The Ultra-Right on the Streets with a Pro-Democracy Poster in Their Hands or a Knife in Their Pocket: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2012

Настоящий материал (информация) произведен и (или) распространен иностранным агентом РОО Центр «Сова» либо касается деятельности иностранного агента РОО Центр «Сова».
Edited by Alexander Verkhovsky

CRIMINAL MANIFESTATIONS OF RACISM AND XENOPHOPHOBIA : Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence : Attacks against Political Adversaries : Attacks on Ethnic “Others” : Attacks on Members of LGBT Community : Attacks against Homeless People : Other Attacks : Violence Motivated by Religion : Racism and Soccer : Threats from the Ultra-Right : Grassroots Xenophobic Violence and Xenophobia in the Army : Vandalism
PUBLIC ACTIVITY OF ULTRA-RIGHT RADICALS : Nationalists at General Protest Actions : Rank-and File Nationalists : Ultra-Right Political Organizations : Independent Actions by Nationalists : “Kondopoga Technology” : Party Building : Other Areas of Nationalist Activity : During the Elections : Raids, Training Camps, etc.
COUNTER-ACTION TO RADICAL NATIONALISM AND XENOPHOBIA : Public Initiatives : Criminal Prosecution for Violence : Criminal Prosecution for Vandalism : Criminal Prosecution for Propaganda : Criminal Prosecution of Extremist Groups and Banned Organizations : The Federal List of Extremist Materials: The Banning of Organizations : Other Administrative Measures



Considering the dynamics of radical nationalism and the state’s and society’s efforts to counteract it, 2012 became one of the most paradoxical years.[1] It is difficult to make any predictions for the future based on this year’s results.

Mass protest actions, a defining feature of the year 2012, became for the ultra-right movement an apple of discord. Key ultra-right organizations viewed the protests as an opportunity to overcome their marginal status, and enter “the big politics” as a part of the democratic opposition. However, the failure of this plan became evident as the year went on. First, the overall achievements of the opposition ended up being much more modest than initially expected. Second, nationalists were unable to recruit significant numbers of new supporters from among the protest participants. Third, their political leaders have been increasingly unable to bring their “old” guard out to the streets, since the majority of the existing ultra-right activists quickly denounced joint actions with despised liberals and leftists, and many of those, who remained, gradually abandoned the protest activity, upon realizing the futility of any attempts to influence the authorities via large protest marches and rallies.

These unsatisfactory results moved some nationalist organization to denounce the protest activity. Most of them, however, see making such a step back as unproductive, and continue to follow their adopted strategy of cultivating the image of “respectable nationalists” and hoping that new supporters appear eventually.

In addition to participation in the protest movement of 2012, the ultra-right attempted to use yet another method for potential political de-marginalization, that is, creation and registration of their own political parties. Despite the fact, that numerous ultra-right movements expressed their desire to register, earlier in the year, the only ones that have succeeded so far were two previously existing parties of Sergei Baburin and Dmitry Rogozin and a couple of minor groups.

Evidently, the majority of rank-and-file nationalists don’t believe that ultra-right parties have much likelihood of getting registered, so they are in no hurry to join their regional party branches. Seeing no promising potential either in the general protest activity, or in party-building, they, once again, started talking about the “white” (in the racial sense) revolution, and violent methods of attaining power. Once again, various militarized sports events started to take place, the level of aggression went up, and many potentially violent ultra-right “raid” initiatives started to take place. The number of attacks against “political” adversaries increased as well.

Thus, the ultra-right movement in general is, likely, moving back toward a half-underground network of fighter cells, then toward forming a nationalist parliamentary opposition. However, the overall public support level for nationalist ideology has increased, due to significant support both from the authorities and from the opposition.

Criminal activity of the ultra-right in 2012 showed no decline, compared to the previous year. Their ideological opponents constituted the most significant group of their victims. However, ethnicity-based attacks were far from disappearing; apparently, the number of victims among “ethnic minorities” is the same this year as it was the year before. Ultra-right attackers frequently chose the most helpless and socially unprotected victims; in particular, we observed the growing number of attacks against the homeless. The number of attacks “by associations” increased as well.

We also observed the increase in grass-roots violence motivated by xenophobia, and greater number of mass conflicts between people, who belong to different ethnic groups. The radical right attempted to politicize these incidents as “ethnic conflicts” (so called “Kondopoga technology”) but all their attempts failed.

Prosecution of the groups inclined to violence was less active in 2012, and the number of violence-related convictions dropped sharply. However, the punishments on average became more severe. During the review period, members of several neo-Nazi groups were convicted, including the Autonomous Military Terrorist Organization (Avtonomnaia boevaia terroristicheskaia organizatsiia, ABTO), the Orel Guerillas (Orlovskie partizany), and the gang of Yan Lyutik.

During the year, there were several convictions related to the Moscow Manezhnaya Square riots of December 11, 2010 or to the attacks that followed them. In fact, however, these cases are examples of poor investigative work. The same is also applicable to the court verdicts relating to the attacks against anti-fascists Ilya Dzhaparidze in Moscow and Nikita Kalin in Samara.

Throughout 2012, we recorded a rapid rise in xenophobic propaganda convictions. In many cases, the perpetrators present no significant danger; these are often half-illiterate minors from the VKontakte social network, who either posted links to racist videos on social networks or left intolerant comments on internet forums. Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies often focus on perpetrators, who are easier to find, instead of perpetrators, who present a real danger. The fact that penalties were usually commensurate with actions needs to be pointed out as a positive development in this law enforcement area: courts (and, to some extent, prosecutors) have all but abandoned both the practice of incarceration for “mere words” and the practice of giving suspended sentences. The most common verdicts in 2012 were mandatory and correctional labor.

The situation with the monstrous Federal List of Extremist Materials – which continues its rapid growth, and increasingly becomes a target of indignant criticism and sarcastic articles – is even more troubling. This unwieldy instrument is almost impossible to use, while providing the widest opportunities for abuse.

The mechanism of banning organizations for extremism was utilized only on two occasions; the international network Blood and Honour / Combat 18) and the Northern Brotherhood (Severnoe bratstvo) were the only groups banned in 2012. These bans were largely symbolic, since both organizations were by that time practically non-existent. Obviously, the mechanism of prohibition, as it relates to organization, and further prosecution of its members requires some serious reassessment.

The “fight against extremism” on the Internet continued actively in 2012; there was a dramatic increase in requests that providers block specific sites or materials that had been legally recognized as extremist. The legitimacy and value of these demands is far from clear.

Thus, our overall impression is that, while large segment of ultra-right activists declares the primacy of street violence, and quantitative increase of such crime can already be observed, law enforcement agencies increasingly target social network users for re-publishing information, look for “extremist materials,” and make demands on the Internet service providers. This discrepancy could be dangerous in its possible impact on the developing situation.


Criminal Manifestations of Racism and Xenophobia

Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence

In 2012, 19 people died and 187 received injuries as a result of racist and neo-Nazi violence; 2 people received credible murder threats. Please remember, that our calculations do not include victims of mass brawls, and the events in the republics of the North Caucasus. These numbers are practically identical to the ones from 2011, for which we know of 25 murders, 195 injured victims, and 10 people who received murder threats.[2] Considering our annual data adjustments,[3] there is no evidence of any drop in racist crime rates; most likely, the level of violence has even increased.

In the past year, incidents of racist violence took place in 31 regions of the country (compared to 49 regions in 2011). As before, Moscow (4 killed, 65 injured), the Moscow Region (3 killed, 25 injured), and St. Petersburg (1 killed, 21 injured) top the list. They are followed by the Republic of Bashkortostan (19 injured), Primorye (4 killed, 2 injured), the Komi Republic (6 injured), the Samara Region (2 killed, 4 injured). The year before, a significant number of victims had been recorded in the Kaluga Region; however, the situation sufficiently improved there in 2012 (1 inured). The statistics for the other cities have remained practically unchanged for the past several years.


Attacks against Political Adversaries

The most populous group of ultra-right violence victims in 2012 (1 killed, 54 injured) consisted of their political, ideological or “esthetic” opponents. The year before, this group occupied the second position on the list (1 killed, 35 injured).

This phenomenon can by partially explained by the fact that the entire year was marked by tumultuous political and public activity, and the ultra-right did not remain unaffected by this process. Certainly, we also tend to be better informed about such cases; the victims themselves or their associates are better aware of their rights and more often find opportunities to contact NGO’s and the media. This group of violence victims includes anti-fascists,[4] (or those, who were perceived as such), attendees of rock and hip-hop concerts and soccer matches, participants of the action in memory of Markelov and Baburova on January 19, left-wing activists, ecologists, fans of certain kinds of music (even anime fans), and members of various groups disfavored by the ultra-right.

Attacks on Ethnic “Others”

Ethnically-based attacks continued without interruption in 2012. We need to emphasize that our classification of this group of victims is approximate – the report on the attack does not always reveal the victim’s ethnicity, and most crime victims prefer to avoid contacts with police, community organizations and the media. Of course, exceptions sometimes happen. For example an attack on Abdul Bekmamadov – an actor of Theater.doc in Moscow and a citizen of Tajikistan – in the fall of 2012 received noticeable public reaction and press coverage, probably, because the victim was well-known, and the theater’s artistic director made the incident public. However, such cases are exceedingly rare.

The second largest group of victims, the one topping the “ethnic” list, were migrants from Central Asia (7 killed, 35 injured). In 2009-2011, they were the largest victim group. The number of victims is close to the corresponding 2011 statistic, but 2011 showed more murders (10 killed, 35 injured. People from the Caucasus take the fourth position in our mournful rating, with 4 people killed and 14 injured (vs. 6 killed и 17 injured in 2011).

Formally, the third place is occupied by dark-skinned people (25 injured). Attacks on them have been systematically tracked by Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy. However, we also know of 15 additional victims (1 killed, 14 injured) of unspecified “non-Slavic” appearance, most often it was described as “Asian,” or “Caucasian“(i.e. from the Caucasus). For example, on Hitler’s birthday on April 20, the neo-Nazis conducted the White Car (Belyi vagon) operation on the Tver and Klin directions of Moscow commuter trains; as a result several people of “Asian appearance” were injured. Thus, it is difficult to determine, which group – migrants from the Caucasus or dark-skinned individuals – was a more frequent target of hate crimes

Attacks on other “ethnic others” under xenophobic slogans such as Malaysia natives in Volgograd or a resident of China in St. Petersburg, were also recorded (5 victims). Attack on ethnic Russians, motivated by ethnic hatred (7 victims), took place in Moscow and Syktyvkar.[5]

Notably, the attacks on Russians were initiated by lone perpetrators in all cases; we have no information on any violent racist groups of “migrants from the Caucasus” (along the lines of the Black Hawks, Chernye iastreby).[6] On the other hand, yet another organized racist ethnic minority group surfaced in 2012 – the Patriot (Patriot) gang of ethnic Kyrgyz. Unlike the “migrants from the Caucasus” groups, which attacked ethnic “others,” the Kyrgyz “Patriots” focused on women of their own tribe. They attacked girls for ostensibly dating non-Kyrgyz men (Tajik men, for example).[7] The gang became known after their incendiary videos appeared online (in March and May of 2012). The videos show young men, who insult and beat up young women, strip them naked in public, and demand that they answer questions on camera. One video clip shows a Kyrgyz girl, who looks no older then 20, first being savagely beaten, and then hit forcefully in the head with a piece of street curb. It is not known whether the girl survived. The exact number of victims is unknown. One of the Patriots victims committed suicide after returning home and not being able to handle the abuse from her fellow-villagers. Another girl was found in Kyrgyzstan, and it was eventually possible to convince her to go to court. As a result, the criminal investigation was opened. After this, another victim sent a letter to the Russian police and to the Kyrgyzstan Embassy in Moscow with her account of the attack.

In July 2012 it was reported that a criminal case was opened in Russia, and three people were detained. The 25-year-old leader of the gang was among the apprehended. Altogether, the gang included about 15 members, all from the same area of Kyrgyzstan, aged 20 to 35. The group has been active in Moscow and Yekaterinburg since 2006.


Total number of attacks, specifically based on ethnic criteria, remained the same as in the previous year; there were 122 attacks per year in both 2011 and 2012. Thus, in contrast with the trend of 2009-2011, the number of ethnically-motivated violent crimes is no longer decreasing.

We may want to contemplate the reason for such change, or at least the reason of this year’s exception to it. Sociological surveys indicated rising levels of ethic xenophobia;[8] however, mass sentiments do not correlate that closely to activity levels of marginal radical groups. Another suggested explanation for the observed increase in violence, was that law enforcement agencies prosecuted xenophobic violence with less zeal, since their attention switched to the political opposition. This theory has merits, since there indeed were fewer prosecutions (see below), and, since the preceding drop in violence had been achieved exclusively via active law enforcement, the decrease in law enforcement necessarily led to losing previously attained results. However, considering that, on average, each court case is initiated at least a year prior to its verdict, the shift must have occurred in 2011, and can’t be explained as a reaction to the protest movement. Some analysts surmise that young ultra-right activists became disappointed with the “peaceful protest,” and instead turned to violence. However, this explanation can be rejected outright; the protest movement gained strength only in December 2011, so its “appeal” and “disappointment,” (which are undeniable but also shouldn’t be overestimated) only pertain to 2012. More likely explanation is that the new generation of ultra-right militants, after the experience of mass arrests, takes the need for secrecy more seriously than their predecessors. At this time it is still impossible to construct the exhaustive explanation.


Attacks on Members of LGBT Community

For the first time since the 2007 gay pride parade dispersal in Moscow[9] we recorded a significant number of ultra-right attacks against gay activists (12 injured), a 400 % increase since 2011. In general, the number of attacks on LGBT is much greater, but we cannot provide even a rough estimate, since the victims are extremely reluctant to report the incidents.[10]

Increase in number of attack can be partially attributed to increased visibility of the LGBT community, as its members were protesting against the notorious law banning “homosexual propaganda” adopted in St. Petersburg and several other regions in early March 2012.[11] Ultra-right radicals interpret the state’s position as a tacit approval of violence; therefore, all their groups – nationalists,[12] Cossacks, Russian Orthodox radicals – engage in violence more openly. Notably, the police officers on duty during the events often choose not to intervene[13] and make no attempt to stop an attack.


Attacks against Homeless People

We also recorded a significant number of homeless victims in 2012: 6 killed and 2 injured.[14] Last year showed an increase in the number of attacks on these most socially isolated and helpless individuals, often balancing on a brink of survival. The ultra-right (particularly, members of the Nazi Straight-edge subculture) view them as “biological garbage” and call for “cleaning up the country” from this “scum” (the radical ultra-right blogs mentioned that, on occasions, municipal lower officials encouraged bullying the homeless and their ejection from basements)

Attack victims also include people, who, according to their attackers, “lead an unhealthy lifestyle,” as it happened in case of an inebriated woman on Moscow Metro train in early 2012.


Other Attacks

A number of attack victims of ultra-right radicals in the past year can be classified as “victims by association,” that is, either the eyewitnesses of attacks, who tried to interfere in defense of people being attacked, or simply random passers-by. In addition, the list of victims includes people, who “dared” to show their disapproval of the ultra-right activists’ public behavior. In winter 2012 Dmitry Alyaev, a reporter from the Novye Izvestia newspaper, was beaten up for expressing his disagreement with nationalists, who shouted “Russia for Russians!” on board of a commuter train.


