Galina Kozhevnikova. Winter 2008-2009: Although Their Last Political Party Is Closed,Nationalists Broaden Their Ranks
Ed. by Alexander Verkhovsky
Manifestations of radical nationalism : Violence and intimidatory actions : Activities of organized and legally operating groups : Expansion of nationalism in public life
Counteraction to radical nationalism : Criminal prosecution : Administrative measures of suppression
Excessive and unfounded sanctions against extremism : Lawmaking : The Federal List of banned extremist materials : Other sanctions
Appendices. crime and punishment statistics (Word)
Unlike previous years, the winter of 2008-2009 was uneventful.
Although the degree of racist violence remains high, it has somewhat dropped since last year, largely due to increased law enforcement activity.
Generally speaking, the prosecution of both racist violence and xenophobic propaganda remains at the same level as in 2008, i.e. more active than in previous years, but it lags behind the scope of violent attacks and hate propaganda.
The same negative trends of inappropriate anti-extremist enforcement are observed as before. In the winter of 2008-2009, pressure against mass media was the most notable negative trend.
Legally active nationalist groups were less noticeable than before, perhaps due to their internal competition for audiences. It suggests that the crisis caused by DPNI's split has not been overcome. The main event was a voluntary dissolution of Sergey Baburin's Popular Union Party in December 2008.
Two trends were particularly visible last winter. Firstly, underground Nazi groups are increasingly open about their readiness to proceed from racist violence to political terrorism. Secondly, xenophobia is inadvertently legitimized by irresponsible statements of law enforcement officials, xenophobic (particularly targeting immigrants) actions of pro-Kremlin youth groups, and collaboration between the "ruling party" members and ultra-right groups.
MANIFESTATIONS OF RADICAL NATIONALISM
Violence and intimidatory actions
There was less violence in the winter of 2008-2009 than in the same period last year. According to SOVA Center's data, at least 104 people were attacked and 20 of them were killed (in 2009 alone, 16 were killed and at least 55 were injured). Some observers, referring to the relatively high number of victims, suggest that violence is on the rise, but it is not so. Even though the number of racist attacks increased this winter as compared to the autumn of 2008, they were not as frequent as in the winter of 2007-2008, when in Moscow alone racist killings were reported virtually every other day (to remind, in the first months of 2008 at least 33 people were killed and 96 injured in racist attacks). As in the previous year, the wave of attacks was suppressed by the law enforcement authorities, and members of several neo-Nazi groups were arrested on suspicion of serial attacks in the first months of 2009 alone.
However, we continue to believe that racist attacks are underreported, since many are qualified as robbery or illegal use of firearms or pneumatic weapons, etc. For example, according to some reports, pneumatic weapons are consistently used in attacks against antifascists' supporters in St. Petersburg. Apparently, explosives are increasingly used as well. Not limited to individual investigations in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the country's political leaders have admitted that the neo-Nazi underground are a terrorist danger. In its memo published on 11 March 2009, the National Antiterrorist Committee mentioned neo-Nazi as the second biggest threat after the North Caucasus terrorists.  At least one neo-Nazi attack against police was reported: on 20 February they threw bottles with inflammable liquid at a police post. 
The geography of violence remains broad. This winter, racist and neo-Nazi attacks were reported in at least 13 Russian regions. As before, the highest casualties were reported in Moscow with metropolitan area (at least 14 killed and 32 injured) and St. Petersburg with metropolitan area (3 killed and 11 injured).
The ultra-right have somewhat modified their tactics by increasing pressure against experts active in opposing xenophobia in Russia. In a high-profile lethal attack, lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were killed 19 January 2009 in the center of Moscow after a press conference. Whoever the killer was, the murder was celebrated by the ultra-right, since Markelov was known for his strong opposition to Nazi and for representing anti-fascist activists in courts. In January and February 2009, the SOVA Center researches received numerous threats; one of the threat letters mentioned that attacks against foreigners were less effective in terms of media coverage and propaganda than high-profile killings of civil society activists and journalists.
Besides violence, the rates of vandalism motivated by religious hatred and neo-Nazi ideology remain high. Thus, we have documented at least 14 acts of vandalism in the reviewed period, where we have no doubts as to the hate motive; 11 of them were committed in 2009.
