Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in February 2021

Настоящий материал (информация) произведен и (или) распространен иностранным агентом РОО Центр «Сова» либо касается деятельности иностранного агента РОО Центр «Сова».

According to our data for the month of February 2021, three people were targeted in xenophobically-motivated physical attacks. Two of them, migrant workers, were beaten with bats on the Moscow Metro. Meanwhile, a group of Azeris beat a Dagestani, forcing him to apologize on camera for siding with Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In February, members of a women's “chain of solidarity,” in which activists in Moscow and St. Petersburg lined up on February 14 in support of Yulia Navalnaya and female political prisoners, faced threats and insults from the Men's State. On the eve of the action, Vladislav Pozdnyakov and other Men's State supporters published personal data of the participants, as well as participants of the SocFem Alternative, and called for them to come to Old Arbat in Central Moscow. The artist Daria Serenko received about six hundred such messages. Telegram channels published her address and photographs of her relatives' house. In the end, no Male State supporters showed up to the Arbat.

However, members of the Guard of Zakhar Prilepin came to the action, harassing participants with provocative questions. They additionally tried to "communicate" with the flashlights protest participants that night.

Public nationalist actions also appeared to be primarily connected with opposition activity this month. On February 2, after delivery of the verdict against Alexei Navalny, several groups of nationalists gathered for an action in Central Moscow. One participant, aligned with the Association of National Resistance (ANS) was detained and sent to the special detention center at Sakharovo. And on February 27, also in Moscow, several supporters of the Nationalists' Movement showed up at the memorial for Boris Nemtsov on Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, the site of his murder, adjacent to the Kremlin.

We are not aware of any February convictions (*) on the basis of hate crimes.

However, during this month, some 11 individuals were convicted for offenses related to xenophobic statements. The most notable of them is reserve colonel Mikhail Shendakov, a repeat participant in the so-called Russian March. On February 2, the Krasnogorsky City Court of the Moscow Region convicted Shendakov under Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred) and Part 2 of Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls for extremist on the Internet), giving him a him a suspended sentence of two and a half years. The charge followed a livestream event entitled Surkov Promised War to Donbas, in which Shendakov called for violence against law enforcement agencies across the country, and voiced support for the shooter who opened fire near the FSB headquarters in December 2019. Shendakov was already twice punished under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to hatred).

Another six individuals were convicted under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activities) over social media comments and audio clips featuring calls for xenophobic violence. In Udmurtia, a resident of Izhevsk got a suspended sentence of two years cumulatively under Part 2 of Article 280 of the Criminal Code, as well as Part 1 of Article 354.1 of the Criminal Code (rehabilitation of Nazism) following the publication on social media of certain "information, denying facts established at the Nuremburg trials”. Two individuals were convicted under Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (public justification of terrorism on the Internet) for comments justifying the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Since the beginning of 2021, no fewer than 20 rulings have been delivered, against as many people in 18 regions of Russia, on the basis of xenophobic statements.

The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated twice, on February 3 and 19, to account for new entries 5152-5154. The entries comprised books by the Saudi Salafist Al-Khakami, and a xenophobic video clip.

The Federal List of Extremist Organizations was also updated in February, with the addition of two new organizations. New entry 80 features the Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS), which was deemed extremist in a Krasnoyarsk Krai decision of July 28, 2020. KNS was formed in September 2014 by Vladimir Basmanov (Potkin) who previously left Russia; the Committee became one of the main contenders for the legacy of the "Russians" association after it was banned.

New entry 81 of the Federal List of Extremist Organizations is occupied by the association White Hooligans Capital (WHC), aka White Hardcor Cats, aka Siberian Front, which was deemed extremist in a ruling of the Barnaul Central Regional Court on September 16, 2020. The group was organized by Evgeny (Ratibor) Dergilev in 2015. The group was made up of 25-30 hockey fans that organized sport training sessions and brawls with other groups of fans, and attacked anti-fascists. Law enforcement confiscated weapons from some members. Members of the Siberian Front hold radical right-wing positions; earlier, some had faced administrative and criminal sanctions, including in connection with 2018 attacks on an Egyptians and, separately, on anti-fascists.

No fewer than eight individuals were sanctioned under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to hatred), which corresponds with the previous Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code. All were fined for the publication of xenophobic comments and video clips on social media (mostly VK but also TikTok).

At a minimum, another nine individuals were fined in February under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (manufacture and distribution of banned materials) for re-posts on social media and in a WhatsApp group.

Eight individuals were sanctioned under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). All of them were inmates in prison colonies, who demonstrated their own swastika tattoos.


(*) Our data on criminal and administrative cases do not take into account the court decisions that we consider to be clearly improper.