Violence Motivated by Religion

In 2012, as in the preceding years, followers of the Jehovah's Witnesses doctrine constituted the largest group among the victims of religion-based xenophobia; at least 8 people were injured during the attacks. This is, undoubtedly, the result of the repressive campaign against Jehovah's Witnesses that have been going on for about four years. However, the number of such incidents dropped significantly compared to 2011, when we recorded 24 injured victims.

Attacks on members of other religious groups motivated specifically by religious hate remain uncommon. Besides Jehovah's Witnesses, the victims in 2012 included only a pastor of a Goodnews Mission Church and his assistant.

Defenders of the Pussy Riot punk collective, who came out on pickets in a number of Russian cities, also became targets of religiously motivated attacks. For example, on March 14, April 19 and May 26, there were attacks on the picketers at the courthouse, where the band members were on trial for their “punk prayer.” A group of Orthodox activists in Moscow attacked people and organizations in some ways associated with the punk collective on several occasions in August. Attackers also included some activists of right-wing organizations.


The attack on journalist Sergey Aslanian that took place in Moscow on the night of May 29, 2012 was, likely, also motivated by religious reasons. While beating him up, an attacker shouted “You are an enemy of Allah.” Aslanian’s May 14 statement on Mayak radio station about the prophet Muhammad, which was found offensive by some Muslims, could be a possible motive for the attack.


Racism and Soccer

Reports on manifestations of racism among soccer and hockey fans have become commonplace. It can partially be explained simply by the direct influence of the neo-Nazis, some of whom are also soccer fans. The fans’ behavior on Hitler's birthday on April 20 provided an indirect confirmation of this effect. On this day in Ryazan during the match between Arsenal (Tula) and Zvezda (Ryazan) fans displayed a traditional banner “Happy Birthday, Grandpa!” Meanwhile, 50 soccer fans and participants of the Russian Runs[15] in Nizhny Tagil marched under imperial black-yellow-white flags and swastika-decorated banners.

Xenophobic soccer fans don’t particularly try to hide their views. For example, in December 2012, Zenit fans issued a manifesto “Selection-12” (Selektsiya-12), which expressly opposed any gay and black players at the club. Additionally, in September 2012, two fans of the same Zenit club, boarding the plane in the Finnish city of Vantaa en route to Spain for the game with Malaga, were taken off the plane by the police because of their racist remarks.

The fans and players of the Anzhi (Makhachkala) faced the greatest extent of racism in 2012. In different cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Yekaterinburg), before nearly every soccer game throughout the year, ultra-right fans of other teams placed racist banners and streamers or drew swastikas, runes, SS signs and other such symbols near the stadiums. The games were accompanied with shouting of anti-Dagestani and anti-Caucasus slogans and throwing bananas at the team members. The situation even deteriorated into violence: in August, a group of Zenit fans in St. Petersburg attacked a group of Anzhi fans;[16] as a result, two residents of Dagestan suffered injuries (according to another account, there were three victims).

Part of the reason for all this attention to Anzhi is the fact, that dramatic quality improvement of the Dagestani players caused the envy of other clubs. Since billionaire businessman Suleiman Kerimov purchased the club in 2011, Anzhi acquired distinguished players and coach.[17] However the anti-Anzhi campaign is still primarily rooted in anti-Caucasian and, in particular, anti-Dagestani sentiment; it represents a new chapter in the ongoing history of mutual attacks between Anzhi fans and fans of central Russian clubs.

Racism is directed not only at the teams from the Caucasus region; it also takes a form of rejection of dark-skinned players. Presence of both factors increases the xenophobic reaction. For example, on the eve of the Alania – Torpedo game some ultra-right soccer fans pelted Alania players (including dark-skinned Akès da Costa Goore) with snowballs

The Russian fans’ behavior have attracted attention of international soccer associations; in the summer of 2012, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) initiated disciplinary proceedings against the Russian Football Union (RFU) in connection with the Russian fans’ behavior at the Russia – Czech Republic game of June 9. The fans threw fireworks on the field and displayed banners with “prohibited content.” Racist insults from Russian fans directed against Czech national team defender Theodore Gebrselassie during the match, also caused concern of the UEFA and of the Football against Racism in Europe (FARE) network.


Threats from the Ultra-Right

Public officials and community activists, connected in any way with the issue of xenophobia, encountered numerous threats from the ultra-right in 2012. Law enforcement personnel continue to attract attention of ultra-right activists. In summer, a number of non-Slavic judges received threats from a so-called “Regional Branch of the Committee on Crimes Committed against the Russian People in Southern Federal District.” Personnel of six district courts in the Rostov Region “were sentenced to the capital punishment” for “imposition of verdicts, known to be criminal and illegal, and conducting prosecution under Article 282 of the Criminal Code of Russia.”[18]

Community activists constitute yet another vulnerable group. In November 2012, right after the Russian March in Voronezh, four young men, who raised their hands in a Nazi salute and carried an imperial flag, drove up to the Human Rights House Office in Voronezh. The young men introduced themselves (“We are from “Format-18”) and said “it took us a long time to get to you; we would like to ask a couple of questions.[19] The police was called and scared the Neo-Nazis away.

Members of Pussy Riot collective did not escape the ultra-right’s attention, the right-wing Web sites published the young women’s personal information, accompanied by threats of violence; members of the South-East Cossack society (Iugo-Vostok) suggested that Pussy Riot members be “tried by the parishioners.” Data that leaked online apparently came from the Kitay-Gorod Department of Internal Affairs, which had apprehended the Pussy Riot members after a different performance (therefore, not all band members, who received the threats, had participated in the notorious performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior).


Grassroots Xenophobic Violenceand Xenophobia in the Army

The dynamics of grassroots xenophobic violence remain difficult to trace, since law enforcement and mass media tend to qualify most episodes as locally-motivated incidents of hooliganism. Based on indirect data, the violence level has not changed. We still record at least ten violent incidents of this category each year.

Traditionally, many racially-charged brawls take place on August 2, when drunken troopers celebrate the Airborne Forces Day. On this day in 2012, racist incidents were reported in at least 4 regions of the country, and paratrooper’s attacks injured at least 5 people were injured[20] (there were at least 7 victims in 2011).

Racial conflicts undeniably exist in the Army (the stories about ethnically-based “fraternities” (zemlyachestva) have been circulating for many years), however the army life is isolated from outside observers, so only a few incidents of racist violence became known to public in 2012. This summer, for example, ordinaries Teymur Mamedov i Elbrua Musayev woke up the squadron in one of the military units stationed in the Sverdlovsk Region, took 16 soldiers from the line-up, used shaving foam to write “Dagestan,” “Azerbaijan,” etc., on their backs, and took pictures with their mobile phones. Meanwhile, in the winter of 2012, the corporal, who served under contract in the Pacific Fleet, insulted a medical officer, “focusing on his nationality,[21] in the presence of other soldiers, and was subsequently prosecuted.



In 2012 the occurrence of vandalism motivated by religious, ethnic or ideological hate, was not much different from the preceding year; at least 95 such incidents were recorded in 2012, compared to 94 incidents in 2011, and 178 cases in 2010.

This year the greatest number of attacks was made against sites belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church – 38, including 5 cases of arson (compared to 12 incidents total in 2011). Without a doubt, this change was due to increased media coverage of the Church-related scandals, the Pussy Riot case, and overall growth of anti-clerical sentiments in the society.

The second place belongs to ideologically motivated vandalism (24 cases). Monuments to Lenin and other leaders of the October Revolution, the Great Patriotic War memorials, memorials to victims of political repressions, and other such objects were desecrated in numbers, practically unchanged from the year before (28 cases in 2011).

As for the other kinds of vandalism motivated by religious hatred, its targets were distributed as follows:

  • sites belonging to new religious movements – 13 incidents, of them Jehovah’s Witnesses – 12, including 1 explosion, 1 case of arson (16 cases in 2011);
  • Jewish sites – 8 incidents, including 1 case of arson (14 cases in 2011);
  • Muslim sites – 6 incidents, including 1 explosion (17 cases in 2011);
  • Sites of various protestant denominations – 5 incidents, including 1 explosion (5 cases in 2011).

Thus, the number of attacks on Jehovah’s Witnesses (including the ones where explosives were involved) went down compared to 2011. The number of attacks on Muslim and Jewish sites decreased considerably. However, the numbers are not yet final and may need further corrections


We observed a moderate quantitative reduction for the most dangerous acts – explosions, gunfire and arson (11 out of 95 cases in 2012 vs. 13 out of 94 cases in 2011). However, the overall share of such acts still remains quite high.

Explosives and other similar devices get used for more than just vandalism. Thus, unknown young masked men threw Molotov cocktails at the Caucasian cuisine restaurant “Zhi Est” on Ordzhonikidze Street in Moscow; the restaurant’s administrator was injured. Unknown people threw an improvised explosive device inside the Uzbek-owned “Tashkent” store in St. Petersburg. In both cases, swastikas and unspecified “extremist” slogans had appeared on the walls prior to the incidents.


Public Activity of Ultra-Right Radicals

Nationalists at General Protest Actions

The year of 2012 was a very complicated year for the ultra-right movement, characterized, among other things, by its attempts to find its place with respect to general protest activity that emerged in late 2011.[22] Right radicals faced a choice, whether they should join the rest of the opposition, play against them, or maintain their independent existence.

Here, leaders of organizations should be considered separately from rank-and-file activists; as shown below, their self-identification process followed different trajectories and often produced dissimilar results.


Rank-and File Nationalists

The majority of the rank-and-file ultra-right activists in Moscow immediately chose not to join forces with other, ideologically foreign, opposition groups in the protest movement. Nationalists insisted that they need to prepare for the “White revolution,”[23] rather than attend and bring their flags to “Jewish” events, “sponsored by the US State Department”. This majority is comprised primarily of small neo-Nazi groups not connected to the high-profile political ultra-right organizations. Essentially, these small groups constitute the principal form of the ultra-right movement in Russia. It is in this environment that rank-and-file (and sometimes not only rank-and-file) members of aforementioned high-profile political organizations usually start out.

Only a small segment of the ultra-right movement disagreed with this stance. Subsequently, very few right radicals attended rallies of the opposition, and so they had to settle for supporting roles in the protests.

The greatest number of ultra-right participants showed up at the very first general protest of 2012 – the March for Fair Elections on Bolshaya Yakimanka Street in Moscow on February 4.[24] Total number of self-identified nationalists on the march reached 900. Considering the fact, the Russian March in Moscow can attract as many as 6 thousand people, 900 people should be viewed as a rather modest result.

Later, the number of ultra-right protest participants gradually shrunk, despite some situation-based fluctuations, and finally dwindled to almost zero by the end of the year.

No more than 100 nationalists attended the rally on Pushkinskaya Square[25] on March 5, and about 300 of them participated in the march on Novyi Arbat Street on March 10.[26] The Millions March on May 6 was, de facto, ignored by the majority of ultra-right activists – about 50 people marched under their flags; about 100 other activists of Andrey Savelyev’s party, the Great Russia (Velikaia Rossiia), who had never participated in such protests, showed up just so they could immediately and defiantly leave. In addition, a visibly small number of right radical activists without insignia took part in the march, and then engaged in clashes with the riot police.[27]

The clashes during the march of May 6 and the new amendments to the legislation on meetings provided additional motivation to all the opposition members, including right radicals, and the next Millions March, on June 12, attracted about 550 right-wing activists.[28] However, the effect proved to be short-lived, and at the rally in support of those arrested in Bolotnaya Square riot case the number of ultra-activists was small, and their role insignificant. The only major general protest of the fall, on September 15[29], was attended by no more than 350 nationalists, and for the only winter event, the Freedom March on December 15, their numbers were down to single digits.

Thus, with the sole exception of the Yakimanka march, the participation of 300-500 nationalists in the protest action can constituted a good result in terms of attendance. This has happens to be an approximate average number of attendees for a successful specifically nationalist meeting (except for the Russian March).

Three major factors are thought to have shaped the situation.

First, the known nationalist political leaders were extremely unpopular among the rank-and-file neo-Nazi even prior to December 2011. Predictably, underground radicals accused them of opportunism, in particular for their attempts to join forces with the democratic opposition. This constituency could not condone open collaboration with the liberals or even the left.

Second, many ultra-right activists (along with many other people) no longer believed in peaceful rallies and marches as an effective mechanism of political struggle. After the presidential elections in March, the slogan “For Fair Elections” lost its urgency, and many nationalists decided that it made no sense to continue their participation in street protests, particularly, alongside their ideological enemies. These disappointed activists have joined those, who believed from the very outset that the nationalist movement should wait for the most favorable moment to start their “White Revolution.”

The third and final reason for the nationalists’ reluctance to attend general oppositional rallies was their frustration with their assigned roles. Originally, the ultra-right intended not merely to participate, but to take the initiative away from the hated liberals and leftists who, in their opinion, “usurped the protest.” In practice, as was mentioned above, they had to settle for the role of extras, who, also, never received a particularly warm welcome from the rest of the opposition. In their attempt to reverse the situation, the right-wing radicals, who attended the rallies, tried to attract attention and express their view of the situation – they whistled and yelled at the speakers to show their disapproval, initiated clashes with anarchists, LGBT activists, and Pussy Riot advocates, and even repeatedly tried to take over the stage. They certainly succeeded in attracting attention, but it did not lead to seizing the initiative. Instead, this behavior only caused irritation and resentment among other members of the opposition, who repeatedly accused nationalists of provocation.

The only action where ultra-right activists managed to gain some status was the May “Occupy” campaign, where young people wearing “imperial” ribbons were in charge of camp security. Then they tried to use the same strategy in order to take over the management of the camp kitchen and even the camp fundraising, but such an arrangement no longer seemed satisfactory to other participants, who made several attempts to ban nationalist propaganda and even to discuss the presence of nationalists and their status in the camp. However, before these attempts had a chance to bear fruit, the Occupy camp was cleared by the security forces.[30]

Thus, for those ordinary Moscow nationalists, who decided to take part in the protest movement, 2012 became a year of big disappointment. Its beginning was very optimistic, and, up to a certain point, the far-right still held hopes that the “angry city dwellers” protest could result in a “Russian revolt.” It quickly became clear that these expectations were unfounded. Nationalists blamed both liberals and their own leaders for this failure, arguing that they “betrayed the protest,” by preventing it from following the “proper” course.


The situation was somewhat different in St. Petersburg, where nationalists managed to play more than just supporting roles. Nevertheless, the final outcome was the same. The St. Petersburg protesters were far fewer in numbers than those in the capital; meanwhile the number of ultra-right participants did not differ much between the two cities. As a result, nationalists constituted a much larger and more visible segment of the protest movement.

The right radicals of St. Petersburg much more readily attended protest rallies and marches, usually contributing from 100 to 600 participants – a number, comparable to the St. Petersburg attendance of the Russian Marches (500 to 1000 people). Emboldened by this level of support, the local ultra-right leaders were much more straightforward and did not shy away from their traditional nationalist rhetoric during their stage time. In general, the St. Petersburg opposition took nationalists more seriously, they were even accused (and rightly so) of taking over the Civil Committee, the local protest government body.

Nevertheless, the number of right-wing activists, who attended general protests in St. Petersburg, also gradually declined and fell from 600 at the march of February 4 to 70 people at the Freedom March on December 15. Like their Moscow counterparts, St. Petersburg activists shared a sense of disappointment in rallies and marches as a way to fight for power, exacerbated by the fact that they could not blame the liberals for this particular failure.


