Nationalism and Xenophobia in October 2019.
SOVA Center received information about two hate crime victims in October 2019. Five people were killed and at least 33 injured in 15 regions of the country since the beginning of the year as a result of violence motivated by ethnic or ideological hatred. Two people received credible death threats.
A notable event in October was the emergence of reports about videos of beatings and screenshots of threats against those who insult the Azerbaijani people. The videos and screenshots, which started to appear on social media and telegram channels, were posted on behalf of the ethno-nationalist organization VBON (Vo blago obschego naroda, For the Benefit of the Common People) known to promote traditional values and a healthy lifestyle. The VBON attacks and threats were motivated by hatred for “insulters” of Azerbaijanis as well as by hatred for the Armenians. The administrator of the VBON VKontakte group was detained in late October.
We recorded only one instance of ideologically motivated desecration of an object in October –graves of an Orthodox priest’s family were damaged in Irkutsk. Since the beginning of 2019, we have received reports of 18 cases of ideologically motivated vandalism in 15 regions of the country.
The SOVA Center has no information on any verdicts for racist violence issued in October, in which the hate motive was recognized by the court. Six such sentences against 10 people have been issued since the beginning of the year.
Two members of the banned ultra-right organization Misanthropic Division were convicted in October for participating in an extremist community. Since the beginning of the year, we have recorded eight sentences against 14 people imposed in seven regions of the country for creating and participating in extremist communities.
Eight sentences for xenophobic statements were issued against nine people in five regions of the country in October. Three such sentences were imposed under Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (justification of terrorism), all of them against ISIS supporters. The remaining verdicts were imposed under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls for extremist activities), and we do not know the specific content of the charges for any of these cases.
Since the beginning of the year, at least 81 guilty verdicts against 82 people in 47 regions of the country have been issued for racist and other anti-constitutional statements.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice in the course of the month - entries no. 4954 through 4984 were added on October 8 and 25. The list came to include videos of musical groups popular with the far right, including the songs of the Buchenwald Flava band; songs by Stalinist bard Alexander Kharchikov; Russia against Rus. Rus against Russia book by Neopagan Peter Khomyakov; yet another video by William Pierce, the founder of the American ultra-right organization National Alliance; a video with quotes from books by anti-Semite and Holocaust denier David Duke; a report by Konstantin Rodzaevsky, the leader of the All-Russian Fascist Party formed in Manchuria in the early 20th century; and Islamic videos featuring calls for armed jihad.
At least eight people were punished under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to ethnic hatred), which corresponds to Article 282 Part 1 of the Criminal Code. Seven people were fined for publishing various xenophobic materials on VKontakte, including insults against the Jews and the natives of the Caucasus. One person was sentenced to ten days of administrative arrest for verbal xenophobic insults.
According to our data, at least 10 people were fined under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (production and distribution of prohibited materials). Nine were penalized for publishing on the social networks materials featured on the Federal List of Extremist Materials, including xenophobic videos and songs that mock police officers. The owner of a store selling unspecified banned books was also fined in October.
In addition, six people were fined under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). Four of them were fined for publishing images of swastikas, runes associated with the Third Reich, and symbols of the prohibited Artpodgotovka movement on their VKontakte and Facebook pages. Two people were punished for their swastika tattoos. The first one, a penal colony inmate, demonstrated to other inmates his tattoo with the symbols of the SS troops; the second one ended up in a police precinct, where police officers noticed his swastika tattoo.
Our data excludes court decisions that we consider manifestly inappropriate. Unfortunately, our quantitative data, especially related to the Code of Administrative Offenses, is incomplete. According to statistics for the first half of the year, published in October 2019 on the website of the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation 115 individuals were convicted under various articles related to "extremist statements", and 85 were convicted for participating in extremist or terrorist communities and for continuing the activities of organizations banned as extremist or terrorist. The number of convicted offenders totaled 195, but this data does not allow for calculating the number of people convicted of hate-motivated violence and vandalism.