Nationalism and Xenophobia in August 2019
The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for August 2019.
This month, SOVA Center is aware that seven individuals were injured in hate-motivated attacks in Moscow and the Rostov Region. Since the beginning of the year, five people have been killed and 26 injured in incidents of racist violence, while two more received credible death threats. These incidents were recorded in 14 regions of Russia.
Ultra-right-wing threats once again became topical in August as the names of so-called “traitors,” those being right-wing activists who turned state’s witnesses, were published on social media.
Two pro-Kremlin organizations, the National-Liberation Movement (NOD) and the South East Radical Block (SERB), were also active in August. On August 28, the two organizations, along with activists representing the National-Conservative Movement, spoiled a presentation of a documentary film about LGBT people in Russia. On August 21, SERB activists spoiled an event dedicated to human rights issues.
We are aware of two instances of ideologically motivated desecration of monuments this month. Since the beginning of the year, we have recorded 15 cases of ideologically motivated vandalism.
A few nationalist associations participated in opposition protests following the barring of independent candidates from municipal elections. At an August 10 protest sanctioned by the City of Moscow on Sakharov Prospect, SOVA Center observed representatives of the Right Bloc, the National Resistance Association (ANS), the Russian United National Alliance (RONA) and others. SOVA Center also observed RONA representatives at an analogous opposition protest on August 31. Nationalist participation in these protests, on the whole, was not notable.
On August 25 in Moscow, the Permanent Council of National-Patriotic Forces of Russia (PDS NPSR) led a protest action on the same theme, “For Changing to System of Power,” which drew no more than 30 people, three of whom were detained.
Among the more traditional nationalist actions, we note “Heroes’ Day,” an event commemorating the 99th anniversary of the Tambov Rebellion, a peasant revolt that took place towards the end of the Russian Civil War. On August 16, about a dozen activists from the ANS and the Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS) gathered at the Donskoye Cemetery. On August 21, ANS activists traveled to the Tambov Region, where they also participated in memorial events.
SOVA Center is not aware of any August court rulings dealing with racist violence that considered a hate motive. Since the beginning of the year, however, we have recorded six such decisions, convicting 10 individuals.
Four members of the ultra-right-wing group PNZS (referred to officially as the Perm Nazi Squad) were sentenced under Criminal Code Article 282.1 (creation of an extremist association); the group had been previously convicted of the arson of a building housing a public reception office of the United Russia party, as well as on vandalism charges. Since the beginning of 2019, we are aware of seven convictions of 12 individuals for the creation of extremist associations, delivered in six regions of the country.
August 2019 saw xenophobic statements as the basis of no fewer than seven guilty verdicts against the same number of individuals, in as many regions of the country. Three defendants were charged under Criminal Code Article 280 (public calls to extremist activity), while the others were charged under Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (justification of terrorism) in connection with radical Islamist publications. Unfortunately, we have not had the chance to review the underlying materials in any of the cases, so are unable to comment on whether the charges were proper. Racist and other unconstitutional statements have led to no fewer than 75 convictions, of 83 people in 43 regions of Russia, so far in the year 2019.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times, on August 1, 9 and 28 to include entries 4925-4999. The List now includes: variously radical xenophobic audio and video clips; songs by Gangs of Moscow (a band popular with Russian nationalists); the Third Reich leaders’ propaganda speeches; a video clip by William Pierce, the founder of the National Alliance, an American ultra-right-wing organization; materials of the Union of Slavic Forces of Rus (SSSR, in Russian CCCP), which is designated as an extremist group in Russia; Islamist videos making calls to jihad; and the Muslim book Shura in Bashkortostan.
No fewer than three people were fined under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to national hatred), the provisions of which are analogous to those of Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code. Two were fined for publications on social media: the first for a religious photograph, and the second on the basis of anti-Roma comments on a website devoted to goings-on in the city of Penza (the comments were with regards to events in Chemodanovka, on which we have reported previously). One of the people fined turned out to be the owner of a bakery who had previously been known for posting a sign, which featured an unpublishable term, purporting to bar gay people from entering his business.
According to our data, no fewer than 10 people were sanctioned under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public display of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). Six of these were fined for various social media posts featuring Nazi and ISIS (banned in Russia as a terrorist organization) symbols. Three others (two of whom are serving time in prison colonies) were fined for the display of their own Nazi tattoos. One other was sentenced to ten days arrest for painting swastikas on houses.
Six individuals were fined under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (manufacture and distribution of banned materials); these charges were based on social media posts featuring items from the Federal List of Extremist Materials.
This data in respect of criminal and administrative cases does not account for rulings that, in the opinion of SOVA Center, are patently improper. Unfortunately, our data especially those related to cases under the Code of Administrative Offenses are incomplete.