Activities of organized and legally operating groups
Public actions and political involvement
A voluntary dissolution of Sergey Baburin's Popular Union, the single registered political party of Russian nationalists, was the highlight of the past winter. The decision to abandon their role of a political party was made by an ad-hoc congress on13 December 2008, quite unexpectedly for uninvolved observers. As it usually happens in such situations, it was revealed some time later that some of their regional branches did not support the decision and tried to challenge it, but their appeal failed. The former party will continue as the Russian Popular Union (ROC), a group registered before as a non-governmental political movement and maintained after the closure of the political party. 
Other public events of legally active nationalist groups were limited to a few rallies - in our opinion, it reflects the ongoing crisis among the ultra-right caused by the earlier breakup of DPNI.
Nevertheless, at least twice as many ultra-right actions were reported in Moscow alone, since the competing fragments of DPNI and their supporters organized identical events simultaneously or consecutively. In winter, examples of such competition included anti-immigrant meetings on 11 and 12 December organized by the Russkiy Obraz group and Belov/Basmanov's DPNI, respectively. The first meeting attracted a few dozen people, and the second gathered around 300.
Since January 2009, Belov/Basmanov's DPNI have not been very active.  They continue to struggle attempting to restore their media image of a group supported by government. In contrast, Russkiy Obraz (and their ally Alexey Mikhailov, former DPNI activist currently promoting his own project, "the Russian Civil Society") have been flaunting the support they allegedly receive from the State Duma and the law enforcement agencies.
As a way to demonstrate their strong connections in the government, they published an Appeal to the Moscow Police, Moscow City Duma and the Federal Security Service on the New Year Celebration in the Red Square. The appeal signed by ultra-right activists Ilya Goryachev (Russkiy Obraz), A. Mikhailov and the United Russia Party MP and leader of pro-Kremlin Young Russia (Rumol) movement Maxim Mischenko urged the city authorities to keep "immigrants" off the Red Square on the New Year eve.
In February 2009, the SPAS TV channel broadcasting political programs hosted by Russkiy Obraz activist Dmitry Taratorin televised a round table on access to weapons attended by ultra-right activists, Cossacks and a police general. We can assume (with some reservations) that the police general, a top-level Ministry of Interior official, did not know who he was discussing the problem with, but whatever the reason, such contacts are skillfully used by the ultra-right as proof of their importance and power.
Participation in elections
Electoral activity of right-wing radicals continues. On 1 March 2009, elections of various levels were held in ten Russian regions. Russian nationalists ran for offices in many places, but, to the best of our knowledge, lost.
Particularly notable was the defeat of Russian All-National Union (RONS) leader Igor Artyomov in elections to the Legislative Assembly of Vladimir Oblast after many years of his membership in the legislature. Atyomov's supporters explained his defeat by the problems he had faced before the elections,  but again, voters in Vladimir may have switched preferences, since the RONS leader had moved his activity to Moscow long before the campaign.
The ultra-right continued their collaboration with the Communist Party during the 2009 election campaign. Back in December 2008, DPNI's chapter in St. Petersburg announced that they were planning to nominate around 20 candidates to run for municipal elections on the Communist Party lists. We were able to identify two ultra-right activists running for municipal elections in St. Petersburg on the CPRF lists (Igor Bogatsky and Semyon Pikhtelev), but there were certainly many others.
In January 2009, Vladimir Fyodorov, chief of the CPRF committee in St. Petersburg, stepped down - apparently, after a long-standing internal conflict. Whatever the real cause of his resignation, one publicly quoted reason was Fyodorov's failure "to understand the Russian question." The Communist Party increasingly refers to the "question" (understood as ethnocentrism with elements of anti-Semitism), and this theme is likely to be included in CPRF's new program documents. 
Provocation as an instrument of propaganda
In 2008, we observed the emergence of a new method of self-promotion - namely, imitated attacks against ethnic Russians, followed by accusations of Russophobia flung at authorities, human rights and anti-fascist groups. We are certain of at least three incidents which occurred in 2008 and were investigated.  In the winter of 2008-2009, at least one incident occurred in Kirovsky District of St. Petersburg, where obscene anti-Russian graffiti were painted on a building. DPNI in St. Petersburg blamed anti-fascists and attempted to organize a campaign "to oppose Russophobia." We assume that such cases are numerous, even though not always so obvious. 
Expansion of nationalism in public life
Even more alarming than the ultra-right activity per se is the adoption of their slogans by pro-Kremlin youth groups. To remind, in July 2008 the Mestnye (Locals) movement resumed their anti-immigrant campaigning and later in November the United Russia Young Guards (MGER) launched anti-immigrant actions as well. Even though the "young guards" denied any xenophobic motives, their activities and slogans left no doubts. In December, ultra-right activist Nikita Tomilin published a series of articles, discriminatory against "migrants" as opposed to "Russians," on MGER's website. In February 2009, the same author was involved in an anti-Semitic scandal by questioning the Holocaust in an article published on MGER's website. The article, together with supportive comments made by MGER's other activists, was removed from the website after a few days. 
