Nationalism and Xenophobia in November 2019
In November 2019, no fewer than three people suffered as a result of racist and neo-Nazi attacks in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad and Sverdlovsk regions. Since the beginning of the year, six people have been killed, and 35 injured, as a result of racist violence in 17 regions of Russia.
SOVA Center is also aware of the arson of an Orthodox chapel in Tatarstan this month. In 2019 as a whole so far, we have recorded no fewer than 19 acts of ideologically motivated vandalism in 16 regions of the country.
The so-called “Russian March” has in recent years become the primary public draw for nationalists during the fall season. This year, in Moscow on November 4 (the Day of National Unity in Russia), nationalists conducted a few different events.
One event in Lyublino, which was organized by the Association of National Resistance (ANS) and the “Nation and Freedom” Committee (KNS), drew a record-low number of participants, with 120 individuals showing up. They included representatives of the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers (SPH), as well as the recently-formed “We Are Moscow Youth”. Ten individuals were detained at the rally, including SPH member Dmitry Antonov, because of symbols displayed on his clothing.
Another march, from the Oktyabrskoe Pole Metro station, was organized by the Permanent Council of the National-Patriotic Forces of Russia (NDS NPSR). This march, according to information gathered by SOVA Center observers, drew more than 800 people – more than two and half times as many attendees than in 2018. Representatives of groups from a wide spectrum ranging from Stalinists to Orthodox monarchists attended.
For the first time in many years, the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) did not hold a rally at an open space, instead conducting a “Ceremonial Meeting-Rally” at the elite Palace of the Unions in the Tverskoy District of Central Moscow. The meeting traditionally included music and dance, and the participation of party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
“Russian Marches” were held additionally in one form or another in 10 cities (as compared to 9 cities in 2018) across the country; in no case did any such rally gather more than 40 people outside Moscow.
Russian nationalists held a few other events throughout November as well. The National-Conservative Movement (NKD) led by Valentina Bobrova and Mikhail Ochkin was especially active. On November 6, members of the NKD attempted to disrupt the premiere of the play Norma, based on the novel of the same name by Vladimir Sorokin, at the Palace on the Yauza. NKD members began shouting from the audience at the end of the first act, and at intermission, called police to report that the play was “corrupting” those in attendance.
On November 21, at the Volosov ravine at Kolomenskoe Park, NKD members observed a holiday in reverence of the Archangel Michael, as well as the anniversary of the group’s founding. During the nighttime event, in which one person was masked, NKD members burned torches and group symbols, as well as portraits of “the most famous sodomites, Russophobes and blasphemers,” including Oksana Pushkina, a Russian legislator who co-authored a draft law on domestic violence; the satirical writer Vladimir Sorokin; theater director Konstantin Bogomolov; socialite Ksenia Sobchak; Moscow human rights ombudsman Tatiana Potyaeva (billed as “lobbyist of the sodomites”) and director Alexei Uchitel (who directed the notorious film Matilda).
On November 15, supporters of the “Third Alternative” party (also known as Right Bloc) laid flowers at the memorial at the Butovo Firing Range in memory of victims of the Bolsheviks’ repressions. Nine people participated in the event. Earlier there had been announcements about a large anti-communist rally on the day, but organizers failed to get it approved.
Among the month’s other nationalist events, we find it worth mentioning a November 23 picket “against ethnic crime” organized in Novosibirsk by the local chapter of the National-Democratic Party. The source of the picket was the purported beating of a local schoolboy by “children of immigrants.” The picket drew seven people, who held signs reading “Introducing a visa regime – blocking the way for killers!”
In Yekaterinburg, a local conservative Orthodox Christian movement (“Conservative Yekaterinburg”) has been actively developing recently. The group has been collaborating with the Double-Headed Eagle Society of Konstantin Malofeev (and possibly financed by it). In addition to participating in the “Russian March” on November 4, Conservative Yekaterinburg held an action entitled “#My name is” on November 24. The protest drew attention to streets named after famous communists, and demanded they be renamed. Those named primarily included Jewish communists.
We are aware of only one court decision related to xenophobic violence in November 2019. In Omsk, two locals were convicted for two attacks – one on a passerby of “non-Slavic appearance” and another on a person suspected of being under the influence of narcotics. In all, since the beginning of the year, we are aware of no fewer than seven convictions for violent crimes, which considered hate as a motive, against 18 individuals in seven regions of the country.
This month, xenophobic statements were the basis of five convictions of 6 people, in five regions of Russia. Four convictions were made under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity); the statement that was the source of the charge is unknown to us in all four of the cases. The one other conviction was under Articles 280 and 205.2 of the Criminal Code (the latter being public calls to terrorist activity) and was on the basis of video clips making the call to jihad.
In 2019 so far, racist and other unconstitutional statements have formed the bases of no fewer than 89 convictions, against 94 individuals in 48 regions of the country.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice this month, on November 18 and 26. The updates were made to account for new entries 4985-4999. The new materials include: video clips calling for a race war, including a stream featuring Russian Army reserve colonel and “Russian March” participant Mikhail Shendakov; video clips featuring comic songs about Jews and state elites; materials from the journal Vakyt! Ural in the Bashkir language; several video clips in the Chechen language; and poetry and prose of Kamal (Anton) Yevstratov, a history student at Voronezh State University who is the creator of the website “Voronezh is Islamic Territory.”
Also this month, the Federal List of Extremist Organizations was amended to include entry 74, the interregional public association Union of Slavic Forces of Rus (which in Russian reads CCCP, in reference to the official name of the Soviet Union), which was declared extremist in a July 11, 2019 decision by the Republic of Komi Supreme Court.
No fewer than nine people were sanctioned under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement of national hatred), which corresponds to the former Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code. Eight of these individuals were fined for social media posts featuring various xenophobic materials, including those insulting Jews, as well as people from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Additionally, the Tyumen blogger Alexei Kungurov was jailed for 15 days in response to a post perceived as insulting to ethnic Russians.
According to our data, no fewer than 11 people were fined this month under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (manufacture and distribution of banned materials); all cases related to social-media posts of content listed in the Federal List of Extremist Materials. The content in question this month included songs by Timur Mutsaraev, a bard associated with the Chechen resistance; a video clip entitled “Shamil Basaev: The Truth about Beslan;” a video clip featuring a recording of a speech by Stalinist Yury Mukhin entitled “Longing for Stalin, Part 1;” and songs by the groups Huk Sprava, Psyche, Clockwork Times and the “Ensemble of Christ the Savior and the Mother of Earth Cheese” (which is satirical).
Additionally, seven individuals were fined in November 2019 under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations); one of the individuals was fined twice. Five were fined for social media posts featuring swastikas or other runes associated with the Third Reich. The others were fined for offline actions: a Tatarstan resident spray-painted a swastika on the lid of his apartment building’s garbage chute. Meanwhile the banner-bearer Dmitry Antonov, already mentioned above, attended a “Russian March” in a uniform featuring the Death’s Head (Totenkopf) insignia used by the SS. Lastly, a prisoner in a Pskov region labor colony was fined in relation to his swastika tattoos.
Our data are reported without accounting for court decisions which we consider to be arbitrary. Unfortunately, the data collected, especially with respect to violations under the Code of Administrative Offenses, are incomplete.