The far right presence during the protest actions in most other Russian cities was even less significant than in Moscow, and usually consisted of several people carrying the imperial flag. Nationalists sometimes managed to speak at the rallies; occasionally, they became co-organizers or even organizers, but their number never exceeded several dozen even in the cities, where the Russian March tended to attract hundreds of participants.

Thus, we can conclude that the majority of nationalists refused to participate in the “liberal rebellion,” and those, who had initially hoped that these events could become a prelude to the “White Revolution,” quickly became disillusioned. Ordinary nationalists started talking once again about the need to seize power by force; thus the year of peaceful demonstrations resulted in stronger emphasis on violence among the ultra-right.


Ultra-Right Political Organizations

Unlike the rank-and-file activists, the largest ultra-right organizations – primarily “the Russians” (Russkie), led by Alexander Belov and Dmitry Demushkin, the Russian Social Movement (Russkoe obshchestvennoe dvizhenie, ROD), led by Konstantin Krylov, and the Russian Citizens Union (Russkii grazhdanskii soiuz, RGS) and its leader Anton Susov – initially were much more optimistic about general oppositional activity. They hoped to use it as a platform to increase the social base of their movements. Early in the year, it seemed that they followed a strategy, developed back in the fall of 2010, of progressing from their earlier status of “non-handshakable” radicals to an organic part of the democratic opposition.

Making their way into the protest movement’s coordinating bodies was the key element of this strategy. The greater part of the struggle took place in late 2011; the ultra-right and the ultra-left jointly promoted an idea of establishing ideology-based quotas in order to compensate for the outright dominance of the liberals. The Citizen’s Council (Grazhdaniskii Sovet, GS) – the coordinating body of the protest movement – was formed accordingly, and consisted of 60 people from the four “curia”: 10 representatives for each of the three broad political affiliations (nationalists, liberals, leftists) and 30 representatives from the non-partisan citizen activists.

In late January, the nationalists announced that they were not selecting ten permanent members from their “curia” – instead, their four coordinators, namely A. Belov, D. Demushkin, K. Krylov and Vladimir Tor, were to select them prior to each meeting. Thus, in fact, “the Russians” and the ROD decided who got to speak on behalf of the nationalists in the protest movement.

In addition, the nationalists received 5 out of 30 seats in the “Citizens Curia” (Grazhdanskaia kuriia). Three organizations – the supporters of National-Stalinist Yuri Mukhin, Valery Ganichev’s Russian Union of Writers, and the National News Service (Natsional'naia sluzhba novostei) of “the Russians” – scored the necessary number of votes in the elections, conducted via text messages. Attempts by the leftists to veto this decision and deny certain nationalists the right to represent “Citizens Curia” were met with opposition from Ilya Ponomaryov, the State Duma deputy from the Just Russia (Spravedlivaia Rossiia) party, and the question was never put to a vote.

Even the “Liberal Curia” did not escape the nationalists’ attention; Ilya Lazarenko, a veteran of Russian neo-Nazi movement, the founder of the “Nav’ Church – the Gnostic Church of the White Race,” and, currently, the leader of the tiny National Democratic Alliance (Natsional-demokraticheskii alians) was elected to the Citizen’s Council from this curia.

In fact, this whole fight in the committees was important to nationalists primarily because it provided them with opportunities to get on stage and address the audience during rallies and marches, to recruit people to their side, and to demonstrate their status to other activists. Nationalists addressed the audience during general protests since the very first rally of December 5, 2011, but, nevertheless, failed to expand their presence.

The Pushkin Square rally on March 5, one of the least attended events (no more than 10 thousand people), was the only one that featured three speakers from the far-right. On that day, Sergei Baburin, the leader of Russian All-People’s Union (Rossiiskii obshchenarodnyi soiuz, ROS), and the ROD leaders V. Tor and K. Krylov got the floor. Two nationalists speakers, Natalia Kholmogorova (ROD Human Rights Center) and A. Belov (“the Russians”), participated in the rally on September 15; one (A. Belov) spoke on February 4; another one (Ivan Mironov of ROS) addressed the rally on June 12. During the March 10 rally not a single representative of the far right (or even ideologically close) was invited on stage; in protest, D. Demushkin defiantly led off about 200 of his supporters, who then proceeded to march along the Old Arbat Street carrying banners with xenophobic slogans.

The ultra-right movement leaders were clearly unhappy about the situation, but proceeded with their original course of participation in the oppositional activities despite the small number of followers and displeasure of most right-wing activists.

In the framework of this strategy, it was decided to conduct the traditional Russian May Day (Russkii Pervomai) not as a customary purely nationalist action, but as a large march of the general opposition. Eventually, they succeeded in convincing non-nationalist websites to promote the event, organized by nationalists, and the Citizens Council declared it an event of the opposition. In their desire to conform to this status, the organizers even changed the event’s traditional name; in 2012, it was rebranded the “Citizen’s March.” The far right clearly expected to turn the Russian May Day into a large oppositional event, but the one with nationalists – not liberals – as primary moving force. However, these hopes were not fulfilled. The Citizen’s March was expected to attract 5,000 people, but, instead, it had even fewer participants than the year before – about 500, compared to 600 in 2011. Other opposition leaders essentially ignored the nationalists’ invitation.[31].

Thus, the Russian May Day demonstrated to the right-wing leaders the failure of their plans to expand their social base through recruiting general protest participants; meanwhile they were starting to lose their existing supporters, previously willing to attend nationalist events.


After the Russian May Day failure, the event’s main organizers, “the Russians,” apparently began to doubt the wisdom of their chosen strategy. They decided not to attend the Millions March on May 6, and, instead, to hold a separate rally on Manezhnaya Square. Nationalists clearly hoped that the breakthrough attempt near the Kremlin – especially given the fact that activists from For Fair Power (Za chestnuyu vlast’) paratroopers movement promised to show up (but didn’t) – will attract greater attention than just another peaceful demonstration, where the ultra-right, once again, were assigned the spectator role. Thus, the action on May 6 was planned in a more familiar independent format, including elements of forcible resistance to the authorities. However, the opposite happened – clashes with the police, so beloved by nationalist activists, took place during the Millions March, which became a major event, while A. Belov, D. Demushkin and Georgii Borovikov brought about 70 activists to the Revolution Square, but were unable to hold the event, since some attendees were almost immediately detained by the police, and the rest dispersed.

After this failure, nationalists once again returned to their course of participation in general opposition events. As mentioned above, they were active in the Occupy campaign, and showed up in greater numbers for the next march on June 12.

The ultra-right even sacrificed a traditional Moscow public action on the Day of Solidarity with Right-Wing Political Prisoners, observed by the right radicals on July 25 for the past few years. They hoped to bring their supporters to a general protest rally on July 26 in support of the prisoners in Bolotnaya Square riot case, but they didn’t have much impact. Leaders of the right-wing organizations were not invited on stage, the number of rank-and-file nationalists was small, and their role was negligible.


In summer 2012, the opposition leaders decided to form a real democratic governing body instead of the Citizens Council, which was almost forgotten by that time. During the march of June 12 they announced the new Opposition Coordination Council (Koordinatsionnyi Sovet Oppositsii), with elections scheduled for October 20. The nationalists were actively involved in the electoral process, especially since it involved public debates, which, by themselves, provided a platform for addressing a wider audience of potential supporters.

The Opposition Coordination Council was formed according to the same principle as the Citizens Council, that is, 5 people from each of the three ideological factions (nationalist, leftist and liberal) and 30 people from the “citizens’ faction.” The elections were conducted online, but were much better protected from fraudulent inflation of the results by the small subset of users then the preceding ones.

The nationalist curia candidates included Daniil Konstantinov from Moscow Defense League (Liga oborony Moskvy) Igor Artyomov from RONS (which after its ban, now stands for “Rossiia osvoboditsya nashimi silami”, Russia Freed by Our Efforts), Nikolai Bondarik from the Russian Party (Russkaia partiia), K. Krylov from National-Democratic Party (NDP), V. Tor (NDP), Alex Rezchikov (Abanin) (NDP), Vsevolod Radchenko (NDP), D. Demushkin (“the Russians”), A. Belov (“the Russians”), Vasily Drovetsky (independent), Andrey Tyurin (independent), Vadim Kolesnikov (independent), and Stanislav Vorobyev form Russian Imperial Movement (Russkoe imperskoe dvizhenie, RID). The voting results were surprising: the five winners were D. Konstantinov, I Artyomov, N. Bondarik, K. Krylov and V Tor. To everyone's surprise, the most famous nationalists – A. Belov and D. Demushkin – received no mandates. Also, while the high voting results of Konstantinov,[32] who had been recognized as a political prisoner, and of two moderates Krylov and Tor are understandable, it is far less clear why so many votes were casts for little known Artyomov and Bondarik. We can offer two possible explanations for this outcome.

First, rank-and-file ultra-right activists largely ignored the elections, since they never approved of collaboration with the liberals in the first place. In addition, they were, likely, scared away by the requirement to show their passport in order to take part in the elections. On one hand the majority of voters in these elections were people who did not share nationalist ideology, for whom the known figures of A. Belov and D. Demushkin are extremely unattractive, while the surnames “Artyomov” and “Bondarik” (in the very beginning of the list) bring up no associations. On the other hand, some voters were nationalists from the 1990s, to whom Artyomov and Bondarik as better known and more desirable then the 2000s crop of activists, such as Belov and Demushkin.

Second, fans of Sergei Mavrodi played a major role in this outcome. S. Mavrodi called on his fans to support three winners – D. Konstantinov, I. Artyomov, and N. Bondarik – for the nationalist curia. After the elections, the Coordination Council election committee was said to annul 9 thousand of these supposed “MMM votes.” However, according to some sources, it was done for all the factions; according to the other reports, it was true only for the liberal and the citizens’ factions. Thus, we can suspect that the many votes for Artyomov and Bondarik come from MMM voters.

We don’t have enough data to determine which of the versions is more accurate. However, the actual result is not too politically different from the expected one (Konstantinov, Krylov, Tor, Belov, Demushkin). Bondarik is on friendly terms with “the Russians,” and can easily replace Demushkin, while Belov participates in the work of the Opposition Coordination Council as a stand-in for Artyomov, who was in the United States hiding from the prosecution.

The nationalists, who ran as the citizens faction candidates, received no significant support, and none of them was elected to the Opposition Coordination Council.[33]

The ultra-right leaders were clearly disappointed with the results; they had been much better represented in the Citizen’s Council. Following the election loss and the lackluster Russian March in Moscow (see below) Demushkin made a sensational announcement that nationalists were not joining the Freedom March on December 15. “While initially this was a kind of people’s movement, and there was hope that the organizers had the guts for some kind of action, now it turned into these obviously pointless walks around Moscow.”[34] However, other leaders of “the Russians,” such as V. Basmanov, held an opposite opinion. As a result, “the Russians” promoted the march, but nationalists were barely visible there.

Thus, by the end of the year, the key ultra-right organizations, despite misgivings, continue to follow the course of cooperation with other oppositional groups, stubbornly ignoring their own activists’ lack of enthusiasm.

While some organizations remained committed to the general protest movement through the end of the year, there were also those who tried to earn political points from the lack of support for the protest among rank-and-file nationalists. In one particularly telling instance, the Russosvet coalition, the Right League (Pravaia liga) association and a few other groups decided to hold an alternative Russian May Day and built their advertising campaign on rejecting any cooperation with the liberals, or participation in their events. However, the efforts of these groups did not bear fruit, as only about 50 people attended the march, i.e. 10 fewer participants than the year before.[35]

The Great Russia party led by Andrey Savelyev achieved greater visibility in 2012. The party ignored a number of early protest actions, then showed up and demonstratively left from several of them. Moreover, Savelyev openly accused the ultra-right organizations that took part in the general opposition marches of “conspiring with the liberals.” In response, he was accused of being uncooperative, helping nobody but his own supporters, and discrediting nationalist activists by dressing up his activists in uniform resembling that of the Nazi SS troops. The demarches by the Great Russia spoiled its relations with other far-right political projects, but did not bring the sought-for approval among ordinary nationalists; most of them felt that A. Savelyev is no better than the others, because he, nevertheless, attended the general protest events.


The far-right milieu also included some activists who have changed their views regarding participation in protest activities in the course of the year. In the fall, Valery Solovey’s party refused to participate in further civic protest actions. On the eve of the Millions March on September 15 the New Force (Novaya Sila) party stated: “While we share the democratic aspirations and civic impulse of the rank-and-file March participants, we see that this event has increasingly become an instrument for realizing personal ambitions of certain shady “lords” and “comrades.” Our political and moral disgust does not allow us to walk side by side with people, who, once again, call for “Taking everything away, then dividing it up.”[36] Quite remarkably, Solovey’s party distanced itself not only from the general protest movement, but partially from far-right organizations as well, by refusing, for example, to participate in the Russian March. The New Force has decided to organize its own event on November 4, but it could not be held due to insufficient attendance. The tactics of non-affiliation has so far failed to yield their anticipated dividends.

Thus, in and of itself, a vocal refusal to participate in protest actions does not make an organization more respected by rank-and-file nationalists and does not increase its social base.


Independent Actions by Nationalists

Despite the fact, that 2012 was primarily defined by participation in general civic protests, nationalists never stopped conducting public actions of their own.

The first in a series of such actions in 2012 were “Mirzaev must go to jail” rallies, which took place in several Russian cities. As the name implies, they were related to the criminal case of Rasul Mirzaev, an athlete, whose fight in a Moscow's nightclub with student Ivan Agafonov resulted in the latter’s death. The rallies were in response to a decision by the Zamoskvoretskii Court (later overturned by the Moscow City Court) to release R. Mirzaev on bail. The Moscow rally on February 18 attracted only about 200-300 people, and ended with a march through the city center of about 100 right-wing radicals, who were shouting neo-Nazi slogans and slogans against migrants from the Caucasus region (in addition, two workers from Central Asia were attacked during the march). About 100 people came to the St. Petersburg rally; in other cities the action attracted no more than 30 people, or could not take place at all.

Nationalists largely ignored this year's Heroes Day – the traditional March 1 events, dedicated to the Pskov paratroopers, who died fighting in Chechnya in 2000. The action took place only in a few cities, and the largest gathering, in Nizhny Novgorod, brought together 40 people.

“The Russians” association, responsible for organizing the event in Moscow, limited it to the laying of flowers, attended by 15 people only. For comparison, in 2011 the events were held in 13 cities, and about 120 people attended the largest rally in Moscow. No additional independent nationalist actions of any significance took place during March and April 2012.

In contrast with the failed Russian May Day in Moscow, the same event was much more successful in the regions, where the general protest movement exerted far less pull. There, the nationalist marches managed to attract at least as many or even greater number of activists then the year before. The geographical spread of the march increased as well: in several cities it took place for the first time in 2012. Yekaterinburg can serve as a convincing example; the first ever Russian May Day conducted there brought together about 500 people. In the previous years, only the traditional autumn Russian March was conducted there, and about 200 people attended it in 2011.

