Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in October 2021
In October 2021, according to data analyzed by SOVA Center, one person (in Moscow) was targeted in an act of ideologically motivated violence. Since the beginning of the year, we are aware of such attacks on no fewer than 60 people, three of whom were killed, as well as six serious death threats.
This month, vandals went to work on two public monuments – one of Lenin (in Vladivostok), and one a memorial of tankmen in World War II (in the St. Petersburg region). This year so far, we have recorded 20 incidents of ideologically motivated vandalism.
On October 2, nationalists in a few cities across Russia held their traditional “day of memory of victims of ethnic crime.” Sparsely-attended rallies in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Blagoveshchensk, Vologda, Kurgan and Krasnodar featured installing portraits of those “killed by ethnic crime,” laying flowers and lighting candles.
We would also note actions “in memory of victims of political repression” held on October 17, that being the birthday of neo-Nazi Maxim “Adolf” Bazylev, in Astrakhan and Novosibirsk.
Additionally, on October 1 and 16, the Nationalists’ Movement conducted raids under the slogan “For a Russia without Putin and Replacement Migration” in St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Rostov-on-Don.
This month, five individuals were convicted for hate crimes (*), in St. Petersburg, Volgograd and Omsk. The most notable event among these was the ruling in the case of the murder of Timur Gavrilov, a 17-year-old medical student from Azerbaijan. Vitaly Vasiliev, 22 years old, was charged under item “l” of Part 2 of Article 105 of the Criminal Code (murder motivated by ethnic hatred), Part 1 of Article 223 of the Criminal Code (unlawful conversion of firearms), Part 2 of Article 222 of the Criminal Code (unlawful acquisition, storage, transportation of firearms committed by a group of persons by prior conspiracy) and Part 1 of Article 222.1 of the Criminal Code (unlawful acquisition, storage, transportation of explosives). He was sentenced to 19 years in a maximum security penal colony, as well as a year and a half of probation thereafter and a fine of 100,000 rubles (approximately $1,400 at the time of publication of this review).
Since the beginning of 2021, Russian courts have issued 10 convictions of 31 individuals on the basis of ideologically motivated violence, as well as three rulings against seven individuals on the basis of ideologically motivated vandalism.
Additionally, no fewer than 14 people were charged for public statements in October, with the majority of the statements in question being made on social media.
Four individuals were convicted under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity) over calls to “commit attacks on the basis of religion” and to “burn law enforcement officers.” Three individuals were convicted under Article 205.2 (public justification of terrorism) over their approvals of the actions of Mikhail Zhlobitsky, who detonated a suicide bomb in the Arkhangelsk FSB office, as well as approval of the attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Another four individuals were convicted under a combination of the two articles over calls to attack police officers. Meanwhile five individuals (three of them being inmates of penal colonies) were convicted under Article 354.1 of the Criminal Code (public denial and justification of crimes established at the Nuremberg Tribunal) for approving the destruction of representatives of various ethnic and social groups, “with the exception of Russians and Germans,” and harsh comments about Victory Day.
This year to date, according to data reviewed by SOVA Center, xenophobic statements and other calls to violence have formed the basis of no fewer than 141 convictions, of 144 people, in Russian courts.
For comparison, according to data published on the website of the Supreme Court for the first half of 2021, according to criminal statutes punishing all types of "extremist statements" (Articles 282, 280, 280.1, 205.2, 354.1 and parts 1 and 2 of Article 148), 212 people were convicted, if we count only under the main article of the charge.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times – on October 6, 15 and 28 – to account for new entries 5209–5216. The new additions include: xenophobic songs popular among neo-Nazis by the groups Seitar, Sibirsky Kulak (“Siberian Fist”), Dai Dorogu (“Give Way”) and Zapreschennye Skazki (“Forbidden Fairy Tales”); an SS pamphlet published in Nazi Germany in 1942; and anti-Semitic materials published by a community of "citizens of the USSR" who deny the collapse of the Soviet Union and insist on compliance with Soviet laws.
The Federal List of Extremist Organizations was not updated in October. Still, on October 18, 2021, the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court declared the Male State organization, created by Vladislav Pozdnyakov in 2016, to be an extremist organization. Male State promotes an ideology of national patriarchy, advocates for “racial purity,” and insists that women's behavior be dictated by ultra-conservative values. Supporters of Male State have repeatedly harassed people online, and threatened journalists and activists. In August and September 2021, Male State harassed chain restaurants over advertisements featuring non-Slavic young people.
A minimum of 11 individuals were fined this month under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (manufacture and distribution of banned materials) following social media publication of materials featured in the Federal List of Extremist Materials, including the song “Skinhead” by Korroziya Metalla and the song “Bald-head Muscovites” by the group Shmeli (“Bumble Bees”).
Under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations), 12 individuals faced fines. Three of them (two being inmates of penal colonies) demonstrated their own Nazi tattoos, while the others had posted Nazi symbols, or symbols of other banned organizations, to social media.
Another 16 individuals, at least, were fined under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to hatred), in accordance with the contents of Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code. Fifteen of them were sanctioned over online statements (made on social media): insults and calls to attack natives of Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as Tatars, Yakuts and other ethnic groups, as well as police and employees of Gazprom. One woman was fined over a loud xenophobic remarks made during an argument with neighbors.
Our data in respect of administrative sanctions are fragmentary at best. According the data provided by the Supreme Court, sanctions were issued under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses 1,704 times in the first half of 2021 (and of those, 1,698 were issued against individual people). Under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, the first half of 2021 data say sanctions issued 764 times.
Thus, we can say that prohibited symbols are the basis of sanctions more often than in last year, while prohibited materials are the basis less often. Application of Article 20.3.1 of the Administrative Code continues to expand, albeit at a slower pace than last year. In the first half of 2021, 461 people were punished (one of them being a political official) while for all of 2020, 757 people faced sanctions.
(*) Data about criminal and administrative proceedings are reported without reference to rulings that we consider to be patently improper.