Calm Before the Storm? Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2014

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

SUMMARY
CRIMINAL MANIFESTATIONS OF RACISM AND XENOPHOPHOBIA : Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence : Attacks on Ethnic “Others” : Attacks against Political Adversaries : Attacks Against LGBT or Homeless People : Violence Motivated by Religion : Other Kinds of Right Radical Violence : Vandalism
PUBLIC ACTIVITY OF ULTRA-RIGHT GROUPS : Position on the “Ukrainian Question” : Consequences of These Differences for Nationalist Organizations : Ultra-Right Public Actions : “Ukraine-Related” Actions : Traditional Actions : “Spin” on Criminal Incidents : Other Activity by the Ultra Right
PARTICIPATION OF THE ULTRA RIGHT IN THE HOSTILITIES IN UKRAINE
COUNTER-ACTION TO RADICAL NATIONALISM AND XENOPHOBIA : Public Initiatives : Criminal Prosecution : For Violence : Prosecution of Members and Leaders of Ultra-Right Organizations : For Vandalism : For Propaganda : Prosecution of Extremist Groups and Banned Organizations : The Federal List of Extremist Materials : Banning of Organizations as Extremist : Other Administrative Measures : Mass Media Activity of Roskomnadzor : Administrative Prosecution : Prosecutorial Activity on the Internet
APPENDIX. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT . STATISTICS (in word format)

 

 

Summary

Since the beginning of 2014, the political and militant activity of Russian nationalists, along with life of Russia in general, revolved around the events in Ukraine – the “Maidan,” and then the war. Curtailing of the anti-migrant campaign in late 2013 became another important factor for the nationalists. The shift of attention toward Ukraine has only reinforced the sharp decline in popularity of the anti-migrant theme – always the principal nationalist issue.

Nationalists tried to compensate for lack of demand for their anti-migrant rhetoric by addressing the newly relevant Ukraine-related issues, but failed, because of a deep split on this subject in the Russian ultra-right movement. There were many possible dividing lines related to one’s position regarding the “Maidan,” Ukrainian nationalists, annexation of Crimea, the DNR and LNR, and Russia’s more active participation in the war. Yesterday’s allies often found themselves on the opposite sides. As a result, many right-wing associations have lost some of their activists; entire movements abandoned their long-time coalitions; organizations, which had collaborated for years, turned against each other. The level of passions, typical for a war, led to mutual accusations (of “pro-Bandera position,” “serving the interests of the Kremlin,” or something else), which tended to be harsher than usual.

Such a serious crisis in the movement, complete prevalence of the Ukrainian theme in the media, and, possibly, the official “anti-fascist” rhetoric (also related to Ukraine) had an extremely negative impact on all kinds of traditional far-right activities: actions “against ethnic crime” and other rallies fell in number, the raiding activity became less regular and prominent, the “Kondopoga technology” was practically abandoned, and the “Russian March” was a failure.

The Russian nationalist movement “has lost its voice.” The nationalists, who support the “Russian Spring,” are merely repeating lines that can also be heard on national television, while those who oppose it are afraid to speak loudly enough, and are uncertain how to act when, contrary to their usual self-image, they are not representing the majority.

The views of opponents of the “Russian Spring” are much more convincingly and actively expressed by the liberal opposition, which brought thousands of people out to the streets during their “Peace Marches.” In addition, the grassroots support toward the “Russian Spring” during 2014 and early 2015 started to involve structures that seriously compete with the nationalists. The latter can only participate in the activities of these pro-government movements, and even then no prospects are guaranteed. At this time, only a minority within the nationalist movement have followed this direction.

The majority of grassroots nationalists still reject direct cooperation with the authorities and, in general, are oriented more toward violence than toward political actions. However, even in this respect a slight decrease was observed.

In 2014, the far-right criminal activity was lower than a year earlier, although the number of murders ended up being higher. The “ethnic outsiders” - natives of Central Asia and the Caucasus – still constituted the principal group of victims, but violence for the category has decreased. Meanwhile, the political violence is rising. In addition to traditional neo-Nazi attacks against informal youth movements and anti-fascists, there were several cases of attacks by pro-government nationalists against those deemed a “fifth column.”

The observed quantitative reduction in violence (to the extent that cannot be explained by the usual lag in data collection) is likely to be temporary. Most likely, this difference can be explained by the fact that a number of ultra-right militants have temporarily shifted their attention to the events in Ukraine, and some of the more aggressive ones even left to participate in the hostilities.

Drop in the level of violence can’t be explained by improvements in law enforcement practice, since, unfortunately, this practice has not improved. The disparity in favor of propaganda-related (rather than violence- related) prosecution is only increasing.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that, for example, members of the St. Petersburg neo-Nazi group NS/WP went to prison during the period under review. In addition, the law enforcement vigorously prosecuted leaders and activists of several notorious nationalist organizations (“the Russians,” Restrukt!, Attack (Ataka), the Russian Runs and some others). Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the incidents and articles for the criminal charges were selected at random, and politically motivated persecution can be suspected, because all these people were in strong opposition to the current Russian government, and, frequently, to its course of action in Ukraine.

The number of sentences for propaganda was, traditionally, several times greater than all the other convictions. As usual, the offenders were found primarily among social network users, prosecuted for sharing various xenophobic materials; however, some well-known right-wing radicals, such as Dmitry ““Beshenyi” [Mad] Yevtushenko, Maxim “Tesak” [the Hatchet] Martsinkevich and others, were convicted as well. While penalties for propaganda are usually quite adequate - most offenders are sentenced to mandatory or corrective work - in general, this practice cannot be called reasonable or effective.

The Federal List of Extremist Materials grew somewhat less vigorously than before, but with the same number of errors and repetitions. In addition, the authorities actively used a system of judicial restrictions on access to Internet content that was deemed “extremist.” Restrictions are also imposed in extra-judicial manner in accordance with “Lugovoy’s Law.” However, these registries are maintained just as haphazardly and with about the same share of inappropriate decisions as the Federal List. Meanwhile, the enforcement of “Lugovoy’s Law” has clearly demonstrated that extra-judicial blocking of websites for the purpose of preventing riots inevitably leads to arbitrary enforcement and abuse of power.

Thus, we can not say that the government was successful in countering radical xenophobia and nationalism in 2014. Positive quantitative indicators resulted from a changed set of circumstances, and these changes, in and of themselves, carry a very serious potential threat.

The shift in the official Russian policy and propaganda toward greater traditionalism, authoritarianism and militarism creates a breeding ground for nationalist ideology. The above-mentioned new movements in support of a somewhat more radical version of the official rhetoric are expected to provide serious competition for traditional right-wing groups. Using largely similar ideological notions, they command greater resources and have a chance to absorb part of the Russian xenophobic majority once the Ukrainian conflict declines in relevance, and ethno-nationalist agenda once again becomes popular.

Thousands of Russian citizens (not only nationalists), who have participated in the war in Ukraine, also present a major potential problem. After the end of the conflict, or even earlier, many of them, having gained combat experience, will not only return to Russia but may also want to engage in political activities. Such activities could only be radical, including (even most likely) nationalist.

Meanwhile, the crisis of existing nationalist movement will be resolved one way or another. In particular, new age cohort of activists could play a role.

Taken together, these observations suggest a significant increase in activity of right-wing radicals in Russia in the medium term, rather than their decline. However, this increase will likely present us with a new picture of radical nationalism.

 

Criminal Manifestations of Racism and Xenophobia

Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence

In 2014, at least 27 people were killed and about 123 people were injured as a result of racist and neo-Nazi violence; 2 people received serious death threats. These numbers do not include victims in Crimea and the North Caucasus republics and victims of mass brawls. This data shows that the number of racist and neo-Nazi attacks dropped in 2014, while the number of murders rose. 23 people were killed, 203 were wounded or beaten, and 10 received death threats.[1] The data for 2014 is far from final;[2] usually the numbers grow about 20% in the course of the following year. It is also possible that, on the background of official rhetoric about “Ukrainian fascists,” activities of domestic ultra-rights are being covered up to a greater extent than usual. Mass media pays less attention to them as well. It is also possible that, due to the events in Ukraine, there actually was a drop in racist violence; many nationalists temporarily switched their attention to the events in the neighboring country, and quite a few representatives of the militant ultra-right travelled there in order to participate in the hostilities.

In the past year, attacks occurred in 26 regions of the country (compared to 35 regions in 2013). Moscow (13 killed, 42 injured), St. Petersburg (3 killed, 10 injured) and the Krasnodar Region (1 killed 10 injured)[3] still topped the list. In addition, significant number of victims were reported in the Novosibirsk Region (9 injured), the Moscow Region (1 killed, 8 injured), the Sakhalin Region (8 injured), the Voronezh Region (6 injured)[4] and the Perm region (1 killed, 6 injured). The Voronezh Region and the Sverdlovsk Region also appeared in our 2013 statistics. In comparison to the preceding year, the situation has improved in the Chelyabinsk Region, the Omsk Region and the Samara Region. The data for the other regions mentioned above has not changed.

Compared to 2013, our statistics came to include new regions (the Arkhangelsk Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Irkutsk Region, the Kostroma Region, the Leningrad Region, the Nizhny Novgorod Region, the Ryazan Region, the Sakhalin Region, the Tomsk Region and the Tula Region, as well as the Republics of Karelia and Tatarstan). At the same time, a number of regions left our charts (the Volgograd Region, the Ivanovo Region, the Kaliningrad Region, the Kirov Region, the Lipetsk Region, the Omsk Region, the Samara Region, the Smolensk Region, the Tambov Region, the Tver Region, the Chelyabinsk region, the Trans-Baikal Region and the Kamchatka Region, as well as the Republics of Buryatia, Mari El, and Mordovia, and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District). Unfortunately, we cannot confidently declare an improvement of the situation in the regions, since information about such attacks is, likely, just not reported.

 

Attacks Against Ethnic “Others”

The largest group of victims is traditionally those, perceived by the attackers as “ethnic outsiders.” We recorded the total of 102 victims of ethnically-motivated attacks (compared to 163 in 2013). Information on this particular group is most difficult to obtain, because the victims of such attacks usually shy away from publicity and rarely contact the police, community organizations or the media. In addition, the media tends to be selective about reporting such incidents. In the overwhelming number of cases, even the names of the victims remain unknown.

Migrants from Central Asia traditionally constituted the largest group of victims traditionally were with 12 killed and 23 injured (vs. 14 killed and 61 injured in 2013). In addition, 10 victims (2 killed, 10 injured) were of unspecified “non-Slavic” appearance, usually described as “Asian,” so most likely, migrants from Central Asia constitute the vast majority of this group as well (this group numbered 31 injured victims in 2013). Many victims– 3 killed and 14 injured - came from the Caucasus Region (vs. 3 killed and 27 injured in 2013).

The number of attacks against dark-skinned people has doubled to 13 injured victims (vs. 7 in 2013). For the most part this information was gathered thanks to Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, which has been systematically tracking this kind of attacks, and to the Civic Assistance Committee, which has opened a special hotline for victims or witnesses of hate crimes.[5]

The cases of openly anti-Semitic attacks are quite rare in our statistics, simply because Jews are not that easy to spot in the crowd. However, the anti-Semitic rhetoric within the right-wing radical segment of the Internet shows no signs of decreasing; the Jews have been a principal target of hate speech for many years, and this fact indicates a potential threat of violence. In the past year, a violent incident of this kind took place on the night of December 1-2 in the Ramensky District of the Moscow Region - Shlomo (Fedor) Romanovsky, a student of Yeshivat Torat Chaim, was severely beaten, when returning to his religious seminary from Moscow.

There are also some known cases of attacks against other “ethnic aliens” under xenophobic slogans – against Palestinians in Voronezh (6 injured), Gypsies in the Ryazan Region (4 injured), a native of Bangladesh and a citizen of China in Moscow, two Japanese nationals in the Moscow Region, and citizens of Kyrgyzstan in Moscow and Irkutsk. Ethnic Russians also became victims of attacks motivated by ethnic hatred - we know about the 5 injured people in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don.

In the year under review, attacks against lone passers-by as well as cases of gang attacks against the “Caucasians” were reported. The most notorious example was an attack against 'nonwhite' visitors of “Master Pizza” pizzeria in Krasnodar on the night of May 10 - 11. At least eight people, suffered injuries in the aggressive attack by the gang of masked young men; one person - 25-year-old Adyghe Timur Ashinov - died in hospital. Possible criminal underpinnings of the incident do not cancel out its racist nature. The far right raids on commuter trains and subway cars (so-called “white cars”) also continued throughout the year. We know of at least five such actions by right-wing radicals in 2014.

Speaking of ethnic attack cases we usually discuss organized violence, but domestic xenophobic violence never disappears as well. However, the dynamics of this violence cannot be evaluated even approximately, due to its outstanding latency. We record about ten such attacks each year.

 

Attacks Against Political Adversaries

The number of the right-wing attacks against their political, ideological or “stylistic” adversaries almost doubled in 2014 (15 injured vs. 7 in 2013).[6] The victims included hardcore and rock music fans in Novosibirsk, members of informal youth movements in Yekaterinburg, punks in St. Petersburg, and participants of anti-fascist activities and rallies in Moscow.

Despite the almost complete cessation of street war between neo-Nazi and militant anti-fascists, such attacks do occur. However, information about such incidents still often doesn’t reach the media and civic organizations or is silenced.

Here we also need to point out people battered “by association” – those, who tried to stand up for the “non-Slavs.” For example, one of the female passengers on a Moscow suburban train in Khimki tried to stand up for a man, who was being beaten up in the car, and suffered injuries as a result. The people on the streets, who “dared” to show their disapproval of the behavior of the ultra-right, could also become victims of attacks. Thus, eight young men on Prospect Mira in Moscow attacked a passerby, who reprimanded them for using the Nazi salute.

 

In 2014, we were faced with a new kind of political violence by right-wing radicals - attacks against those whom they considered “national traitors” or the “fifth column.”

Most prominent in this category are the actions of activists of the National Liberation Movement (National’no-Osvoboditelnoe Dvizhenie, NOD), led by Duma Deputy from the United Russia Yevgeny Fyodorov. In June, the NOD activists tried to disrupt the Congress of Intelligentsia, held in the House of Journalists in Moscow. Not only did they picket the House of Journalists holding posters, but also sprayed gas inside the building. Maria Katasonova – a participant in the provocation - later posted about it on the social network VKontakte. In August 2014, NOD activist Sergei Smirnov beat up Arseny Vesnin, a journalist from Ekho Moskvy, in St. Petersburg, when the latter was covering a rally in support of Ukraine.[7] Finally, in December, the NOD members attacked a picket of the Solidarity (Solidarnost’) movement in Sokolniki Park in Moscow. Police detained NOD activist Gosha Tarasevich (Igor Beketov) at the scene.

The Other Russia (Drugaia Rossiia) also became more active in its fight against the “fifth column”; they disrupted a concert by Andrei Makarevich in Moscow’s House of Music on the day of the Jewish New Year in September. A group of young men sprayed pepper gas while shouting “Makarevich is a traitor, sold his Motherland!”[8] In October 2014, police arrested Oleg Mironov (born in 1987, native of the Republic of Komi) on suspicion of disrupting the concert.

A group of about 10 people carrying the flags of the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DNR), “Novorossiya”, the National-Bolshevik Party (a “limonka” grenade in a circle), and “SERB”[9] attacked participants of the oppositional Peace March on September 22 in Moscow. Russian Orthodox activists, in particular, head of the Corporation for the Orthodox Action (Korporatsiia pravoslavnogo deistviia) Kirill Frolov also participated in the attack.

 

Attacks Against LGBT or Homeless People

The number of attacks against members of the LGBT community (8 injured) decreased significantly in comparison with 2013 year (2 killed and 25 injured).

This decline in homophobic violence is partly explained by the fact that 2013 was a year of an active homophobic campaign, and LGBT activists made themselves noticeable as well. Throughout almost the entire year, the latter group engaged in protests against the bill to ban “homosexual propaganda;” right-wing radicals of all stripes came there to beat up the protesters, and their actions were de-facto condoned by the police.

The LGBT movement organized fewer actions in 2014. However, these events were hardly safer for the participants. Over the past year, we recorded attacks on participants of the LGBT events as well as on participants in other actions, who carried LGBT symbols.

 

LGBT non-protest events also faced challenges. For example, a group of “Orthodox activists” led by Dmitry “Enteo” Tsorionov and chanting “Moscow is not Sodom!” pelted with eggs the security guard and the Sakharov Center building in Moscow, where the LGBT community event was taking place in October. In September, supporters of the Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov twice tried to disrupt the opening of the annual LGBT Kvirfest festival in St. Petersburg.

Statistics for this group also include the victims of “pedophile hunters” from the neo-Nazi project “Occupy – pedofilyay.”[10]

Victims of attacks included not only members of the LGBT community, but also those perceived as such: two girls in the St. Petersburg metro, whom an attacker took for lesbians, and teachers and students of the School of English in Irkutsk, who celebrated St. Patrick's Day and were dressed “in historical costumes, particularly in kilts,” so they were “taken for persons of non-traditional sexual orientation.”

Unfortunately, we receive no information or are unable to establish any details about the majority of such attacks. For example, a video of two young people being beaten up with their attackers shouting homophobic slurs surfaced online in early 2015. It was clear from the context that the incident took place on May 1, but even establishing the location proved impossible.