The Day of Solidarity with Right-Wing Political Prisoners, observed by the right radicals on July 25 since 2009, became their next independent action. As we mentioned before, it was decided not to organize a separate rally in Moscow. However, many regions decided not to break with the tradition; modest actions took place in 22 Russian cities and several cities in Ukraine and Belarus. As in the previous year, major ultra-right organizations focused primarily on collecting money for the prisoners, but didn’t succeed. The total amount collected by all the affiliated movements ended was smaller than the amount collected in 2011 by Krylov’s ROD alone. No progress was achieved in terms of the action’s geographic distribution. Most events did not receive much coverage in the official mass media or even on ultra-right Russian Internet resources, and the number of cities showed no significant increase since 2010.[37] (22 vs. 20)

On September 30, a series of events commemorated the traditional Day of Remembrance for Victims of Ethnic Crime. Two actions that took place in Moscow attracted 70 and 25 participants respectively; two parallel actions in 2011, according to different estimates, brought 150-200 and 300-500 participants respectively.

Evidently, the Day or Remembrance had the same problem as the Heroes Day – “the Russians” and Krylov’s ROD focused on elections to the Opposition Coordination Council and failed to adequately promote their event.

The level of activity in the other cities remained unchanged; the events attracted the maximum of 25 people.


The Russian March was the next and, traditionally, the most important nationalist public event of the year. Unlike the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Ethnic Crime, the Russian March was promoted quite actively.

The March was not very successful in Moscow, despite the fact that, for the first time in several years, it took place not in Lublino area, but in the city center, where the nationalists marched from Yakimanskaya Naberezhnaya to Krymsky Val. Baburin’s ROS acted as an official organizer and actually managed to get an official permission to hold the march in the vicinity of the Kremlin.[38]

The 2012 March was rather underwhelming. It attracted even fewer participants than in 2011 or 2010. In 2012, 5.5 thousand people took part in the event compared to 6-6.5 thousand in 2011 and 5.5.-6 thousand in 2010. Prior to December 2011, the Russian March far outnumbered any other oppositional event, but nationalists had nothing to be proud of by the 2012 standards. The form of the event was also unremarkable and no different from general protest marches.

The March was attended by slightly different demographic groups than in the previous years, and even the organizers noticed an uncommonly large number of middle-aged people. They interpreted this phenomenon as an occasion for celebration, declaring that their event finally managed to attract not merely hardcore neo-Nazis, but ordinary Muscovites, concerned with immigration issues. However, we don’t believe this to be an adequate explanation. Two factors are responsible for the change in the participant age distribution. First, some traditional March participants, that is, right-wing, or even openly neo-Nazi youth, which in the past comprised up to 80 % of the attendees, failed to show up. Second, the action brought together organizations such as Baburin’s ROS, Vladimir Kvachkov’s People's Militia in the Name of Minin and Pozharsky (Narodnoe opolcheniie imeni Minina i Pozharskogo, NOMP), the Will (Volya) party led by Svetlana Peunova, the Union of the Russian People (Soiuz russkogo naroda, SRN) led by Boris Mironov and various groups of Russian Orthodox radicals, many of whose members are middle-aged or elderly. Thus, the nationalists only attracted fewer of their traditional supporters, but managed to improve their relations with ideological “neighbors” and thus avoided a large drop in attendance. In any case, the event failed to bring out the “ordinary Muscovites”.

In addition to Moscow, the Russian March took place in 45 cities. This is a fairly significant increase, compared to 32 cities, which hosted the action in 2011. Not counting the first-timers, the average attendance remained the same as last year. However, some cities showed a sharp increase in numbers, for example, Krasnodar reported about 1,000 people compared to 200 the year before. In other places the attendance has fallen dramatically – only 170 activists marched in Krasnoyarsk, compared to 400 in 2011.


Another independent nationalist rally was held on November 27 and was, once again, related to the Mirzaev court case; nationalists decried his sentence as excessively lenient. A. Belov and D. Demushkin promised “the second Manezhnaya Square,” but, eventually, no more than 100 people attended the rally.

In fact, the second anniversary of the Manezhnaya Square riots of December 11, 2010 mobilized almost no one. In St. Petersburg, there was a march on Kronshtadtskaya Street to Komsomolsky Square. It brought together about 150 people: supporters of the National Socialist Initiative (NSI, Dmitry Bobrov), supporters of Semen Pikhtelev’s National Democrats (Natsionalnye Demokraty) and Zenit fans. About 100 people marched in Nizhny Novgorod. “The Russians” managed to collect a total of 70 people in Moscow. In other cities the event attracted no more than 15-20 people.


Independent public actions of the ultra-right in 2012 were taking place in the context of the general protest movement and, as a result, underwent a number of important shifts.

First, we observe a clear decline in attendance of their traditional activist base. This occurred because major ultra-right associations and movements often couldn’t pay sufficient attention to event organizing, and due to activists’ disappointment in their leaders and in overall effectiveness of marches and rallies. Large protest events failed to bring the desired change, and, as a result, many rank-and-file ultra-right activists once again began to focus on violent methods. Moreover, with thousands of people attending the general opposition marches, nationalists not longer had the distinction of being the most active protest force in the country, and the Russian March lost its status of the most visible oppositional event of the year. Altogether, there were few reasons for optimism. We can’t even say that nationalists left the general protest and went back to their original format

However, the changes mostly pertained to Moscow and St. Petersburg, the centers of the civic protest movement. The nationalist movement in other regions, on the contrary, widened and grew in numbers. Possibly, this effect has to do with provincial political process lagging behind the center. Either way, it is hard to predict how all these discordant tendencies in different regions will affect the future of the nationalist movement.

The second big change was the consolidation of the existing ultra-right political organizations that coincided with growing overall disengagement of the neo-Nazi youth from these organizations. Despite their constant bickering, various right-wing associations organized more joint rallies and marches than ever before. This was most clearly demonstrated during the Russian May Day and the Russian March. As we mentioned above, the geographical distribution of both marches increased significantly; the reduction in numbers, where it occurred, came from nationalist activists’ irregular attendance or even lack of attendance. Thus, their participation in general oppositional activity did not particularly improve relations between nationalists and other opposition groups, but to some extent, strengthened the ties among various ultra-right groups.

However, this process had its costs. Replacing traditional activists on nationalist rallies and marches with newcomers resulted in increased ideological fragmentation, since the worldview of “new” marchers differed from the “old” ones (although, if we assign these categories according to physical age and political seniority, the term “old” would be more descriptive of those, who only recently joined the mass protests). The Russian March in Moscow provides a good illustration. The organizations, whose members showed up at the meeting and allowed the organizers to avoid significant drop in attendance – ROS, NOMP, the Will Party and SRN – tend to attract people of communist-leaning or imperial convictions; meanwhile, young activists, who regularly attend street marches, tend to be in favor of mono-ethnic state and hate the Soviet past. Moreover, many Orthodox Christian activists, who participated in the 2012 march in large numbers, were adherents of monarchism – not at all the usual Russian March contingent. As a result, many of the Russian March regular participants were dissatisfied and talked about the dominance of “Jew-eating oldsters,” “the Russian Orthodox Church patients,” etc.

It is still unclear whether the contacts, established between right radical organizations in 2012, can persist over time.


“Kondopoga Technology”

As the wave of protest activity faded, and the nationalists became disappointed in fighting the existing political regime, they returned, once again, to an idea of actualizing an “inter-ethnic conflict.” In the periods between large marches of the opposition nationalists often – even more often than before – raised the media buzz around local violent conflicts that involved “Russians,” on the one hand, and “non-Russians” on the other.

The most notorious conflict of the summer was the one in the village of Demyanovo in the Kirov Region. It started on June 20 with a fight in Kristal Bar between a local resident and a native of Dagestan. The fight was followed by another one, which involved two people from each side, including a nephew of the local sawmill owner. Then a few dozen people – all friends and relatives of the sawmill owner Nukh Kuramagomedov – arrived to the village on June 22 to support their man. About fifty local residents between the ages of 18 and 35 gathered near the sawmill on June 22 in order to pursue the issues with the owner’s family and friends. The fact that the sawmill territory was cordoned off by the police prevented a large-scale brawl, but failed to prevent several skirmishes. The shots are audible on the recording of this incident; witnesses claim that the shots were fired by the Dagestani natives. A spontaneous rally that occurred in the village in the evening of June 23 was attended by about 300 people including Deputy Prime Minister of the Kirov Region Alexander Galitskykh. Kristal Bar, where the conflict began, burned down on the same day.

The conflict details remained unknown for a long time; the media published contradictory versions of the events. Law enforcement officials also remained very tight-lipped and did not provide any clarifications.

The far right, of course, insisted that the conflict had inter-ethnic character from the very beginning and was provoked by the migrants from Dagestan. Demyanovo was labeled a “hot spot,” and it was said that few dozen cars with armed Dagestanis were coming to the village for a “showdown” with the locals. The situation in the village quickly stabilized, and most nationalists lost interest in it, although ROD and ROD Human Rights Center tried to revive the urgency of the situation, reporting on the arrests of the local residents (and not Dagestan natives), police torture of witnesses, unjust court procedures, etc.

Another high-profile case was the murder of Nevinnomyssk resident Nikolai Naumenko in the Stavropol Region. Naumenko was killed on the night of December 6 in a brawl at a local Zodiak Bar. It was reported that the young man had a mundane disagreement with two girls, and one of them called on her friends, the Akayev brothers from Chechnya, for assistance. As a result of a showdown one of the brothers, Viskhan Akayev, inflicted several knife wounds on Naumenko. Doctors were unable to save him, and he died in the hospital. V. Akayev fled the scene and was put on the federal wanted list.

The “peoples’ gathering” of local residents near the Nevinnomyssk Administration building took place on December 15, and demanded a honest and public investigation of Nikolai Naumenko’s murder. Ultra-right radicals were also present among the participants, including the New Force party activists; the gathering was widely announced via many ultra-right web sites. Altogether, about 300 people attended the meeting, including several Cossacks, and many 18- to 20-year-olds, some of whom covered their faces with scarves. Two meeting participants displayed the “No More Killing Russians!” (Khvatit ubivat russkikh!) banner. Some young nationalists attempted to block the traffic on the central Gagarin Street. Few people were detained by police, but released after several hours. Following the attempt to block the street, the city mayor Sergey Batyniuk and Col. Victor Demenko, the head of local department of the Ministry of the Interior came out to speak with the activists. After the conversation, the majority of participants dispersed and went home.

The second “peoples’ gathering” in Nevinnomyssk took place on December 22. The New Force and NOMP took part in organizing the event. About 300 people came together, but some of them were unhappy about the nationalists’ presence and complained that the nationalists turned the gathering into their PR action. The event ended when 37 people were detained by police.

At the time of writing, the situation in Nevinnomyssk remains volatile. Ultra-right resources continue to “spin” this incident, which, in January, became a pretext for an entire series of action in support of the city residents, under the slogan of “The Stavropol Region is not the Caucasus” (Stavropolye – ne Kavkaz).

The last “resonant” story of 2012 was the death of St. Petersburg resident Grigorii Kochnev under very strange circumstances. According to different versions of the story, he either committed suicide or was killed either by certain Dagestanis or by certain employees of Federal Service for Execution of Punishment. A gathering, related to Kochnev’s death and attended by about 200 people, took place near the Youth Theater building in St. Petersburg on December 23, but the police disrupted the meeting and detained many participants. Media reports mentioned 68 detainees.

In our opinion, the examples of Demyanovo, Nevinnomyssk and St. Petersburg clearly demonstrate that a crisis in these situations is often exacerbated by a slow and frequently unprofessional police response and by the lack of reliable information about the situation. As a result, unchecked domestic disputes develop into major conflicts, impunity for murderers causes justified indignation, and the information vacuum gives birth to rumors, myths and conspiracy theories, which are subsequently used by nationalists, to “spin” these conflicts as ethnic clashes.


Despite the fact that none of these stories acquired any major resonance, and, fortunately, none of them led to any new confrontations, nationalists at least succeeded in keeping the issue alive in terms of media coverage.

Anti-immigrant sentiment in the Russian society grew significantly even without direct ultra-right involvement. According to the surveys, conducted by Levada Center, the number of people, who were negatively disposed toward migrants, reached the highest level ever recorded – 47 % this year compared to 40 % in 2010 and 31 % in 2007. The number of people, who think that migrants should be deported from the RF rather than provided with legalization and social adjustment assistance, reached 64 %, compared to 57 % in 2011 and 50 % in 2007.[39]

The growing number of cases, in which violent incidents between local residents and visitors were “spinned” as ethnic conflicts by nationalists, can be interpreted as the far-right’s attempt to stimulate the growing social “demand.”

On the other hand, nationalist organizations seek to ensure constant surfacing of these stories in the media in order to mobilize support within their own ultra-right community. This was particularly true in 2012, given a clear need to compensate for disappointment with the oppositional activity.


Party Building

Nationalist organizations combined efforts to become an integral part of the “outside the system” segment of the opposition with active party building of their own, hoping to gain formal acceptance on the political playing field. In late 2011 Dmitry Medvedev introduced a bill in the State Duma simplifying the registration of political parties and thus provided an impulse to party building.

A number of “old” nationalist organizations, dating back to the 1990s, as well as some newer movements born during the 2000s[40] presented their party projects.

The Russian All-People’s Union (Rossiiskii obshchenarodnyi soiuz, ROS) led by Sergei Baburin, was a rare nationalist party that managed to get officially registered, and has now emerged as the most active “old guard” player on the field. The process of party building has proceeded quite well, and by the end of 2012 the ROS already formed 53 regional offices that were successfully registered and received official certificates.

The ROS’s program is rather moderate and does not include any calls to violence or racist statements.[41] However, it does emphasize the special importance of ethnic Russians and their unequal position compared to other ethnic groups. The party targets not only potential ethnic Russian constituents but also representatives of “native peoples of Russia who became interrelated with the Russians” (groups, pertaining to this category, are not specified), who have a vested interested in ensuring that ethnic Russians lived “in peace and comfort” in Russia.

The ROS calls for sharply increased state participation in the economy and for imperial foreign policy, aimed at forming the “Eurasian Union,” which is supposed to include the countries that formerly constituted the USSR and the Russian Empire. The party also calls for a complete government reform. It suggests strengthening the role of the president, who should become not merely the head of state, but also the head of the entire executive branch. It advocates changing the composition of federal and regional legislative bodies by replacing or supplementing party- and ideology-based representation with representation from the regions and major professional associations (modeled after Zemsky Sobor, the Russian “Assembly of the land,” last called in 1684). The program also proposes a considerable expansion of local governments, modeled after Zemstva (existed from 1864 to 1917). The ROS promotes this curious mix of government structures from various eras, insisting that it represents the best fit for the “traditions of our fatherland.” No additional justifications have been offered.

Compared to the other ultra-right parties, the ROC probably has the best electoral resources. Sergey Baburin is perceived as a moderate nationalist and known to many middle-aged and older people. At the same time, the ROS is able to compete for the young ultra-right audience, since its leaders include such characters as Roman Zentsov, the head of Resistance (Soprotivlenie), and known ultra-right activist I. Mironov, both well-respected by the young people. The ROS tends to work closely together with “the Russians” coalition.


“The Russians” also announced their intention to form a political party in 2012. However, their party-building process is almost at a standstill; a year later, the party still has no program or website. Essentially, the inaugural congress that took place in the city of Glubokoye of Vitebsk Region in Belarus became their only party-building event of the year. In the course of the congress, Dmitry Demushkin was elected Chair of the party’s organizing committee; it was decided that the intended body will be called the Nationalist Party, and that the imperial flag will be adopted as its symbol.

