Nationalism and Xenophobia in June 2019
SOVA Center is aware of only one person injured in a hate-motivated attack in the month of June 2019, in the Primorsky Krai. Since the beginning of the year, no fewer than three people have been killed, and no fewer than 17 injured, as a result of nationalist or other ideologically motivated violence, in addition to two people who received serious threats to their lives on such bases. These attacks and threats have been recorded in 12 regions of Russia so far this year.
The most notable event under this rubric for the month of June was an anti-Roma action in the village of Chemodanovka in the Penza region on June 13, which turned into a massive row in which one person was killed. The following day, residents of the village assembled to block a federal highway in the region, demanding expulsion of local Roma, who they asserted were the source of the conflict. On June 15, a major fire erupted at a Roma home in the neighboring village of Lopatki. On June 17, it was reported that local authorities had forcibly removed all local Roma, though a spokesperson of the regional governor refuted the claim. In any case, Roma have virtually disappeared from both villages.
On June 14, at a meeting with the villagers, Penza Governor Ivan Belozertsev had accused Western countries of financing provocateurs to spread false information on social media in respect of the situation.
The events in Chemodanovka did in fact spark loud responses on social media: local users discussed a “war” against the Roma and spread fake news that local Roma had planned a revenge action on the village for July 1. Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media regulator, ordered social networks to remove information regarding the situation that had been deemed unreliable by the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Threats against Roma spread not only in relation to the events in Chemodanovka. Social media pages of one Cossack group, as well as those of some ultra-right activists, began posting photos and personal information, including residential address, of a certain Roma individual and called for Cossacks to “correct him in full.”
Further sources of outrage among Russian ultra-right radicals were the deaths of special forces soldier Nikita Belyankin in a brawl with Armenian nationals in the Moscow region on June 2, as well as of the martial artist Sergei Chuev in a row with Tajik nationals in the Butovo district of Moscow on June 7.
A substantial portion of the comments made in social media groups set up in memory of the two consisted of open, aggressive racism (for example, “You all get the knives and come out on Friday to cut … them all at random; all these bastards are the same”).
On June 4, pickets were set up outside the Armenian Embassy in Moscow and the General Consulate in St. Petersburg, with participants demanding Armenia hand over to Russia Belyankin’s alleged killer. The Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS) actively spread news about the killing of Chuev and called for joining a “popular assembly” that they held in Butovo on June 16; still hardly anybody showed up at the meeting. It also released an anti-migrant video clip and a series of photographs of athletes “killed by ethno-criminals.” Meanwhile, far-right activists in Novosibirsk held a protest “Against Ethno-Crime” and in favor of the institution of a visa regime for entry into Russia by nationals of Central Asian countries. The latter was organized by the local chapter of the National-Democratic Party.
Aside from their own events in June, radical ultra-right activists participated in other general protest actions organized by others. These include the June 23 action against police arbitrariness on Sakharov Prospect in Moscow, which had been sanctioned by the city government and was organized by the Libertarian Party and the Russian Union of Journalists. SOVA Center observers counted roughly 20 individuals from various Russian nationalist organizations present at the Sakharov Prospect action.
On June 18, in St. Petersburg, leftist organizations held a meeting in protest of the planned construction of a landfill in the Arkhangelsk region, in which about 15 activists from ultra-right associations participated.
We are aware of seven instances of ideologically motivated vandalism of cemeteries, monuments and religious buildings in June 2019. Since the beginning of the year, we have recorded 13 instances of ideologically motivated vandalism.
In June, SOVA Center recorded only one conviction for a violent crime deemed by the court to be hate-motivated. In Kazan, on June 14, members of an ultra-right group were convicted for a series of xenophobic attacks, including the murder of a student from Chad in June 2017, which had become a well-known case in Russia. Since the beginning of the year, Russian courts have issued six such rulings against 10 individuals.
Three individuals were convicted in June for the creation of an extremist association (Article 282.1 of the Criminal Code) in Khabarovsk and Kazan. For 2019 as a whole, we are aware of six convictions treating either the creation of or participation in extremist associations in four regions of the country.
Xenophobic statements led to seven rulings against nine individuals, in seven regions of Russia in June 2019. Eight of these individuals were convicted on the basis of Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity); we are not aware of the charges, and so are unable to comment on whether they were levied properly. The ninth of the convicted was charged under Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (justification of terrorism) with calls to armed jihad.
This year has seen no fewer than 55 convictions, against 60 individuals in 31 regions of the country, on the basis of racist and other unconstitutional statements.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated on June 6, 18 and 27, to allow for the additions of entries 4887-4920. This month’s new entries include: xenophobic video clips and textual materials calling for attacks on Jews, Central Asians and natives of the Caucasus; contemporary Russian nationalist books; a reader on the history of German National Socialism and videos calling for armed jihad.
According to our information, no fewer than 10 individuals were fined under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (the propaganda and public display of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). The great majority of these were in relation to sharing materials with Nazi symbols, except for two which related to the online display of symbols of the banned Ukrainian organizations Right Sector and Svoboda. One person, already serving a sentence in a penal colony, was fined for a swastika tattoo.
Additionally, 17 individuals were fined under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (manufacture and distribution of banned materials). Some of the fines were on the basis of online sharing of songs popular among ultra-right activists. However, in seven cases we are not aware of what concretely was shared.
No fewer than 10 individuals were fined under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement of national hatred) similar to Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code, which is applied in case of a single offense within a year. Social media users were punished for the posting and sharing of statements that included calls to attack Central Asians, natives of the Caucasus and generally “non-Slavic” people. One person was punished in June on the basis of a homophobic text.
Our information in respect of criminal and administrative cases is reported without reference to rulings we view to be patently improper. Unfortunately, our information especially regarding administrative cases is incomplete.