 

The number of attacks against homeless people was greater in 2014 than in the preceding year with 6 killed and 1 wounded (vs. 3 killed and 2 injured in 2013). The brutality of these attacks is just appalling. For example, an attacker in Birobidzhan (“motivated by hatred against people leading a vagabond lifestyle”) doused the victim's clothes with gasoline and set them on fire, then kicked a homeless man down the stairs with his foot.

Unfortunately, such attacks take place much more often than we know, since we only record the cases, in which the hate motive was already recognized by the prosecution. Alas, this seldom happens.

 

Violence Motivated by Religion

The number of religion-based xenophobia victims was lower then in 2013, but the attacks were more violent, with 2 killed and 12 injured (vs. 21 injured in the year before).

Jehovah's Witnesses, who constituted the largest group among the victims, have been subjected to a government-organized repressive campaign for the past 6 years. In 2014, at least 11 followers of the Jehovah's Witnesses doctrine were injured; at least 12 were injured in 2013.

Islam as a religion and Muslims as a religious group are constant targets of xenophobic attacks in social networks. However, Muslims per se (that is, as members of a religious group, not as “ethnic outsiders”) rarely become targets of xenophobic violence. This kind of violence was recorded in 2014, when a woman passerby, dressed in traditional Muslim clothes (a long dress and a headscarf) was beaten up in Moscow.

Other victims include parishioners and a nun of a Russian Orthodox church in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, shot by a “pagan.” motivated by his“hostile feeling against Abrahamic religions, particularly Christianity.”

 

Other Kinds of Right Radical Violence

The police stepped up its efforts to protect popular public spaces during the holidays. Perhaps that is why the Airborne Forces Day on August 2 - traditionally featuring mass attacks by drunken paratroopers, including openly racist ones - was more subdued than in the preceding year. However, August 2, 2014 did not pass completely incident-free: two former paratroopers beat a citizen of Côte d'Ivoire in Tomsk, and paratroopers in St. Petersburg tried to take away a flag from an LGBT activist, who, as in 2013, came out to the Palace (Dvortsovaya) Square. However, after only a few seconds, the gay activist was taken into police custody and put into the departmental car, which quickly pulled up. Two paratroopers were detained, and the crowd prevented the riot police from arresting the others involved in the incident. At least 10 people were injured on that day in 2013.

 

The raids of the ultra-right in search of “illegal migrants” continued throughout the year, although, compared with the preceding year, their number was much more modest (on the political dynamics of these raids see below). These “raids” did not always proceed peacefully despite the fact that the police was often present, and occasionally even acted as a partner. On July 20, activists of the National Socialist Initiative (Natsional-sotsialisticheskaia initsiativa, NSI) destroyed one of the shops in the area of Primorskaya and Pionerskaya Metro stations in St. Petersburg; on September 21 nationalists seized fruit from fruit sellers of “non-Slavic appearance” in Primorsky shopping center and threw into trash. In Syktyvkar, members of the organizations Frontier of the North (Rubezh severa) and Guestbusters-Komi (Guestbusters is a project of “the Russians” movement) found out the addresses of 13 apartments, in which migrant workers were registered, affixed Guestbusters stickers on the apartment doors, photographed the doors with stickers on them, and published the images and the addresses on the Frontier of the North website. Given the aggressiveness of some members of the organization and visitors to their site, we view these actions as dangerous.

 

Explosions and arson that targeted government buildings continued in 2014. On the night of April 20 (Hitler's birthday),[11] nationalists threw two “Molotov cocktails” at the police station in Cheboksary; a prosecutor's office in Chelyabinsk was set on fire on April 21. In early April, unknown people tried to set fire to the building of the Primorsky Regional Court in Vladivostok. However, this last case of arson was likely associated not with Hitler's birthday, but with the fact that the Court at that time was considering the case of the notorious Primorye Guerillas (Primorskie partizany) – a group, popular among the ultra-right.

 

Vandalism

In 2014 vandals, motivated by religious, ethnic or ideological hatred, were less active than the previous year: in 2014 there were at least 53 such acts of vandalism in 35 regions of the country, compared to at least 71 in 35 regions in 2013.

Most acts of vandalism in 2014 had a pronounced ideological character: the desecration of memorials to soldiers killed in the Great Patriotic War, monuments to the fighters of the Revolution, Lenin’s monuments, etc. - 17 incidents in total, including 4 cases of arson. In 2013, there were 7 such incidents. These numbers do not include isolated cases of [the] swastika graffiti on buildings or fences.

The Orthodox sites take the second place, with 10 of them attacked by vandals in 2014, including two cases of arson. A year earlier, the Orthodox facilities suffered the largest number of attacks (32 cases).

Sites of new religious movements are the third on this list, with 8 cases, all of them - buildings owned by Jehovah's Witnesses (vs. 12 in the preceding year). They are followed by Muslim sites (7 incidents, including 3 cases of arson vs. 9 in the preceding year); Jewish with 5 sites (vs. 9 in the preceding year). In addition, five government buildings and the protestant church Word of Life (Slovo zhizni) came under attack. Thus, the number of attacks on all religious sites decreased in comparison with 2013.

The number of the most dangerous acts (arson) was rather small and amounted to 19% (10 of 53) versus 19 of 72 in 2013.

The situation in the regions showed some changes. In 2014, acts of vandalism were reported in new regions (the Trans-Baikal Region, the Khabarovsk Region, the Ivanovo Region, the Kaliningrad Region, the Kemerovo Region, the Orenburg Region, the Rostov Region, the Saratov Region, the Tambov Region, the Tver Region, the Tyumen Region, and the republics of Kalmykia and Udmurtia). On the other hand, a number of regions (the Altai Region, the Stavropol Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Novgorod Region, the Ryazan Region, the Sakhalin Region, the Sverdlovsk Region, the Smolensk Region, the Tomsk Region, the Tula Region, the Ulyanovsk Region and the republics of Kabardino-Balkaria, Adygea, Karelia, and Komi) appeared in our statistics on 2013, but not this year.

The geography of vandalism largely coincides with the geography of racist violence (in 17 regions), but xenophobic vandalism spreads wider (35 regions) than violence (25 regions).

 

Public Activity of Ultra-Right Radicals

Position on the “Ukrainian Question”

The main issue, setting the tone for the far right in 2014, was, of course, the developments in Ukraine. Almost immediately after the conflict in the neighboring country began to gain momentum, a split emerged among the nationalists, dividing them into those, who supported the “Russian Spring,” and those who opposed it.

The first category includes leaders of most nationalist movements: Konstantin Krylov and Vladimir Tor (National Democratic Party, NDP), Dmitry Bobrov (NSI), Stanislav Vorobyev (Russian Imperial Movement, Russkoie imperskoe dvizhenie, RID), Igor Artemov (Russian All-National Union, Russkii obshchenatsional’nyi soiuz, RONS), Andrei Saveliev (Great Russia, Velikaia Rossiia) Vladimir Kvachkov and Yuri Yekishev (People's Militia in the Name of Minin and Pozharsky, Narodnoe opolcheniie imeni Minina i Pozharskogo, NOMP), Kirill Barabash (Initiative group for the referendum “For a responsible power,” Initsiativnaia gruppa provedeniia referenduma “Za otvetstvennuiu vlast’,” IGPR “ZOV”), Eduard Limonov (the Other Russia, Drugaia Rossiia), Alexey Zhuravlev (Motherland (Rodina) party), and others.

They all share the idea that the conflict in Ukraine has ethnic-national character (the Russian South-East of the country against the Ukrainians of the center and the West); they support the annexation of Crimea to Russia and the attempts of activists in the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions of Ukraine to win their independence. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of the leaders of the ultra-right movements, which supported “Novorossiya,” (with the exception of pro-government organizations such as the Motherland (Rodina) party and the People's Council (Narodnyi sobor)) pretty soon agreed that the Russian policy in the Ukrainian issue has been dictated not by the desire to protect Russian citizens of the South-East, but by political and/or mercantile interests of the country's leadership and of President Vladimir Putin personally. However, opinions on more exact character of these interests vary widely - some people think that Putin used the situation in Ukraine, to curtail political freedoms in Russian; others - that he started the war to provide justification for the difficult economic situation and raise his rating; yet others believe that the purpose was to create a negative image of nationalists per se (via the Russian media campaign against the “fascists” in Ukraine) and to put pressure on the “Russian movement” in Russia, etc. As always, there were some conspiracy theories; the most popular conspiracy theory is the one in which the Russian President and with the West (the West is occasionally replaced by the “global oligarchy”) have secretly agreed to divide Ukraine into spheres of influence, so that Russia gets Crimea, while the EU gets the rest. Notably, in the immediate aftermath of the annexation of Crimea and referendums in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, some right-wing leaders were far less critical and even found themselves supporting the Russian president (the case of the NDP and, with some reservations, the Other Russia), however, by the second half of the year, they clearly changed their viewpoint and declared that Putin had betrayed “Novorossiya.”

The second group - the opponents of the “Russian Spring” concept - includes the Moscow leaders of “the Russians” (Russkie) Ethnic-Political Association (Dmitry Demushkin, Vladimir Basmanov, and - as far as we know - Alexander Belov), the National Democrats’ (Natsional’nye demokraty) leader Semen Pikhtelev (this movement is also part of “the Russians” Association); leader of the Russian Right Party (Rossiiskaia pravaia partiia) Vladimir Istarkhov, leaders of the National Democratic Alliance Alexei Shiropaev and Ilya Lazarenko, ex-leader of the Russian Run (Russkaia probezhka) in St. Petersburg Maxim Kalinichenko, former member of the “Restrukt!” political council Roman Zheleznov, leader of the Slavic Force in St. Petersburg Dmitry Yevtushenko, and others.

Representatives of this wing generally believe that the Russian authorities artificially insert the issue of ethnicity into the conflict (the Ukrainians of the country’s West and center against the Russians of the South-East), whereas in reality the differences are ideological in nature – people, who want to build their independent national state stand against Russia’s supporters, who long for paternalism and are nostalgic for the Soviet Union. This group of nationalists does not approve of the war in Ukraine and believes that the conflict has been artificially inflamed by the Russian political regime in its attempt to ruin the relationship between the “fraternal countries” of Russia and Ukraine and to prevent a neighbor from building a nation-state out of fear of “export of the national revolution.” The incorporation of Crimea into Russia is either not welcomed at all, or welcomed with great reservations, since the political regime in Russia is viewed as anti-Russian. Therefore, it is assumed that the Russians living in Ukraine are better off either staying in the country, which freed itself from an oligarchic regime, or acquiring independence.[12]

The autonomous ultra-right activists, whose numbers far exceed the number of supporters of specific nationalist movements, also found no consensus on Ukraine. In this group we noticed a three-way split, rather than a two-way split observed in the right-wing organizations and described above.

The first clearly identifiable subgroup consists of those who support the struggle of self-proclaimed DNR and LNR, feeling solidarity with their inhabitants along ethnic lines. This group of the ultra-right activists is extremely negative toward the Ukrainians, who are often referred to as “ukro-turks” and “ukrops” and accused of hatred against the Russians and of being the puppets of the Zionist oligarchic government, which have seized power in Kiev after the Maidan.

Opponents of “Novorossiya” are also well represented among the autonomous ultra-right, and constitute the second subgroup. They view residents of the Ukrainian South-East as “sovoks” (Homo Soveticus) and “vatniks” (a derogatory nickname derived from a cheap cotton-filled winter coat), who are trying to prevent healthy nationalist forces from building the national Ukrainian state, instead pulling their region into the embrace of the anti-national Putin regime. Similarly to the leaders of ultra-right organizations that refuse to support the “Russian Spring,” these right-wing activists claim that the Russian government policies are putting an end to good relations between the two “brotherly” nations, and thus, from their point of view, betraying the Slavic unity.

The third relatively large group views the events in Ukraine as a showdown between “ukrops” and “vatniks,” in which they don’t support either party. Representatives of this group either believe that this conflict should be of no interest to nationalists, who live in Russia and have their own problems to deal with, or welcome the losses of both sides, since they eliminate future enemies of the Russian nation-state, which will be built after the “White Revolution.”

It is quite difficult to judge which of the above points of view predominates, but an analysis of posts on the far-right groups, forums and social networks shows that the number of those, who support neither party in this conflict, is gradually increasing, largely due to the influx of the former “Novorossiya” supporters. Many users write that they no longer see the DNR and LNR as “the Russian Riot,” but only as people, who want to leave one oligarchic regime in order to come under the wing of an even worse oligarchic regime.

In general, the far-right segment of the Russian Internet has been gradually reducing the amount of attention to the subject. Apparently, the nationalists experience the “Ukraine fatigue”; in addition, moderators of social network groups and ultra-right forums are likely trying to avoid bringing up these topics, so as not to provoke squabbles between their readers.

 

Consequences of These Differences for Nationalist Organizations

 

Difference of opinions resulted in a serious split among the leaders of ultra-right organizations, leaving yesterday's allies on the opposite sides. For example, leaders of the NDP and “the Russians” Association accused each other of betrayal. Thus, the Association lost one of its constant allies, but this was not the worst loss of 2014 for “the Russians.” In September, the RID and the NSI from St. Petersburg left the ranks of the Association, denouncing the “anti-Russian and openly Russophobic” position of its leadership in connection with the events in Ukraine.[13] In the fall of 2013, D. Bobrov even started building a branch of his organization in Moscow, hoping, apparently, to enlist support among the Moscow activists of the “Russians,” not satisfied with the position on Ukraine adopted by the Association’s leadership.

Departure of the RID and the NSI de-facto completed the disintegration of the Association; some supporters of the RFO Memory (Pamiat’), dissatisfied with the expulsion of their leader Georgy Borovikov, left “the Russians” as early as 2013, and the RONS left in early 2014, before the Ukrainian events took the front stage (Artemov believes that cooperation with the Association is not an efficient strategy for his movement).[14] As a result, by the end of September, “the Russians” were reduced from a broad coalition of various right-wing movements to a union of only two previously banned organizations, namely the DPNI and the Slavic Union (Slavianskii soiuz). The arrest of Alexander Belov in October clearly did not improve the situation, depriving the Association of its most popular leader, in addition to all those, who chose to leave the organization, have been expelled, or were on the run.

The news about Belov’s money laundering for a banker from Kazakhstan and his connections with Kazakh nationalists provoked yet another round of malevolent comments about “the Russians” on right-wing websites and forums. Of course, the arrest also drew attention to the movement, and a number of nationalists expressed sympathy for Belov; of course, Belov’s associates consider the case against him to be political and declare that he was “captured” in advance of the “Russian march.” However, none of this inspires mobilization among supporters, and the news on the case are met with indifference.

It would be somewhat premature to declare that “the Russians” Association has completely lost its significance, because the movement still commands many activists in the two capitals, as well as in the regions. However, the Association clearly failed to uphold its status of the key far-right organization in 2014, and may no longer be able to get this status back.

Moreover, “the Russians” were facing problems with their regional colleagues as well. For example, in October, the Russian Khimki movement announced that its activists (who, similarly to the NSI and the RID, did not support the position on Ukraine taken by the Association’s Moscow leaders) were terminating their affiliation with “the Russians.”[15]

However, “the Russians” Association was not the only organization plagued by internal discord between leaders and activists due to difference in opinions on Ukraine. For example, a number of the NDP supporters left the party due to disagreement with its leadership stand on the “Ukrainian issue”; the leaders of Novosibirsk, Murmansk and Khanty-Mansi regional offices of the Other Russia, as well as some of its rank-and-file activists, have reportedly left the party in disagreement with Eduard Limonov’s new strategy. R. Zheleznov was expelled from “Restrukt!” for his support of the Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor), then went to Ukraine and joined the Azov battalion to fight on the side of the Kiev government. In July, the Russian Runs movement in St. Petersburg declared that Maxim Kalinichenko had no further connection to them, since the organization “did not and still does not support the Maidan, Bandera, the Jewish Ukrainian government and the Anti-Terrorist Operation in Donbass.”[16] Surely, there were other conflicts as well, which simply never became public.

However, we can also point to some examples of the ultra-right trying to turn the “Ukrainian issue” from a dividing factor into the unifying cause. For example, the movement “For the New Russia!,” founded in April in St. Petersburg in order to provide joint support to the resistance movement of South-Eastern Ukraine,[17] included the local branch of the Motherland (Rodina) party, the NDP and the RID. Under different circumstances, such an alliance would have looked very strange, since the Motherland is a pro-government party, while the NDP and the RID are in the opposition; moreover, the Motherland and the RID advocate for the Imperial Russian model, while the NDP support the nation-state model and ardently oppose authoritarianism and imperialism. It is unlikely, however, that this joint movement was ever successful and productive – we saw no information on joint actions or events, and, by the time of the Russian March, the NDP referred to the Motherland exclusively as “Stalinists.”[18] Apparently, the coalition did not work out.