Since the Russian society does not believe in independent activity of pro-Kremlin youth, anti-immigrant and other xenophobic campaigns and publications launched by MGER and similar groups legitimize xenophobia by presenting it as a populist policy of the government.
Law enforcement officials' increasingly frequent (due to the economic crisis) irresponsible comments about criminal situation in Russia further legitimize and contribute to xenophobic sentiments. We have already described the negative effects of careless (not necessarily ideologically motivated) statements by police and other law enforcement officials. Starting in November and throughout winter, law enforcement officials at various levels made numerous (and in our opinion, erroneous) statements alleging that the increasing violence of the ultra-right was directly linked to immigrant crime. Such statements often implied that "the locals' fight against immigrants" was justified. It was only in February 2009 that police and the Federal Migration Service (FMS) modified their rhetoric and began to challenge incorrect crime reporting by the media: "Thanks to certain mass media, an ordinary person, after watching TV or reading a paper in the morning, develops a negative attitude towards foreigners who have come here to work for us,"  and confirm that crimes committed by foreigners in Russia remain within 3-4% of the total crime rates.  However, it may be impossible to undo the negative public attitudes in the near future, while the right-wing propaganda continues to exploit the anti-immigrant statements made by the law enforcement authorities.
COUNTERACTION TO RADICAL NATIONALISM
Between December 2008 and February 2009, at least nine trials ended in convictions of at least 23 persons for violent hate crimes. We usually observe fewer trials early in the year than later on (thus three convictions in January and one in February 2009).
We note better classification of hate crimes: just one out of nine sentences (in December 2008 in Lipetsk) for violent hate crimes was passed under art. 282 of the Criminal Code.
In winter, some of the landmark sentences included those delivered to members of Arthur Ryno's gang charged with a few dozen of violent attacks,  and to neo-Nazi skinheads in St. Petersburg charged with a series of blast attacks in 2007. The latter were found guilty of terrorism.
Of the eight offenders convicted in January and February 2009, 
- two were sentenced to probation;
- one each were sentenced to 4, 5, 5, 6, and 15 years of prison, and
- two were sentenced to 14 years of prison.
Propaganda and campaigning
While we do not see consistent progress in terms of prosecution of violent hate crimes, hate propaganda is suppressed at a growing pace. At least 15 offenders were convicted in 11 trials over the past winter, including seven trials (and nine convictions) in 2009. The following sentences were delivered to the nine offenders punished for hate propaganda in 2009:
One was released from punishment due to expiry of the statute of limitations.
Three were sentenced to probation.
Three were sentenced to correctional labor.
Two were sentenced to prison terms. Maxim (Tesak) Martsinkevich, already serving a prison term for his neo-Nazi riot in Bilingua Club, was found guilty in January 2009 of producing and distributing a video showing fake execution of a victim by "the Russian KKK." Leader of Yakutia DPNI Chapter Sergey Yurkov was sentenced to two years of settlement colony for dissemination of xenophobic leaflets. We find the punishment appropriate, since the leaflets had nearly provoked violent anti-Chinese riots in the area.
Administrative measures of suppression
Roskomnadzor's anti-extremist warnings are more transparent than sanctions by other authorities. Since the beginning of 2009, they have issued at least four anti-extremist warnings (we find at least one warning unfounded - it was issued to Rosbalt News Agency for some readers' comments on their web forum).
On a few occasions in late 2008 and early 2009, administrative sanctions were imposed for display of Nazi symbols or their look-alikes. In some cases we find the punishments excessive, such as a two-day arrest of a man in Saratov for a swastika tattoo on his finger. But some other punishments were quite appropriate, such as a seven-day arrest of a man - again, in Saratov - for painting swastikas on people's garages.
EXCESSIVE AND UNFOUNDED SANCTIONS AGAINST EXTREMISM
In the end of 2008, the Duma adopted a law limiting the competence of jury courts. Launched in the State Duma on 2 December, the bill passed the Duma by 12 December and was signed by President Medvedev on 30 December. By the new law, jury trials are not available in cases under art. 205 (terrorist act), 206 p. 2-4 (hostage taking), 208 part 1 (organization of an illegal armed formation), 212 part 1 (organization of riots), 275 (high treason), 276 (espionage), 278 (forceful seizure of power or forceful retention of power), 279 (armed riot), and 281 (subversion). Some of these criminal articles are relevant to anti-extremist enforcement.
