty verdicts (we do not include convictions we consider inappropriate) for varying sorts of public “extremist statements” against 201 people in 65 regions, mainly for inciting ethnic or religious enmity. According to our preliminary assessment, it is about half of the real number of convictions issued in 2018.
We are aware of four convictions issued in 2018 under Part 2 Article 214 (vandalism motivated by hatred) against eight individuals in Saint-Petersburg, Republic of Tatarstan and the Sverdlovsk region. We did not record such verdicts in December.
In December, the Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated five times (on December 5, 7, 14, 21, and 25). Items 4725-4799 were added. In total in 2018, the list was updated 37 times and increased from 4,345 items to 4,799 items, that is by 454 new entries, which is a greater increase than in 2017, when 330 items were added.
SOVA Center is aware of the fining of five individuals under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (production and distribution of banned materials) in December 2018. We are also aware that 10 individuals were fined under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols) for sharing images with swastika on VKontakte. Note that our data on sanctions based on the Administrative Code do not include the court decisions we count as inappropriate.