Another such alliance, known as the Battle for Donbass, which emerged in June following a Moscow rally of the same name, proved to be more stable.[19] This coalition includes the Right-Conservative Alliance (Pravo-konservativny alians, PKA), the Eurasian Youth Union (Evraziiskii soiuz molodezhi, ESM), National Patriots of Russia,[20] members of the Permanent Council of the National-Patriotic Forces of Russia (Postoianno deistvuiushchee soveshchanie natsionalno-patrioticheskikh sil Rossii, PDS NPSR) coalition, Yegor Prosvirnin’s online project Sputnik and Pogrom and other groups. The coalition has primarily focused on holding public rallies in support of “Novorossiya” and participation in corresponding actions of other movements. In and of itself, this alliance is not very interesting, being so obviously situational and narrowly focused on support for residents of South-Eastern Ukraine. However, it provided a good example of the little-known activists successfully using the circumstances to break through into the public view. Their very first action was quite noticeable (despite being organized by Alex Zhivov, a board member of the PKA – an organization that was little known outside the nationalist circles) due to the mainstream agenda chosen for the meeting - a demand that the Russian army enter Ukraine in order to support “Novorossiya.” As a result, an action not only managed to attract several thousand people – an almost unprecedented number for nationalist events, with the sole exception of the annual Russian March - but also got a favorable coverage of the rally in the national media, including federal TV channels. Despite the fact, that the goodwill of the authorities and the media toward the action evaporated fairly quickly, A. Zhivov created a good foundation for future advancement of his organization, secured some notoriety, and obviously intends to continue using the brand name “Battle for Donbass.”

There are also other examples of how the Ukrainian theme contributed to the political advancement of the far right. For example, Alexey Khudyakov, a former activist of the Young Russia (Rossiya Molodaya) and the current leader of the Shield of Moscow (Shchit Moskvy), as well as Pavel Rudometov, a former activist of the Russian National Unity (Russkoie natsionalnoe edinstvo, RNE) in Moscow, an organizer of the Sober Runs (Tresvye zabegi) and of the Brotherly Path (Bratsky Put), were able to join the committee of public support for the South-East of Ukraine in the Federation Council.

Another far-right coalition took shape in Moscow in late December under the name Russian National Front. It includes such organizations as Andrei Saveliev’s Great Russia party, Yuri Ekishev’s NOMP, Vladimir Filin’s movement For Nationalization and De-Privatization of Strategic Resources of the Country, Kirill Barabash’s IGPR “ZOV,” Sergey Kucherov’s Russian People’s Council (Sobor Russkogo Naroda), S. Vorobyov’s RID, the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers (Soiuz pravoslavnykh khorugvenostsev) led by Leonid Simonovic-Nikshich, the Black Hundred (Chernaya Sotnya) movement led by Aleksandr Shtilmark and others. This alliance was created on the basis of the “Russian Action Coalition” (Russkaia koalitsiia deistviia (RKD), known mainly for organizing an alternative Russian March in Moscow) and PDS NPSR; it differs from the two coalitions described above in that it does not limit itself only to the subject of “Novorossiya,” although, of course, the alliance declares its support for residents of South-Eastern Ukraine.

The members of this new coalition consider themselves part of the “healthy core of the Russian movement,” after the events in Ukraine had separated the organizations which “turned out to be not national-patriotic, but separatist, anarchist, semi-criminal or even simply bogus.”[21]This coalition is more viable than the “marriage between a snake and a hedgehog,” demonstrated by the Motherland, the RID and the NDP in St. Petersburg - after all, it includes the movements that already have an experience of cooperation; most of them are Orthodox, pro-imperial and oppositional, or meet at least two out of these three criteria. It is difficult to assess its potential stability and mobilization resources on this stage – so far, the Russian May Day and the Russian March, organized by the RKD and its allies, has shown a fairly stable growth in the number of activists, and not only for the record-high 2014 (see below).

Besides the coalitions described above, there are many smaller alliances of lesser-known right-wing organizations, who tried to join their forces for actions in support of “Novorossiya,” but their activity is largely limited to collecting humanitarian aid.

In contrast to the DNR/LNR supporters, their opponents were in no hurry to form alliances, realizing that they found themselves not only in opposition to the official policy and rhetoric (which is quite common for the nationalists), but also in the minority among nationalist organizations. A large number of different online communities for the far right activists, not sharing the enthusiasm for “Novorossiya” or even openly supporting the Right Sector, emerged on social networks, but it seems that no overt attempts to use these communities as a basis for creating a movement, leave alone an organization, ever took place.

 

Ultra-Right Public Actions

The Ukrainian events had an undeniable impact in this area as well, de-facto delineating the nature of nationalist public political actions throughout the year.

 

“Ukraine-Related” Actions

A substantial share of nationalist rallies in the past year was directly related to the Ukrainian events.

Starting in March-April, when clashes in the South and East of Ukraine acquired a clear and steady upward trend, a number of far-right organizations that supported the idea of a “Russian Spring” engaged in organizing numerous small pickets and rallies in support of the South-East instead of their traditional activities. The NDP, the New Force (Novaya sila), the Motherland, the RID, the Other Russia, and almost all other “Russian Spring” sympathizers undertook such actions. In addition to demonstrating their position, their goal was to raise funds and humanitarian aid for “Novorossiya,” as well as to recruit volunteers for joining the ranks of the DNR and LNR combatants. Each action was quite small, but they took place in many regions of the country starting in spring and until the end of the year.

The first relatively major action attended, among others, by representatives of the ultra-right, was a rally in support of the “Russians in Ukraine,” organized on March 10 by the Party of Action (Partiia dela) and its leaders Konstantin Babkin, Mikhail Delyagin and Maksim Kalashnikov. We would like to remind here that the two latter activists had previously been the leaders of the Motherland – Common Sense (Rodina – Zdravyi Smysl) party - a splinter group of the Motherland. The action took place in Novopushkinsky Square and brought together about 500 people. This rally is interesting in two respects. First, it united supporters and opponents of the Russian authorities – the feat that, until recently, had been almost unthinkable; the eternal opposition - activists of the Other Russia and supporters of Ivan Mironov’s ROS - stood side by side with young people in T-shirts that read “Motherland! Freedom! Therefore, Putin!” and with activists of the NOD (headed by Deputy Yevgeny Fyodorov from the United Russia party). Another untypical feature of the meeting was the fact that politicians from both inside and outside of the system shared the stage; actions, where deputies of the State Duma and the likes of Eduard Limonov have a chance to address the audience, do not happen often in modern Russia

Three other actions of this year – the previously mentioned Battle for Donbass rallies, which took place on June 11, August 2 and October 18 – demonstrated a somewhat similar pattern. One could find, for example, activists of the oppositional National Democratic Party in odd proximity with the pro-regime NOD, and the speakers included vice-speaker of the parliament Vladimir Zhirinovsky, as well as leader of the Russian Choice (Russkii vybor) A. Khudyakov, who previously, as the Shield of Moscow leader, along with his associates conducted illegal raids against migrant residences, one of which ended in a pogrom and Khudyakov’s arrest.

Such a “cocktail” produced a wave of criticism against nationalist movements by many ordinary ultra-right activists, who had been involved in the action and had helped to organize it. Critics said that the authorities were using the nationalists to solve their own political problems, and that cooperation with “pro-Kremlin” politicians and movements was totally unacceptable. Notably, during the preparation phase for the second and third actions, many critical online posts remarked on the unacceptability of attending a rally in support of “Novorossiya” together with the “fascists” from the NDP and Sputnik and Pogrom. These disputes resembled the ones that flared up in 2012 during the general protest rallies; one part of the ultra-right movement similarly criticized the other one for cooperation with the liberals, and, once again, there was no consensus in the liberal ranks on whether it was appropriate to attend rallies together with the nationalists.

In any case, by the fall of 2014, the majority of nationalists, even those initially ready to support Russia's policy regarding Ukraine, came to the conclusion that the authorities “have betrayed Novorossiya” and the problem of potentially attending actions together with supporters of President Vladimir Putin has disappeared on its own. Battle for Donbass was also affected. While A. Zhivov managed to attract several thousand people to the first meeting (according to various estimates, from 2.5 to 4 thousand activists), the last meeting brought together no more than several hundred people (according to various estimates, from 200 to 800 people).

In addition, by the second half of the year, other (pro-government) nationalist movements, became more active and replaced the ultra-right “outsiders” in the role of the principal fighters for “Novorossiya.” We are talking about groups like Yevgeny Fyodorov’s NOD or Nikolai Starikov’s Great Fatherland Party (Partiia Velikoie Otechestvo, PVO); later, already in 2015, these parties either joined the Antimaidan coalition, or simply participated in its actions. The NOD was particularly active; it organized the All-Russian Antimaidan campaign in September and the multi-city March for the Liberation of the Russian World on November 3. The NOD and other similar groups for the most part act in support of the “ Novorossiya,” ardently oppose the West in general and America in particular, are prepared to fight with the “fifth column,” and stand for traditionalist values. Notably, the majority of these groups are similar in ideology to many right-wing organizations, except for two fundamental aspects - unlike most nationalist groups they support the current Russian political regime and open xenophobia is not (or, at least, not yet) as pronounced in their ideology. These differences do not mean that activists with nationalist or even completely far-right views are absent in these groups. One example is “the City” Foundation for the Support of Civil Initiatives (Fond podderzhki grazhdanskikh organizatsii “Gorod”) founded by ex-leader of the Young Russia Anton Demidov, who also collaborates with members of the Youth Anti-Drug Special Forces (Molodezhny antinarkoticheskiy spetsnaz, MAS) movement. “The City” Foundation, which participated in anti-opposition actions along with other government-supported movements, sees the fight against aggregation of migrants as one of the movement’s main objectives,[22] and the MAS raids have always attracted the ultra-right by their brutality and by the fact that drug traffickers are often not ethnic Russians. Many people with nationalist views, who never found their place in the ranks of the “outside of the system” right-wing organizations, came to support the NOD and the PVO.

As we have said repeatedly, the potential of the nationalist ideology in Russia is very high, but the existing right-wing movements have not been able to use it. They do not have channels to reach mass audience and are too radical for an average xenophobic Russian. Therefore, emerging pro-government movements, such as the NOD, using the “Novorossiya” theme, have a chance to absorb potential activists and displace the “outside of the system” ultra-nationalists. The latter can then chose either join a mass movement (as was done by the Battle for Donbass coalition, which joined the ranks of Antimaidan) or stand aside and try to compete by attempting to mobilize the nationalist opposition.

Meanwhile, some ultra-right activists organized public events with the opposite agenda. For example, a rally in support of the Maidan, which included nationalists among its participants, was held on February 16 in St. Petersburg. About 100 attendees included activists from the following organizations: the National Democrats, the Russian Runs, the Progress Party (Partiia progressa), the Party of December 5 (Partiia 5 dekabria), the Republican Party of Russia - People's Freedom Party (Respublikanskaia partiia Rossii – Partiia narodnoi svobody, RPR-PARNAS), the Ingria movement, and the Movement for the Supreme Council (Dvizhenie za Verkhovnyi Sovet). However, the event was also visited by a group of its antagonists, led by Anatoly Artyukh of the St. Petersburg People's Council, who attempted to disrupt the rally. They heckled the speakers, shouted insults at the attendees and called them fascists. Artyukh also tried to grab the imperial flag away from the ultra-right attendees, arguing that they had no right to it.

A small share of nationalists took part in the Peace Marches in Moscow on March 15 and September 21. The first march included activists from “the Russians,” the RFO Memory, Russian United National Alliance (Russkii ob’edinennyi natsional’nyi soiuz, RONA), Svetlana Peunova’s Will (Volya) party and a group of right-wing radicals carrying the kolovrat flag. Representatives of “the Russians,” the Russian Right Party, the People’s Will (Narodnaya Volya, former Volnitsa) and the National Bolshevik Platform (a splinter group of the Other Russia party) were seen at the second Peace March. Quite expectedly, representatives of these movements were labeled “national traitors” and “provocateurs” by “Novorossiya” supporters.

 

The final attempt to bring nationalists, who opposed the “Russian Spring,” out to the streets took place in May. The Internet became flooded with calls to gather on Manezhnaya Square in Moscow and in other cities of the country for the Russian Maidan. Subsequently, leader of the organizing committee of the Right for European Development party (Pravye za evropeiskoie razvitie) Vitaly Shishkin[23] was named as the event’s organizer, but this was not known when the calls had first appeared.

All major ultra-right and soccer fandom movements declared that they had nothing to do with this event, and many even called it a provocation by the authorities (arranged so no one would attend it, which would have implied that everyone supports the Russian political regime). As a result, only several small groups of right-wing activists gathered on the Manezhnaya Square in Moscow on May 18 and quickly dispersed; no events were reported in other cities.

As far as we can tell, the “Russian Spring” opponents from among the ultra-right conducted no significant Ukraine-related actions after this one, apparently fearing the outflow of their activists and repressive measures from the authorities.

 

Traditional Actions

A shift of focus toward Ukraine and the above- described conflicts had a dramatic effect on traditional nationalist events.

As early as the Heroes Day[24] - traditionally, the first nationalist event of the year - it became apparent that actions with agenda neutral towards the “Ukrainian question” were irrelevant and had no mobilization potential.

In 2014, the Heroes Day celebrations were only held in nine cities; the best attended of them, in Moscow, brought together 40 activists from “the Russians” Association and the RFO Memory. For comparison, the preceding Heroes Day was held in almost 20 cities, and the Moscow event attracted about 100 people.

Organizing their next annual event – the Russian May Day – nationalists already met with difficulties in formulating an agenda. In Moscow, which sets the tone for the marches in the other cities, leaders of the ultra-right organizations had already split into supporters and opponents of the “Russian Spring”; the former wanted to dedicate the May Day to the “Russian Spring,” pointing out that any other topic was irrelevant, while the latter insisted on a neutral agenda, so as not to split the participants by their support of or opposition to the Maidan.

As a result, the disagreements led to three (rather than the usual two - the primary and the alternative) Russian May Days in Moscow.

The first march, organized by “the Russians” attracted about the same number of activists as in the preceding year, that is, about 500 people. Despite the decision to carry out the action under slogans neutral towards Ukraine, the calls to attend it were annotated on many right-wing forums with the description of this event as a march “without Kholmogorov and vatniks,” naturally provoking outrage from the “Russian Spring” supporters. As a result, the nationalist “Novorossiya” supporters labeled the march “Banderite,” and this mind-set only deepened after the event. Many activists were unhappy with the fact that the stage during the rally was mostly occupied by the Maidan supporters: D. Demushkin, A. Belov, R. Zheleznov, V. Istarkhov, A. Kolegov etc.

 

The NDP and Natalia Kholmogorova’s Russian Social Movement Human Rights Center (Pravozashchitnyi tsentr Russkogo obshchestvennogo dvizheniia, PC ROD) decided to organize their own event; the rally brought together up to 180 people under the slogans in support of the “Novorossiya.” The leaders of the NDP and the PC ROD said that they did not want to participate in the “Banderite march” of “the Russians,” but also did not want to fragment the action, so they scheduled their rally later in the day in order to accommodate activists wishing to attend both events.

The third event was held in Moscow district of Lyublino by the Russian Action Coalition (Russkaia koalitsiia deistviia). Similarly to the NDP rally, this march was dedicated to the support of the South-East of Ukraine and was dubbed “Russian spring - Russian unity” (Russkaia vesna – russkoe edinstvo), emphasizing its differences from the “Banderite” march of “the Russians.” The rally gathered the same number of people as in the preceding year, about 150 activists.

 

Disputes around slogans for prospective events also went on in other cities, with the same conflicts and squabbles between former allies, as in Moscow. All this discord has led to the first instance of the “Russian May Day” narrowing its geographic spread from 22 cities in 2013 to 20 cities in 2014.

Moreover, the event didn’t happen in a number of cities, where it had been regularly held in prior years, but instead took place in four cities that previously never hosted it - Veliky Novgorod, Irkutsk, Kazan and Ufa. Apparently, the emergent issue of Ukraine provoked confusion and disagreement among potential march organizers in some cities; in the other ones, on the contrary, it prompted a greater number of nationalists to take to the streets. After all, most regional events are poorly attended (usually fewer than 50 people, and in most cases fewer than 20), and, hence, their existence depends on activity levels and negotiating abilities of only a small number of people. Also, the shrinking and the changes in geography of the march may have been due to the fact that attempts to organize a Russian May Day with an agenda, other than support of Novorossiya, have now met a more active resistance from local authorities.

Thus, the Russian May Day was not particularly successful this year - there was a further fragmentation in Moscow, narrowing of the May Day geography, and lack of growth in the overall attendance.

Another traditional action - the Day of Solidarity with Right-Wing Political Prisoners, observed by the right radicals on July 25 since 2009 – also failed to attract attention. Admittedly, D. Demushkin tried to obtain a city permit for a rally on July 26, but failed in his efforts, and, in the end, “the Russians” movement merely engaged in collecting some funds. As far as we can judge, the majority of right-wing activists in the regions also failed to conduct any public actions, limiting their activity to small fundraising meetings, collecting online monetary contributions, or merely advertising the fundraising marathon of “the Russians.” Most likely, the interest in these actions remained low for two reasons. First, the popularity of this particular event has been falling for past several years. While assistance to imprisoned nationalists was one of the most popular and honorable activities in 2009-2012, over time (and after several scandalous appropriation of collected funds), this activity has lost some relevance. Quite frequently, organizations, which suddenly started collecting donations for prisoners, were accused on ultra-right online forums of trying to win a cheap popularity or simply to make money. Most likely, the mechanism for collecting money is already well established, and everyone willing to help is already involved in doing so. The second reason is that, similarly to the Heroes Day, this action simply lost its relevance. Many ultra right activists preferred to collect aid and money not for their incarcerated associates, but for residents of South-Eastern Ukraine - a much hotter and politically advantageous cause.

