Racism and Xenophobia in February 2019
No fewer than 4 people, all in Moscow, fell victim to nationalist or other ideologically motivated physical attacks in February 2019. Since the beginning of this year, according to our data so far, such violence has killed 1 person and injured 6 more in three regions of the country.
Activists from the pro-Kremlin group SERB were quite active this month. On February 20, about 20 SERB members disrupted at a public screening of the Aleksei Krasovsky film Holiday, as it was being shown at the Moscow offices of Memorial. On February 10, SERB activists showed up and provoked participants in the opposition “March of Maternal Rage.”
Meanwhile Kremlin-opposed nationalists took part in the annual march in memory of Boris Nemtsov on February 24 in Moscow.
The Movement of National-Democratic Power of Russia (NPSR) held a series of actions on February 23 in opposition to the theoretical return of the disputed Kuril Islands to Japan; these were held in Moscow, Belgorod, Kaliningrad, Kostroma, Rostov-on-Don, Kansk (in the Krasnoyarsk Krai) and in the Stavropol Krai.
In February, as in January, we are not aware of any hate crimes, though we are aware of 5 convictions, of as many people, on the basis of declarations, handed down in 4 regions of Russia. We have not had the opportunity to review the content of any of the declarations that cause the criminal prosecutions. All of them were reviewed under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls for extremist activity). In all, since the beginning of 2019, no fewer than 17 people have been convicted for xenophobic declarations in 14 regions of the country.
An additional 7 cases were dismissed by the court “dueto the lack of elements of a crime” in light of the decriminalization of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred). By the same token, in cases where a defendant was charged under Article 282 in combination with another law, the Article 282 charge was dismissed and the case proceeded only on the basis of the other charge. We are aware of two such cases.
In further connection with the decriminalization of Article 282, several individuals convicted under the law were released early from prison. The most notable among those freed in February was the ex-leader of the banned organization “Russians” and the “Slavic Union” (SS, formerly “Slavic Power, also SS), Dmitry Demushkin. The ex-leader of the banned “People’s Minin and Pozharsky Militia” (NOMP), former colonel of the Primary Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Vladimir Kachkov was also released.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times, on February 7, 15 and 21, with the addition of entries 4829–4852. The List now includes a parody song by a group calling itself the band “Ensemble of Christ the Savior and the Cruder Mother Earth,” Islamist audio- and video-recordings inciting holy war, anti-Semitic and ultra-right-wing social media posts, an anti-Semitic book by Anglo-German founding father of racism Houston Stewart Chamberlain, and chauvinistic materials published by the “Partisan’s Truth” movement of Aleksei Menyailov.
The Federal List of Extremist Organizations was also updated in February with the addition of entry 72, that being the “Karakol Initiative Group” (a name used to officially register followers of the “Ak Tyan” movement), which was deemed extremist by the Ongudai District Court of the Altay Republic on December 11, 2018. According the prosecutor’s office, the goal of followers of this movement is “conversion of all Altay people to their faith, the liquidation of Buddhist organizations, a reduction in the number of Orthodox churches, chapels and worship crosses, and ideally a complete cleansing of them from the Altay Republic.”
Sova Center is aware that 16 individuals were fined this month under Article 20.29 of the Administrative Code (production and distribution of banned materials). The sources were the republication, via social media, of ultra-right-wing songs by the group Argentina, various ultra-right-wing videos depicting acts of violence carried out on migrant workers, and video clips depicting calls to join ISIS. However, we do not know what the majority of those fined actually published.
Also, no fewer than 16 people were sanctioned under Article 20.23 of the Administrative Code (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). Five of these individuals were fined on the basis of swastika tattoos, while the rest were fined on the basis of social media posts containing Nazi symbols or the symbols of banned organizations.
The leading source of fines under this article is the thrash metal group Korrozia Metalla [Metal Corrosion – Transl.], led by Sergei “Spider” Troitsky. The Izmailovsky District Court in Moscow fined the musician for performing in a Wehrmacht uniform in Moscow towards the end of 2018.
We are aware of 7 judgments on the new Article 20.3.1 of the Administrative Code (incitement of national hatred), which was formed from piece of Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code and appeared in connection with the decriminalization of the latter. Seven individuals in multiple regions of Russia were punished for the social media publication of various xenophobic video clips and other materials, including text, inciting religious hatred – including slogans calling for violence against members of the clergy.
Our reporting on these criminal and administrative cases excludes those decisions that we have concluded to be clearly improper. It must be noted, all the same, that our data, especially in respect of sanctions under the Administrative Code, are substantially incomplete.