Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in August 2021

The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for August 2021.

According to data collected and reviewed by SOVA Center, during August 2021, six people fell victim to ideologically motivated violence, in Moscow and the Primorsky Krai. One person received a serious death threat.

 We became aware of some of these attacks by way of video links sent directly to SOVA Center's public email address and signed with acronym M.K.U. These videos depicted no fewer than five separate violent attacks on migrants and homeless individuals, as well as an act of arson. Five individual victims can be seen in the video, two of whom may have been killed. However, no information was provided as to when or where these attacks took place.

Since the beginning of 2021, by our count, no fewer than 48 individuals have been targeted in acts of ideologically motivated violence, with two of those having been killed. We have also recorded five serious death threats so far this year.

August 2021 saw the activation of Vladislav Pozdnyakov's Male State group; now it occupied itself with harassment of chain restaurants. On August 26, Male State representatives threatened to co-founder of the sushi delivery company Yobi-Doyobi over an advertisement featuring a photograph of a person of color. Male State similarly began a harassment campaign against the Tanuki restaurant chain. Meanwhile on August 29, the owner of reported an online attack.

Conservative Russia also provided discriminatory content this August, publishing a video clip calling on viewers to cancel taxi orders if the driver has a non-Russian name. They similarly encouraged viewers not to buy groceries from or use other services provided by immigrants.

The ultra-right on-street activity was low in August. We can note only one set of actions, which were largely symbolic, coinciding with the anniversary of the Tambov Rebellion, on August 19. These took place in Moscow, Orenburg, St. Petersburg, Engels (in the Saratov Region) and in Tambov.

We are not aware of any convictions (*) on the basis of violent crimes this month. However, we would note an ongoing criminal investigation connected with several murder cases from the early 2000s. The case relates to the brutal killing of two individuals, as depicted in a video clip posted to the Internet during summer 2007. On August 24, 2021, the Main Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee indicted Sergey ("Malyuta") Korotkykh, a former officer of the "Azov" Battalion, a neo-Nazi unit of the National Guard of Ukraine, under paragraphs “a”, “h” and “l” of Part 2 of Article 105 of the Criminal Code (murder motivated by national hatred committed by an organized group) in connection with the case. The court issued an arrest warrant in absentia, as Korotkykh is in Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the year, Russian courts have issued rulings against 23 individuals on the basis of ideologically motivated violent crimes, as well as two rulings against 6 individuals on charges of ideologically motivated vandalism.

This month, Russian courts issued criminal sanctions against no fewer than 18 individuals on the basis of public statements, all of which were made on social media. Nine of these people were charged under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity) for calls to attack non-white people, Ukrainians, people from the Caucasus and Central Asia, "non-Slavs" generally and Muslims, as well as calls to "commit crimes against children." Three individuals were charged under Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred) over the publication of xenophobic comments; each of them had earlier been subjected to administrative sanction under the analogous section of the Code of Administrative Offenses, that being Article 20.3.1. One individual was convicted under both articles 280 and 282 of the Criminal Code for calls to attack non-Slavs. Meanwhile three individuals were sanctioned under Article 205. 2 of the Criminal Code (public justification of terrorism) over statements of approval of the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. One person was convicted under a combination of articles 280 and 205.2 of the Criminal Code, but we are not aware of the basis of the charge. In another case, we are not sure of the specific charge, but it was issued in relation to a call by the defendant to use violence to "cleanse" the Earth of non-Slavic people.

Since the beginning of the year, no fewer than 110 rulings have been issued on the basis of xenophobic statements, in which 112 people were convicted.

The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated once, on August 17, to account for new entries 5188-5193. The new additions include: a song glorifying the "white race"; a song of by the old National-Bolshevik group Gallows with the characteristic title "Kill!"; a song by the antifa group Brigadier featuring a call to arms against "killers in uniform"; a text praising Mikhail Zhlobitsky, who set off an explosion in the building of the Arkhangelsk FSB in 2018; a misanthropic song beginning with a confession of hatred towards LGBT people, progressing to hatred of priests, and concluding with a message that the author hates all people.

Three organizations were added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations this August. They are: the Anti-Corruption Foundation of Alexei Navalny, the Foundation for the Protection of Citizens' Rights, and the Navalny Headquarters, all of which were deemed extremist on June 9, 2021 by the Moscow City Court.

No fewer than 18 people were sanctioned under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to hatred) corresponding to the contents of Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code, over their publication on social media (primarily VKontakte) and in Telegram chats (in one case) of xenophobic insults directed at Jews and people from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Fourteen of these individuals were fined 10,000 rubles (at the time of publication, approximately USD$135), two were given community service, one was jailed for five days, and one received a warning.

At least six people were fined under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (manufacture and dissemination of banned materials) for the social media publication of materials included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials.

Another seven people were fined under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). Four of these were prison inmates who demonstrated their own tattoos featuring Nazi symbols, while the others posted such symbols to social media.


(*) Data about criminal and administrative proceedings are reported without reference to rulings that we consider to be patently improper.