In order to prevent the loss of their remaining political clout, “the Russians” announced in August the beginning of arrangements for the “Russian March” - the most important nationalist event of the year, traditionally headed by the Association. D. Demushkin filed a relevant application package with the Moscow Mayor’s Office two months prior to the action in the hopes to get ahead of everyone else and stake out a place for his organization. As on the Russian May Day, the leaders of “the Russians” chose slogans that were neutral toward the controversial topic of Ukraine, such as “Russian Unity!,” “Freedom and Justice for the Russian People,” “Against the KGB Terror! Freedom to Imprisoned Nationalists!,” etc.

At the same time, preparations were underway for an alternative action by the Russian Action Coalition, dubbed the “Russian March for Novorossiya” a.k.a. “Novo-Russian March.” In October, the organizations planning to take part in the procession signed the Declaration of the Russian March for Novorossiya, which outlined the principal demands that the event was supposed to voice, such as the “recognition for Novorossiya as a state formation,” “investigation of war crimes by the Kiev Junta,” “End to negotiations for surrendering Novorossiya,” etc.

Thus, in September-October, the ultra-right supporters of “Novorossiya” once again, as before the Russian May Day, faced the question of which march to join –a traditional and always much better attended action, organized by the “Banderites” or the march under the “correct” slogans, but, previously, of marginal status.

This dilemma was nearly resolved on its own, after the city authorities refused to approve any of the applications filed by D. Demushkin and suggested that he join any of the authorized events. The situation was saved by the NDP, which eventually got a permit for a march in Lyublino. It is worth noting that, apparently, the party leaders initially doubted over which march they should join (V. Tor attended a meeting of the Novo-Russian March program committee), but then apparently decided to go with familiar “Banderites” from “the Russians” Association rather than conspiracy theorists from the Russian Action Coalition.

Despite the fact that the NDP, a “Novorossiya” supporter, ended up as the formal organizer of the march, it still retained the status of a “Banderite” event:; the NDP was overshadowed by the “Russians,” more active in the media and, certainly, more numerous. Other opponents of the “Russian Spring” also planned to attend the march in any case, although the most extreme of them may have stayed away for fear of reprisals or not accepting the avowed neutrality of the march on the “Ukrainian question.”

As a result, the main “Russian march,” held in Lyublino, became the biggest failure of the right-wing movement in recent years. It brought together no more than 2 thousand people, which is about one third of the usual number.

The demonstrators included activists of “the Russians” Association, the RFO Memory, the RON, the Russian Right Party, the Resistance movement, the Block of Free National-Socialist Societies (Blok svobodnykh national-sotsialisticheskikh obshchestv), as well as the NSI, the NDI and the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers. Thus, supporters and opponents of “Novorossiya” marched side by side. The organizers feared possible clashes between the columns, but antagonism was only expressed in a minor verbal sparring. When a marcher with a Novorossiya flag shouted “Novorossiya - be!,” marchers from the neighboring column were heard responding “in the grave.”

This sharp decline in numbers demonstrated an unexpected significance of differences on the “Ukrainian question” for the ultra right milieu, which is generally quite used to disagreements. Both the NDP (when they decided to take part in the organization of the traditional march) and “the Russians” clearly expected that, as in the previous years, the importance of a joint march of all the nationalists would outweigh the differences - in the past, events succeeded in bringing together pagans and the Orthodox, supporters of the Empire and supporters of the nation-state, radicals and more moderate xenophobes. The action ended up being a failure, and “Novorossiya” supporter K. Krylov even felt compelled to explain his participation in the “Banderite procession” on his LiveJournal page.[25]

A much more successful march, organized by the Russian Action Coalition near Oktyabrskoe Pole metro station, was attended by the Great Russia Party, the RNE, the Black Hundred, the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers, the RID, the NOMP, Volya party, the Russian Runs, ecologists from Green World (Zelenyi mir – a fragment of former Volnitsa), the IGPR “ZOV,” representatives of Cossack organizations, Orthodox activists headed by Dmitry “Enteo” Tsorionov, and others. Support for “Novorossiya” and advertised (albeit not delivered) participation of former DNR armed formations leader Igor “Strelkov” Girkin[26] allowed the “alternative group” to double their number of attendees. Their 2014 march attracted about 1,200 people, whereas there were no more than 600 in the preceding year.

It is worth noting that the events were strikingly different from each other in their demographics. While the Lyublino march primarily attracted the radical-minded youth, the vast majority of activists at Oktyabrskoe Pole were people of middle age or even the elderly.

The success of the competing march at Oktyabrskoe Pole does not affect the failure of the action as a whole, and even aggravates it. The fact that the traditional and alternative marches were so close in their numbers of participants emphasizes the presence of a real split in the ranks of the ultra-right, which contradicts the main idea of the Russian March as a general event for nationalists of all stripes.

The total number of attendees for both marches did not even come close to the 2013 figures, when Moscow hosted three events, with the main one, in Lyublino, attracting about 6,000 people, and the two alternative ones combined - about 700. This year’s total is about 3,200 vs. 6700 in the preceding year. Notable by its absence is the third subgroup of the nationalist community, the largest one that joined neither the Lyublino march, nor their competitors. A certain fraction of right-wing activists has always believed that attending public events leads to nothing but unnecessary attention of the “E”-Centers; this group of people became significantly larger over the past year,.

A march in St. Petersburg, which (as in the preceding year) was called not “Russian,” but “patriotic” at the initiative of the action’s organizer Motherland party, was much more successful than the one in Moscow. It was attended by about 1500-1800 people, more than doubling the 2013 attendance of 800-1000 people. The event was attended by activists from the Russian Harmony (Russkii Lad – the nationalist wing of the Communist Party), the RID, the People's Council, the NOD, the PVO and the Black Hundred, as well as by representatives from the Cossack associations and the East (Vostok) Brigade.

Similarly to the alternative Russian March in Moscow, this action was intended primarily to show support for “Novorossiya.” The increase in numbers was most likely due to activity of the “inside the system” parties, such as the Motherland and the Communist Party, due to supporters of Deputy Vitaly Milonov and people who shared a more radical version of the official ideology. In addition, new participants of the action clearly displaced part of the traditional constituency; attendance has increased in 2014 despite the fact that, in contrast to preceding years, such notable ultra-right movements of Petersburg as “the Russians” Association, the NDP, the NSI and the National Democrats did not participate in the March.

Many nationalists have labeled the march “handshakeable” [excessively conformist] and refused to participate in it (for example, the NSI chose to come to Moscow to the Lyublino march), and others did not attend because of its position on Ukraine.

Besides the largest march, two more alternative actions took place in St. Petersburg on November 4, but they were quite small. Pro-Kiev groups collected about 20-30 people in Ovsyannikovsky Garden.[27] Approximately the same number of activists with the imperial flag staged an unauthorized march on Nevsky Prospect. It was organized by Dina Garina, a spokesman for the Association of the Russians of St. Petersburg; “Russian Power for Russia!” was chosen as the main slogan.

It is noteworthy that, in the end, the St. Petersburg nationalists attempted to hold their events, taking into account all possible positions with respect to the events in Ukraine: a “patriotic” march by the Motherland party in support of the “Novorossiya,” the rally “For the Slavic unity” against it, and a neutral march of Dina Garina.

The failure of the two latter actions, and the relative success of the first (but not on the account of its traditional participants), once again illustrates the point that nationalists “outside of the system” have dropped the ball in connection with the “Ukrainian question.” Moreover, the St. Petersburg action by the Motherland and its allies can be considered the first successful attempt by pro-government and relatively moderate nationalists to take over the “Russian March” brand from radical nationalists.

 

Other regions fared no better than Moscow; the action in any form (including one-person pickets or café gatherings) took place in at least 36 cities, that is, in 13 cities fewer than in the year before. For the first time, the geographical span of the march not only failed to expand, but experienced a setback and almost returned to the levels of 2011, when the march only took place in 32 cities. In addition, there was an attendance problem - with the exception of St. Petersburg, the number of marchers either decreased significantly, or, less often, remained at the 2013 levels. In previous years, despite some fluctuations in attendance, actions in various regions as a whole showed a significant growth trend in the number of supporters. The number of cities that hosted several smaller actions, rather that a single large one, has significantly increased, i.e. the split affected not only the two capitals, but also the regions.

In general, the outcome of this march is clear - it was the least successful in recent years not only in Moscow but across the entire country, and so were the other traditional nationalist actions of 2014. Nevertheless, forecasting the end of the Russian March and other annual far right events would be somewhat premature. After all, the Ukrainian theme, which caused so many problems, should begin to lose its relevance sooner or later, and then the Russian right-wing radicals are likely to return to their traditional themes and regain attention of their supporters. Moreover, there are some fears that the change in the Russian official policy and rhetoric toward ever greater conservatism and traditionalism potentially creates a good breeding ground for the integration of the far-right ideology, and, possibly, the nationalists could still manage to receive their political bonus from this whole situation.

 

“Spin” on Criminal Incidents

While 2013 set a record in the number of criminal incidents, involving local residents on one side and migrants on the other, that the ultra-right successfully transformed into major political events, the 2014 can be characterized as a year of relative calm in this respect. However, in the first few months, before the events in Ukraine displaced almost all other news, nationalists continued to work on creating the second Udomlya, Pugachev or Biryulyovo,[28] but without much success.

The first criminal incidents this year, which the ultra-right attempted to “spin” - the death of Astrakhan resident Galia Borisenko and the murder of 17-year-old and pregnant Anastasia Moskovkina in Biryulyovo District of Moscow – failed to cause a resonance, comparable to criminal incidents of 2013. As a result, the ultra-right managed to conduct small “people's assemblies” of 100-150 people, which didn’t receive much media coverage and, most importantly, didn’t provoke local residents to further actions under xenophobic slogans.[29] Further attempts to conduct actions against “ethnic crime” in January and February were even less successful.

Starting in mid-February, the events in Ukraine started to displace other political news, and xenophobic gatherings came to an end. Only in May, a relevant incident broke through the “Ukrainian blockade” - the death of FC Spartak fan Leonid Safiannikov on May 13 in a fight with two men, one of whom was a 25-year-old native of Uzbekistan. On May 15, soccer fans gathered at Pushkino train station and conducted a spontaneous rally near the railway station and a march through the city. Chanting the slogans “Moscow without chinks!” (Rossiia bez churok!) and “Russians, forward!” (Russkie, vpered!), 300-500 marchers (according to different estimates) proceeded to a migrant dormitory, where they were stopped by riot police; then they went to the City Administration building. As a result, some market stalls and a construction site were vandalized. The police detained about 60 people. Strangely enough, this story failed to interest far right organizations as a pretext for the next People's Assembly, despite the fact that the story was widely circulated on ultra-right internet forums and websites, as well as in the conventional media.

Over the next few months, the ultra-right did not even try organizing any large xenophobic gatherings and returned to this kind of activity only in September, and, even then, only in St. Petersburg. Moreover, until December, their actions attracted no more than 40 people. However, the ultra-right of St. Petersburg decided not to give up so easily and held their last event of the year under xenophobic slogans on December 14– the “March against Ethnic Crime and Corruption,” dedicated to the anniversary of the Manezhnaya Square riots. The march was organized by the NSI leader D. Bobrov, who announced it almost a month in advance of the scheduled date. About 100-120 people participated in it (activists of the NSI, the Slavic Strength (Slavianskaia sila), the NDP and football fans) - not a bad result, considering the drop in activity levels, demonstrated by the ultra-right during the Russian March. Perhaps, the fact that the event was declared neutral in relation to the situation in Ukraine from the very start ensured a relative success of the action - the organizers even demanded that anyone willing to attend refrain from bringing up this issue, promising to remove participants for breaking this rule.

 

Other Activity by the Ultra Right

Traditionally, the ultra-right organize a variety of actions with “social” agenda in an attempt to demonstrate that the nationalists are committed to social improvement. While at the turn of the decade these actions primarily focused on providing assistance, for example, raising funds for orphanages, donating blood, building playgrounds, participation in the defense of the Khimki forest, and so on, in the recent years their focus shifted toward fighting against social evils, such as pedophiles, illegal migrants, shops that sell alcohol to minors, etc. Such actions grew extremely common in 2012-2013; they usually took a form of rather aggressive or plainly illegal raids.

Popularization of raiding initiatives rests not only on the fact that the right-wing activists prefer the image of aggressive fighters to the image of Good Samaritans, but also on the media attention. Shocking episodes with beaten and humiliated people bring much more publicity than blood drives.

Formally, any issue can become a theme for a raid, but some fads can definitely be observed - while, in 2012, the most popular raids were the ones against pedophiles (popularized by the “Occupy-pedofilyay” movement led Maksim Martsinkevich), in the year that followed, the nationalists were busy searching for “illegal immigrants.” It is worth recalling that, in the second half of 2013, almost all relatively large ultra-right associations created their own raiding groups, and the actions turned from a secondary activity, used to fill the gaps between political campaigns, into a primary focus.

In 2014, however, the raiding initiatives were undergoing a certain crisis along with other traditional ultra-right activities.

Early in the year, before the “Ukrainian question” displaced everything else, raiding initiatives continued to develop and spread throughout the regions. Thus, the Great Russia launched its anti-immigrant StopNelegal project in Chelyabinsk; new branches of the Guestbusters (a project of “the Russians” association) appeared in Yaroslavl and Dolgoprudny, and new and old groups announced that they were recruiting activists to search for “illegals.”

However, it quickly became apparent that the media is losing interest. Journalists were much less likely to accompany nationalists, and the ones who did mostly came from little-known or foreign media outlets. The frequency of raids began to decline, and the new groups, focused on regular actions, were no longer sprouting like mushrooms after a rain. However, the nationalists did not want to give up so quickly and tried to rekindle public interest, searching for new themes that can attract attention.

For example, the movement Shield of Moscow (Shchit Moskvy) undertook a raid in April with a new agenda of capturing unlicensed taxi drivers. The ultra-right in St. Petersburg and Syktyvkar engaged in searching for “rubber apartments.” Nationalists also conducted non-traditional raids against alcoholism and smoking. For example the Sober Courtyards” (Trezvye dvory) movement in St. Petersburg started patrolling courtyards in order to prevent drinking of alcoholic beverages in public, while the “Clean Park” (Chisty Park) activists pledged to rid parks of “drunks and meat-grillers”

Of course, new issues have never fully replaced the usual ones; many far-right groups continued to conduct their traditional raids in search of pedophiles, drug dealers and illegal immigrant residences, but these actions no longer achieved wide public resonance.

 

 

In addition, several criminal cases were opened in the summer against activists of Restrukt! - the largest and the most notorious movement, primarily engaged in raiding activity (see below); subsequently, the “raiding fervor” of the ultra-right has rapidly faded. This certainly does not mean that such actions stopped altogether, but their number showed a striking decline even when compared to the first half of the year, and they have become much less aggressive and demonstrative. The Russian Sweeps [Russkie zachistki] project in St. Petersburg, which focuses on inspecting the shops and checking IDs of merchants of “non-Slavic appearance,” provides a god example. While its 2013 raids organized by N. Bondarik brought together several dozen masked young men, often armed with baseball bats, this year, when D. Bobrov’s NSI undertook similar raids, only a few people participated and their behavior was relatively peaceful and polite. Naturally, when such actions do not involve large numbers of people and don’t give the ultra-right a chance to “express themselves” (N. Bondarik’s events tended to resemble an armed raid), they don’t attract much attention or motivate further participation.

Notably, in the second half of the year, against the background of dropping number of raids, the number of previously neglected social assistance actions increased; many nationalists, most likely in response to pressure from law enforcement agencies, chose to return to peaceful, and most importantly, legal activities. Many right-wing associations resumed their blood drives, collection of aid to the poor, voluntary Saturday work, etc. Possibly, the growth in number of such actions was spurred by the fact that the majority of right-wing (and not just right-wing) movements that supported the DNR and LNR engaged in collecting humanitarian aid for “Novorossiya” throughout the year, thus increasing the popularity of “actions of help” as such.

The ultra-right were traditionally active in their infiltration of various sports clubs and other initiatives, especially the ones associated with wrestling, boxing, etc. Last year, “Russian Bench Press” (weightlifting from a prone position) tournaments promoted by the ultra-right gained wide popularity. Apparently, nationalists were attracted by the name of the sport and the low cost of organizing competitions. In 2014, many Russian Bench Press tournaments took place in different cities (Moscow, Astrakhan, Belgorod, Irkutsk, Krasnodar, Kostroma, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Slavyansk-on-Kuban, Tver, etc.); the organizers included different groups of nationalists (the Russian Runs, the Resistance, Restrukt!, and others) as well as the clothing brands popular among the far right. These events are often held in various fitness clubs or local gyms and attract several dozen participants and spectators. Similarly to the Russian Runs, the actions are designed to promote a healthy lifestyle and, at the same time, to promote far-right movements and bring in new people.

