Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in August 2020
In August 2020, four people in St. Petersburg and Moscow became victims of ideologically motivated attacks. According to our data, since the beginning of the year, a total of 23 people have suffered from such violence; one of them died and four received death threats.
We do not have information about any cases of ideologically motivated vandalism in August; since the beginning of the year, 17 such cases have been recorded.
In August, some of the organizations tried to use the “Kongopoga method” to wind up the conflict in the village of Kochubeyevskoye in Stavropol Krai, where on August 13, a 16-year-old driver of Roma nationality had hit a 15-year-old girl. After that, local residents came together for a gathering and demanded that the Roma community be evicted. The man responsible for the traffic accident was arrested. The Governor of Stavropol Krai Vladimir Vladimirov spoke to the gathering as they chanted “Evict”. Ultra-right Internet resources published this news under the headline “I hate Gypsies”.
In August, some of the nationalists joined in the protests at the Belarusian Embassy. On August 14, SOVA Center observers saw a representative of the Pravy Bloc (“Right Bloc”) movement at the Belarusian Embassy holding up a sign saying, “The blood of Belarusians is dripping from your mustache.” At the same time, the pro-Kremlin nationalist organizations NOD (National Liberation Movement), whose members sang Soviet patriotic songs, and SERB, which engaged in petty hooliganism and provocations, were also active at the Belarusian Embassy.
We are not aware of any sentences(*) for hate crimes in August. One verdict worth mentioning was given to Artyom Vlasov; he received one year suspended sentence under Part 2 Article 213 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism committed by a group) for participating in the attack on an anti-fascist concert at the Tsokol club on September 2, 2018. Two people received suspended sentences under the same article of the Criminal Code on August 7 for an attack on Nigerian citizens on a subway. Regrettably, it is not clear from the reports whether hate motive was established in the sentences.
In 2020, SOVA Center is aware of a total of three sentences against six people for racist violence, in which hate motive was established.
In August, 15 people in 11 regions were convicted for statements. The vast majority of them were found guilty under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public appeals to extremist activity) for publishing images and texts on social networks and in a book (in one case) that called for violence against Jews, natives of the Caucasus, employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service, and people with coronavirus, preached ideas of Satanism, and campaigned for the burning of churches and the Bible. One person was convicted under Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (justification of terrorism) for radical Islamist propaganda.
Since the beginning of 2020, at least 55 sentences have been handed down for xenophobic statements, in which 61 persons have been convicted in 33 regions of the country.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated on August 4, 10, 20, and 28 with four new entries 5048–5092: National-Socialist magazine “Clockwork”, a number of anti-Semitic brochures, xenophobic videos, songs calling for Jihad, one of the volumes of the book “The Light of the Holy Quran”, a book by Vakhit Imamov on the national liberation struggle of Tatars in the 16th-18th centuries, writings by American Pentecostal minister William Branham. Some of these texts are, in our opinion, prohibited.
At least four persons were fined and one was given community service under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (inciting hatred) for publishing xenophobic materials aimed at natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia, Jews, Muslims, etc. on VKontakte.
At least nine persons were fined in August under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (production and distribution of extremist materials) for publishing materials from the Federal List of Extremist Materials on VKontakte.
Three persons were punished under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public display of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). One displayed his swastika tattoo for passers-by to see, and the other two posted images with symbols of Nazi Germany on VKontakte.
(*) Information on criminal and administrative cases is 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.