Making no efforts to develop a party brand, the coalition, nevertheless, expanded quite vigorously. New branches of “the Russians” popped up in different regions, and the old ones were reorganized. Possibly, the leaders of “the Russians” believe that their chances for official registration are vanishingly small, and prefer to invest their energy into their existing organization rather than the phantom party. It is also likely that their lack of public party-building activity reflects their lack of desire to attract additional law enforcement attention. In this case, the current development of the coalition can be viewed as the initial stage of party building.

“The Russians” follow the “catch-all” strategy, attempting to attract nationalists of every possible stripe. This strategy determined their non-controversial choice of names for both the coalition and the party and choice of the imperial flag, widely accepted in the ultra-right community, as their emblem. Each of the ideologically diverse organizations in the movement also continues separate public activity under its own name in order to recruit supporters from “their own” ideological clan. This is particularly evident in St. Petersburg, where the NSI tries to appeal to the most radical segment, while the RID targets those, who favor Orthodox Christianity and the Empire. In the meantime, the National Democrats (who announced in April that they joined “the Russians”) compete with NDP and The New Force for the sympathies of more moderate nationalists. The Moscow leaders of “the Russians” also seem to have divided responsibilities: A. Belov and D. Demushkin “work” with ordinary xenophobic Russian citizens and seek to participate in the formal political process, and somewhat less visible Georgii Borovikov focuses more on ultra-radical nationalist youth and tries to turn it into a social base for the coalition.

However, this tactic has failed to bring the desired results. As was mentioned before, a year of participation in general street protest activity lead to even wider break of the organization with ultra-right rank-and-file activists, who never had much respect for the leaders of “the Russians” to begin with. There is also no reason to believe that the coalition managed to bring in a significant new number of supporters, who had not been previously involved in the ultra-right movement.[42]


In winter 2012, the ROD, led by K. Krylov, and RGS, led by Susov decided to form the National-Democratic Party on the basis of their two organizations, and they actively worked all year to publicize their new brand. Starting in spring, both organizations appeared in the public space only as NDP, and the news no longer mentioned their previous names.

NDP have already created at least 40 branches around the country, but still has no formally adopted program, only its draft.[43] The draft declares commitment to the basic democratic and liberal values (election of all levels, the separation of powers, freedom of speech and assembly, respect for human rights). NDP talks about the need for a presidential form of government, but violates the basic principle of the presidential republics by demanding that the cabinet be responsible to Parliament and that the right of the President to dissolve the cabinet be limited. Thus, the draft presents a mixed form of government, where the presidential power is curtailed, in comparison with the current situation. The NDP ideology is much different, in this respect, from that of most other ultra-right organizations and parties, whose vision involves strengthening the role of head of state. However, the majority of nationalists would agree with the call for expanding the state’s social functions, revising the results of the 1990s privatization, and the state control over the oil, gas, energy, defense and transport industries. Expressions of ethnic nationalism in the program are almost non-existent. Anti-immigrant sentiments and demands for limiting migration are covered up by standard ultra-right allegations that migrants often look for ways to make money illegally, that they “are not integrated and do not have such intentions, instead acting as colonizers, and not always peaceful.”[44] “NDP, in contrast to ROS, denies the existence of the “third way” or “Eurasianism” and insists that the Russian civilization is a subset of the generalized European civilization.

Thus, the NDP program is free of radicalism and serves the goal, indicated by the party leaders, that is, to become European-style nationalists, who can potentially gain support of non-radical xenophobic majority of the Russian society. This position has caused much internal indignation, and even resulted in departure of one of the founding members – Egor Kholmogorov, who had been responsible for registering NDP.

The New Force party, led by Valery Solovey, represents another national-democratic project and has already created 43 regional branches.

The program of the New Force is almost identical to the NDP program. Ethnic nationalism is almost absent; at the same time the suggested anti-migration system makes any migration almost impossible. The political vision is also similar to the one, expressed by the NDP, but the New Force suggests that Russia should move to presidential rule, stating that “Russia needs a strong central government.”[45]

Despite their ideological similarities, two parties don’t cooperate, and their competition occasionally escalates into conflicts. For example, the Russian Platform (Russkaya Platforma) website published an accusation of plagiarism against the NDP leader K. Krylov in September, alleging that the NDP symbols, site design and campaign slogans are copied from the New Force. In response, the NDP accused Solovey of taking over the Russian Platform site, which was intended as a common resource for all nationalist. It is worth noting, that the majority of online comments to the initial “attack” against NDP on the Russian Platform website were critical of this move by Solovey’s party. The site visitors disapproved of public discord between nationalists, and the subject was not deemed worthy of a fight.

The New Force develops much more actively than NDP. It constantly organizes small regional actions under various pretexts in order to distribute their information booklets. The actions can be “in memory of political repression and victims of the Red Terror,” or against increasing cost of public utilities, or simply conducted under the slogan “For new Russia.” Electoral resources of both NDP and the New Force are still modest. Both parties (more consistently in case of V. Solovey’s party, slightly less consistently in case of Krylov’s party) target not the existing ultra-right segment, but rather the xenophobic majority of the population. However, as we noted on many occasion, neither party has means of reaching their electoral target. Most Russian citizens are unaware of their existence.


In addition to well-known ultra-right organizations, several national-patriotic movements of 1990s and early 2000s, Cossack and monarchist proto-parties, and a number of small near-nationalist associations announced their intentions to form their own parties.

Only the Monarchist Party (Monarkhicheskaia partiia) of famous political technologist Anton Bakov[46] and Mikhail Lermontov’s For Our Motherland (Za nashu rodinu) party[47] – a small remnant of the Motherland (Rodina) party – successfully registered with the Ministry of Justice[48] by February 2013. The other party organizational committees either have not yet succeeded, or split in the course of the year, or even completely disappeared.

It is worth noting separately that Dmitry Rogozin’s Motherland party[49] renewed its registration in December. Alexey Zhuravlev, a State Duma deputy from the “United Russia,” became its leader and filed for the Ministry of Justice registration in April. It has been formally declared that the Motherland party, which at some point had been integrated into the Just Russia, have once again decided to go its separate way, and that the party recognizes the continuity of all documents and policy statements made by the Motherland party and its leaders of the 2004-2006.[50]

In reality, however, the current Motherland party has little in common with the party of 2004-2006. Most likely, the party, which is curated by the Deputy Prime Minister, has been revived in order to pull away voters in case of growing nationalist sentiments and increasing popularity of another right-wing party. However, we can’t analyze a possible future role of the born-again Motherland party, since its activity is practically unnoticeable at this time.

The largest nationalist organizations are unlikely to obtain their parties’ registration with the Ministry of Justice. However, even if it happens, the fact of registration is unlikely to lead to substantial increase in numbers of their supporters. Their resources are small, their leaders are little known, and even the moderates, such the NDP and the New Force, were never able to convince the public to stop associating their organizations with violent far-right militias.


Other Areas of Nationalist Activity

During the Elections

In 2012, ultra-right parties and coalitions had an opportunity to test their strength in the elections.

For example, many of them took part in the Moscow municipal elections on March 4, and some even managed to become the local deputies.[51]

The peculiar character of municipal elections, unfortunately, gives us no way of evaluating the extent to which the candidates’ personal appeal influenced their victory. In most cases, a voter votes either for a candidate from his preferred party (and nationalists generally did ran on party tickets) or based on a brief candidate biography.


Nationalists also were active during the fall election cycle. In the summer, it was announced that D. Demushkin was running for mayor of Kaliningrad. He collected the necessary number of signatures in August and submitted documents for registration. However, he was denied registration due to formal violations found in the signature sheets.

Alexey Stepkin (the leader of the Right Ones group in Mytishchinsky and Sergievo-Posadsky districts of the Moscow Region, and the organizer of the Russian Runs), attempted to run for the head of Mytishchinsky District in the fall of 2012, but was also not allowed to register.

Thus, nationalists are still frequently stopped even before they get to the elections stage. However, even assuming the liberalization of the Russian political system to the extent that right-wing radicals no longer face such obstacles, they don’t have enough consistent supporters focused on formal political participation to attain real electoral achievements,

However, the extreme right is not planning to give up participation in election campaigns. It was announced in December that the ROS, “the Russians” and the NDP plan to nominate a single candidate for the election of the Governor of the Moscow Region scheduled for September 2013. The New Force intends to participate in the 2013 elections as well.


Raids, Training Camps, etc.

The nationalist activity in organizing various social actions became one of the defining features of 2012.

The ultra-right social involvement is not new in and of itself; however, while previously nationalist actions had pertained to specific causes (i.e. helping orphanages, organizing sporting events, donorship, etc); now some movements have become interested in larger socially meaningful non-political projects. In some cases, they join initiatives spearheaded by other movements; in other cases they launch initiatives of their own. Besides improving their image, these actions allow nationalists to gain access to a wider audience, establish contacts with other movements, and get greater public recognition in their region.

Nationalists participated in various environmental campaigns of 2012 and even organized some of them: against felling of Tsagovsky forest in the town of Zhukovsky in the Moscow region, against nickel mining in the Voronezh Region, in defense of Zalesovsky reserve from planned mining of its mineral deposits, and against the building development in the Skhodnya River floodplain.

Various raiding initiatives – detection of expired products in the stores or alcohol sales to minors, fight against trafficking in smoking mixtures, and so on – also gained tremendous popularity among the ultra-right. Some of these initiatives are fraught with violence. For example, many far-right associations took part in “the hunt for pedophiles” this year's – the activity, pioneered by well-known neo-Nazi Maksim “the Hatchet” (Tesak) Martsinkevich. Nationalists, posing as children, meet potential pedophiles online and arrange for a face-to-face meeting, which is then filmed, and the video is published on the Internet. There were also some cases of beating up the men, who showed up to meet an alleged “child”. The nationalists claim that they act in the interests of children, but in reality, the effectiveness of such raids is close to zero; they don’t lead to any legal consequences for alleged pedophiles and don’t provide warning to actual children, since the resulting videos are watched exclusively by fellow nationalists.

Raids on places of illegal migrants' residence represent another similar initiative. Nationalists find their way into basements that house migrant workers, demand to see their identification papers, and then call the police, or the Federal Migration Service. This activity is simply illegal, since the activists have no authority to check anyone’s papers and, certainly, have no right to detain anyone. We consider such raids, where the extreme right activists act as de facto law enforcement agents, to be simply unacceptable.[52]


Ultra-right organizations have been demonstrating a renewed zeal for various training camps and outdoor programs. The main purpose of these activities is to maintain participants in the state of “battle readiness,” so the programs primarily focus on boot camp training, such as cross-country running, knife or unarmed combat practice, traumatic and smoothbore weapons shooting practice, and so on.

The camps started during the summer, when the level of political activity started to decline, but did not stop in the fall or winter. The nationalist organizations – the movements that belong to “the Russians” coalition, the People's Assembly (Narodnyi Sobor), RONS and smaller ultra-right groups – put a lot of effort into promoting these training camps, and some organizations even began to open new indoor training facilities.

In general, such outdoor or indoor training camps exist in order to the recruit new supporters, rally the existing ones, and prime all of them for a violent struggle with state structures and/or non-Russian residents of Russia. Apparently, the increase in nationalist sports and military training camps represents an attempt to win over right-wing rank-and-file radicals, disappointed in peaceful protest as an instrument of political struggle. So far, despite our fears, these initiatives do not enjoy much popularity, and are unlikely to have paid off.


Counter-action to Radical Nationalismand Xenophobia

Public Initiatives

The efforts of civil society activists to counter xenophobia and radical nationalism in 2012 once again occurred within a framework of their traditional projects. In the past year, many participants of these actions became victims of the ultra-right attacks or faced official repressions.

On January 19, 2012, the All-Russian campaign in memory of Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova and all those who died at the hands of neo-Nazis took place in at least 12 Russian cities. The anti-fascist march and rally in Moscow was attended by about 500 people. After the end of the event, one of its organizers, Yulia Bashinova, was detained by the police and accused of exceeding the declared number of event attendees (Part 1 of the Administrative Code Article 20.2). Neo-Nazi attacks against participants of these actions were reported in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Voronezh.

From March 14 to March 21, 2011, an International Week of educational activities “Stop Racism!” took place under the umbrella of the European Action Week of UNITED network for Intercultural Action. As in 2010 and 2011, only a handful of Russian cities conducted related events, and these were not well-attended.

Public activity slightly increased in the autumn months, as expected.

From November 9 to November 16, at least 12 Russian cities hosted the annual International Week of Tolerance under the slogan “Kristallnacht – never again!” This action also failed to attract sizeable audience.

On November 13, a picket in memory of antifascist musician Timur Kacharava, who died on this day at the hands of neo-Nazis, was conducted near the Bukvoed bookstore in St. Petersburg. Two people were subsequently detained by the police.

Another annual St. Petersburg event, the “March Against Hate,” instituted in 2004 after the assassination of scientist Nikolai Girenko by neo-Nazis, received an official permission in 2012; it was organized by the Democratic Petersburg coalition (Demokraticheskii Peterburg), which included Yabloko party, the Solidarity movement, the LGBT community, human rights organizations, and student movements and organizations.

In addition, on November 4, 2012, an alternative to the nationalist Russian March took place on Suvorov Square in Moscow. This rally in support of imprisoned anti-fascists brought together about 200 people from several radical leftist organizations. Just prior to the meeting, 20 to 30 nationalists attacked a small group that had assembled for the event. Four people were injured.

The Rain (Dozhd) TV channel suggested an attractive alternative to the Adolf Hitler’s birthday celebration. The Rain organized a “day of combatting racism in the Russian soccer,” for which they produced and broadcasted a video, starring many foreign athletes who play for Russian soccer clubs: Roberto Carlos (football club (FC) Anzhi), Emmanuel Emenike (FC Spartak), Ari (FC Spartak), Seydou Doumbia (PFC CSKA), Guilherme (FC Lokomotiv), Peter Odemwingie (FC West Bromwich, formerly Lokomotiv), as well as mini-soccer players Pula and Cirilo. The video showed players holding anti-racism placards; for example the placard held by Seydou Doumbia of CSKA read “I am the best scorer of the Russian Championship, and that says it all,” and the one, held by Roberto Carlos read “While you throw bananas at the players, I fight hunger in Brazil.” The Russian Football Premier League supported the action, and announced its intention to show the anti-racism video at stadiums before matches.


Criminal Prosecution for Violence

Prosecution of violent racist crimes was much less active in 2012 than during the two preceding years. In 2012, there were at least 28 convictions in 32 regions of Russia for violent crimes, where hate was recognized by courts as a motive, compared to 60 convictions in 32 regions in 2011. In these court cases 65 people were found guilty, compared to 203 people in 2011. A sharp decrease in numbers in comparison with 2011 could be attributed to the fact that most members of large ultra-right groups that practiced violence, had been convicted earlier, and the new generation haven’t had a chance to accumulate sufficient strength and also became more careful and skilled at covering its tracks.

When prosecuting racist violence in 2012, the judiciary used almost the entire range of the Criminal Code articles that contain hate motive as aggravating circumstance: Part 2 paragraph “k” of Article 105 (“Murder motivated by hatred”); Part 3 of Article 30; Part 2 paragraphs “a,” “g,” and “k” of Article 105 (“Attempted murder”); Part 2 paragraph “f” of Article 111 (“The infliction of grievous bodily harm”); Part 2 paragraph “f” of Article 112 (“The infliction of moderate bodily harm”); Part 2 paragraph “b” of Article 116 (“Beating”), Part 2 paragraphs “a,” “b” of Article 115 (“The infliction of bodily harm”); Part 1 paragraph “b” of Article 213 (“Hooliganism”) and Part 2 of the same article.

