Russian Nationalism and Xenophobia in August 2022
The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for August 2022.
We are aware of only one person having suffered in a xenophobically-motivated attack this month: a black person was assaulted in St. Petersburg. Since the beginning of the year, we have recorded incidents in which a total of 17 individuals were attacked, and an additional case of a credible death threat.
This month we also recorded two acts of vandalism: an unidentified assailant broke windows and vandalized a wall of the Moscow Choral Synagogue, while in the Perm Krai, neo-Nazis painted a swastika on a statue of Lenin. Since the beginning of the year, we have recorded 18 such acts of xenophobically-motivated vandalism.
Public nationalist activity was low this month.
The Call of the People movement sent appeals to various official bodies. More specifically, members of the movement demanded verification of statements made by ex-mayor of Yekaterinburg Yevgeny Roizman that “promoted LGBT,” as well as the British Embassy, for "funding LGBT people," following an August 10 report by Anna Vavilova on the Tsargrad TV channel entitled "NATO mines in the center of Russia." Additionally, the "Call of the People," together with the Cossacks, protested against the participation of the singer Manizha in the Cossack festival Alexander's Fortress. These appeals asserted that the performer opposes the "special operation" to protect the Donbass and "actively promotes LGBT propaganda, which is alien and destructive to Russian culture and traditions."
For the second month running, nationalists have actively come out against the construction of a migrant hostel near the Rechnoy Vokzal metro station in Moscow. At the end of July Ivan Otrakovsky, the leader of the Army of Defenders of the Fatherland movement, led a "people's gathering" and released a related video entitled "One more menagerie construction." During August, the Right Russia party joined the movement in opposition to the hostel.
Conservative Russia also attempted to attract attention, as is tradition among nationalists, to the anti-migrant theme. In this case, the group spread on social media a story of a Yekaterinburg resident attacked by a migrant in November 2021, emphasizing that the migrant was not punished.
Aside from that, Conservative Russia activists forced the artist Sergei Nechaev, known under the pseudonym Bomb Cybertitties, to apologize on camera for “insulting Russia and the Russian people.” On August 7, Nechaev performed in the Yekaterinburg club Fame, lip-synching the Russian national anthem as performed by Larisa Dolina, holding a rainbow flag. Following the performance, he was written up for improper use of the state hymn (Article 17.10 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (CAO)).
We are not aware of any court rulings issued in August that dealt with xenophobic violence.(*) Since the beginning of this year, we have recorded convictions of six individuals on the basis of xenophobic violence, in the Moscow Region, St. Petersburg, Astrakhan and Tula.
In Volgograd, one person was sentenced to prison time under Article 214 of the Criminal Code (CC) (vandalism motivated by hatred) for the defacing of memorial to Holocaust victims in that city. For this year in total, that makes seven individuals convicted on the basis of xenophobic vandalism – in Volgograd, Astrakhan, Chita and the town of Novomoskovsk in the Tula Region.
Meanwhile we have information relating to the July convictions of 15 individuals for "extremist statements." One of these people was found guilty under Article 282 CC (incitement to national hatred) on the basis of repeated xenophobic publications. Seven more were convicted under Article 280 CC (public calls to extremist activity) for their online posts with calls to attack Jews, Muslims, priests, law enforcement employees and members of the FSB. Another three were convicted under Part 2 of Article 205.2 CC (calls to terrorist activity or justification of terrorism) for their stated support of the bombing of the Arkhangelsk FSB building by anarcho-communist Mikhail Zhlobitsky, as well as for sharing a speech by reserve colonel Mikhail Shendakov entitled "We will take power by force." Two people were sanctioned under a combined charge of Articles. 280 and 205.2 CC over calls to attack people in connection with the 2019 mass shooting of a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. One person, an Azov Regiment fighter, was convicted under a combined charge of Article 280 with Article 359 CC (participation as a mercenary in an armed conflict) for several online publications about Azov and for granting interviews to Ukrainian journalists. One other person was convicted under Article 354.1 CC (rehabilitation of Nazism) for sharing videos justifying the crimes of Nazi Germany via social media.
This year in total, we have recorded no fewer than 103 convictions issued on the basis of statements, against 108 individuals.
The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times this month, on August 3, 22 and 29, to account for new entries 5296–5304. The list was supplemented by videos from the far-right gang NS/WP (National-Socialism / White Power, which is designated as a terrorist group in Russia; antisemitic pictures and songs; the song "A.C.A.B," calling for attacks on police, by the group "Hands on the Blanket;" interpretations of the holy Quran by al-Sa’di and collections of hadiths, Sahih al-Bukhari as summarized by al-Zubaidi and Bulugh Al-Maram by al-Asqalani; and a new book by the Ossetian publicist Khadjimurat Kostoev.
Meanwhile the Federal List of Extremist Organizations was also updated in August to account for the addition of three organizations that were banned this year. Two societies found themselves listed: the "Citizens of the USSR: National Council of Citizens of the RSFSR of the USSR of the Arkhangelsk Region," which was deemed extremist by decision of the Arkhangelsk Regional Court on May 24; and the Novokuybyshevsk Union of Bright Soviet Clans (abbreviated as USSR in Russian), which was deemed extremist by 16 June decision of the Samara Regional Court. Additionally, the Perm ultra-right organization Sturm Project designated extremist by decision of the Leninsky District Court of Perm on June 14, was also added.
Finally, we are aware of a number of court decisions on extremist issued in August under the Code of Administrative Offenses (CAO). In three cases, the courts imposed fines under Article 20.29 CAO (production and distribution of banned materials) for social media sharing of certain videos listed in the Federal List of Extremist Materials. We also have information regarding five people who were sanctioned under Article 20.3.1 CAO (incitement of hatred) for posting xenophobic comments and videos on social networks. Meanwhile seven people were sanctioned under Article 20.3 CAO for propaganda and public display of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations: three of them showed their own Nazi tattoos in public places, and the rest published Nazi symbols on VKontakte. One person was placed under administrative arrest, and the rest were fined.
(*) Data about criminal and administrative cases are reported without reference to rulings that we consider to be patently improper.