Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in July 2020
In July 2020, SOVA Center learned about only one hate-motivated attack which occurred in the Kursk region. According to our data, in total, since the beginning of 2020, fourteen people have faced ideologically motivated violence; one of the victims has died, and three have received death threats.
In July, 30 tombstones were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in Saint Petersburg. Since the beginning of the year, we are aware of 16 cases of ideologically motivated vandalism.
Public activity of the ultra-right organizations in July was low. It was reduced for the most part to the participation of several individuals in the rallies organized by others, such as the general opposition protest against the constitutional amendments in Pushkin square, the rallies in support of Khabarovsk ex-governor Furgal in Moscow and Perm, etc.
We are not aware of any sentences (*) for hate crimes in July. In total, SOVA Center has learnt about three convictions against six individuals issued for racist violence in 2020 that included a hate motive, and none for vandalism.
Three persons were convicted for “extremist statements” in three regions of the country. One person was fined under Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (justification of terrorism) for an approving comment on the news about the explosion in the reception area of the Arkhangelsk FSB office. Two persons were convicted under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls for extremist activity) for their posts on VKontakte. One has published calls for xenophobic violence, the other has posted texts and images showing features of “inciting hostility towards Orthodox Christians”.
Since the beginning of 2020, at least 39 sentences for xenophobic statements have been issued for 42 persons in 26 regions of the country.
In July we learned about one conviction under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code (involvement in the activities of an extremist organization). In Pyatigorsk, Alexander Atamanov was sentenced to five years in prison for involving three persons in the activities of Praviy Sektor (“Right Sector”) and distributing leaflets with the organization’s symbols. This sentence was imposed in conjunction with the article on drug possession.
Since the beginning of the year, we are aware of a total of four sentences against 12 persons for participating in extremist communities.
In July, the Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice, on July 14 and 16, with entries 5042-5047. These include xenophobic songs by the bands “P.S.7.62” and “FirstLine. Tambovskie Volki”, popular among the ultra-right, and the nationalist online magazine Zov Smerti (“Call of Death”) that incites to racist violence.
In July, no entries were added to the list of extremist organizations. One organization, however, was recognized as extremist: the Krasnoyarsk regional court banned the activity of the Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS) for “facts of mass distribution [by members of the organization] of extremist materials, incitement of hostility and hatred towards representatives of various social groups”.
No fewer than five persons were punished under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to hatred), which corresponds to Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code. Four persons were fined for posting videos, statements, and comments calling for attacks on Jews, Caucasian natives, non-Slavs in general, and homosexuals on VKontakte social network. The fifth person, the infamous former schema-hegumen Sergiy (Romanov), was fined 18,000 rubles for anti-Semitic statements in his April 25 sermon. Additionally, “calls for the eviction of an uncertain category of persons who call for compliance with self-isolation requirements in the conditions of the spread of coronavirus infection” were found in the sermon. We consider the designation of this group as a vulnerable social group in need of protection by means of anti-extremism legislation unfounded and unjustified. Earlier, in connection with the same sermon, he was fined “for fakes about coronavirus” under Part 9 of Article 13.15 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (dissemination of information of public character known to be unreliable under the guise of reliable reports).
In July, at least five persons were fined under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (production and dissemination of prohibited materials) for posting on social networks.
Seven persons were punished under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public display of Nazi symbols and symbols of prohibited organizations). Four of them have posted images with swastikas on VKontakte; one has hung a flag with Nazi symbols from the window; one prison inmate has displayed his own tattoo; and the other inmate has drawn a swastika on the wall of his own cell.
(*) Information about criminal and administrative cases are reported without accounting for the court decisions that we consider to be patently improper. Our data, especially with respect to the Code of Administrative Offenses, are substantially incomplete.