Roman Zentsov’s Resistance movement, which became somewhat more active in the last year or two, was among the most active organizers of the Russian Bench Press contests. While previously the movement “specialized” on actions of civic assistance, now its activists specifically conduct all kinds of competitions and training. Not all of their activities involve sports per se – many focus on martial training, such as knife fighting or hand-to-hand combat.

Of course, organizing various camps and activist training is a traditional far right activity. The main purpose of these activities is to keep the associates “battle ready,” so the program usually involves training of various combat skills. While previously this kind of far-right activity was generally reserved for the summer season and the winter holidays, now it has become more regular and formalized. Rather than infrequent camp announcements, the right-wing websites and social network groups are now featuring numerous calls to visit permanent schools and clubs, where everyone can learn knife and hand-to-hand combat, urban and forest combat tactics, shooting and weapon-handling skills, etc. Most likely, the growth in activity of various military-patriotic clubs that exist around the ultra-right movement resulted from the escalating conflict in Ukraine and general militarization of the society. Some of these clubs have openly declared that they were training militants to participate in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of the separatists.

In our opinion, sharp intensification of the far-right efforts to involve their actual or potential supporters in such schools and clubs constitutes an extremely disturbing symptom, since it reflects the increased demand for military training. The consequences might be quite serious, because nationalists are prepared to use their combat skills both against their ethnic and ideological “enemies” and against the state.

 

Participation of the Ultra Right in the Hostilities in Ukraine

As described above, the developments in Ukraine have become the hottest topic of debate among right-wing radicals. The most determined of them went to the war-torn region in order to “act on their words” and personally take part in the fighting.[30] Russian nationalists are present on both sides of the front line in Eastern Ukraine. We can say, however, that the ultra-right are far from constituting the largest group of the Russian nationals fighting in Ukraine, For the most part, citizens of Russia, who take part in the hostilities, are not only (and not so much) nationalists, but all sorts of people, including anti-fascists. Many people fighting in Ukraine had never been involved into any prior political activity.

Unfortunately, our information in this area is very spotty, and we are unable to provide even a rough quantitative estimate. Very approximately, actual nationalists fighting for the “Novorossiya” number about few hundred people, excluding the “unregistered” Cossacks. (According to director of the Phoenix (Feniks) Center for New Sociology and Study of Practical Politics Alexander Tarasov, about one hundred nationalists, not counting the Cossacks, fought on the DNR/LNR side by the end of 2014.

Russian nationalists, who fight in Ukraine, mostly can be characterized as idea-driven but unaffiliated, and include veterans of the past wars (Chechnya and even Afghanistan), as well as retired military servicemen – i.e. people with combat experience prepared for the war conditions. Some of them have ties to Cossack organizations, especially to the ones active in the regions adjacent to Ukraine. Particularly visible among these are the activists of Nikolai Kozitsyn’s Great Don Army (Vsevelikoe Voisko Donskoe), who seized control in the areas between the DNR and LNR territories, and the Wolves' Hundred (Volchya Sotnya) from the Belorechenskaya village of the Krasnodar Region, which ceased its activities in the region by the end of 2014).

The Ukrainian events brought to public attention the Russian National Unity (or more precisely, a fragment of RNE that remained loyal to its leader, Alexander Barkashov) - an organization, which involved thousands of young people in the 1990s, but which had done nothing of notice for several preceding years. The RNE is actively campaigning on the Internet to attract volunteers. Online photos depict groups of 15-20 armed men in the combat zone wearing the symbols of Barkashov’s RNE (one photo shows the leader’s son Petr Barkashov; another one includes Alexander Kildishov, the leader of the Volgograd RNE branch).

Yevgeny Fyodorov’s NOD is busy organizing and sending volunteer fighters. In the summer of 2014, the Samara NOD branch, under the slogan “Motherland! Freedom! Putin!” and a portrait of Tsar Nicholas II, sent volunteers from the Samara Region to join the people’s militia of the self-proclaimed DNR.

Among other volunteers from Russia seen in Ukraine were activists from the ESM (Aleksandr Dugin’s followers), Stanislav Vorobyov’s RID, and the NDP.[31] Members of the Other Russia were noticed at the Ukrainian front as well.

Well-known ultra-nationalist website Sputnik and Pogrom (whose editorial board also split on the Ukrainian question) and soccer fandom websites called for joining a group of St. Petersburg nationalists (Alexei “Frits” Milchakov, Dmitry Deineko and others), which left for Ukraine and was later transformed into “Batman” Special Purpose Detachment of the LNR armed formations.

Some nationalists cannot be definitely classified into specific groups. For example, Anton Raevsky[32] from Oryol, who “became famous” when his photos with a swastika tattooed on his chest went public online, was a member of Bobrov’s NSI three years ago, left the group among much drama, then participated in the Black Hundred in Oryol, but was expelled in May 2014 after the group became aware of his “exploits” in Odessa. Next, Raevsky announced an online fundraising campaign in order to buy himself military equipment and ammunition and left for the war. He was wounded in the leg in the summer of 2014 and treated at the Rostov Clinical Hospital.

 

We know even less about Russian nationalists on the other side. Even the estimates of their numbers vary widely, from 20 to 200 people (according to A. Tarasov, there were about 60 people by the end of 2014, primarily concentrated in the Azov, Aydar, Donbass 1 and Donbass 2 battalions and in two Right Sector battalions). Neo-Nazis comprise a substantial part of this group, but it is very diverse, including even supporters of General Kvachkov.

On December 5, 2014, during a meeting with the defenders of the Donetsk airport, President Poroshenko presented a Ukrainian passport to one of the former leaders of the National Socialist Society (NSO) and a former RNE member Sergei “Maliuta” Korotkikh, who fought in the Azov battalion[33] since its very inception, and serves as their intelligence commander.[34] In July, Roman (Zuhel) Zheleznov,[35] a known associate of Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich, arrived in Kiev. Mikhail Oreshnikov, who also fled to Ukraine, represents trans-border neo-Nazi group Misanthropic Division. About 10 members of the group are fighting in Azov, and group members took an active part in clashes in Kharkov and other cities.

In December 2014, it was reported that one of the members of the notorious neo-Nazi group Military Organization of Russian Nationalists (Boevaia organizatsiiarusskikh natsionalistov, BORN) Alexander “Rumyn” [the Romanian] Parinov, who had long been hiding in Ukraine, also had connections with fighters from the Azov battalion.[36] However, Parinov is diabetic and can hardly participate in hostilities directly.[37]

Meanwhile, a photograph of armed fighters, taken on St. Michael's Square in Kiev prior to leaving for the war zone, surfaced on the VKontakte social network. One of the fighters was nationalist Aleksey “Kolovrat” Kozhemyakin,[38] well known in the Komi Republic. Russian right-wing websites reported in late November that Kozhemyakin was leaving for Ukraine, and, on December 13, 2014, he confirmed his arrival to Ukraine in his text “Why are we fighting?”

 

The Russian far right already suffered a number of casualties in this war. Just a few examples: the RID activist Sergey Efremov, the NOMP activist from Petrozavodsk Sergei Markov, leader of the Rostov ESM branch Alexander Proselkov, head of the Korolyovo DPNI branch Sergei Vorobyov, and activist of the Togliatti Other Russia branch Ilya Guryev were all killed fighting on the side of the separatists; on the other side, we know about the death of Sergey “Balagan” Grek, who had fought in the Azov battalion.

 

 

Counter-action to Radical Nationalism and Xenophobia

Public Initiatives

Public activity to counter xenophobia and radical nationalism in 2014 remained practically unchanged from the previous year.

On January 19 the traditional All-Russian campaign in memory of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova took place in 11 cities in Russia. A year earlier, this event took place in 15 cities. The anti-fascist march in Moscow was attended by about 650 people – the same number as the year before. The action itself[39] went without incidents, but a number of attacks took place in its immediate aftermath.[40].

Protesters in other cities also faced threats and attacks from the far right. In St. Petersburg, nationalists from the Great Russia (Northwest) posted online threats on the eve of the march in connection with the alleged presence of LGBT activists at the event – ostensibly, the LGBT were “tarnishing the celebration of the Epiphany of Our Lord.” There were several clashes on Vosstaniya Square between neo-Nazis and event participants. In Perm, the screening of Valery Balayan’s documentary about Anastasia Baburova, Love Me, Please, timed to coincide with this date, was cancelled due to threats from right-wing radicals.

From November 9 to November 16, the activists organized the annual International Week of Tolerance under the slogan “Kristallnacht - never again!” timed to coincide with the International Day against Racism and Intolerance. Unfortunately, the commemorative week remained practically invisible to the wider public. Memorial events took place in St. Petersburg, Kostroma and Murmansk, but failed to attract large audience.

 

The March against Hate, instituted in 2004 after the assassination of scientist Nikolai Girenko by neo-Nazis, took place on October 27. It was attended by 300 to 400 people – representatives of the coalition “For Democratic St. Petersburg,” the Yabloko party, the Solidarity movement, the Heterosexual Alliance for the LGBT Rights (Alians geteroseksualov za prava LGBT) and the RPR-PARNAS. This event was marked by some incidents as well. Before the march a group of six people approached a man, who was holding a Crimean Tatar flag, and said, “Are you not ashamed to stand with the national symbol of Crimean Tatars in the same column with the LGBT?” They were removed from the column by Andrei Pivovarov, the co-chairman of the RPR-PARNAS St. Petersburg Branch, but accompanied the procession along the entire route. In addition, five people were arrested “for smoking in a public place” and brought to police precinct to be released shortly thereafter.

 

The “Football People” Action Week, which was organized by the Football against Racism in Europe (FARE) network and took place from 9 to 23 October 2014, is also worth mentioning.

 

 

Criminal Prosecution

In 2014, many changes were introduced to the Criminal Code and other legislation related to counteracting extremist activity. All of them were aimed at toughening the penalties and expanding the scope of responsibility. However, we view most of these innovations as negative, so they are covered in our report on “inappropriate anti-extremism.”

 

For Violence

The number of verdicts for violent racist crimes in 2014 was over 30% smaller than in the preceding year. In 2014, there were at least 21 convictions, in which courts recognized the hate motive in 19 regions of Russia (vs. 32 convictions in 24 regions in 2013), according to which 45 people were found guilty (vs. 59 in 2013).

When prosecuting racist violence, the judiciary used the Criminal Code articles that contained hate motive as aggravating circumstance: Article 105 Part 2 paragraph “l” (“murder motivated by hatred”), Article 116 Part 2 paragraph “b” (“battery”), Article 115 Part 2 paragraph “b” (“infliction of a light injury”), Article 111 Part 4 (“infliction of a grave injury”), Article 213 Part 2 (“Hooliganism”), Article 119 Part 2 (“Threat of murder”), etc.

 

The Criminal Code Article 282 (“incitement to ethnic hatred”) was utilized in four convictions in 2014. 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,[41] 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. The resolution implies that Article 282 should be used in conjunction with another appropriate Criminal Code article, such as “murder,” “bodily harm,” etc.). In such cases, we consider the use of this article in convictions for violent crime to be justified. In three of the convictions, including the verdict to skinheads from the neo-Nazi group NS/WP, which received the most media attention, it was used for isolated episodes of ultra-right propaganda. The fourth verdict, issued in the Stavropol Region, utilized Part 2 Paragraph “a” of Article 282 (“incitement of hatred committed with violence or threat of violence”) for attacking a passer-by while shouting xenophobic slogans and insults. The attack happened in a public place, and the victim didn’t suffer significant harm.

 

Penalties in violent crime cases were distributed as follows:

  • 7 people received suspended sentences;
  • 2 people were sentenced to mandatory labor;
  • 4 people were sentenced to correctional labor;
  • 1 person received suspended correctional labor sentences;
  • 4 people received a custodial sentence of up to one year;
  • 8 people – up to 3 years;
  • 11 people – up to 10 years;
  • 5 people – up to 15 years;
  • 2 people – up to 20 years;
  • 1 person received a custodial sentence of 24 years.

 

We only know of two verdicts, which ordered the offenders to pay a financial compensation to their victims for moral harm and medical expenses. Regretfully, we rarely see any reports about such measures. Meanwhile, victims frequently need expensive medical help and have no financial means to cover the expenses; their offenders should face material responsibility for the incident.

As you can see from the above data, 16 % of convicted offenders (7 out of 45) only received suspended sentences. In some cases such decisions could be justified. For example, in 2014, Roman Veits of NS/WP accepted a deal with the investigation and is unlikely to attempt a racist crime in the future. We have doubts about the second verdict issued against a resident of Samara, who threatened his victim with a stationery knife, uttering anti-Semitic slurs. Perhaps, the fact that the attacker had inflicted no actual injuries accounts for this lenient sentence. However, some suspended sentences for openly racist violence seem inappropriately lenient. For example, two neo-Nazis in Novosibirsk, who beat up a native of Armenia and threw him down on the railroad tracks, or three young men in the town of Kasimov in the Ryazan Region, who committed a racist attack against an apartment with Roma residents.

We have to repeat that that suspended sentences for violent racist attacks tend to engender the sense of impunity and do not stop offenders from committing such acts in the future.

Nevertheless, the majority of the offenders (31 people) were sentenced to actual prison terms of varying length. Among others, the members of above mentioned neo-Nazi group NS/WP “Nevograd” received long terms behind bars. Nikita Tikhonov was sentenced to 18 years in prison for plotting, as a member of the BORN, the assassination of Moscow City CourtjudgeEdwardChuvashov and several other murders. Nikita Tikhonov already received a life sentence in May 2011 for the murder of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova[42]. The process against other BORN members, based primarily on the testimony by Tikhonov and his associate Yevgeniya Khasis, dragged on for months in 2014; at the time of writing, it has been almost completed.)

In two more cases members of the ultra-right organizations were convicted, but the verdict did not cite the hate motive. A St. Petersburg court sentenced nationalist Alexei Voevodin, who had previously received a life sentence,[43] to 6 years in maximum security penal colony for beating a young man to death; the hate motive was not part of the charge.

Members of ultra-right association Perun Warriors - SS (Voiny Peruna - SS) were convicted in Yekaterinburg; they were sentenced to long prison terms for their murder of a homeless person. Earlier, the investigation believed that the murder had been motivated by ideological hatred, but the case was reclassified during the trial, and the ideological motive was excluded.

 

Prosecution of Members and Leaders of Ultra-Right Organizations

 

In the year under review, law enforcement authorities actively prosecuted activists of the most notorious nationalist organizations. The leaders and members of organizations affiliated with the Restrukt! And “the Russians” movements were most severely affected.

In August 2014, the Kuntsevsky District Court of Moscow found leader of the neo-Nazi Restrukt! movement Maksim “Tesak” Martsinkevich guilty of inciting ethnic hatred with the threat of violence and sentenced him to five years' imprisonment in a maximum security colony. The charges were based on the fact of publication by Martsinkevich of three videos “Throw chinks out! The Election Campaign!,” “Tesak on the movie Stalingrad and the situation in Biryulyovo,” and “Tesak on the movie Okolofutbola[44] Such a harsh sentence (five years for three videos) produced a mixed public reaction. Probably, the verdict was issued to reflect “the accumulation of merit” and “taking into account the identity of the defendant,”[45] - perhaps the most notorious neo-Nazi. On November 11, 2014, having considered the cassation appeal, the Moscow City Court reclassified the charges from Part 2 of Article 282 to Part 1 of Article 282 and reduced the penalty for Martsinkevich from 5 years of imprisonment to 2 years and 10 months. Martsinkevich is currently a defendant in at least two more criminal cases.[46]

 

In addition to their leader, the law enforcement also expressed interest in other activists of the Restrukt! In June 2014, a criminal case was opened in Moscow under Part 4 of Article 111 (“Causing serious bodily injury resulting in death of the victim”), after activists had beaten to death 37-year-old citizen of Azerbaijan Zaur Alyshev, whom they took for a drug dealer.[47] The court arrested three Restrukt! members, suspected in the attack, including 17-year-old Kirill Filatov. After that, the authorities began a large-scale investigation into the activities of Restrukt! activists. On July 13, 2014, the quarters of activists Evdokim Kniazev (leader of the “Occupy-narkofilyay” movement) and Liza Lyutaya (possibly a pseudonym) were searched in Moscow. On June 28, 2014, the riot police dispersed the Restrukt! conference in Izmailovo concert hall

Later, all the cases initiated in relation to different incidents were combined into a single court case. The case against members of the Restrukt! movement presses charges against about 20 people, who are accused of attacking vendors of prohibited smoking mixtures, hooliganism and robbery. About 10 people were arrested, and 10 more are under house arrest.

 

Another movement worthy of attention is the Attack (Ataka), founded in the summer of 2013 by several activists, who had left Restrukt!.[48] The Presnensky District Court in Moscow arrested leaders of the Attack movement Stanislav Mitiaev and Vladimir Tkach on October 29. In November, three more new suspects appeared in the Attack case - Roman Chernikov, Tomas Paipalas and Sergei Sukhanov. One of them was arrested, another one is under house arrest, and the third one is under travel restrictions. The young people, depending on their respective roles, are facing charges under Part 1 of the Criminal Code Article 282, under Parts 1 and 2 of Article 2821 (“Organization of an extremist community” and participation in it, respectively), and Part 2 of Article 214 (“Vandalism motivated by ethnic hatred”). According to the investigators, the suspects participated in organizing the ultra-right Attack movement “whose main task was the forcible overthrow of the present government in Russia.” The defenders promoted their ideas via social networks, by disseminating leaflets and by posting stickers.

