Nationalism and Xenophobia in May 2019
SOVA Center is aware of one person who was killed, and one other who was injured, in hate-motivated attacks in May 2019. Since the beginning of the year, three people have been killed and no fewer than 13 have been assaulted in attacks motivated by national or ideological hatred in ten regions of Russia. Two additional individuals have received credible threats against their lives on these bases.
On May 16, activists from the nationalist Association of National Resistance (ANS) hung a banner reading “Apologize for Ekb” (Ekb means Yekaterinburg where protests against the construction of an Orthodox church in a city park took place in May) on the gates of the patriarchal residence in Chisty pereulok (Moscow city center), and showered the residence with smoke bombs. On May 9, in Sevastopol, unknown vandals smashed newly-laid memorial plates that had been supplemented with the names of Crimean Tatars who died in Russia’s Great Patriotic War. We are aware of at least six cases of ideologically motivated vandalism since the beginning of 2019.
The “Russian Mayday” of 2019 was a failure. Mayday marches of nationalist organizations and movements where practically nowhere to be found. In St. Petersburg, members of the Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS) and North-West Slavic Force (SS-SZ) participated in a general Mayday march on Nevsky Prospect. About 15 individuals from the Russian-Slavic Union and Rebirth (RUSOV) marched separately carrying a banner reading “For Slavic Socialism,” as well as Russian imperial flags and the symbols of the movement. In Crimea, in Simferopol, four supporters of RUSOV also participated in Mayday events. In Pskov, nationalists gathered a total 8 people to their Mayday march.
In Moscow, nationalists failed to get approval for, or to lead, a single notable action, though KNS and ANS held a conference on Mayday. A few supporters of RUSOV took pictures on Red Square and other places in Central Moscow with a banner reading “Our Sun will Rise!”
The more notable actions were on May 2 in memory of those killed in the Odessa Trade Unions House in 2014. The largest demonstration was a rally under the name “Remember Odessa” in Suvorov Square in Moscow. Before the rally, 8 people, including Konstantin Krylov, leader of the National-Democratic Party (NDP) laid flowers at the stele of Odessa near the Kremlin walls and at the Eternal Flame. Organizations participating in the rally itself included the Other Russia, the “Novorossiya” Fund of Igor Strelkov, the NDP, Party Action, the Left Front and RUSOV. Participants carried the flags of their organizations, as well as Russian imperial flags and banners with slogans like “Odessa is a Russian City.” According to mass media reports, the rally attracted 200 people.
In St. Petersburg, RUSOV members laid flowers and held a moment of silence in memory to those killed in Odessa. On the same day, the Other Russia ran an action in front of the Ukrainian Consulate in St. Petersburg, with about 20 participants, some of whom carried flags of “Novorossiya” and the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic.
In Yekaterinburg, no more than 20 people gathered, including people in Cossack fur hats and camouflage uniforms with chevrons with the symbols of the movement “Novorossiya.”
Of the other nationalist activities in May 2019, it is worth mentioning the one-man pickets “in support of political prisoners,” as well as in opposition to the Sovereign Internet Law held by the Right Bloc on May 11 in Astrakhan, Kostroma and Voskresensk.
On May 22, members of the KNS held pickets near the Moscow Cathedral Mosque with posters reading “We don’t need a Russia without Russians!” and “For a visa regime with South Caucasus countries, Central Asia and the Far East.”
SOVA Center is not aware of any convictions for violent crimes in which a court recognized the hate motive in May 2019. In this year, in total, there have been four such rulings against seven individuals in Russia.
Pyotr Miloserdov, a political consultant who had been promoted to Moscow City Duma deputy with the Communist Party, was convicted of creating an extremist community in May. The court sentenced him to 2.5 years in a penal colony. Miloserdov was convicted as part of the case against Alexander Belov, the former leader of the ultra-right-wing organizations “Movement against Illegal Immigration” (DPNI) and the “Russians”; the case concerned the creation of an extremist organization in Kazakhstan. In all, there have been four convictions this year in respect of the creation of extremist communities and participation in them.
There were six convictions of as many individuals in five regions of the country on the basis of xenophobic statements. Two of them were issued under Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (justification of terrorism), against supporters of ISIS. The other four were issued under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity). The details of the charges are unknown to us, though prosecutors provided some commentary on their websites in two of the cases.
Since the beginning of the year, for racist and other unconstitutional statements, there have been no fewer than 47 convictions against 52 people, in 29 regions of Russia.
May 2019 saw two instances of cases having been terminated due to a “lack of elements of a crime,” and another two convictions canceled, in light of the partial decriminalization of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred). We are also aware of several cases where sentences of those already serving time under several articles were shortened. For example, in the Saratov Region, a court took two months off of the sentence of Boris Stomakhin, the editor-in-chief of the Radical Politics newsletter and the author of the separatist website Kavkaz Center; he had been convicted in 2014 under Articles 280, 282 and 205.2.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated once, on May 8, with entry 4886, an anti-Semitic song deemed extremist by the Khabarovsk Central Court on February 28, 2019. The song had been already banned under a November 21, 2018 ruling in Perm, and included to the List as entry 4822.
According to our data, no fewer than 14 individuals were fined under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public demonstrations of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). Two individuals were fined on the basis of swastika tattoos (one of them a penal colony inmate), while the others were fined on the basis of posts on social media featuring various materials with Nazi symbols, and one featuring symbols of the al-Nusra Front, which is banned in Russia.
Additionally, 14 individuals were fined under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (the manufacture and dissemination of banned materials). The cases in question refer to the republication, on social media, of songs by the Chechen separatist bard Timur Mutsuraev, video clips by the neo-Nazi organization Format 18, and others, the majority of which we have not had the chance to review.
No fewer than four people were fined under the new Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to national hatred), which corresponds to partly decriminalized Article 282 Part 1 of the Criminal Code. They were fined for sharing various xenophobic materials, including those insulting non-Muslims and “residents of the Altai Republic.”
Our information in respect of criminal and administrative cases is provided without accounting for court decisions which we consider to be clearly arbitrary. Unfortunately, our statistics, especially in respect of administrative cases, is incomplete.