Nationalism and Xenophobia in January 2020
In January2020, at least three people became victims of neo-Nazi attacks in St. Petersburg. We are also aware of one instance of desecration of a religious building – a chapel in the town of Sarov of the Nizhny Novgorod region was sprayed with graffiti.
The nationalists’ January public activity was diverse, but their actions were few in number.
Several of the nationalist associations attempted to promote incidents of “inter-ethnic” violence. The Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS) has published a compilation of mass fights involving people of different nationalities since the beginning of 2020, referring to them as “anti-Russian crimes.” In St. Petersburg, Dina Garina and the National Democratic Party (NDP) attempted to spin the murder of a 32-year-old fan of the Zenit football club near the Kontakt bar in a brawl with a “gang of multi-nationals.” The ROD human rights center, led by Natalia Kholmogorova, and “The Sevastopol Alternative” (a local movement founded by one of the NDP leaders Vsevolod Radchenko) continue to monitor the conflict that occurred on the night of February 15-16, 2019 in the Benefis bar in Sevastopol, when local resident Oleg Makoveychuk died in a brawl with Dagestanis.
The National-Conservative Movement (NKD) has joined the campaign against “rusophobe” Gasan Guseinov. On January 11, members of the NKD staged a demarche at the lecture by Guseinov and writer Dmitry Bykov at the Pryamaya Rech lecture hall, stressing particularly the “non-Russian nature” of both speakers.
The news regarding the upcoming change to the Constitution has produced great agitation amongst the nationalists. Below is an overview of the key events.
On January 25, representatives of the Opposition Organizing Committee, which includes supporters of the Left Front, Party of Action, the Other Russia party, the Novorossiya movement, the Russian Carriers Association, and the Russian All-People’s Union (ROS), held a rally in Moscow’s Staraya Square demanding a referendum on amendments to the Constitution. The rally was not agreed by the authorities, but still about 100 people attended.
On January 23 in Moscow, NDP and the Russian Democrats movement held a round table “Constitutional Reform: the Russian View.” The participants of the round table included President of the National Strategy Institute Mikhail Remizov, the leader of NDP Konstantin Krylov, co-chairman of the Russian Democrats movement Sergey Grigorov, political scientist Oleg Nemensky, the CZAR.TV project leader Egor Prosvirnin, ktitor of Dmitry Pozharsky University Mikhail Povalyaev, coordinator of “The Sevastopol Alternative” Vsevolod Radchenko, chief editor of the Questions of Nationalism magazine Nadezhda Shalimova, lawyer Matvey Tszen, and politician Roman Yuneman, among others. Alexander Khramov led the round table discussion.
On January 24, the Pravaya Rossiya (“Right Russia”) coalition (bringing together groups Zov Naroda (“The Call of the People”), the Organizing Committee for the Removal of Lenin’s Body from the Mausoleum, the Russian Liberation Front (RFO) Pamyat and others held a conference with the aim of developing a common position on the reform.
On January 30, the Third Alternative (the Right Bloc), led by Vladimir Burmistrov, held a series of one-man pickets demanding a referendum on amendments to the Constitution.
It is also worth noting that KNS began to conduct propaganda raids “against the сollapse of healthcare,” posting leaflets around Moscow calling on medical workers to join the “Doctors’ Alliance.”
In January 2020, we are aware of one guilty verdict for ideologically motivated violence: in St. Petersburg, four ultra-right individuals were found guilty for attacking a man they had mistaken for an anti-fascist.
Two guilty sentences were handed down for xenophobic statements in January to two individuals in Omsk and Gryaztsov (the Vologda region). One of them was convicted under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity) for publishing xenophobic comments with calls to attack “members of certain ethnic groups” on VKontakte social network. The other was convicted under Articles 280 and 205.2 of the Criminal Code (public calls to terrorist activity) for publishing in a social network his “approval of mass murder while discussing the terrorist act in New Zealand in March 2019”and calls for “overthrowing by use of weapons the current Russian government, indicating the officials to be assassinated.” In both cases, we had no access to the statements therefore we could not assess the appropriateness of the sentences.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated only once, on January 16, with entry 5005 –video by blogger Vadim Kharchenko from Krasnodar titled “Cossacks are Enemies of Russia”, in which the author strongly condemned the Cossacks for their participation in the dispersal of the rally “He Is Not Our King,” organized by Alexei Navalny, made negative statements about their moral character, and called for “cutting their heads off.”
No fewer than three individuals were charged under Article 20.3.1 of the Administrative Code (incitement to national hatred), corresponding to Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code. All of them were fined for posting on social networks xenophobic statements targeting members of certain unidentified ethnic groups.
At least eight were fined under Article 20.29 of the Administrative Code (production and distribution of banned materials). This refers to the reposts on social networks of the songs popular among the ultra-right and the book by Vladimir Istarkhov “The Strike of the Russian Gods.” We also have information about four individuals punished under Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code (propaganda and public display of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). All the four of them were fined for publishing images with Nazi symbols on VKontakte.
Our data are reported without regard to court decisions which we consider to be patently improper.
On January 19, the annual all-Russia memorial rally for lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, shot dead by neo-Nazis in 2009, was held in eight Russian cities. According to the observations by SOVA Center, about 1,000 people participated in the Moscow rally, which is significantly higher than the previous year’s figure. The latter is due to the call by the municipal deputy Yulia Galyamina to all who oppose the reform of the Russian Constitution to join the march. According to OVD-info, nine people were detained at the rally, including five minors. Konstantin Fokin, who was holding a poster with a slogan “Putin, leave!”, was detained before the march began for sitting on the pavement and refusing to get up. Eight people were detained on Gogolevsky Boulevard, some of them carrying posters against the persecution of LGBT activists.
Several ultra-right groups also showed up at the rally. According to the organizers, at least six of them were detained by the police early at the beginning of the march; two members of the ANS walked along with the participants and chanted slogans in support of the defendants in the neo-Nazi Black Bloc case; the representatives of the NKD recorded the march participants on camera, commenting on the slogans chanted during the march and expressing resentment at the symbols (crossed out “Imperial flag” and a rainbow flag). Among the march participants there were representatives of the pro-Kremlin National Liberation Movement (NOD) in garrison caps and camouflage uniforms, singing patriotic songs and chanting pro-Putin slogans. Fortunately, there were no clashes at the rally.