Racism and Xenophobia in January 2019
No fewer than two people, in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, fell victim to attacks by neo-nazis this month.
Russian nationalist groups came out in January to protest the return of the disputed Kuril Islands to Japan. Among the demonstrations was a January 20 meeting of about 300 people on Suvorov Square in Moscow that included nationalists, leftists and others. Symbols including, but not limited to, those of the National-Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR), the Other Russia party of Eduard Limonov, flags of “Novorossiya,” and the Russian Imperial tricolor can be seen in photos from the event. Police arrested a few people shouting nationalist slogans before the event. Notable nationalists present included Leonid Ivashov of the Union of the Russian Nation, Maxim Kalashnikov, formerly of the “Novorossiya” movement, as well as Igor Strelkov, also of “Novorossiya,” and the leader of the Russian All-People’s Union Sergei Baburin.
A few actions took place in St. Petersburg, including one on January 19 that drew about 100 people and included participants from Other Russia, the NPSR and the National-Democratic Party (NDP). Groups of nationalists also participated in actions in Khabarovsk, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Nakhodka and Kaliningrad on the same day.
We are not aware of any court decisions in respect of hate crimes in January 2019, but there were no fewer than 8 convictions for statements, against as many people. We do not know the specific content of the statements that were the subject of these criminal prosecutions.
Four cases were dismissed in court as without merit following the partly decriminalization of Article 282 Part 1 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred). In addition, in four cases in which the charges included a combination of Part 1 of Article 282 with another article (for example Article 280 on calls to extremist activity), the charges under Article 282 Part 1 were dismissed and the verdicts were issued only on other charges.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated on January 22, with the addition of entries 4812 – 4828, including Anti-Caucasian video clips and leaflets from social media pages, and a book insulting Ossetians.
SOVA Center is aware that 10 individuals were fined under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offences for distribution of extremist materials. The publications forming the bases of the charges include more social media posts including video clips and pictures with calls to attack migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia; songs by Timur Mutsuraev, a bard of the Chechen armed resistance; and others. We know of another 7 individuals punished under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences for public display of symbols of banned organizations. Two were fined for swastika tattoos, while the rest were fined for the publication of Nazi symbols on social media.
Please note that our reporting on criminal and administrative cases does not include those cases which resulted in verdicts we view as obviously improper.
On January 19, in ten Russian cities, antifascists held actions in memory of the human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova, who were killed by neo-Nazis in central Moscow on that day in 2009.
In Moscow, according the observers from SOVA Center, the action drew approximately 350-400 people, slightly less than in past years. On the eve of the day, ultra-right wing Internet users published a call to “comrades” to march on the actions and “take interviews” with participants; others expressed outrage that LGBT people participated in the actions every year. However, we are not aware of any attacks.
Four people were detained by the police on their way to the action. The first was Igor Yasin, an LGBT rights activists and the co-chair of the Journalists and Media Workers Union, who unfolded a pride flag; the other three were participants who stood up for him.