In 2011 the Criminal Code Article 282 (“Incitement of hatred”) was utilized in 7 convictions related to violent crimes. Part 1 of Article 280 (“Public incitement to extremist activity”) was utilized in 3 convictions. In accordance with Resolution No. 11 of the plenary meeting of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation “Concerning Judicial Practice in Criminal Cases Regarding Crimes of Extremism,” adopted on June 28, 2011,[53] the application of Article 282 to violent crimes is considered appropriate if the crimes were aimed at inciting hate in third parties, for example, through public and provocative ideologically motivated attack. We believe that the use of this Article in the 2012 violent crime convictions was appropriate, since these attacks were either committed in front of witnesses or the attackers recorded their actions on video and published them online. These verdicts also utilized Article 280 in a similar fashion.

Three convictions in 2012 included the motive of hatred against “social groups”. This term was applied to “homeless people,” “anti-fascists” and “law enforcement officers.” While the term “social group” is inherently controversial, we have no objections against recognizing the homeless as a vulnerable social group in need of extra protection and granting this status to anti-fascists could be justified in some circumstances;[54] however, there is no reasonable argument for recognizing law enforcement officers as a vulnerable group in need of extra protection under anti-extremist legislation. Utilizing the motives of political and ideological hatred (which could also be used as qualifying clauses) would have been more appropriate in this case. Legal application of these motives could also be problematic, but still far preferable to unnecessary use of the nebulous term “social group.”

Court decisions in cases of violent crimes motivated by hate in 2012 were distributed as follows:

  • 4 people were acquitted;
  • 3 people were found guilty but released from punishment because the statute of limitations had expired;
  • 1 person was found guilty but released from punishment due to reconciliation of the parties;
  • 7 people received suspended sentences;
  • 1 people were sentenced to correctional labor;
  • 4 people were sentenced to mandatory labor;
  • 4 persons received a custodial sentence (length unknown);

  • 1 person was found guilty, but the sentence is unknown;
  • 1 person received a custodial sentence of up to one year;
  • 11 people received a custodial sentence of up to 3 years;
  • 5 people – up to 5 years;
  • 13 people – up to 10 years;
  • 8 people – up to 15 years;
  • 4 people – up to 20 years;
  • 1 person received a custodial sentence of 22 years;
  • 1 person received a life sentence.

Unfortunately, we only know of three verdicts where the offenders must pay a financial compensation to their victims for moral harm and medical expenses. Regretfully, the prosecutor’s offices very rarely report about such measures – we believe that monetary compensation to the victims is a fair and appropriate measure.

While the number of offenders, convicted for violent crimes, went down in 2012, the penalties became harsher. Two thirds of those convicted for violent crimes in 2012 (43 out of 65) received custodial sentences of various length. The drop in suspended sentences (only 11 % of all convictions, 7 out of 65) is an evidence of better law enforcement. Some defendants in large group trials received suspended sentences due to their deals with the prosecution, other people received suspended sentences because their direct involvement in the attack could not be proved, and still others received suspended sentences under the “light” articles (Articles 115 and 116) of the Criminal Code, which did not provide for severe punishment. At the same time, some suspended sentences were hard to explain. For example, the Krasnosel'sky District Court of St. Petersburg issued a completely inacceptable suspended sentence to three ultra-right militants from Vladislav Gavrichenkov’s group, who were accused of organizing over 30 explosions in the places of residence and employment of migrants from Central Asia and of multiple attempts to burn down their property.

Our monitoring experience confirms that suspended sentences for racist attacks do not deter offenders from committing similar crimes in the future. The example of an ultra-right St. Petersburg resident Vladimir Smirnov illustrates the point. He was detained by the FSB near a St. Petersburg mosque, where he tried to place a pig’s head and a replica of an improvised explosive device on the building gates. V. Smirnov had narrowly avoided incarceration on several prior occasions. He had been under investigation in the case of the neo-Nazi group “Lincoln 88,” confessed at the beginning of the investigation and was released on his own recognizance. On May 5, 2011 Smirnov was convicted under Part 2, paragraphs “a,” and “c” of Article 282 and received a suspended sentence. In February 2010, Smirnov was detained once again along with St. Petersburg right-wing radicals Igor Gritskevich and Vladislav Gavrichenkov, mentioned above, on suspicion of committing over 30 explosions in the places of residence and employment of migrants from Central Asia and multiple attempts to burn down their property. In this case, the Krasnosel'sky District Court sentenced Smirnov to 5 years in prison on February 10, 2012; however, the sentence was once again suspended for a 4 year trial period. In June 2012, Smirnov was taken to hospital No. 26 with a broken finger and with phalanges of two right hand fingers torn off. The ingredients for an explosive device exploded in his hands. It was only in November 2012, when caught with a pig's head, that he was taken into custody.


Members of several major racist groups were convicted in 2012. In April, the Moscow City Court delivered a verdict in the case of 10 neo-Nazis from the Autonomous Combat Terrorist Organization (Avtonomnaia boevaia terroristicheskaia organizatsiia, ABTO), accused of committing a series of fires and explosions in Moscow (nine people received prison terms ranging from 8 to 13 years, one man received a suspended sentence.). In June, the Third District Military Court of Orel delivered its judgment in the case of members of the ultra-right Orel Guerillas group (Orlovskiie partizany) – nine people were received prison terms ranging from one and a half to 16 years, two suspended sentences, and one person was acquitted. In July, the St. Petersburg City Court issued a verdict in the case of Georgii Timofeev, the leader of the neo-Nazi group NS/WP, who was sentenced to 13 years in a maximum security penal colony. In October, the Moscow City Court delivered a verdict to the gang, led by Yemelyan Nikolayev (Yan Lyutik), for committing a series of attacks motivated by ethnic hatred (four men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from eight to 19 years of in maximum security penal colony, and one person was acquitted).


In several verdicts for ideologically motivated crimes, issued in 2012, the charges did not include the hate motive.

Nazi skinheads were convicted in Omsk in March 2012 for a murder of their 24-year-old “associate” for “treason and cooperation” with the law enforcement, committed on the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birthday on April 20, 2011.

In addition, two offenders received sentences for murders of anti-fascists. Yuri Tikhomirov was sentenced in Moscow to 10 years in prison for the murder of anti-fascist Ilya Dzhaparidze in summer of 2009. Nikolai Zalivaka was convicted in Samara and sentenced to 7 years in prison for the murder of anti-fascist Nikita Kalin in February 2012. In both cases the ideological motive was absent from the final charges, and murder accomplices were not identified or found.

The Dzhaparidze murder case resulted in a closed trial that proceeded in a very tense atmosphere. The victim’s relatives repeatedly received threatening phone calls. Tikhomirov was originally charged under Part 2 paragraphs. “g” and “k” of the Criminal Code Article 105 (“Murder committed by a group of persons under a preliminary conspiracy motivated by hatred and hostility towards a social group”), but later his case was re-qualified as Part 4 of the Criminal Code Article 111 (“Serious bodily injury that resulted in the death of the victim””), and the verdict did not take the motive of hatred into account. One of the suspected murder accomplices, Maxim Baklagin, who wielded a knife, was arrested but then released, and promptly went into hiding.

The second court case also proceeded in an unusual manner. Zalivaka initially confessed to murder, but then withdrew his confession. After the verdict, the St. Petersburg anti-fascists issued a proclamation “all this time they tried to convince us that it was a common fight, a drunken brawl, but the expert opinion showed that the injuries were caused by three different instruments under different angles; we don’t understand why this was not taken into account.”[55] The authors of the proclamation noted that after Zalivaka’s first interrogation “there was a testimony about a certain neo-Nazi group and the political background of the case,” but the evidence has “changed” later.


Several verdicts were delivered in 2012 in connection with the Manezhnaya Square riots of December 11, 2010 and the subsequent attacks. We view all these cases as examples of insufficient and sloppy investigative work.

The Tver Court of Moscow delivered the second sentence to the Manezhnaya Square rioters in August 2012 – four defendants were given sentences ranging from the suspended sentence of two years to three years of actual incarceration under the articles of the Criminal Code that pertain to riots, hooliganism, and violence against a government official. Only one of the defendants received a verdict that included Part 1 of Article 282. Unlike the first trial,[56] where three out of five defendants were members of the Other Russia (Drugaia Rossiia) party, this time the defendants were young people without party affiliations, including some soccer fans. The defendants, convicted in the first and the second Manezhnaya Square cases, were, obviously, not the instigators of the riots, and the potential pool of defendants could have been much larger.

In addition, in July 2012 the Simonovsky Court in Moscow delivered a verdict in a murder case; the victim was a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, killed on Sudostroitel’naya Street on December 12, 2010. Ilya Kubrakov, who at the time of the offense was 14 years old, was convicted and sentenced to three years in a juvenile correctional facility. However, there are serious doubts that Kubrakov was the one to deliver a final blow.[57] The other two attackers received custodial sentences in a penal colony

Another sentence, related to the assault that took place immediately after the Manezhnaya Square events in December 2010, was delivered in February. The Zyuzinsky District Court in Moscow found Sergei Vnenk and Denis Fomin guilty of killing 22-year-old Damir Karshiev, a citizen of Uzbekistan. The hate motive was not included in the verdict. The defendants asserted that they had intervened in order to defend a young woman, allegedly attacked by Karshiev (who was never found or identified). We don’t have much faith in their version of events, given the timing of the crime and the fact that one of the prisoners was found to possess xenophobic literature. Fomin was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm that resulted in the victim’s death, and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment to be served in a maximum security penal colony. S. Vnenk was convicted only of causing bodily harm, and got off with a suspended sentence.

Regretfully, we have no information on any additional lawsuits related to either Manezhnaya Square riots or to the attacks that followed the riots in December 2010 thru January 2011, despite the fact that at least 40 people suffered injuries during this time period.


Criminal Prosecution for Vandalism

In 2012, we know of 5 convictions of 7 defendants for ethnically-motivated and neo-Nazi vandalism. The verdicts were handed down in the Bryansk, Irkutsk, Kaliningrad, Orenburg and Khabarovsk Regions. This is a decrease compared to 2011, when we recorded 8 convictions of 15 people.

In three cases the charges were brought under Part 2 of the Criminal Code Article 214 (“Vandalism motivated by ethnic or religious hatred”). In one of the verdicts vandalism was aggregated with Article 280 (“Public incitement to extremist activity“).

Four people were sentenced to restriction of freedom and one received a suspended sentence. All these penalties were imposed for minor offences, such as writing xenophobic slogans on building walls, and graffiti on a mosque and a synagogue.

Two men received prison terms. One of them, a 17-year-old neo-Nazi from Bryansk, was punished for committing a series of hate-motivated crimes, including attempted murder, robbery and theft. The second man tried to blow up a mosque under construction in the city of Kaliningrad.

Due to the dual nature of these crimes, some cases were qualified not as vandalism, but rather as propaganda under Article 282. Such are the sentences handed down in Skopin, in the Ryazan Region, for writing xenophobic slogans on a city wall, and in Cheboksary for drawing swastikas and writing anti-anti-fascist slogans in building hallways or other similar places (the defendants were sentenced to 160 hours of mandatory labor). The reason for such qualification is that in these cases xenophobic graffiti appeared on building walls or fences – the objects that, in contrast to religious buildings or monuments, can’t be “vandalized.” In these cases, the article addressing incitement to hatred, which is also better known in the community and the media (and, likely, better known among law enforcement officers responsible for "combating extremism”) was used appropriately. However, two (out of five) sentences for vandalism (under Article 214) in 2012 were issued for the swastika drawings (in building hallways, and on a lyceum wall), and the other three – for the desecration of cultural and religious structures (the buildings of Voskresenskaya and Gorne-Nikol’skaya Orthodox Churches, the “Or Avner” Jewish community, a synagogue and several mosques).

However, in our view, the graffiti on the buildings and fences do not merit criminal prosecution, in contrast to the actions of arsonists and bombers that really pose serious danger to society. Unfortunately we have very little information on verdicts in such cases (1 in 2012, 2 in 2011) or on the progress in investigations of past explosions and arson attacks, despite the fact that their number is still formidable (see above).


Criminal Prosecution for Propaganda

The number of propaganda convictions in 2012 was 2.5 times greater than the combined number of convictions for vandalism and violence for the same year. It has to be noted, that the difference is not that striking if, instead of number of convictions, we consider a number of convicted offenders (which is only 31 % greater that the corresponding number of offenders convicted for violence and vandalism). The courts issued at least 89 guilty verdicts related to xenophobic propaganda to 104 defendants (and one case was dropped) in 45 regions of the country. In 2011, we recorded 73 verdicts to 81 people.

Article 282 of the Criminal Code was utilized in 82 convictions (91 people). The overwhelming majority (77 people) were convicted solely on the basis of this Criminal Code article, 13 more were convicted under the aggregation of Articles 280 and 282, another 4 – solely on the basis of the Criminal Code 280, and one under the aggregation of Article 280 and Article 214 (see also “Criminal Prosecution of Vandalism”).

Two defendants were convicted under the aggregation of articles 280 и 2052 (“public incitement to terrorist activity or public apology for terrorism”) – Ruslan Meirivan ogly Agaev, convicted in the Krasnoyarsk Region for creating radical online social network groups with comments that “justified activities of gangs and gang leaders in the North Caucasus region, and Tatiana Tarasova, convicted in Moscow for posting an article “A Woman’s Role in Jihad” on the Islamic Committee website. It is worth noting, that convictions under the Criminal Code Article 2052 are exceedingly rare in the judicial practice and given almost exclusively for radical Islamist propaganda (as in the above case).

Some defendants in group trials were convicted under the aggregation of propaganda and violence-related articles of the Criminal Code (see also “Criminal Prosecution of Violence”). One person, the leader of NS/WP group, was convicted under the aggregation of the Criminal Code Article 282 with Part 2 paragraphs “a,” “g,” and “k” of Article 105 and Part 3 of Article 30; Part 2 paragraphs “g,” and “k” of Article 105 and Part 2 paragraphs “a” and “c” of Article 205 (“Act of terrorism”); Part 1 and Part 3 of Article 223, and Part 3 of Article 222. Another one was convicted under the aggregation of Articles 280 and 282 with Part 2 paragraphs “a” and “c” of Article 205; Part 1 of Article 30, Part 2 paragraphs “a” and “c” of Article 205; Part 1 of Article 205.2; Part 2 of Article 167; Parts 1, 2 and 3 of Article 222 (from the ABTO verdict). Five people were convicted under the aggregation of Article 280 with Part 4 of the Criminal Code Article 111, Part 3 of Article 30, Part 3 paragraph “b” of Article 111; Part 2 paragraphs “a” and “c” of Article 205 and Part 3 of Article 30, Part 2 paragraphs “a,” “f,” and “k” of Article 105; Part 2 of Article 213, Parts 1, 2 and 3 of Article 222; Part 3 of Article 223; and Part 2 of Article 167 (the Orel Guerillas verdict). Finally, one person was convicted the aggregation of the Criminal Code Article 282 with Part 3 of Article 212 (Vladimir Kirpichnikov’s sentence in the second “Manezhnaya Square” case).