We do not find it appropriate to limit the competence of jury courts in Russia. Moreover, trials on the above charges are often closed to the public, and the removal of jurors may lead to new unfair judgments.
The Federal List of banned extremist materials
The rapid growth and poor quality of the Federal Banned List of Extremist Materials continue to be a problem. In the three winter months, 27 items were added to the list, including 17 items added in 2009. As before, the descriptions of blacklisted publications are vague and confusing. In February 2009, consecutive numbering of the list was messed up for the first time, but promptly corrected.  We expect it to get worse in the future.
Furthermore, a landmark event occurred in January 2009, when for the first time in the history of the Federal List of Extremist Materials (since 2002) and its enforcement (since 2007) a ruling was reversed and an item was taken off the blacklist. We are referring to Vladimir Istarkhov's Udar Russkikh Bogov - a book blacklisted on questionable grounds.  In January 2009, the publishers and authors successfully appealed - relying only on formal grounds - the ruling of the Verkh-Issetsky District Court in Sverdlovsk Oblast whereby the book was banned. The case was sent back to re-consideration, and in April 2009 the Verkh-Issetsky Court denied a prosecutorial appeal to reconsider the case on formal grounds.
Thus, it is illegal to keep the book on the banned list. However, in some regions people selling the book faced sanctions (from confiscation of the book to monetary fines), but only in Krasnoyarsk Krai the sanctions were lifted. The situation is aggravated by the fact that there is no procedure at the moment for taking an item off the list. Moreover, it is unclear who is responsible for launching such a procedure.  One can therefore question the legitimacy of the list as a legally enforceable official document.
The best solution at the moment would be to stop adding new item to the list pending resolution of key issues which have emerged since it has been enforced, i.e. adopt a procedure for taking items off the list, better bibliographical standards, rules for accessing blacklisted materials for research purposes, clarify the onset of liability for distribution of banned materials,  etc.
The quality of the Federal List and related unresolved issues concerning access to banned materials were addressed during a round table meeting at the State Public Historical Library in Moscow on 25 February. 
As before, inappropriate anti-extremist enforcement continued in the winter of 2008-2009. 
A scandalous incident was reported in December 2008, when the Memorial Human Rights Center office in St. Petersburg was search under a far-fetched pretext of the group's connections with the allegedly extremist Novy Peterburg paper. In fact, the Memorial Center had nothing to do with the paper, and the anti-extremist suppression of the latter was questionable anyway.  The Memorial Center's second attempt to challenge the legality of the search succeeded (on formal grounds) in March 2009. Meanwhile, a Russian diplomat made a public statement to an international forum alleging that Memorial had been financing extremist activity. The organization received no explanations, let alone apologies, from the official.
Authorities continued to confiscate entire print runs of publications "to check them for extremism." Thus, in December 2008 they confiscated 500 copies of Rabochaia Bor'ba paper from a National Bolshevik in Yekaterinburg.
Pressure against mass media was particularly intense.
Firstly, independent media outlets faced prosecution for "incitement to hatred against a social group." In Dagestan, the protected "social group" was police, and the charges were brought against the editor-in-chief and four reporters of Chernovik paper. Similarly, criminal charges were brought against Irek Murtazin in Tatarstan for incitement to hatred against the Government of Tatarstan (here the government was classified as a protected social group).
Secondly, mass media continued to face unfounded anti-extremist warnings both for their own publications and for quoting other people (even in a negative context), as well as for comments posted by visitors on their websites.
Such warnings are very difficult to appeal, since no law says which court has jurisdiction over these matters. Traditionally, commercial (arbitrage) courts hear such cases, but Novaya Gazeta in St. Petersburg was denied an appeal by a commercial court of the first instance (the paper had tried to appeal a warning received for an article criticizing DPNI's xenophobic activity), and by then they had already missed the deadline for appeal with the general jurisdiction court. Eventually, in March 2009 a higher commercial court obliged the first instance commercial court to take the appeal.
In another case, the URA.RU news agency has lost its appeals and faces closure after two warnings triggered by readers' comments on their website.
 NAK: Bandformirovaniia i neonatsistskie gruppirovki - osnovnaia terroristicheskaia ugroza v Rossii //Fontanka.Ru 2009. 11 March ( http://www.fontanka.ru/2009/03/11/046/).