 

Ultra-right activists, close to the Ethnic-Political Association “the Russians” were actively persecuted as well.

On October 15, 2014, a leader of “the Russians” Association and one of the most famous Russian nationalists Alexander Belov (Potkin) was detained in Moscow on suspicion of laundering money, stolen from the Russian and Ukrainian depositors of BTA Bank of Kazakhstan. Actually, former head of the bank Mukhtar Ablyazov (currently under arrest in France) has been accused of embezzling funds, while A. Belov, according to the investigation, was engaged in laundering some of the money, moved out of the bank.[49] Belov was taken into custody. His associates claim that his detention was politically motivated, and the charges have been fabricated.[50]

Interestingly enough, Alexander Belov is also a defendant in a there is a criminal case, opened in Kazakhstan under Article 164 (“inciting ethnic hatred”) of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan. According to the investigators, Belov met with representatives of Slavic and Cossack organizations in Kazakhstan in February 2012 and suggested organizing a military training base for young Cossacks in Kyrgyzstan. A month later, according to the investigators, Belov conducted closed training events in Kyrgyzstan, this time for activists of the Kazakh national-patriotic youth organization Ult Azattığı. The group of Kazakhs, sent to Kyrgyzstan, was allegedly put together by member of the Kazakh Popular Front Zhanbolat Mamai, while Stan-TV internet portal, owned by Mukhtar Ablyazov, sponsored the trainings. Allegedly, Belov tried to “destabilize the situation in the country and create political chaos utilizing the “Angry Kazakh” political technology project, launched upon Ablyazov’s initiative, the essence of which is to discredit the current Kazakh government and oligarchic groups in front of representatives of the titular nation.”[51].

 

The St. Petersburg group Russian Sweeps also didn’t escape attention of the law enforcement. On September 26, 2014, the Petrogradsky District Court of St. Petersburg sentenced ultra-right activist Dmitry “Besheny” Yevtushenko (the Slavic Strength, the Russian Sweeps) to 160 hours of compulsory labor under Part 1 of Article 282. According to the investigation, in 2010-2013, Yevtushenko “repeatedly posted materials aimed at inciting hatred and enmity on the basis of nationality and religion.”[52] In October 2014, a new criminal case against Yevtushenko was opened under the Criminal Code Articles 282 and 212 (“incitement to mass riots”) for posts on his VKontakte page, which contained “incitement to riots and incitement to hatred against persons of non-Slavic ethnicity or natives of the Caucasus, and against government representatives.”

Another ongoing court case in St. Petersburg targets another famous St. Petersburg nationalist Nikolai Bondarik, charged under Part 1 of Article 282 for planning provocations on the Kurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha) [53] in October 2013.

 

Already in 2015, well-known St. Petersburg right-wing activist and one of the principal organizers of the Russian Runs Maxim Kalinichenko and leader of the above-mentioned Rights for European Development Vitaly Shishkin[54] were arrested. Nationalist activist Oksana (Violva) Borisova was subjected to administrative arrest.

 

As you can see, all these people and organizations have been widely known and active for a long time. Their actions have also deserved attention for a long time. However, on prior occasions, their acts were almost fully condoned by the authorities. Why did the authorities choose this particular moment to actively prosecute them? The theory that the persecution has to do with the difference from the official position in their views on Ukraine does not quite explain the dynamics. After all, members of these organizations differ in their opinions on the Ukrainian question. “The Russians” and their allies clearly oppose the “Russian Spring” movement, while Restrukt! prefers to avoid this subject.

While these nationalists have no common position regarding the government in Ukraine, they all are in clear opposition to the current Russian authorities. So, unfortunately, the political character of the persecution is obvious. For the most part, all these nationalists except Belov, who was under investigation, demonstrated very high level of engagement in 2012-2013 related to nationalist raids in search of “illegal immigrants” and the “hunt for pedophiles.” As for Belov, “the Russians” movement was playing a leading role among radical nationalist organizations until recently, and still remains quite active - it is possible that the authorities simply decided to neutralize such a dangerous and hard-to-predict force.

Most of these nationalists have been charged under “propaganda” articles of the Criminal Code. On prior occasions, we repeatedly spoke out against prosecuting harmless Internet users, who have no influence among the far right, for propaganda and called for paying attention to the well-known agitators. In this case, we are talking about popular right-wing media figures. However, we suspect that incriminating episodes, and articles for the criminal charges were selected at random; no one seriously analyzed the acts of these people (the verdict for Tesak is very revealing – he was convicted for the statements that were definitely not the most incendiary by his standards) and the prosecution was triggered not by their propaganda but by political reasons. The authorities, while solving their possibly quite legitimate political problems, would do well not to forget that legal instruments should be used appropriately and not imitatively.

 

For Vandalism

In 2014, the prosecution of ethno-religious and neo-Nazi vandalism was less active than in the preceding year - we know of 4 sentences issued to 6 people in 4 regions (vs. 8 convictions of 11 people in 8 regions in 2013).

In six cases the charges were brought under the Criminal Code Article 214 (“vandalism motivated by ethnic or religious hatred.”). The verdict for the swastikas in an elevator in Surgut used only this article; the sentence for the desecration of a mosque in the Ivanovo aggregated Article 214 with Article 282 Part 1; in the sentence for arson against a prosecutor’s office in Chelyabinsk Article 214 was aggregated with Articles 280, 213 and 167 (“Intentional damage to property”); in the sentence for a series of bombings and arson in Novomoskovsk (the Tula Region) it was aggregated with paragraphs “a” and “b” of Article 244 Part 2 (“Desecration of burial places motivated by ethnic hatred”), Article 213 Part 2, Article 30 Part 3 and Article 167 Part 2 (“Organization of attempted premeditated destruction of property by arson”).

Uncharacteristically, all convicted offenders received custodial sentences ranging from two months to three years. Four people in the Tula and Chelyabinsk regions received sentences for arson and bombings, that is, for truly dangerous acts. The Ivanovo vandal received three years for insulting inscriptions on the Grand Mosque and placing a pig's head on the mosque fence - perhaps taking into consideration some previous acts committed by this person. The real prison term for the Surgut vandal for xenophobic inscriptions in the elevator, seems debatable, but we may not be aware of all the circumstances of the case.

By the way, the majority of such crimes (desecration of buildings, houses or fences) in the past year, were customarily qualified not as vandalism but as propaganda under Article 282 (see the next chapter). Apparently, the difference is due to the fact that in the above cases the xenophobic graffiti appeared on objects, which, unlike religious buildings or monuments, could not be vandalized. Although, even undisputable acts of vandalism were frequently qualified as propaganda, as it happened in the conviction for “extremist inscriptions” made on a mosque in Udmurtia. Due to the dual nature of such offenses, the decision on a specific article to be used are left to the discretion of law enforcement agents, and Article 282 is better known to the law enforcement and more advantageous in terms of media coverage.

 

For Propaganda

The number of propaganda-related convictions has been growing year after year. In 2014, it far exceeded the number of all other extremism-related convictions combined. At least 153 guilty verdicts for xenophobic propaganda were issued in 2014 to 158 people (and one more individual released from punishment due to active remorse) in 54 regions of the country. In 2013, 133 verdicts were issued against 136 people in 59 regions[55].

The Criminal Code Article 282 was utilized in 136 convictions against 141 people. An overwhelming majority of them (114 people) were convicted under this article only, 13 people were convicted under Article 280 only; 12 more cases involved the aggregation of Articles 282 and 280. One person – the vandal who damaged the mosque in Ivanovo – was convicted under Articles 214 and 280 (see also the chapter on penalties for vandalism). Two more – guilty of arson targeting a prosecutor’s office in Chelyabinsk – were convicted under the aggregation of Article 167 Part 2 (“Intentional damage to property”), Article 213 Part 2 (“Hooliganism”), Article 214 Part 2 (“vandalism”), Article 280 Part 1 and Article 282 Part 1.

Five sentences for nine people involved the Criminal Code articles pertaining to violence in aggregation with the propaganda articles. Such are the cases of the above-mentioned members of the far-right NS/WP group in St. Petersburg (Vladimir Mumzhiev, Roman Veits, and Kirill Prisyazhnyuk) or of neo-Nazi Gleb Tsyba, who had attacked an anti-fascist in Moscow (see chapter on verdicts for violence).

In some verdicts, Article 282 was utilized in combination with general nonviolent criminal code articles, such as Article 228 (“Illegal possession of drugs”) or Article 161 (“Robbery”).

Two people were convicted under articles 280 and 2052 (“Public calls to terrorist activity or public justification of terrorism”): Roman Solovyev in Lipetsk for the publication of recorded performances by Said Buryatsky and Michael Ture in Moscow for acting as administrator for a website that published news and articles about the activities of Imarata Kavkaz. Somehow, in all the years of our observations, sentences under Article 2052 have been imposed exclusively for radical Islamist propaganda. The verdict, in which the Criminal Code Article 2052 part 2 (“Preparation for the public justification of terrorism through the media”) was aggregated with Article 280 Part 1, Article 282 Part 1, Article 2052 Part 1 (“justification of terrorism”) and Article 30 was no exception to this rule; neither was the Moscow case of Boris Stomakhin, the editor-in- chief of the Radical Politics newsletter – despite the fact that Stomakhin is not an Islamist, he specifically praised Islamist violence.

At least five verdicts utilized Article 282 for sharing and linking to materials from the Federal List of Extremist Materials.[56] We wrote earlier about lack of standards that allows prosecutors to press either criminal or administrative charges for the same offenses.[57] We do not see these sentences as fully legitimate, because they represent a clear case of an administrative issue that should be resolved by applying the relevant Administrative Code article. However, among the huge number of people convicted of propaganda, many were only guilty of posting a single item, not very dangerous one, but the one not (yet!) included on the Federal List. In such cases it is impossible to apply administrative punishment, only a criminal one. In any case, we view such acts as presenting so little danger, that they are not worthy of law enforcement attention altogether.

 

The court verdicts for the propaganda cases were distributed as follows

 

  • 1 person was released from punishment due to remorse;
  • 2 people were released from punishment because the statute of limitations had expired;
  • 3 people referred for compulsory medical treatment;
  • 21 people received custodial sentences;
  • 13 people received suspended sentences without additional sanctions;
  • 32 people were sentenced to various fines;
  • 48 people were sentenced to mandatory labor;
  • 36 people were sentenced to correctional labor;
  • 3 people received suspended correctional labor sentences.

 

In 2014, convictions that involved real prison terms were delivered in conjunction with the Criminal Code articles other than propaganda. As already mentioned, it was racist violence, arson, etc.

We have strong doubts about the validity of several of prison sentences handed down in the Vladimir, Saratov, Sverdlovsk and Rostov regions for xenophobic videos, anti-Caucasian statements on social networks, as well as racist songs and shouts. However, we do not know all the circumstances in these cases - it is possible that that the offenders had prior suspended sentences, or their indictment included other charges as well.

A custodial sentence that we view as exceedingly harsh is the decision of the Butyrskiy District Court in Moscow in the case of above-mentioned Boris Stomakhin, sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for publishing several articles on the Internet and in his newsletter. Even considering the fact that his writings indeed contain statements, possible to qualify under the cited Criminal Code articles, and that it was not the first time Stomakhin broke the law (he was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment under the Criminal Code Article 282 part 1 and Article 280 Part 2 in 2006),[58] the punishment is excessive, in our opinion, not only because it imposed for “words only,” but also because the audience of the resources, which published the incriminating articles, was obviously small, so the articles presented no significant public danger.

The trend of diminishing share of suspended sentences for propaganda has persisted since 2012. Such sentences represented only 8% in 2014 (13 of 158 convicted offenders). We see this trend as unambiguously positive, since, in our experience of many years, the majority of convicted propagandists do not view a suspended sentence as a serious punishment and are not being deterred from similar illegal activities in the future.

For example, Viktor Korchagin - a famous preacher of anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity and former director of the Vityaz publishing house – received suspended sentence of two years in Moscow for publication and distribution of Generals on the Jewish Mafia book by General Grigory Dubrov. We believe that a sentence restricting his professional activities[59] and barring him, at least for a period of time, from acting as a publisher would have been wiser, particularly since this was far from the first time V. Korchagin appeared as a defendant in court.[60] However, the defendant claimed that he no longer served as director of the publishing house and was not engaged in book distribution.

The majority of convicted offenders (119 people) received penalties not involving loss of freedom, which we believe to be more effective, such as fines, mandatory labor or correctional labor.

 

Following the trend of three preceding years, the propaganda convictions overwhelmingly pertained to online publications (135).[61] As expected, their share only keeps increasing. The number of convictions for online propaganda in 2014 was over six times greater than the number of convictions for offline propaganda (22). Four cases included both online and offline offenses; these cases are included in both totals and in both breakdowns below.

 

The materials were posted on the following Internet resources

  • Social networks – 120 (VKontakte – 86, unidentified social networks – 28; Odnoklassniki – 6);
  • Articles on websites – 3;
  • Maintaining website of an organization – 1;
  • Forums, comments to articles – 4;
  • Blog post – 1;
  • Email messages – 1;
  • Unspecified Internet resources – 5.

As you can see from this data, law enforcement officers continue to search for extremism primarily on the VKontakte social network, popular among the Russian youth (including its ultra-right segment). The enforcement mechanism is routine, since page owners have to provide their personal data and phone number during registration, and network administrators easily provide this information upon request from the law enforcement. Thus, the number of convictions related to VKontakte keeps growing.

All the shortcomings of the Internet-related law enforcement remain unchanged. The key issue for the Criminal Code “propaganda” articles, namely, lack of clarifications on quantitative assessment of public exposure, still has not been addressed. This criterion is not even taken into account either in filing criminal charges or in sentencing. Meanwhile, the audience size obviously varied widely from one case to another.

However, it is worth noting that, in 2014, the law enforcement paid attention not only to ordinary and rarely visited social network users, as had been the case earlier, but also to individuals, well-known among the ultra-right. In addition to the already mentioned Dmitry “Besheny” Yevtushenko and Maksim “Tesak” Martsinkevich, propaganda-related convictions were issued to Oleg Gonchar, the head of the South Siberian Cossack District press service from Khakassia, to Nikolai Babushkin, the coordinator of the Russian National Union (Natsionalnyi soiuz Rossii) and administrator VKontakte group on the Russian March 2013” from of Norilsk, and to the administrator of the Slavic North (Slaviansky sever) VKontakte group in Murmansk. Unfortunately, sentences to such prominent actors are still lost in the rising tide of convicted small-scale social network users.[62]

 

The genre distribution of the criminal online materials also remained largely unchanged from the year before (one verdict can pertain to several genres)

 

  • Videos and films (including the notorious The Execution of a Tajik and a Dagestani (Kazn’ Tadzhika i Daga) – 48;
  • Audio (including the songs by Kolovrat – 11;
  • Images (photo or drawings) – 33;
  • Articles or other complete texts (including re-publications of Mein Kampf) – 29;
  • Statements, comments, forum posts – 26;
  • Creating or administering online groups and communities - – 2;
  • Unspecified – 11.

Similarly to the preceding year, sentences for audiovisual materials predominates (members of the music bands Ptomaine, Yarovit, and O.T were convicted among others). This can be easily explained by the fact that that audiovisual materials are more straightforward and understandable than the text. The law enforcement agents could also locate them faster. In addition, linking to videos is technically simple, and the verdicts are mostly issued for links to materials posted elsewhere (e.g. on YouTube). Unfortunately, numerous re-publishers of these videos are the only ones facing responsibility (Tesak’s verdict is something of an exception). Meanwhile, it would have been much more appropriate, albeit more difficult, to focus on identifying those who created and uploaded these videos, or, better yet, on those who committed the crimes demonstrated on the videos - especially when it comes to violence, since such recordings are not always staged

As for the texts, they are almost never available for our review, and the reports by the prosecutors or the Investigative Committee rarely provide sufficient information. It is also notable, individual comments on social networks, or comments to articles/videos yield almost the same number of convicted offenders as publication of original texts.

We view the verdicts related to administering and creating ultra-right groups on social networks as appropriate; these groups are often created specifically in order to coordinate violent activities. Organizing internet communities, which systematically incite to hatred, is, in our view, a much more serious offense than individual posts or re-posts on the users’ personal pages.

 

There were far fewer (22) convictions for off-line propaganda. They were distributed as follows:

  • Graffiti – 11;
  • Songs during concert – 1;
  • Leaflets  – 1;
  • Text publications – 1 (B. Stomakhin, who was charged for both online and offline publications);
  • Publisher, for distribution of books – 1 (V. Korchagin);
  • Public shouts and insults – 3;
  • To members and leaders of ultra-right groups and single activists for specific (but sometimes unspecified) incidents of propaganda – 4.

We have no reason to view these verdicts as inappropriate (although we definitely have doubts about some of them), but we believe that criminal prosecution for the nationalist or racist street graffiti is an excessive reaction on behalf of the society and the state. Such verdicts constitute 50% of those issued for the “off-line” propaganda (11 out of 22). In other cases, we can agree that specifically criminal prosecution is warranted for xenophobic propaganda in the form of newspaper articles (depending on the circulation), distribution of books, posting leaflets, singing songs or other incendiary public statements (obviously, depending on their content), especially if they occur in the course of an attack.

