Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in July 2021
The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for July 2021.
This month, according to data collected and analyzed by Sova Center, seven individuals were targeted in ideologically motivated acts of violence, in St. Petersburg, the Krasnoyarsk Krai and the Nizhny Novgorod Region.
Three reporters from the television station TV Rain (Dozhd), Anna Mongait, Maria Borzunova and Anna Fimina received threats and insults from members of Male State, the patriarchal nationalist organization. The threats followed the publication of an interview with a same-sex couple that had been photographed for the cover of Elle Magazine, and of a series of stories on family relations in the Caucasus.
Since the beginning of this year, we are aware of 41 ideologically motivated physical attacks, and four similarly motivated death threats.
Ultra-right activity was low during July.
In the beginning of the month, 10 individuals from the Youth Association of Russian Justice (MARS), including the organization's leader Dmitry Moralikov, staged a march down a St. Petersburg street, shouting "Russians, forward!"
Overnight on July 16-17 in Yekaterinburg, as part of the traditional procession from the Church on the Blood to Ganina Yama in memory of the execution of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, Conservative Russia gathered an "imperial column." According to photographs from the event, only 17 people carried imperial flags, despite the fact that comrades-in-arms from Tyumen had come to support.
Nationalists could not resist participating in the recent discussion about an advertisement by the grocery store VkusVille that depicted a lesbian couple and their family. In particular, on July 4 in St. Petersburg, the Identarists of Russia hung leaflets on stores in town, calling for a boycott of the chain over its support of "the degeneration of our nation."
We are aware of only one July 2021 ruling with respect to hate-motivated violence (*). In Ryazan, a court sentenced a 29-year-old local man to three and a half years, conditionally, under item "a" of Part 2 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to national hatred and animosity), with a suspended sentence of three years, for an August 2018 attack on an antifascist.
July 2021 saw another two convictions, against five individuals in Volgograd and the Tula Region, for participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Each person convicted is a supporter of the Union of Slavic Forces of Rus (USSR), which was deemed extremist on July 15, 2019. Since the beginning of the year (without accounting for decisions we view as patently improper), Russian courts have convicted 13 individuals, in seven rulings, for participation in the activities of extremist societies and organizations.
No fewer than 13 individuals faced criminal liability for public statements in July, and another was committed, all on the basis of posts to social media. Seven of these were convicted under Art. 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity) for online incitement to attacks on natives of the Caucasus, Central Asia, non-Slavic people generally and representatives of the state, as well as "execution of crimes motivated by religious hatred." Three individuals were convicted under Art. 205.2 of the Criminal Code (public justification of terrorism) for the approval of the arson at the Arkhangelsk FSB headquarters in 2018 (the individual sent to compulsory treatment was similarly charged), the shooting at the FSB headquarters in Moscow in 2019, the explosion at the port of Beirut in August 2020, "as a result of which the Armenian Consulate in Lebanon suffered." One individual was convicted under a combination of both articles over the publication of files and commentary calling for attacks on state employees. Two individuals were convicted under Part 1 of Art. 354.1 of the Criminal Code (approval or denial of crimes established by the Nuremburg Tribunal): in these cases, a Voronezh resident was publishing materials featuring a "positive assessment of the actions of Nazi criminals," while a Khabarovsk Region resident was sanctioned for publishing his own photograph "with a red armband, which was the leading symbol of National Socialism," as well as comments "containing the denials of the Holocaust and the responsibility of A. Hitler and the National Socialist Workers' Party of Germany for the genocide of the Jewish people."
So far this year, xenophobic statements have been the bases for no fewer than 84 rulings, in which 86 individuals were convicted – as well as two cases where people were committed for involuntary treatment.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was not updated in July.
However, the Federal List of Extremist Organizations was updated twice. On July 2, the Russian Patriotic Club-Novokuznetsk/RPK was added to the list; it had been deemed extremist by decision of the Central City Court of Novokuznetsk, in the Kemerovo Region on December 7, 2020. RPK was formed in 2012, and consisted of a few dozen people who circulated anti-migrant materials, picketed outside mosques, opposed construction of a synagogue, migrant assistance centers and Pride vents in Novokuznetsk. They also organized athletic events and supported incarcerated neo-Nazis. The leader and members of the organization were charged multiple times under criminal and administrative law, including under the anti-extremism articles.
Meanwhile on July 14, the Siberian Sovereign Union, an organization of pagan Rodnovers, was included in the list (also titled the Cathedral of Russia of the Glorious Clans, the Slavic Military Brotherhood, the Siberian-Ukrainian Movement, and the Liberation Spiritual-Political Movement) after having been deemed extremist by decision of the Supreme Court of the Altai Republic on March 19, 2021. The Slavic Military Brotherhood (SVB) was created by former policeman Alexandr Budnikov ("Svyatozar") in 2006, and was part of the spiritual and political community Rodoslavnaya Rus. The organization advocated the separation of Siberia from the Russian Federation and the formation of a separate state – "the Siberian Republic" - and for the creation of the spiritual and cultural center "AzGrad" in Altai. Branches with membership exceeding 20 people existed in the Novosibirsk Region and other Siberian regions. Budnikov had previously been convicted of distributing antisemitic and extremist publications. In the Novosibirsk Region, eight residents who were part of the Slavic Military Brotherhood were accused of participating in an extremist organization. Budnikov was also charged under Part 1 of Art. 282 of the Criminal Code for the posting a Slavic Military Brotherhood advertisement in a newspaper, as well as for publishing articles "calling for the implementation of mass riots, hooliganism and acts of vandalism motivated by religious hatred and enmity."
No fewer than seven individuals were sanctioned under Art. 20.3.1 of the Administrative Code (incitement to hatred), in accordance with the contents of Part 1 of Art. 282 of the Criminal Code, over social media publications featuring xenophobic insults directed at Azeris, Kazakhs, Jews and Ukrainians. Five of these were fined 10,000 rubles each (approximately US$135 at the time of publication of this summary), while one was sentenced to compulsory labor, and another to two nights in jail.
Similarly, no fewer than seven individuals were fined under Art. 20.29 of the Administrative Code (manufacture and distribution of banned materials) for publication of materials listed in the Federal List of Extremist Materials on social media and in WhatsApp.
Twelve individuals were fined under Art. 20.3 of the Administrative Code (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). As usual, three of these were individuals demonstrating their own tattoos of Nazi symbols. The others published Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations including the Northern Brotherhood, and ISIS, on social media.
(*) Data about criminal and administrative proceedings are reported without reference to rulings that we consider to be patently improper.