Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in May 2020
SOVA Center is not aware of any hate-motivated attacks in Russia during the month of May 2020. Since the beginning of the year, however, according to our data, no fewer than 12 individuals have suffered as a result of ideologically motivated violence, while an additional three have received death threats.
In terms of ideologically motivated vandalism, May 2020 saw the desecration of a Muslim cemetery in Surgut. In this year so far, we are aware of 12 such instances of vandalism. Additionally this month, nationalists continued the online distribution of anti-immigrant materials, featuring lurid claims of robberies and murders, and "gangs of guest workers" operating various parts of Moscow, as well as "pregnant Tajiks" spreading disease through maternity hospitals. We have also observed an increase petitions on ultra-right-wing online resources demanding that the government ramp up immigration restrictions. For example, the National-Democratic Party (NDP) published a petition entitled Let Us Protect the Labor Market and the Security of Russian Citizens! The petition featured calls to deport migrant workers who have been laid off, and implement a visa regime with the formerly Soviet Central Asian states. Well-known Russian Orthodox nationalist Konstantin Malofeev also came out publicly in favor of the immediate deportation of all unemployed immigrants. Meanwhile in Volgograd the Russian Corps organization promised, "in the case of a worsening situation with the number of migrant attacks" on residents, to "put our squad on the streets of our glorious city."
The traditional "Russian Mayday" was called off this year. On May 1, the Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS) conducted an online conference – which lasted 5.5 hours. It was reported that roughly 80 individuals participated, hailing from 19 regions of Russia as well as from Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Germany. Nearly all of the presentations were dedicated to criticisms of the government and its response to the pandemic. The conference's resolution included the following points: the resignation of Vladimir Putin, and calls for nationalists to organize with one another instead of cooperating with liberals due to their failure to cover ultra-right-wing actions and to let nationalists "onto the stage."
Nationalists held a few actions in memory of those killed in the Union House of Odessa on May 2, 2014. In Moscow, unknown assailants dumped multiple buckets of red paint on the Ukrainian Embassy. A certain Odessa organization fighting for independence from Kiev claimed responsibility for the attack dedicated to the anniversary of the Odessa Trade Unions House fire on May 2, 2014. The Identitarians of Russia wrote about the event on their website. And, probably relatedly, eight activists from the Third Alternative (Right Bloc) laid flowers on the day at the Butovo Firing Range (a site used by Stalin's secret police for mass executions, which is now owned by the Russian Orthodox Church).
We are not aware of any May hate crime convictions
Нам неизвестны приговоры (*). This year so far, SOVA Center has recorded one guilty verdict related to racist violence, which considered the hate motive, in St. Petersburg. There have not been any on the basis of vandalism.
Xenophobic statements were the basis of convictions of at least eight individuals, in eight regions of Russia, in May. Four of these individuals were charged under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity) for the social-media posting of images and texts containing calls for violence against natives of the Caucasus and other, unnamed, ethnic groups. One individual was fined under Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (justification of terrorism) because of a re-posted social media publication calling for the overthrow of the current Russian government and the elimination of Vladimir Putin. Another individual was charged jointly under Articles 205.2 and 280 of the Criminal Code on the basis of unnamed posts. Further, one individual was fined under Part 1 of Article 354.1 of the Criminal Code (rehabilitation of Nazism) for a social-media commentary that featured "approval of the actions of the fascist German troops and praise for their conduct in comparison with that of the Soviet people and leadership by Soviet society in the period of the Second World War."
Additionally, a resident of Saratov was convicted under the fairly rarely used (as of late) Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to national hatred) on the basis of publication of xenophobic commentary in a group on the Russian platform VKontakte less than a year after, in January 2019, he had been sanctioned for a similar violation of Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses. (These two articles now work together in this fashion since the beginning of 2019, that is, following the partial decriminalization of the conduct treated by Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code). Since the beginning of 2020 as a while, we have recorded no fewer than 25 court rulings treating xenophobic statements, under which 28 individuals in 20 regions of Russia were convicted.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice this month, on May 6 and 19, to account for new entries 5026–5029. These include a song by the group Yarovit "Get Up Off Your Knees," which features a call to "shed blood" for the freedom of the "Russian people;" a xenophobic image from the book Simferopol – No Matter What, the Truth is Needed!; and two books: Questions to the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga and the Hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church published by a group of Stalinist neo pagans and stated to be authored by the "The USSR Internal Predictor," and Overcoming Christianity by Vladimir Avdeev.
The Federal List of Extremist Organizations was updated on May 19, to account for the addition of item 76, the charity boarding house Ak Umut (Bright Hope), which had been designated as extremist by the Kirov District Court of Kazan on September 25, 2014 due to the presence of certain Islamic texts included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials in its library and classes.
No fewer than eight people were fined under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to hatred) over the sharing on VKontakte of xenophobic video clips, statements and commentary directed against natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia, Roma people, and others.
At least ten people were fined in May under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (manufacture and distribution of banned materials) for posting on the social networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki.
Another eight individuals were sanctioned under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). Three demonstrated their own tattoos (two on the street and to their acquaintances, and one in a prison colony). Another one was arrested for hanging a swastika flag on the façade of his home on May 9 (Victory Day). The others were fined for publications of swastikas and other Third Reich symbols on social media.
Our data in respect of criminal and administrative processes are reported without accounting for cases that we consider to be patently improper. Our data, especially with respect to the Code of Administrative Offenses, are substantially incomplete.