Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in October 2020
The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for October 2020.
This month, two individuals, in Astrakhan and Yekaterinburg, were targeted in ideologically motivated attacks. Since the beginning of the year, according to our data, no fewer than 31 individuals in Russia have been subjected to ideologically motivated violence, with one of them being killed, while an additional five people received serious death threats.
We are not aware of any instances of ideologically motivated vandalism in October 2020. This year to date, we have recorded 20 instances of ideologically motivated vandalism across 15 regions of the country.
A memorial service was held for the well-known neo-Nazi Maxim “Tesak” (“Hatchet”) Martsinkevich, leader of the ultra-right Restrukt movement, on October 3 at Moscow's Kuntsevo Cemetery. Reportedly, between one and four thousand attendees were present at the ceremony. Prominent nationalists in attendance included ex-colonel Vladimir Kvachkov; ex-NKD (National Conservative Movement) leader Mikhail Ochkin; Ivan Mironov, a lawyer; Evgeny Dolganov (of the Russian Banner (Russky Styag) group); Elena Rokhlina; Georgy Borovikov (of Right Russia); Vladimir Istrakhov; Egor Prosvirnin (formerly of Sputnik and Pogrom). Supporters of various nationalist groups were in attendance, including those of the Nationalists Movement, the Narodovlastie ("nation-power") movement, the Institute of National Politics and the Right Bloc (Third Alternative). Attendees brought with them photographs, flowers, wreaths featuring Third Reich symbols, and candles. Mourning ribbons featured inscriptions such as "O Russian hero, your ideas, labor and suffering will not be in vain," "To be a warrior is to live forever," "To Maxim Matsinkevich from the DAU Project" and others.
As security guards searched attendees upon arrival, a pile of knives and cans accumulated at the entrance. A few attendees threw the fascist salute; in the background, the song "As in War" by the group Agata Kristi played. Despite the organizers’ warnings of provocations by law enforcement, the funeral proceeded without incident.
The death of Artyom "Kostyl" (“Crutch”) Kostylev, a comrade of Tesak who had appeared in various episodic scenes of the Format-18 Studio, cause a variety of conspiracy theories to spread in ultra-right circles. Kostylev was found hanged on October 23, 2020 in a forest near the Moscow Region city of Krasnogorsk.
In connection with the deaths of Martsinkevich and Kostylev, their "associates" took to social media to call for "vengeance" upon "those who kill Russian nationalists." Such calls were also made on October 25 at the Kuntsevо Cemetery, where ultra-right activists gathered for traditional remembrance on the fortieth day after Tesak’s death. Fortunately, this action also proceeded without incident.
Meanwhile in Arkhangelsk, supporters of Tesak carried out an "anti-pedophile" raid in his honor. Participants using the name of a teenage boy online lured an adult man to meet intimately. At the "date," they arrived in a group with a video camera, interrogated him and forced him to drink urine.
In Yekaterinburg, Halloween caused indignation among nationalists. Activists from the Ural Right-Conservative Movement conducted an October 31 picket "for the protection of traditional Russian values" near a local bar, where a costume party was underway. One participant held a sign reading "Russians Have no Halloween," while others attempted to obstruct partygoers from entering the bar.
We are not aware of any court rulings in the month of October 2020 (*) that considered the hate motive in connection with charges for violent crimes. So far this year, in total SOVA Center has recorded three such rulings, which convicted as many individuals in cases of racist violence.
We have recorded one ruling on the basis of ideologically motivated vandalism, which was handed down in Volgograd in connection with antisemitic scrawlings on a monument in honor of heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad. This is the sole such ruling to date this year.
With respect to xenophobic statements, no fewer than nine convictions were delivered against as many individuals, in nine regions of Russia. Six individuals were charged under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity) for the social-media publication of materials featuring calls to attack Central Asian migrants, Jews and members of other ethnic groups. One individual was charged under Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to ethnic hatred following administrative sanction for a similar act within the span of one year) for antisemitic posts on social media; in 2019 and 2020 already the same individual was sanctioned under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to hatred). The other two individuals were charged under Part 2 of Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (public justification of terrorism): both on the basis of comments apologetic to the explosion near the Arkhangelsk FSB headquarters in fall of 2018.
This year to date, we have recorded no fewer than 77 rulings that issued sanctions on the basis of racist and other unconstitutional speech, in which 83 individuals in 39 regions of the country were penalized.
We additionally are aware of one conviction under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the actions of an extremist organization) and Part 1.1 of the same article (recruitment into the ranks of an extremist organization), where the defendant was already incarcerated at a prison colony in Adyghe; he was convicted of recruiting others into the Ukrainian neo-Nazi group Right Sector, which is banned in the Russian Federation. To date this year we know of seven rulings convicting 23 individuals for the leadership of or participation in extremist associations and organizations.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times, on October 8, 19 and 30, to account for new entries 5106–5119. They include: a children's book about Islam; books by Sunni theologians; anti-Christian video clips; nationalist collages; antisemitic poetry and xenophobic songs by groups that are popular among Russian nationalists; anti-government songs by the group Electric Partisans, written by well-known St. Petersburg rock musician Vadim Kurylev (formerly of DDT); and the book Nature's Eternal Religion by the Ukrainian-American white supremacist Ben Klassen, founder of the Church of the Creator.
The Federal List of Extremist Organizations was also updated in October to account for new item 78, which lists not an organization, but an entire subculture – "Criminal Prisoners' Unity" (AUE) – which was deemed extremist by the Supreme Court on August 17, 2020. We consider the ruling to be improper.
We know of seven people who were fined in October for sharing social media content including photographs, poems, songs and audio and video clips included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials; the fines came under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (production and dissemination of banned materials).
No fewer than 10 people where sanctioned this month under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public display of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). Seven of these posted photos and video clips featuring Nazi and ISIS symbols to social media. One individual, incarcerated in a prison colony in Lipetsk, showed his own Nazi-themed tattoos to other inmates. Another caught the attention of law enforcement in a restaurant by way of a hoodie featuring a kolovrat (often referred to as the "Slavic swastika") with the slogan "We are Russians, God is With Us" and the word "Rusich" (a name for citizens of medieval Rus).
Further, no fewer than three people were sanctioned under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to ethnic hatred), which corresponds to Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code, over the social-media posting of calls for xenophobic violence and the deportation from Russia of natives of the Caucasus.
Our data, especially regarding the Code of Administrative Offenses, are significantly incomplete. However, according to data published in October 2020 on the website of the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on the activities of Russian courts and the state of convictions in the first half of 2020, 132 people were convicted under articles sanctioning public statements (articles 282, 280, 280.1, 205.2, 354.1 and Parts 1 and 2 of Article 148 of the Criminal Code); 78 people, for creating extremist or terrorist communities and continuing the activities of organizations that were banned as extremist or terrorist (articles 282.1, 282.2, 205.2 and 205.5). 347 people were punished under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses for incitement to ethnic hatred; under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses sanctions were imposed 1052 times on the basis of demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations; under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses sanctions were imposed 856 times in the first half of 2020.
(*)Data regarding criminal and administrative cases are reported without accounting for rulings that we consider patently improper