 The ultra-right then claimed responsibility for two similar actions, but we could not confirm the other two alleged attacks.
 Including victims of the blast attack in Prazhsky Market in Moscow in December 2008.
 To remind, ROC exists since 1991. In 2001, they served as a base for creating the Narodnaia Volia (Popular Will) political party and then the Popular Union. See details on ROC in: Political Xenophobia. Radical Groups. Perspectives of Politicians. Role of the Church, M.: Panorama Center, 1999 (http://www.tsenki.com/xeno/KNG6F.asp?FN=53&RND=7056).
 This may be partially due to A. Belov's trial started in December 2008. Belov faced charges for xenophobic statements made during the Russian March of 2007.
 I. Artyomov faced a long delay with his registration as a candidate.
 To remind, virtually all right-wing radical candidates in the 2008 Moscow municipal elections were on the Communist Party lists.
 See more on CPRF's xenophobic rhetoric in: G. Kozhevnikova. The Language of Hate and the Elections: the Federal and Regional Levels. M.: SOVA Center, 2008. P. 92-94; Izbiratel'naia komissiia Pskovskoi oblasti obnaruzhila v agitatsionnoi gazete KPRF antisemitizm // SOVA Center. Nationalism and Xenophobia in Russia. 2008. 15 February (/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2008/02/d12653/).
 Pravda published the draft new Program of CPRF based on summarized proposals made by the party members // Official website of CPRF. 2008. 13 November (http://kprf.ru/party_live/61187.html).
 See details in G. Kozhevnikova. Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract It in 2008 // SOVA Center. Nationalism and Xenophobia in Russia. 2009. 19 February (/racism-xenophobia/publications/2009/02/d15326/).
 We suspect yet another incident with anti-Russian graffiti in Kirov, even though it is not as obvious as the case in St. Petersburg.
 Apparently, Tomilin himself got away without consequences, except that MGER stopped publishing his articles on their website.
 See, for example, Pochemu v Peterburge rastet inostrannaia prestupnost' (Why foreign crime is growing in St. Petersburg) [Interview with Deputy Prosecutor of St. Petersburg Alexey Mayakov] // Fontanka.Ru 2009. 12 January (http://www.fontanka.ru/2009/01/12/034/).
 Ot peremeny mest schitaemykh // Vlast'. 2009. № 5. 9 February (http://www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1110107).
 In December 2008 - 3.1 %, in March 2009 - 3.8 %. The Ministry of Interior official statistics (http://www.mvd.ru/stats/).
 See details of sentences delivered to Ryno's gang in: G. Kozhevnikova. Radical nationalism in Russia
 Ibid for sentences delivered in 2008.
 One offender was released from punishment, because at the material time he had not yet reached the age of criminal responsibility for such offences.
 See details on offenders convicted in 2008 in: G. Kozhevnikova. Radical nationalism in Russia
 The agency was renamed once again on 3 December 2008. See details in: Who issues anti-extremist warnings // SOVA Center. Nationalism and Xenophobia in Russia (http: //xeno.sova-center.ru/B8E8556/B8E86F6).
 On 19 February 2009, items 317 and 318 were added after item 315; the sequence was restored on 24 February by adding item 316.
 To remind, in the summer of 2008 two different courts of the same status delivered two opposite judgments on this book, but it was blacklisted anyway.
 It is officially believed that V. Istarkhov is a collective pen-name of two authors, Victor Ivanov and Victor Selivanov.
 Notably, most judgments finding certain materials extremist mention that the information is copied to the Ministry of Justice responsible for maintaining the list, whereas the judgment lifting the ban of Udar... does not mention it.
 It remains unclear when liability for distribution of banned materials begins: from the date of the court ruling, from the publication on the Ministry of Justice website or from the publication in Rossiiskaia Gazeta. It is of importance since RG - the official source of legal texts - has never reprinted the list in its entirety (only the updates), and the Minstry's website takes rather long to update the list.
 The SOVA Center coorganized the round table.
 See details in A. Verkhovsky, G. Kozhevnikova. Inappropriate Enforcement of Anti-extremist Legislation in Russia in 2008 // SOVA Center. Nationalism and Xenophobia in Russia. 2009. 28 March (/racism-xenophobia/publications/2009/03/d15610/).
 The articles in Novy Peterburg which the prosecution relied upon were added to the Federal List of Banned Extremist Materials in March 2009.
Translated by I. Savelieva