The court verdicts for the propaganda cases in 2012 were distributed as follows:

  • 1 person was acquitted;
  • 7 people were released from punishment because the statute of limitations had expired;
  • 1 person was subject to pedagogic intervention;
  • 1 person was referred for compulsory medical treatment;
  • 12 people received custodial sentences;
  • 13 people received suspended sentences without additional sanctions;
  • 19 people were sentenced to various fines;
  • 32 people were sentenced to mandatory labor;
  • 16 persons were sentenced to correctional labor;
  • 3 people received suspended correctional labor sentences.

In 2012, convictions that involved real prison terms were delivered in conjunction with the Criminal Code articles other than propaganda. The members of neo-Nazi groups (ABTO, NS/WP, the Orel Guerillas) and a participant of the Manezhnaya Square riots belong to this category. In addition, custodial sentences were issued to lone perpetrators in conjunction with their earlier crimes.[58]

The ataman (leader) of the Cossack community in Serebrianiki Alexander Dzikovitsky was sentenced to one year in a settlement colony for publishing a number of articles in
the Kazachii Vzgliad newspaper from March 2008 to April 2011. Despite the fact, that some of his articles are clearly xenophobic, we do not believe that A. Dzikovitsky deserved a custodial sentence. It would have been much more effective, if the court, following the public prosecutor’s proposal, banned the defendant from engaging in journalism for a period of time. However, the practice of bans on practicing a profession did not develop at all during the past year; meanwhile we consider it to be the most effective punishment for people who regularly engage in nationalist propaganda (as in the Dzikovitsky’s case).

The trend of issuing a high number of suspended sentences finally broke in 2012. The share of suspended sentences for propaganda crimes comprised 12.5 % (13 out of 104 convicted offenders), compared to 37.5 % (30 out of 81), in 2011. We see this change as unambiguously positive, since the majority of convicted propagandists do not view a suspended sentence as a serious punishment and are not being deterred by these verdicts

The majority of convicted offenders (70 people) received penalties that do not involve loss of freedom and that we believe to be more effective: fines, mandatory and correctional labor. Mandatory labor – a penalty for the majority of 2012 propaganda convictions – constitutes an appropriate punishment for graffiti on buildings and fences or for online social network activity.

The propaganda convictions overwhelmingly related to online publications,[59] similarly to the year before;[60] the number of 2012 convictions for online propaganda (65) was almost three times larger than the number of offline propaganda convictions (22).[61]

Materials that resulted in convictions for online propaganda were found on the following Internet resources:

  • 50 convictions involved social networks, including 40 convictions involving the VKontakte network, 9 convictions involving unidentified social networks, and one conviction involving the My World (Moi mir) network;
  • 5 convictions involved online forums (including comments);
  • 10 convictions involved other or unspecified Internet resources.

Obviously, law enforcement agencies continue to focus on monitoring social networks, specifically and almost exclusively the VKontakte network. Such attention to VKontakte is due to the fact that this network is rapidly gaining popularity among the Russian youth, including its ultra-right segment. In addition, its users are easily identified, since page owners have to provide their personal data and their phone number during registration, and network administrators easily provide this information upon request from the law enforcement.

Unfortunately, all the shortcomings of the Internet-related law enforcement, repeatedly discussed in our earlier reports,[62] still persist. So, for example, there were no clarifications regarding quantitative assessment of online public exposure – an essential consideration when using the Criminal Code propaganda articles. This factor is still not taken into account either in filing criminal charges or in sentencing.


Online materials that resulted in criminal convictions in 2012 belonged to the following genres:


  • Video (including the notorious The Execution of a Tajik and a Dagestani (Kazn’ Tadzhika i Daga) – 39 convictions;
  • Audio (including the song by the Kolovrat music band) – 7 convictions;
  • Photo – 7 convictions;
  • Graphic art – 6 convictions;
  • Texts (re-publications, including Mein Kampf and the White Primer (Belyi Bukvar’) – 12 convictions;
  • Comments on articles or forum posts – 11 convictions;
  • Creating online neo-Nazi groups – 2 convictions;
  • Unknown – 2 convictions.

Similarly to 2010-2011, the sentences for visual materials (video, audio, graphics, and photos) predominate. This has to do with the fact that these materials are more straightforward and understandable than the text; in addition, the number of online videos and technical possibilities to link to them continued to increase. Speaking of videos, which constitute the majority of visual materials, most convictions have to do with links to videos posted elsewhere (on YouTube, for example). Most likely, people who post videos on social networks weren’t the ones, who initially uploaded them online; they are even less likely to be the ones, who shot and edited the footage. Therefore, it would have been much more effective to focus on identifying the source and creators of each video, rather than prosecute people for linking to it.

Identifying creators of the offending video is important because these scenes of violence could in fact be the record of a real attack. For example, an anti-Semitic video “Killing a Jew Boy” (Unichtozhenie zhidenka) appeared online last January. According to media reports, the video shows a group of young people who “lighting the scene with a flashlight, stick a knife in an eye of man with a bloodied face, who shows no signs of life.” The video clip was immediately declared a fake. However, after the arrest and confession of Andrei (Bladma) Pronskiy, it turned out that the video reflected an actual anti-Semitic murder. During the interrogation, Pronskiy said that “the nationalist organization, where he was a member ... pushed him to commit a murder ... because it was his turn to perform a ritual execution and post it on the Internet as a New Year’s gift to his associates.”[63]

We can not judge the degree of public danger of the texts, which lead to convictions, since the original articles are no longer accessible. Note that the number of convictions for re-posting texts and articles is about equal to the number of convictions for individual comments in social networks, blogs or forums. Most likely, the people, who were prosecuted for re-posts and comments, were selected randomly and had no sizable audience or significant popularity in the right-wing circles.


The only aspect of online activity, representing an undisputable and real public danger is the creation of ultra-right social network groups in order to coordinate violence. Such acts received a scant attention from the law enforcement in the past year; we know of only two convictions for creating radical right-wing user groups on the VKontakte social network in Irkutsk and in Lipetsk.


There were far fewer (22) convictions for the offline propaganda activities. They were issued for the following actions:

  • Graffiti – 7 convictions;
  • Creation and distribution of leaflets – 8 convictions;
  • Distribution of books and a CD – 1 conviction;
  • Newspaper publications (includes the sentence to the editor-in-chief) – 2 convictions;
  • Shouting during rallies and in the park – 3 convictions;
  • Public xenophobic insult directed at a local police officer – 1 conviction.

We view the sentences imposed on the newspaper editor (the aforementioned Dzikovitskiy) for publishing articles and the author of an anti-Semitic article (content unknown) as the most appropriate in this group. As for the rest, we feel that prosecuting people for shouting racist slogans at a rally or on the street or for public xenophobic insults of a police officer could be appropriate, depending on the audience size. Prosecuting people for the distribution of CDs, books and leaflets could be appropriate, depending on the scope of such distribution. However, we find criminal prosecution for the street graffiti to be excessive.


Criminal Prosecution of Extremist Groups and Banned Organizations

The scope of criminal prosecutions under the Criminal Code Article 2821 (“Organization of an extremist community”) and Article 2822 (“Organization of an extremist group”) was modest, especially once we exclude clearly inappropriate verdicts from consideration.[64] We only know of three such verdicts in 2012, and they all pertained to the same organizations as the verdicts of 2011.

Pert Khomyakov, a creator and the leader the Northern Brotherhood (Severnoe Bratstvo) organization was convicted under Article 2821, in aggregation with the Criminal Code Article 159 (“Swindling committed by an organized group on a large scale”). Khomyakov was sentenced to four years in a penal colony. Other leaders of the Northern Brotherhood, Anton (“Fly”) Mukhachev and Oleg Troshkin, had been convicted in 2011.

The activists of neo-pagan Spiritual and Tribal Sovereign Rus' (Dukhovno-rodovaia derzhava Rus’) were, once again, convicted under the Criminal Code Article 2822 in Krasnodar and Novosibirsk. The Novosibirsk activist was fined, and the Krasnodar activist received a suspended sentence. It is noteworthy that right-wing radicals charged under the Criminal Code Article 2822 belonged almost exclusively to the Spiritual and Tribal Sovereign Rus', declared extremist in April 2011 (previously, some of its members had been referred by the courts for compulsory psychiatric treatment, and some were convicted of violent acts, including the racist ones). It is unlikely that law enforcement officers set out to persecute members of this particular organization. More likely, its members attract excessive attention because they are regularly mailing their propaganda letters to various official agencies, including the prosecutor's office.

We have no information relating to prosecution of other right-wing organizations, recognized as extremist, for their continued activity. At the time of writing, the list of extremist organizations contains 29 names, including some right-wing radical organizations; see the corresponding chapter below.


The court case of the People's Militia in the Name of Minin and Pozharsky is also worth mentioning here. The charges in this case were based on the articles related to preparation for an armed rebellion (Article 30 and Article 279 of the Criminal Code), involvement of others in terrorist activities (Article 2051), and illegal possession of weapons (Article 222). Two members of the local NOMP cell, Sergei Katnikov and Vladislav Ladeyschikov, were convicted in May 2012 in Yekaterinburg. Both received suspended sentences (Katnikov was also heavily fined); such leniency was due to the deal they made with the prosecution, and due to the fact that Ladeyschikov was the only defendant in this case, who fully admitted his guilt. Other members of the Yekaterinburg cell, with their leader, retired colonel Leonid Khabarov, were brought to court later, and their trial led to convictions in February 2013. The trial of the movement’s leader Vladimir Kvachkov ended at the same time.


The Federal List of Extremist Materials

The Federal List of Extremist Materials continued its rapid growth in 2012. It was updated 46 times and grew from 1067 to 1589 items.

522 added items demonstrate the following thematic distribution:

  • xenophobic materials by Russian ethno-nationalists (ranging from books with cult following among Nazi-skinheads, such as the Skinhead Bible (“Bibliia Skinheda”) by Nikola Korolev, to little-noticed comments on the VKontakte network) – 280 items;
  • xenophobic materials by other nationalists – 12 items;
  • materials of the Orthodox fundamentalists – 12 items;
  • materials of Islamist militants and their supporters – 57 items;
  • other Muslim materials (Said Nursi's books, materials of the banned organizations, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, and many other items, including classic medieval works) – 108 items;
  • other religious materials (works by L. Ron Hubbard, Elle Ayat materials, etc.) – 18 items;
  • materials, seized at the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, including the books by Ukrainian historians– 7 items;
  • other history books and research from various time periods– 3 items;
  • incendiary anti-state and anti-police materials (including anarchist materials) – 20 items;
  • art work – 2 items;
  • materials that could not be classified[65] – 2 items;
  • universal radical hosting[66] – 1 item.

At least 193 items among the new additions to the List represent online materials.

We can’t always judge the extent of appropriateness of each particular ban. However, it is obvious that the share of inappropriate bans remains very high. Many materials were added to the list without valid legal reasons (books by Said Nursi and L. Ron Hubbard, academic research by Ukrainian historians, etc.).[67]

Overall, in the course of the year, the List became an even more useless component of anti-extremist legislation. Not a single attempt was made throughout the year to address existing problems that we described on many occasions[68] (unless we count a breakdown of the List into segments on the Ministry of Justice website as an improvement). The List contains numerous bibliographic and spelling errors (“Bufold” instead of “Buford,” “Sevostyanov” instead of “Sevastyanov”) and duplicate items, resulting from parallel bans[69] by different courts (there are 39 such duplicates). The same materials are entered several times in different editions or published on different websites, in case of online materials. Various almost identical editions of the book cannot be formally identified as duplicates due to their different imprints.

The materials are frequently impossible to identify. A number of items on the Federal List of Extremist Materials are nothing but a collection of dead hyperlinks (see Item No. 1512. Informational video and photo materials, posted on the Internet information and telecommunication network, at the following addresses:;; or Item No. 1519. Informational materials and article “Upcoming elections and the future revolution” (Predstoiashchie vybory i budushaia revolutsiia), published on the Interned on the pages of the informational portal Gorod-48 bkju Ъ (sic!) (www.mygorod48 ru\peopl\user3413\blog\6087) (by decision of the Sovetskii District Court of Lipetsk of 07.04.2012)).

 Leaflets, issued for local events that took place several years ago, are still being added to the List.

The List keeps growing rapidly (at the time of writing it already contained 1668 items) and will keep adding new items, since the number of materials deemed extremist (with varying extent of appropriateness) shows no signs of decrease.[70] As of February 9, 2012, the List contains 38 “blank” items (materials were removed without change in item numbering) – 5 of them were removed as duplicates and the remaining 33 were removed because the decisions, recognizing them as extremist, have been reversed. 53 items reflect redundant court judgments (not counting the cases of identical texts with different imprints), and one item for the past 5 years has been reiterating a court decision, already reflected earlier on the list.


The Banning of Organizations

Only one organization was added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations[71] in 2012 (and not immediately entered on the appropriate list)[72] – Blood and Honour / Combat 18 international association, recognized as extremist by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on May 29, 2012. Its name comes from the Hitler Youth slogan “Blut und Ehre.” The association conducted active and radical hate propaganda campaign. Its ban was, certainly, somewhat belated. The association existed in Moscow since 1995; one of its sites was deemed extremist in Lipetsk in April 2010, and the “military wing” of Combat 18 practiced direct street violence. In addition, this movement was already banned in Germany and Spain, and was refused registration in Czech Republic.

Thus, the list currently contains 29 organizations (excluding 19 organizations recognized as terrorist), whose activity has been legally banned, and any continuation of this activity is punishable under Article 2822 of the Criminal Code (“Organization of an extremist group”).

In addition, the Moscow City Court classified another interregional public organization, the Northern Brotherhood (Severnoe bratstvo), as extremist on August 6, 2012. The Northern Brotherhood organization formed a network structure around the websites Severnoe bratstvo, The Ten (V Desyatku) and The Big Game: Break the System(Bolshaya igra: Slomai Sistemu). The organization has not yet appeared on the Federal List of Extremist Organizations.

The Northern Brotherhood was founded in 2006 by Aleksandr Mironov, with Petr Khomyakov as their ideologist. In April 2008, the editorial board of the V Desyatku website published “An appeal to Skinheads” (Obrashchenie k skinam) article, which called for Nazi skinheads to “beat up and damage” (in accordance with the rules of the Big Game) first of all, law enforcement officials, and only after “their oppression subsides” the time comes to go after racial enemies.[73] Thus, the organization advocated both political and racist violence. The Northern Brotherhood was de facto destroyed back in 2009 with the arrest of Mukhachev and Troshkin; the organization's website has been classified as extremist in March 2008, and Khomyakov went into hiding in Ukraine (he was arrested in 2011, when ventured to come back). Thus, the organization had long ceased to exist by the time it was banned, and it is not clear, who could possibly be charged under Article 2822 in connection with it. Nevertheless, these bans have a positive symbolic meaning.


Other Administrative Measures

Roskomnadzor issued 17 warnings to media editorial staff for extremist activities (there were 24 warnings in 2011).

We consider at least 7 of these warnings to be inappropriate (compared to 10 in 2011). In two additional cases, we cannot say anything about the warning’s appropriateness because the incriminating texts were no longer available. Thus, the effectiveness of the law enforcement in this area remains more or less unchanged.

Two publications – и Zvezda Povolzhya (Kazan) received two warnings each, and thus, according to the established practice, Roskomnadsor can start the process of closing these media outlets down. No newspapers were closed under anti-extremist legislation in 2012.

Sentences under Article 20.3 (“Propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi attributes or symbols”), and Article 20.29 (“Mass distribution of extremist materials, as well as their production or storage for the purpose of mass distribution”) of the Administrative Code are used often enough. However, prosecutors do not provide regular information about them, so we are unable to analyze their dynamics. We know of 10 instances of penalties under Article 20.3 and of 16 instances of punishment under Article 20.29 (counting only the sentences that we consider appropriate).

