Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in September 2020
This month, we are aware that five individuals in the cities of Omsk, Yekaterinburg and Zelenograd were targeted in ideologically motivated physical attacks. Since the beginning of the year 2020, by our data, no fewer than 28 individuals have suffered from such violence, with one individual dying as a result. Another five individuals have received serious death threats.
In September 2020 we are also aware of two incidences of ideologically motivated desecration of religious buildings and monuments, in Moscow and Kaluga. This year, in total, we have recorded 20 cases of ideologically motivated vandalism in 15 regions of Russia.
The major event in recent days in Russia's ultra-right-wing communities has been the death in police custody of Maxim "Tesak" Martsinkevich, the leader of the ultra-right movement Restrukt. On September 19 and 20 alone, demonstrations in his memory were held in no fewer than 32 Russian cities. Generally, these actions were limited to the lighting of candles in front of photos of Martsinkevich, graffiti and one-man pickets. In Moscow, in front of the deceased's apartment building, about 100 people gathered. Additionally, a few small actions were held near the Babushkinsky City Court, the headquarters of the Federal Penitentiary Service and the FSB, where four individuals were detained under suspicion of "involvement in extremist crimes"; they were all later released. One individual detained was written up for participating in an unsanctioned event (Article 20.2 Part 5 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). Meanwhile, activists from the Third Alternative (Right Bloc) gathered in front of the city prosecutor's office with posters and flowers.
A few nationalists tried to get onto the ballot in the regional elections held on September 13, 2020.
Right Bloc contributed 11 candidates to the municipal elections in the Moscow Region (five candidates in Podolsk, three in Balashikha, two in Lytkarino and one in Elektrostal). None was ultimately registered.
Meanwhile in Crimea, Vsevolod Radchenko (of Sevastopol Alternative and the National-Democratic Party (NDP)), Viktor Kiselev (coordinator of Sevastopol Initiative) and activist Artyom Andreev stood as candidates to the Council of Deputies of the Lenin Municipal District of Sevastopol, but all lost.
In Siberia, Andrei Afanasyev, head of the Novosibirsk NDP chapter, lost the election to the Council of Deputies of the workers' settlement of Krasnoobsk, in the Novosibirsk Region.
The only success among ultra-right candidates in the municipal elections was Rostislav Antonov, former head of the Novosibirsk chapter of NDP, and founder of the Civic Patrol movement. With support from Aleksei Navalny's Smart Vote initiative, he was elected to the Novosibirsk City Council for District N6.
In September 2020, we are not aware of any criminal convictions (*) that considered the hate motive. Since the beginning of 2020, however, SOVA Center has recorded three rulings, against six individuals on the basis of racist violence, which accounted for the hate motive. We have not recorded any rulings with respect to ideologically motivated vandalism that noted the hate motive this year.
No fewer than seven rulings were delivered in September on the basis of xenophobic statements. Seven individuals in three regions of the country were convicted. Four of them had been charged under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity) over the social media posts calling for attacks on natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as other, unnamed ethnic groups. One individual was charged under Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement of national hatred after administrative liability for a similar act within one year) over antisemitic posts on social media. He had been fined under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to hatred) in June 2019, but twice in the course of the following year, published antisemitic content and was likewise criminally charged in April and September of 2020. The defendant had refused to pay the fine in April, and in September was sentenced to two years in an open prison. Two other individuals were charged under Article 205.2 Part 2 of the Criminal Code (public justification of terrorism): one on the basis of radical Islamist propaganda, and the other for justifying the terrorist acts on mosques in New Zealand.
This year in total so far, racist and other unconstitutional statements have formed the basis of no fewer than 63 rulings of Russian courts, convicting 69 individuals in 37 regions of the country.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice, on September 2 and 21, to account for new entries 5093 – 5105. New entries include: an Ingush book accusing Ossetians of collaboration with Germany during World War II; the books by contemporary Russian nationalist ideologues Petr Khomyakov The NORNA Program and Konstantin Dushenov Orthodoxy or Death; various xenophobic video clips; and radical Islamist materials.
We are aware that five individuals were fined this month on the basis that they shared social media content featured on the Federal List of Extremist Materials. They were fined under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (manufacture and distribution of banned materials).
No fewer than 13 individuals were sanctioned under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses for posting or sharing video clips, texts and comments insulting to natives of Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as other people of "non-Slavic appearance."
According to our data, no fewer than three people were sanctioned under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public display of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). Two of them posted swastikas in one form or another to social media. The other – a prisoner in a colony in the Orlov Region – was fined on the basis that he displayed his own tattoo featuring Nazi symbols.
(*) Our data on criminal and administrative cases are reported without consideration of suits that we consider to be patently improper. Additionally, our data, especially concerning the Code of Administrative Offenses, are substantially incomplete.