 

Prosecution of Extremist Groups and Banned Organizations

Prosecution under the Criminal Code Article 2821 (“Organization of an extremist community”) and Article 2822 (“Organization of an extremist group”) was slightly less intensive in 2014 than in the preceding year. We know of six such verdicts against 14 people in 4 regions of the country (compared to seven verdicts against 8 people in 7 regions in 2013). We are not including obviously inappropriate verdicts or the verdicts against Hizb-ut Tahrir, which are covered in another SOVA Center report

Article 2821 appeared in two cases, and was appropriately applied to the founders of ultra-right groups. One of the ideologists and founders of the Northern Brotherhood (Severnoe bratstvo)[63] Valery Vdovenko, a former KGB officer, who had previously played an ambiguous role in the history of the Motherland party, was convicted in Moscow. In aggregation with other articles he was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. Other members of the Northern Brotherhood -Anton “Fly” Mukhachyov, Oleg Troshkin and Petr Khomyakov - were already convicted in 2012 and 2013.[64] In Murmansk, member of White Cross right-wing military-patriotic club Yevgeny Filimonov was sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in penal colony in aggregation with charges under other articles (including violence).[65]

In other cases the courts utilized Article 2822. The best-known verdict was issued in March 2014, when Dmitry Demushkin, the leader of the Slavic Strength,[66] was sentenced to a fine of 200,000 rubles for continuing the activity of the banned Slavic Union, but was released from payment due to the statute of limitation. It is unclear why the case was under investigation for such a long period of time, and why other charges were dropped.

The article was once again applied to neo-pagan right-wing radical organization Spiritual and Tribal Sovereign Rus' (Dukhovno-rodovaia derzhava Rus’); members of this organization mail their propaganda to various government offices, including prosecutor’s offices, on regular basis. In December 2014, activist of Spiritual and Tribal Sovereign Rus' Alexander Shirokii, found guilty of racist propaganda, continuing the work of an extremist organization and storage and distribution of drugs, was sentenced in Arkhangelsk to 5 years and 2 months in prison.

Other cases pertain to political Islamist associations, directly involved in violence. Five people were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in the case on collaboration with the banned organization Al-Takfir wa al-Hijra in Tatarstan in aggregation with other charges. Five people were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in Bashkiria for creating a cell of banned Imarat Kavkaz organization, robbery, theft and illegal purchase of weapons.

Another noteworthy verdict was issued by the Sverdlovsk Regional Court against Aleksandr Yermakov - yet another participant of the Yekaterinburg NOMP cell. He was sentenced under the Criminal Code Article 30 Part 1 in aggregation with Article 279 (“Preparation for an armed rebellion”), Article 2051 (“Involving people in terrorist activity”) and Article 222 (“Illegal acquisition and storage of Explosives”) to 12 years of imprisonment in a maximum security penal colony followed by 2 years of restrictions on freedom. [67]

 

The Federal List of Extremist Materials

In 2014, the Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated 47 times, adding 381 items; two items[68] were excluded from the list without changes in numbering. The list grew from 2180 to 2561 positions. However, it must be pointed out that the list was updated less frequently (during the comparable period in 2013 it added 590 items, vs. 522 items in 2012, and 318 items in 2011). The additions are thematically distributed as follows (some items included a variety of materials):

 

  • xenophobic materials by modern Russian nationalists – 198;
  • materials by other nationalists – 13;
  • materials by ideologues and classics of fascism and neo-fascism – 8;
  • materials of Islamist militants and other calls for violence, issued by political Islamists – 93;
  • other Muslim materials (Said Nursi's books, materials of the banned organizations, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, many others) – 20;
  • other religious materials (Jehovah’sWitnesses, evangelicals, etc.)– 9;
  • various anti-state materials, inciting to riots and violence (including anarchist materials) – 22;
  • extremely radical anti-Russian statements from Ukraine - 1;
  • other materials from Ukrainian media outlets and the Internet – 3;
  • historical books – 1;
  • the Orthodox fundamentalist materials  – 3;
  • partial copies of the Federal list itself – 1;
  • materials, obviously banned by mistake – 1;[69]
  • materials that could not be classified – 6.

At least 284 out of 379 positions (with two deleted ones taken into account) were items found on the Internet (vs. 333 out of 590 the year before).

Unfortunately, all the deficiencies of the List, described in our every report, still persist, and working with it has long been impossible.

New items were added haphazardly with numerous bibliographic, grammatical and spelling errors. Occasionally, items were described in a way that makes them impossible to identify. For example, it is unclear what material has been added to the list as No. 2518 – it is described as “object number 3 (from file MgISO-Re9hs.jpg) posted by the username “Igor Vladislavovich”  on VKontakte social network on the website www.vk.com at the URL http://vkontakte. ru/id8925421.” Many items consist of huge lists that include different types of materials and are impossible to navigate. Occasionally, materials were obviously added to the list simply by mistake. For instance, only an error or court oversight could explain adding the de-motivator “Russia for Cats” (clearly a parody) as No. 2234. Meanwhile, the fact  that the List also includes scholarly articles by Sebastian Shtopper on the history of World War II guerillas in the Bryansk Region once again suggests that courts do not pay attention to the content of items they ban; likely, neither do prosecutors.

Courts keep adding to the list the same books in different editions, or the same online materials, published on different sites – their content is identical, but formally they are different, and have to be considered separately. At least eight duplicate items[70] were entered in 2014, bringing the total number of duplicates to 88.

Some items, such as materials of Jehovah's Witnesses or books by Said Nursi, have been recognized as extremist inappropriately.

The electronic address (URL) of a resource is intentionally distorted prior to being added to the list. Thus, the list essentially represents a collection of dead hyperlinks. Obviously, the Ministry of Justice does not want to advertise extremist materials, but in this case the agency’s actions end up being simply meaningless.

 

Banning Organizations as Extremist

The Federal List of Extremist Organizations, published on the Ministry of Justice website,[71] added three entries in 2014

The first two were inappropriately banned religious organizations: the “Faizrakhmanist” group in Kazan, recognized as extremist by the Sovetsky District Court of Kazan in Tatarstan in February 2013, and “a Muslim religious organization in the Borovsky village in the Tyumen District of the Tyumen Region” recognized as extremist by the Tyumen Regional Court in May 2014.

The third case was a far-right organization - “The Community of Indigenous Russian People of Shchyolkovsky District in the Moscow Region,” – recognized as extremist by the Shchyolkovo City Court in February 2014. The organization was known as the organizer of Shchyolkovo “Russian Runs;” it was also collecting humanitarian aid “for the residents of Lugansk and Donetsk republics.” The prosecutors based their claims on the statement in the Charter of the Community that reads “the organization is part of the territory of the Rus state formation within Russia

 

In November 2014, the Supreme Court recognized five Ukrainian right-wing organizations as extremist; the Right Sector, Ukrainian National Assembly - Ukrainian People's Self-Defense (Ukrayinsʹka natsionalʹna asambleia - Ukrayinsʹka narodna samooborona, UNA-UNSO), the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrainskaia povstancheskaia armiia, UPA), the Brotherhood (Bratstvo) and Stepan Bandera All-Ukrainian Organization ″Tryzub″[72] (added to the list in January 2015). We view this decision as declarative and motivated by the current political situation. Of course, elements that meet the definition of extremist activity can easily be found in the activities of these Ukrainian organizations. Technically, this ban is legal. However, it is doubtful that significant number of activists from these organizations can be found in Russia and are engaged in extremist activities in Russia, so this ban can hardly be called expedient.

Thus, at the time of writing, the Federal List of Extremist Organizations includes 41 organizations (not including the ones recognized as terrorist), whose activities are banned by the court and punishable under the Criminal Code Article 2822.

 

Other Administrative Measures

Mass Media Activity of Roskomnadzor

Regretfully, the media supervision, conducted by the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) was no longer publicly reported in 2014. Roskomnadzor stopped posting the list of warnings for violations of Article 4 of the Law on Mass Media on its website - including those relating to the “prevention of extremism” and issued to the founders or the editors-in-chief of specific media outlets. However, we know of at least six Roskomnadzor warnings to media outlets (to internet resources Polit.ru, Business Online, BFM.ru and Mediazone for publishing information about “people’s assemblies” in support of Navalny;  to Novaya Gazeta for publishing an article “If Not West Then Who Are We” by Yulia Latynina, and to the Ekho Moskvy Radio Station - for the show Svoimi Glazami [Eyewitness] on the subject of military activities in the Donetsk airport. In addition, the editorial board of the Dozhd [Rain] TV channel received a “preventive letter,” signed by the Deputy Head of Roskomnadzor, in connection with the survey about the blockade of Leningrad, announced by the channel during its live broadcast on January 26, 2014. We consider all these warnings inappropriate, and 2014 became a record year in term of the “inappropriateness share” in Roskomnadzor activities, surpassing all our previous years of observation (see out report on “inappropriate anti-extremism”).

The closing of newspapers for extremism are extremely rare, but one newspaper was, nevertheless, closed under anti-extremism legislation in 2014. The Moscow City Court shut down the Svoimi Imenami newspaper on January 15, 2014. In the course of 2013, Svoimi Imenami received three Roskomnadzor warnings for distribution of extremist materials,[73] then Roskomnadzor filed a claim with the Moscow City Court requesting the shutdown of the publication. The Svoimi Imenami newspaper is a successor of the K Bar’eru newspaper, closed in April 2011. K Bar’eru, in turn, succeeded the Duel newspaper, which had been closed after a multi-year court proceedings. In April 2014, the panel of judges on administrative cases of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation found no grounds for repeal of the court decision.

Administrative Prosecution

Administrative prosecution related to “extremism” is not uncommon, and its cases multiply year to year.[74] Unfortunately, prosecutors don’t always inform the public about such measures. Thus, our data is strictly preliminary. It does not include the court judgments that we view as clearly inappropriate (the latter category is covered in our report on “inappropriate anti-extremism.”)

In 2014, we know of 47 cases of penalties under Article 20.3 (“propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi attributes or symbols”), vs. 20 such cases in 2013 году. Most of these verdicts were imposed for online images that included fascist symbols, uploading materials from the Federal List of Extremist Materials onto file-sharing systems and social networks, sale (including online) of items featuring Nazi symbols (such as SS stripes from the World War II, lapel pins, daggers, helmets, caps, t-shirts), and demonstration of swastika tattoos.

In most cases, the perpetrators faced fines in the amount of 1000 to 2500 rubles. Seven people - the 20-year female resident of Nizhnekamsk in the Republic of Tatarstan for posting a video about Adolf Hitler on VKontakte social network, 28-year-old resident of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky for displaying a sticker with a word “Fascist” on his car windshield, a Saratov resident for demonstrating a rune tattoo, a minor in Chelyabinsk for distributing stickers with swastikas, and three fans of FC Spartak for stickers and t-shirts decorated with swastika - faced five to fifteen days of administrative arrest. In Galich of the Kostroma Region, in addition to imposing a fine, the court ordered an offender, guilty of displaying a swastika tattoo, to wear clothes that cover the tattoo even during the warm season.

 We know of 43 decisions under the Administrative Code Article 20.29 (“mass distribution of extremist materials, as well as their production or storage for the purpose of mass distribution”), compared to 41 such decisions in 2013. In all cases, the perpetrators were fined 1000-2000 rubles for sharing materials from the Federal List of Extremist Materials[75] on social networks.

Two sentences were imposed under the aggregation of both Administrative Code articles mentioned above. For example, a woman from Kovrov in the Vladimir Region was fined for sharing song by the same Kolovrat band via VKontakte.

In two cases, the parents were punished for xenophobia of their minor kids. Parents of a teenager, who posted Nazi symbols on social networks, were fined under Articles 20.3 and 20.29 in Barnaul (the Altai Region). The mother of a 15-year-old creator of the Internet community “We are simply Russian” in Tula was fined under Part 1 of the Administrative Code Article 5.35 (“Failure of parents to carry out their obligations as regards the maintenance, upbringing, education, protection of rights and legitimate interests of minors”).

The court decision against a former kindergarten teacher in Chudovo of the Novgorod Region under Part 1 of Article 5.61 (“Insult”) also merits attention. In April, the former teacher started publicly shouting xenophobic insults at a seven-year girl for her “non-Slavic appearance.” The court sentenced her to a fine of 1000 rubles.

 

Prosecutorial Activity on the Internet

In the course of the year, prosecutors gained strength in their fight against extremist content on the Internet, utilizing both new and old mechanisms.

Prosecutors continued to issue warnings to school administrators about the inadmissibility of extremist activity for absent content filtering software on school computers. However, this activity decreased in scope, compared to the preceding year. We know of at least 24 such representations (35 during the similar period of 2013). We repeat that such methods of combating extremism are counterproductive, since the content filtering software distributed by Rosobrazovanie in March 2008 cannot cope with the task, and, in any case, ideal content filters do not exist even theoretically.

However, the principal area of activity has long shifted to blocking access to restricted (or supposedly otherwise dangerous) materials.

Throughout the year, prosecutors continued to send requests to local Internet providers demanding restrictions on access to “extremist websites.” Unfortunately, prosecutors and service providers rarely report on the actions taken, so our data is known to be fragmentary. However, we know of at least 48 such cases in 2014 (vs. 77 in preceding year), not counting obviously inappropriate ones.

 

While old blocking methods gradually recede into the background, the system of Internet filtering based on the Unified Register of Banned Websites, in operation since November 1, 2012, is gaining momentum with a vengeance. According to preliminary estimates made by the Internet resource Roskomsvoboda,[76] there were at least 128 such resources[77] (out of 1557 entries total) as of January 1, 2015. According to available data (only Roskomnadzor has full information), courts added the following materials to the Register for “extremism” in 2014:

  • xenophobic materials by modern Russian nationalists – 61;
  • materials by the classics of fascism and neo-fascism – 6;
  • xenophobic materials by other nationalists – 1;
  • materials of Islamist militants and other calls for violence, issued by political Islamists – 20;
  • other Muslim materials (Said Nursi's books, materials of the banned organizations, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, etc.) – 17;
  • peaceful oppositional sites – 1;
  • Ukrainian media website  – 1;
  • conspiracy film about September 11, ideology unclear – 1;
  • various anti-state materials, inciting to riots and violence (including anarchist materials – 11;
  • Copies of the Federal List of Extremist Materials website with working hyperlinks – 7;
  • Online library website blocked because of one item – 1;
  • Unidentified material – 1.

The number of materials in the register is bound to increase, since we know of at least 24 additional prosecutorial claims filed in various courts with requests to recognize the presence of information, “forbidden for distribution on the territory of the Russian Federation” on a number of web pages and add these resources to the registry; it is unlikely that many of these claims have been rejected.

Thus, starting in mid-2014, a new (in the legal sense) practice emerged in an attempt to circumvent one of the absurdities of the Federal List. The problem is that prohibition of a book , for example, does not automatically mean the ban on its text online - it should be banned and entered in the list separately; moreover, it has to be done separately for each website, as well as for each edition of the same book. In order to avoid endless additions to the list, prosecutors find an online copy or a version of the banned material, petition the court to not ban another item, but to recognize that a particular website (or a page or a group of pages) “provides information forbidden for dissemination in the Russian Federation,” which corresponds to the wording of the law on the Register of Banned Websites. These cases are handled using the expedited procedure, in which the Court merely establishes (or pretends to establish) the equivalence of the materials. Next, the decision is sent to Roskomnadzor for implementation.

 

This practice was soon expanded. Similar decisions were being made about websites, which contained materials not previously banned as extremist, however, the reasons provided by prosecutors, referred specifically to the area of anti-extremist legislation. While the procedure described in the preceding paragraph merely constitutes a “legal trick,” these bans are simply not based on law.

It seems that restrictions on materials, based on the Register, are currently just as meaningless and haphazard as new additions to the Federal List. Some obvious instances of misuse were observed as well. For example, we cannot agree with blocking the Gramotey online library due to presence of one or more extremist materials in it. Restrictions on well-known hate sites, such as Shturm-novosti [Storm-news] occur along with restrictions on materials inappropriately recognized as extremist, such as Said Nursi books.

 

The Law on the Register is supplemented by “Lugovoy’s law,”[78] which provides for extrajudicial blocking of websites that contain incitement to extremist actions or riots at the request of the Prosecutor General, but without trial. The Roskomnadzor website added a separate registry to work with this mechanism.

By a decision of the Prosecutor General's Office, 156 resources were blocked under this law in 2014 (167 resources as of February 19, 2015).[79] They include:

  • xenophobic materials by modern Russian nationalists – 19;
  • materials of Islamist militants and other calls for violence, issued by political Islamists (videos and statements by Islamist militants, Umma-news, Chechen-news, VDagestan.com, Kavkaz-Jihad, and others and their mirrors– 66;
  • other Muslim materials (Said Nursi's books, materials of the banned organizations including Hizb ut-Tahrir, etc.) – 9;
  • peaceful oppositional websites (Grani, Ezhednevyi Zhurnal, and Kasparov.ru, and their mirrors; Alexey Navalny’s blog, Appeal to Ukrainian people by Borovoy and Novodvorskaya); however, the Prosecutor General’s office emphasized that in this case it did not use the term “extremism”  – 46;
  • extremely radical anti-Russian statements from Ukraine, addressed to the Russian audience – 13;
  • other materials by Ukrainian media – 11;
  • collection of prohibited materials – 1;
  • Unidentified material – 1.