Verdicts under these Administrative Code articles were primarily related to trafficking in Nazi memorabilia, wearing of Nazi symbols, and online distribution of xenophobic texts and videos (including the ones listed on the Federal List of Extremist Materials).

In almost all cases the offenders were fined (one of the verdicts imposed a fine on parents of a juvenile offender). Three people were arrested: one for displaying Nazi insignia during the Easter procession in Volgograd on April 15, another one for distributing a leaflet that represented a copy of the German poster depicting Hitler in the same city on April 20, and the last one in Sochi for “possession and distribution of extremist materials.”

The parents of a student in Yugra, who posted extremist materials online, were found liable under the Administrative Code Article 5.35 (“Improper fulfillment of child-rearing responsibilities by parents or other legal representatives of juvenile”).

In addition, at least 38 motions on the impermissibility of extremist activities were sent in 2012 to school administrators, due to the lack of content filtering software in their educational institutions. We find the very idea of fighting extremism by using Internet filters on school computers to be somewhat questionable, since ideal content filters don’t exist – it is impossible to compile an all-encompassing list of search terms and addresses. In particular, the program, installed in Russian schools by the Federal Agency of Education in March 2008, has been unable to cope with its assigned task.[74]

In 2012, the number of motions made by prosecutors demanding that local Internet providers block access to “extremist” websites increased sharply. The number of such requests grew in the summer and fall of 2012. At this time, this is the principal method for fighting extremism on the Internet.[75] We know of at least 69 cases when internet service providers received requests to block web sites due to presence of one or more materials, legally recognized as extremist. This number includes only the cases, where we have no reason to believe that law enforcement agencies exceeded their authority.[76]

In 2012, the prosecutors objected to online materials, such as various items related to Islam, (the Innocence of Muslims video, songs by the separatist Chechen songwriter Timur Mutsurayev), materials from Nazi Germany (Mein Kampf and SS-Mann und blutsfrage), and other xenophobic materials.[77] In most cases, however, prosecutors did not report specific problematic materials, resorting instead to vague statements such as “the materials included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials.”

Prosecutors also reprimanded municipal services by submitting motions for neo-Nazi graffiti and written slogans on city streets. These measures had a positive effect of eventually forcing municipal services to paint over the offending graffiti.

Other activities of anti-extremist prosecutors remain opaque. Prosecutorial reports mentions numerous warnings made for “extremism” and many “acts of prosecutorial response,” but there is no information on specific details and character of these acts.

[1] In the preparation of this report, we used the daily monitoring conducted by the SOVA Center and our regional monitoring of ultra-right activity in several regions of Russia. Monitoring was funded using the state support grants per Decree no. 127 of the President of the Russian Federation, issued on 2 March 2011, and the grant from the State Club (Gosudarstvennyi klub) foundation.

[2] Statistics for 2012 and 2011 are given as of February 13, 2013. 2011 data has changed since your last annual report, where we gave the following numbers: 20 murders, 148 injuries, 10 murder threats. See: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina, Alexander Verkhovsky, Between Manezhnaya and Bolotnaya: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2011 // SOVA Center SOVA Center. 2012. 24 February (

[3] A year after our annual report our victim counts increase approximately 20 % due to receiving additional later information.

[4] Radical anti-fascists (known as “antifa”) tend to conceal their losses in street fights with the neo-Nazi (and vice verse). This tendency is unstable, and sharp changes in the number of victims for this group usually indicate changes in the “antifa” policies on providing information. It looks like currently the militant antifascists lean toward providing information on their victims.

[5] In both cases the prosecution confirmed the motive of hatred.

[6] For more on the Black Hawks see Galina Kozhevnikova. Under the sign of political terror: Radical nationalism and efforts to counteract it in 2009// SOVA Center. 2010. 10 March (

[7] Kyrgyz “patriots” used the same rhetoric as Russian “patriotically inclined” youngsters, who criticize Russian women for “going out” with “non-Russians”.

[8] 47 % of Russian citizens have a negative attitude toward migrant workers // Levada Center. 2012. 16 October (

[9] See: Nationalists attack participants of the gay pride parade in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2007. 26 May (

[10] Human rights activists and LGBT organizations tried to monitor information on LGBT discrimination, but these attempts produced no significant results. Afraid of opening up about their sexual orientation, victims usually prefer not to interact with law enforcement agencies, community organizations and even LGBT activists.

[11] On March 7, 2012 the St. Petersburg city law “On administrative offenses in St. Petersburg” was amended to include new Article 7.1 “Public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, transgenderism amongst minors” and Article 7.2 (“Public actions aimed at propaganda of pedophilia”).

The law banning “propaganda of homosexualism among minors” passed the first reading in the State Duma on January 25, 2013, but the discussion around these amendments to the Administrative Code started in 2012.

[12] Ultra-nationalist constitute the core of the attackers. The St. Petersburg case, when, on May 17, they attacked participants of the Rainbow Flash Mob (Raduzhnyi fleshmob) event, and then attacked the buses with migrant workers (likely, due the fact, that buses with the event participants were protected by police).

[13] For example, in Novosibirsk during the May day “Monstration” on May 1, 2012.

[14] Only the attacks, where the prosecution confirmed the motive of hatred, are included.

[15] The Russian Runs are a popular form of ultra-right street actions, pioneered by nationalists in 2012 (see: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina, Alexander Verkhovsky, ibid.).

[16] Unconfirmed data links this attack with “Snake City Firm,” a Zenith ultras group.

[17] Including Roberto Carlos, the 2002 world champion in the national team of Brazil, and Cameroonian Samuel Eto'o, one of the best strikers in the 2000s. Dutchman Guus Hiddink has become the head coach.

[18] Ex-federal judge was killed in Rostov-on-Don, where the court staff had received threats in the mail // 2012. 3 October (

[19] Nationalists came to the Human Rights House Office in Voronezh with a Nazi greeting. // Article20. 2012. 4 November(

[20] Not including the victims of a mass brawl in Astrakhan.

[21] Pacific Fleet identifies cases of extremism // Komsomolskaya Pravda. 2012. 3 December.

[22] This term denotes two phenomena, consecutive in time and hard to separate – a civic and not entirely political protest against falsifications during the December 2012 parliamentary elections, and the activity of the subsequent amorphous oppositional coalition, that stands against the current regime and for restoration of certain democratic procedures and institutions, but purposely ignores core differences among its members regarding the future path of development for the country. See for example the document, adopted by the OCC of Russia in February 2013 // Program statement: On the Aims and Objectives of Opposition Coordination Council // Blog of Andrei Illarionov. 2013. 16 February (

[23] In the ultra-right movement this color is not at all associated with “white ribbons.”

[24] For more details see: Nationalist Participation in the March and Rally on February 4 // SOVA Center. 2012. 5 February (

[25] For more details see: The ultra-right participation in protest activity on March 5 in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2012. 3 March (

[26] For more details see: The ultra-right left the protest // SOVA Center. 2012. 11 March (

[27] For more details see: Nationalist on the Millions March and During its Aftermath in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2012. 6 May (

[28] For more details see: Nationalist participation in the Millions March-2 in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2012. 12 June (

[29] For more details see: Nationalist participation in the Millions March-3 in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2012. 15 September (

[30] For more details see: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina. Spring 2012: The Ultra-Right on the streets; the Law Enforcement Online // SOVA Center. 2012. 29 June (

[31] For more details see: The Ultra-Right May Day 2012 in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2012. 1 May (

[32] He is accused of murder. The opposition believes that the accusation is false.

[33] The nationalist candidates: Vladimir (Basmanov) Potkin, Sofia Budnikova, Vladislav Mitskevich, Maksim “Shinfein” Prokhorov, Dmitry Sukhorukov, Uliana Sporykhina, Vladimir Gluskin from “the Russians” coalition; Nadezhda Shalimova, Andrei Kuznetsov, Anatoly Poliakov, Vsevolod Radchenko from NDP and Natalia Kholmogorova, head of the affiliated ROD Human Rights Center; Vasily Kriukov from RONS, Kirill Barabash from For Responsible Power (Za otvetstvennuiu vlast) coalition; Artem Severskii Lazurenko from NDA; Maksim Brusilovskii, Mikhail Matveev i Dmitry Chervov as independent candidates. K. Barabash, Mukhin’s supporter, received the greatest number of votes (a little over 11 thousand), and Vladislav Mitskevich, “the Russians” activist was the least popular. V. Basmanov (c. 2700 votes) and N. Kholmogorova, though well-known in the ultra-right movement, received no substantial support.

It should be separately noted that, despite announcements about the annulment of the “MMM Votes”, the only three nationalists that were included on Mavrodi’s list of citizens curia voting recommendations – K. Barabash, U. Sporykhina, and V. Kriukov – were the one that received the most support, when compared to other nationalists, despite the fact that they were not exceptionally known or popular.

[34] Nationalists will not participate in the Opposition Action in Moscow // Rossiyskaya gazeta. 2012. 23 November.

[35] The Ultra-Right May Day 2012 in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2012. 1 May (

[36] The New Force Declaration Regarding the Millions March // The Russian Platform (Russkaia platforma). 2012. 13 September.

[37] In 2011, ultra-right organizations decided to focus on raising funds for imprisoned nationalists, and practically abandoned public actions.

[38] For more details see: The Russian March – 2012 in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2012. 4 November (

[39] For more details see: Public Opinion 2012 // Levada Center. 2012 (

[40] For more details see: Yelena Strukova. Russian Nationalist Parties: the Ministry of Justice Registration // SOVA Center. 2012. 11 May (

[41] Russian All-People’s Union Political Party Program // ROC Official Site.

[42] In February 2012 the conflict between Belov and Borovikov caused a split in the Moscow branch of “the Russians”.

[43] The National-Democratic Party Program (draft) // Official National-Democratic Party site.

[44] Ibid.

[45] The New Force Party Program // Official Force Party Program site. 2012.

[46] Political Party “the Monarchist Party” // The Russian Federation Ministry of Justice. 2012. 12 July (

[47] For Our Motherland Russian conservative political party // The Russian Federation Ministry of Justice. 2012. 5 July (

[48] The List of Registered Political Parties // The Russian Federation Ministry of Justice. 2012 (

[49] Russia-wide political Motherland party // The Russian Federation Ministry of Justice. 2012. 19 December (

[50] Rebirth of the Motherland // Official Motherland party site. 2012. 29 September.

[51] For more details see: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina. Winter 2011–2012: The Ultra-Right: Protest and Party-Building // SOVA Center. 2012. 3 April (

[52] In early 2012 FMS attempted to take over the initiative and create their own specialized teams of this type. The extent of Cossack and ultra-right participation in these teams differ widely from one region to the next, making it difficult to form the complete picture.

[53] For more details see: Alperovich, Verkhovsky, Yudina, ibid.

[54] This is related to the concept of a hate crime “by association” used in some countries, but so far little known in Russia.

[55] The Opinion of Samara’s Anti-Fascists Regarding the Sentence for Nikita Kalin’s Murderer // Avtonomnoe Deistvie. 2013. 5 January (

[56] Moscow: Verdict Delivered in the Manezhnaya Square Riot Case // SOVA Center. 2011. 31 November (

[57] Egor Skovoroda. One Boy’s Story. The End // 2012. 16 August (

[58] In the first case, Aleksandr Martynov was convicted to 8 months of maximum security colony in Orel for xenophobic propaganda using online social networks. Martynov was tried for the attack on athletes – archers from Buryatia – in 2006, and sentenced under Part 2 Paragraph A of Article 282 and Article 111 of the Criminal Code (“The infliction of grievous bodily harm”) to 3 years behind bars. It was also later reported on his involvement in another violent incident, specifically beating of a young Armenian woman.

In the second case, the Abakan City Court of the Republic of Khakassia convicted Aleksandr Ishchenko for distributing bulletins of the local NOMP cell in Abakan and online. In addition, Ishchenko created a “Hidden and Visible” DVD that contained electronic version of The International Jew by Henry Ford and The strike of the Russian Gods (Udar Russkikh Bogov) by V. Istarkhov and tried selling it online. Ishchenko committed a crime while on probation after receiving a suspended sentence. In 2007, he was found guilty under Part 1 of the Criminal Code Article 318 (“Insulting a representative of the authority”) and sentenced to 2 years in custody with 4 years of probation.

[59] For data on prosecution of online extremism see: Natalia Yudina. Virtual anti-extremism: On peculiarities of online enforcement of anti-extremist legislation (2007–2011) // SOVA Center. 2012. 17 September (

[60] For more details see: Alperovich, Verkhovsky, Yudina, ibid.

[61] The data does not include four sentences pertaining to leaders and members of ultra-right groups (ABTO, Orel Guerillas, NS/WP, and Gavrichenkov’s group). The propaganda articles are obviously not central in these cases; moreover, we don’t know what particular propaganda episodes they had been charged with.

[62] Yudina, ibid.

[63] Ritual Murder Suspect Detained in Podolsk // SOVA Center. 2012. 5 March (

[64] More in this in our report on Inappropriate Anti-Extremism.

[65] Item No. 1366, anti-Semitic video Talmud on non-Jews, distributed by both Russian nationalists and Islamists, so it is not clear whose version was banned.

[66] Item No. 1566, the hosting resource for all sorts of radical materials, from Nazi to anarchist.

[67] More in this in our report on Inappropriate Anti-Extremism.

[68] See for example: Yelena Strukova. The Critical Mass of Extremism // SOVA Center. 2012. 16 November (

[69] For example, the brochure “Racial Hygiene and Population Policy in Nazi Germany (Biological Foundations and Their Meaningful Use for the Conservation and Enhancement of Nordic Blood” published by the Russian Truth Publishers in 2000, has been recognized as extremist by the Maikop District Court of the Republic of Adygea on July 26, 2012 and included on the List as Item No. 1468. Earlier, in 2009, the same book has been recognized as extremist by the Zheleznodorozhny Court of Krasnoyarsk and was included on the List as Item No. 487.

[70] Materials, Recognized as Extremist but not Included on Federal List // SOVA Center (

[71] The official name of the list is “List of public and religious associations and other nonprofit organizations in respect of which the court adopted legally binding decision to eliminate or ban their activities on the grounds provided by the Federal Law “On Countering Extremist Activities.”

[72] The list of organizations, unlike the List of Extremist Materials, is updated so infrequently, that on the Blood and Honour association was mistakenly added as Item No. 1370 to the List of Extremist Materials on July 18, The mistake was corrected on July 20, 2012, moved the organization to the appropriate list, deleting it from the list of materials. See: The Ministry of Justice Mixed Up the Lists // SOVA Center. 2013. 18 July (

[73] Galina Kozhevnikova, Anton Shekhovtsev, et al. Radical Russian Nationalism: Structures, Ideas, Faces. Moscow: SOVA Center, 2009.

[74] Sanctions Against Administrators of Educational Institutions // SOVA Center. 2011. 30 June (

[75] For more details see: Yudina, ibid.

[76] Cases of Inappropriate Blocking: see: Sanctions against Internet Service Providers // SOVA Center. 2012 ( This trend is covered in more detail in our report on Inappropriate Anti-Extremism.

[77] Jehovah’s Witnesses websites, NBP Websites, and such notorious examples of “unaimed fight against extremism” as sanctions against social network.