Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in December 2020. Preliminary Results of the Year
The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for December 2020, as well as a preliminary review of our findings for the year 2020 as a whole.
In December 2020, according to our data, four people were targeted in xenophobic attacks in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In total in 2020, according to our data as of the end of December, 41 persons suffered from this type of violence in 10 regions of the country; one of them died, and five received death threats. We would like to remind the readers that these and other data for the year 2020 are only preliminary and it would be premature to compare them with previous years’ data.
In December, we are aware of three cases of desecration of monuments in Kazan and the Ryazan region. In total, in 2020, we recorded 28 cases of ideologically motivated vandalism in 21 regions of the country. In December, we have information on three desecrations of monuments in Kazan and the Ryazan oblast. In total in 2020, we recorded 28 cases of ideologically motivated vandalism in 21 regions of the country.
The public activity of the nationalists in December was practically nonexistent. Even the 10th anniversary of the events on Manezhnaya Square in Moscow was held online: commemorative speeches were streamed online, and the memorial of the killed FC Spartak fan Yegor Sviridov was held in the VKontakte social network. However, on the eve of the anniversary, that is, on December 6, a video of an attack on Dagestan natives by a "group of Russian nationalists" spread on the far-right websites. According to the comments to the video, the attack was made “in Yegor’s memory."
Representatives of the Permanent Council of the National-Patriotic Forces of Russia (PDS NPSR) held several impromptu rallies during the court hearings in the case of reserve colonel Mikhail Shendakov, who is accused of posting a video which incited to hatred against "law enforcement officers, namely the FSB." PDS NPSR also organized pickets at the court building where hearings were held in the case of Yuri Ekishev, accused of participating in an organization banned as terrorist.
Some nationalists from the Right Russia party tried, unsuccessfully, to promote the news about the rape of a 43-year-old woman by an Asian taxi driver in St. Petersburg and urged the public not to use Yandex Taxi, where the criminal had worked as a driver. However, their appeal went almost unnoticed.
In December, a guilty verdict was handed down in Novosibirsk for an attack, accompanied by xenophobic insults, on a native of Buryatia in May 2020. This is the only guilty verdict for xenophobic violence in December that we are aware of.
However, new group trials are coming. A high-profile media event was the arrest in late December in Moscow, Sochi, and Tyumen of Semen Tokmakov (aka Bus), one of the most notorious leaders of the Moscow skinheads of the late 90's, then the leader of the skinhead group Russian Goal (Russkaya Tsel’) who later headed the youth movement within the People’s National Party (NNP) and Andrei Kayl, Bus’ successor in the latter post, as well as a member of the NNP Alexander Lysenkov, Maxim Khotulev, Pavel Khrulyov (Myshkin), and Alexei Gudilin. All of them were charged with involvement in a series of “particularly grave crimes, including murders of immigrants from the Central Asia,” committed in the early 2000s. The investigation committee reports that the crimes were detected in an investigation into the brutal double murder of Shamil Udamanov, a Dagestan native, and a native of Central Asia; a video their murder appeared on the Internet in the summer of 2007. The investigators believe that the former leader of Format18 and Restrukt groups Maxim Martsinkevich, who was found dead in a pre-trial detention center in September 2020, had also participated in that murder. Earlier, in October 2020, it was reported that the first suspects in the double murder case were the far-right activist Sergei Marshakov, who is serving a sentence for shooting at FSB officers, and a former member of Format18 Maxim Aristarkhov, also currently in prison. Martsinkevich testified that he had committed, together with other members of nationalist organizations, other murders of people of “non-Slavic appearance” between 2002 and 2006.
In total, since the beginning of the year, we know at least four sentences (*) for hate-motivated violence which were handed down to seven persons in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the Novosibirsk region.
In December 2020, seven sentences were handed down for xenophobic statements to eight persons in six regions of the country. Two of the defendants – Oleg Platonov, a writer well-known in the ultra-right circles and the author of the banned books The Mystery of the Zion Protocols and The Zion Protocols in World Politics and many other similar works, and Valery Yerchak, also an author of several anti-Semitic texts and Co-Chair of the Union of the Russian People (SRN) and the Belarusian branch of the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods (SPB) – were convicted under Part 2 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred) for publishing of the anti-Semitic book by Yerchak titled Word and Deed of Ivan the Terrible (entry #1381 of the Federal List of Extremist Materials). On December 23, 2020, the Presnensky District Court of Moscow gave Platonov and Yerchak suspended sentences of four and three years of imprisonment respectively. This is the only sentence where we know the details of the charges for incitement to hatred.
Two more people were convicted under Article 282 of the Criminal Code for unspecified xenophobic comments in North Ossetia and Ingushetia. One person received a suspended prison sentence under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls for extremism) for a comment calling for racist violence in Bryansk. One person was convicted in Voronezh under Article 205.2 (public justification of terrorism) for a comment about Mikhail Zhlobitsky, who carried out a suicide bomb attack at the FSB office in Arkhangelsk. Two people were found guilty under Articles 280 and 205.2 of the Criminal Code for radical Islam propaganda.
In total, since the beginning of 2020, according to our data, at least 102 sentences have been handed down for racist and other unconstitutional statements to 112 persons in 47 regions of the country. p>
In December 2020, a 62-year-old supporter of the banned Union of Slavic Forces of Russia (SSSR) from Ulyanovsk was convicted of participating in the activities of an extremist organization under Article 282.2 Part 2 of the Criminal Code. We remind our readers that the ideology of the SSSR movement is based on anti-Semitism and the belief that the Soviet Union never broke up, and therefore, the current Russian government is to be considered as illegitimate. In total, we are aware of 12 sentences handed down for leadership and participation in extremist organizations and associations to 31 persons in 12 regions in 2020.
In December 2020, the Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice (on December 16 and 28) with entries 5131–5143. The following were added: another book by the cult hero of Nazi skinheads Nikolai Korolev, who is serving life sentence; new issues of the nationalist newspaper Vladimirskaya Rus; the website of the Russian Republic of Rus [Russkaya Respublika Rus’], an organization which emerged in 2003 and gained notoriety in June 2004 after it published a "death sentence" to Nikolai Girenko, an expert on hate-motivated crimes killed by neo-Nazis; a book about the relations between the Adyghe and Karachays; videos by Orthodox fundamentalists targeting Jews and Moscow Patriarchate; songs by the bard of the armed Chechen resistance Timur Mutsurayev. In total in 2020, the list was updated 26 times and grew from 5005 to 5143 entries, that is, 139 new entries were added, which is slightly lower than the 193 entries added in the previous year.
In December, the Bashkir public organization Bashkort was added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations as entry #79; it was recognized as extremist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Bashkortostan on May 22, 2020. In total, five organizations were added to the list in 2020, and as of December 30, 2020, the list includes 79 organizations (not including 395 local organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, banned together with its Administrative Center and listed as one entry) whose activities are prohibited by court and their continuation is punishable by Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organization of activities of an extremist organization).
We have information about 11 people who were fined in December under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (production and distribution of banned materials) for sharing via social media of photos, poems, songs, and audio and video clips that are on the Federal List of Extremist Materials.
At least 14 people were punished under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public display of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). Two inmates of penal colonies in the Vladimir and Tver regions displayed their tattoos with Nazi symbols to other inmates, and another one showed his tattoo in the courtroom, where he was testifying as a witness. The remaining 11 posted images of runes, swastikas, photos of Hitler and other symbols of the Third Reich, and symbols of the banned A.U.E criminal subculture in social networks.
At least 11 people were punished under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to hatred), corresponding to Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code, for posting videos, images, texts, and comments in social networks with insults and, in some cases, calls for attacks on natives of Central Asia and the Caucasus, Jews, "non-whites," clergy, and police officers.
(*) Our data on criminal and administrative cases do not take into account the court decisions that we consider to be clearly improper.