As you can see from the above list, there are already quite a few cases of misuse of this registry. At least one-third of the registry lists blocked oppositional websites, clearly demonstrating that extrajudicial blocking, based only on suspicion of “sedition,” inevitably leads to arbitrariness, abuse of power, and an attack on freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, it is impossible to suppress mobilization for riots by blocking websites, even though this was the principal motive for the adoption of the Lugovoy’s Law. This point is illustrated by the incidents when the authorities blocked the videos that called for gathering on Manezhnaya Square in Moscow on May 18 to organize the “new Manezhka,” or the internet resources that contained information about the meeting places for the Russian March on November 4. In these and other similar cases, multiple online distribution channels were involved simultaneously, so that all this information quickly reached its intended audience. A huge number of such materials still remain completely accessible.

 



[1] Data as of February 4, 2015

[2] For example, our annual report for 2013 reported 21 dead, 178 injured and 9 death threats. See: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina, The Ultra-Right Shrugged: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2013 // SOVA Center. 2014. 17 February (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2014/02/d29004/).

[3] The Krasnodar Region has been a hotbed of ethnic tension for many years.

[4] The Voronezh Region showed up in our statistics in 2013, 2008, 2007 and 2005.

[5] Rozalskaia, Maria, You Will No Longer Be the Silent Majority // Mediazona. 2015. 9 January (http://www.zona.media/agenda/molchalivym-bolshinstvom/).

[6] These attacks peaked in 2007 7 killed, 118 injured) and has been declining slowly ever since; it dropped abruptly in 2013 (7 injured) after a number of leaders of the antifascist movements gave up their political activity or left the country fearing government persecution for participation in the protests of 2011–2012.

[7] After A. Vesnin filed a complaint, the police found the actions of the attackers fall under Article 144 of the Criminal Code (“Impeding the legitimate activities of journalists with violence”), but the Investigative Committee, where the journalist’s case was referred, found no crime in this case. Smirnov was brought to administrative responsibility under the Administrative Code Article 20.1 (“petty hooliganism”)

[8] On August 12, 2014, Andrei Makarevich went on a humanitarian mission to Donbass at the invitation of President of the Ukrainian Volunteers Fund. The musician gave a concert in the town of Sviatogorsk for refugees from Donetsk and Lugansk. This caused a negative reaction in the Russian media. Concerts of Makarevich were canceled in several Russian cities, including St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and twice in Samara.

[9] Russian Liberation Movement “SERB” (South East Radical Bloc) is led by above-mentioned Gosha Tarasevich.

[10] More details in Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina, The Ultra-Right Shrugged …

[11] We know at least two racist attacks that happened around April 20. Makhmadkarim Jalilov, a citizen of Tajikistan, was stabbed on April 18 in Moscow, and a crowd of young men attacked two representatives of a youth subculture on April 23 in Yekaterinburg.

[12] More about the positions of the leaders of the ultra-right organizations on the “Ukrainian issue” in V. Alperovich, Ideological battles of Russian nationalists on Ukrainian fronts // Russia is not Ukraine: contemporary accents of nationalism. Moscow, SOVA Center, 2014. pp. 292–305.

[13] Joint Statement by leaders of the RID and the NSI on the situation with Ethno-patriotic Association “the Russians” // Official site of the People’s Nationalist Initiative (Narodnaia natsionalisticheskaia initsiativa). 2014 September 12..

[14] I accepted the offer from Ethnic-Political Association representatives, known to you, to become a member of their Political Council for the sole purpose - to make the system of interaction between the RONS and “the Russians” more compact and efficient. It worked out well during the period of relatively active work of the Russian Opposition Coordinating Council from November 2012 to May 2013. All my subsequent attempts to get a real cooperation with the Association regarding the RONS actions (Russian Machine of Truth, the work of the RM Organizing Committee, fall 2013 elections, activities of agents provocateurs in the Russian movement, Russian language in the national republics, and so on) showed a nearly complete ineffectiveness.” See” Igor Artemov left  the political council of “the Russians” Ethnic-Political Association // Official website of the movement Russia Will be Freed by Our Efforts. 2014. May 8.

[15] Dear Subscribers. We would like to inform you that the Russian Khimki organization discontinues its activities as part of “the Russians” Ethnic-Political Association // Russian Khimki. 2014. 2 October.

[16] Official declaration of the Russian Runs organizers group in St. Petersburg // Russian Run! St. Petersburg. 2014. 10 July.

[17] A community movement “For the New Russia!” established in St. Petersburg // Politicus. 2014 April 25.

[18] In response to numerous questions about the Russian March in St. Petersburg - information //the National Democratic Party (NDP), St. Petersburg. 2014 30 October.

[19] Battle for Donbass was preceded by other attempts, such as the announcement of the “Russian Spring.” Coalition.  See: Russian Patriots Come Together to Help the South-East of Ukraine, Creating a “Russian Spring” Coalition// Russkaia narodnaia liniia. 2014. 14 March.

[20] A mini-organization created by Alexey Zhivov and later headed by Mikhail Butrimov, who is currently also heads the Moscow branch of Sergei Baburin’s “Russian All-People's Union” party.

[21] Andrei Saveliev, On establishing the Russian National Front // Blog of A. Saveliev. 2014. 24 December..

[22] What are the issues we are helping to solve? // The Official Website of “the City” Foundation for Support of Civil Initiatives

[23] V. Shishkin was previously a member of “the Russians”, and headed their Kaluga branch. In 2013, along with a number of activists, he left the Association in solidarity with expelled George Borovikov. Later, he and other associates of Borovikov participated in founding of the Right for European Development party.

[24] The Heroes Day on March 1 was established in memory of the Pskov paratroopers who died in 2000 in a fight in Chechnya. The overwhelming majority of actions on that day are limited to laying flowers to war memorials.

[25] Konstantin Krylov. What was the NDP doing at the Russian march? // Blog of K. Krylov. 2014. November 5.

[26] He refused at the last moment, explaining his refusal by his disagreement with the opposition of the organizers against the current political regime and personally V. Putin.

[27] The rally “For the Slavic Unity” included representatives from the Slavic Strength North-West, the Russian  Right party (V. Istarkhov), the Russian Right Sector, Slavic Strength Nord-West Petersburg, the Right Link of “the Russians” Association,  group of Dmitry “Besheny” Yevtushenko, “Edelweiss”, autonomous National Socialists and autonomous pagans.

[28] More in: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina, The Ultra-Right Shrugged…

[29] More in: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina, Ukraine Upsets the Nationalist Apple-Cart: Xenophobia, Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract It in Russia during the First Half of 2014, // SOVA Center 2014. 14 July (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2014/07/d29887/).

[30] Yudina Natalia. Beware the Rise of the Russian Ultra-Right // the Moscow Times. 2014. 11 September (http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2014/09/d30212/); Yudina Natalia. Ukrainian passions of the Ultra-Right // SOVA Center. 2014. 15 September (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2014/09/d30505/).

[31] This was established when, on February 18, 2015, the Moscow office of the National Democratic Party held a teleconference with Donetsk, which included representative of the St. Petersburg branch Alexander Zhuchkovsky, who was fighting in the DNR armed formations.

[32] Tatiana Vostroilova. Ukrainians found the “Black Hundred” from St. Petersburg in Odessa // Fontanka.ru. 2014 March 30 (http://www.fontanka.ru/2014/03/25/166/).

[33] The choice of  Azov battalion by many ultra-right is not accidental, since the backbone of this unit is comprised of neo-Nazis, only Ukrainian rather than Russian.

[34] For more on S. Korotkikh see: A Right Radical Receives Ukrainian Citizenship // SOVA Center. 2014 5 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2014/12/d30802/).

[35] A criminal case against R. Zheleznov was opened in Russia in October 2014 under Part. 3 of the Criminal Code Article 359 (“The participation in armed conflict or military action as a mercenary “).

[36] Interestingly, his “associate” from the BORN group Maxim Baklagin stated during the court proceedings on February 16, 2015 that in the beginning of the Ukrainian events he sent a petition requesting to send him “to the war” to a penal battalion so he could “atone his crime with blood”, referring to fighting on the side of the self-proclaimed DNR and LNR.

[37] Other members of the BORN also had a history of hiding in Ukraine. Group leader Nikita Tikhonov went there in 2008. Alexei Korshunov exploded on his own grenade in Zaporizhia in 2011. In 2013, Mikhail Volkov was extradited to Russia by the law enforcement of Ukraine.

[38] For more on Kozhemyakin see: A Syktyvkar nationalist in Azov // SOVA Center 2015. 14 January (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2015/01/d31024/).

[39] March in memory of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova took place in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2014. 19 January (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2014/01/d28823/).

[40] For more information see: The attack against participants of an anti-fascist march in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2014. 20 January (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2014/01/d28824/).

[41] For more details see: Vera Alperovich, Alexander Verkhovsky, Natalia Yudina, Between Manezhnaya and Bolotnaya.... // SOVA Center 2012. 21 February (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2012/02/d23739/).

[42] For more details see: V. Alperovich, N. Yudina, The Summer of 2011: A New Set of Neo-Nazi Prisoners and Dreams of the Second “Manezhka” // SOVA Center. 2011. 5 May (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2011/10/d22696/).

[43] The verdict in the case of the Borovikov- Voevodin gang was issued on June 14, 2011 by the St. Petersburg City Court. Alexei Voevodin and Artyom Prokhorenko were sentenced to life in prison. For details, see: The Verdict n the Borovikov-Voevodin Gang Case Issued in St. Petersburg // SOVA Center 2011. 14 June (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2011/06/d21872/).

[44] More on this case in: Alperovich, Yudina, The Ultra-Right Shrugged…

[45] Martsinkevich had been an activist of the NSO, headed the association “Format 18”, recognized as extremist by the decision of Moscow City Court of 20 December 2010. “Format 18” specialized in manufacturing and selling videos that depicted Nazi skinheads torturing homeless persons and Asian migrants. Tesak was convicted in 2008 for nationalistic provocation in the Bilingva club in February 2007, but not for his more serious acts. In 2009, he was convicted again for posting on the Internet a video with staged hanging of a “Tajik drug dealer.” Martsinkevich’s prison term ended on December 31, 2010; he was released, and took up some new “projects,” including the Restrukt! Movement, which quickly started to gain popularity among neo-Nazi youth, and the “Occupy-pedofilyay” project.

[46] A criminal case against Maxim (Tesak) Martsinkevich under Article 213 (“Hooliganism”) was opened in Moscow in October 2014. The case was bases on a video where M. Martsinkevich shaves a young man’s head. In November 2014, another criminal case against Martsinkevich was opened in Moscow under Article 282 Part 1 for writing and publishing the book Restrukt!.

[47] According to the information from  “Occupy-narkofilyay” (one of the Restrukt!’s sister-movements), on the day of the attack young people were conducting an “anti-drug raid.” Having decided that Z. Alyshev was selling drugs, they handed him over to the police, but he was soon released from the precinct. After that, he was attacked.

[48] In July 2013 the statement of ex-members of the Restrukt! appeared in the ultra-right segment of the Russian Internet, in which they reported about their departure from the organization, which had become a source for Martsinkevich’s self-promotion. In addition, the statement asserted that its authors were planning to engage in propaganda of National Socialism and also more actively engage in “social” projects, similar to the “Occupy-pedofilyay”, “Occupy-narkofilyay” etc. The authorship of this statement is now difficult to ascertain, but Vladimir Tkach (as a former political council member of the Restrukt!) and Stanislav Mitiaev (as the former deputy head for human resources) were among its signatories. According to our data, the members of the Attack movement took part in raids against illegal immigrants, at least one of which was held in collaboration with the police.

[49] More on this case see in: Moscow: Alexander  Belov detained and arrested on suspicion of money laundering: // SOVA Center. 2015. 16 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2014/10/d30455/).

[50] This is not the first criminal case against Belov. In 2006, a criminal case against him was opened under Art. 282 after the events in Kondopoga. Later, the case was closed for lack of evidence. In May 2009, a Moscow court sentenced him under the same article to one and a half years' imprisonment for speaking at a rally during the Russian March of 2007.

[51] Victoria Kuzmenko. Do Not Make Kazakhs Angry // Russkaia Planeta. 2014. 21 May (http://rusplt.ru/world/ne-zlite-kazahov-9976.html).

[52] Earlier Yevtushenko was under house arrest on charges of disorderly conduct for participating in the Russian Sweeps.

[53] Two St. Petersburg residents claimed that they had become victims of a xenophobic attack, but later confessed to staging it. More in Alperovich, Yudina, The Ultra-Right Shrugged …

[54] Previously had been a member of “the Russians” Association and headed their Kaluga branch. In 2013, he, along with a number of activists, left the Association in solidarity with expelled George Borovikov. Later, he and other colleagues of G. Borovikov participated in the founding of the Rights for European Development party.

[55] We can not claim to know all such verdicts. Sentences handed down in the republics of the North Caucasus and in Crimea are not included in this report. The report data on prosecution of members of extremist communities and banned organizations , here and in the next chapter does not include sentences that we consider inappropriate (they are not too numerous and are listed in the relevant report), or legitimate sentences issued under the same articles but not for xenophobic actions and not to nationalists (there are very few of those).

Not taking these reservations into account, let’s compare our data to the official statistics. Such statistics has not been published for 2014 (only for its first six months). If we compare the 2013 data according to the Supreme Court and according to SOVA Center (summed across all types of convicted persons and the regardless of the conviction’s appropriateness), then the Supreme Court reported 60 convicted offenders under Article 280 (hereinafter – under both parts of the Article, both principal and additional charges), and SOVA reports 28; under Article. 282 the Supreme Court and SOVA report 218 and 145 respectively, under Article. 2821 - 18 and 12, under Article. 2822- 30 and 28. See: Summary Statistics on the Status of Criminal Record in Russia in 2013: Report on number of convicted for all crimes of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation // Website of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (http://www.cdep.ru/userimages/sudebnaya_statistika/2013/f_10-a-osugd_po_vsem_sostavam_prestupleniy_UK_RF_za_2013.xls); SOVA Center Database (http://www.sova-center.ru/database).

[56] Lead singer of the Yarovit band from Tyumen for sharing songs by Kolovrat, a resident of Abakan for the video “Progulki Vozle Gukovskoi Obshagi-2” [Walks near the Gukovo dorm-2], a Kurgan resident for Katekhizis Yevreya v SSSR [Catechism of the Jew in the USSR], a Yekaterinburg resident for a link to Mein Kampf, a Tyumen resident for undisclosed videos from the Federal List.

[57] N. Yudina. Combating Anti-Extremism in the virtual world in 2012-2013// Rossiya – Ne Ukraina: Sovremennye aktsenty natsionalisma [Russia Is Not Ukraine: Contemporary accents of nationalism]: Moscow: SOVA Center, 2014. pp. 178–206.

[58] See.: Natalia Yudina, Using a Sledgehammer to Crack a Nut: Review of the Law Enforcement Practice under the Criminal Code Article 280 УК in 2005–2010 // SOVA Center. 2010. 25 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2010/10/d20081/).

[59] Unfortunately, we only know of one such sentence issued in 2014. A court in Kurgan deprived a local resident of a right to engage in mass media-related activities for 1.5 years as a penalty for xenophobic statements on the building walls. Meanwhile, this the most effective punishment for people involved in nationalist propaganda professionally in the media, publishing industry, or in the field of education.

[60] . V. Korchagin was convicted in 2004,, after many years of litigation. He received a one-year suspended sentence, and was released from punishment due to the statute of limitation, without any restriction on engaging in publishing. In April 1995, for similar crimes he was sentenced to a fine of 16 minimum wages, and disqualified from publishing, editorial and journalistic activities for three years, but at that time Korchagin was eligible for an amnesty. See G. Kozhevnikova, Radical nationalism in Russia: Manifestations and Responses. Overview of developments in 2004. // SOVA Center 2005. 24 January (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2005/01/d3386/).

[61] We are grateful to an employee of the Public Verdict Foundation for her assistance in organizing information on the Internet-related verdicts.

[62] The convicted offenders of 2014 include three minors.

[63] More on Northern Brotherhood see: Galina Kozhevnikova, Anton Shekhovtsov et al. Radikal’nyi Russkii Natsionalizm: Struktury, Idei, Litsa, Moscow: SOVA Center, pp. 231-240 [Radical Russian Nationalism: Structure, Ideas, People].

[64] See: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina, The Ultra-Right on the Streets …; The Ultra-Right Shrugged …

[65] The second defendant in the case of creating of an extremist community, organizer of the Russian March in Murmansk Alexander Valov fled to Ukraine escaping law enforcement agencies in the region. Valov claims that he does not participate in ATO.

[66] The renamed Slavic Union (Slavianskii soiuz), banned in 2010

[67] The other “Khabarov’s group” participants had been convicted earlier. Leonid Khabarov himself was released on parole in July 2014. More on this case in: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina, The Ultra-Right on the Streets... and Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina, The Ultra-Right Shrugged…

[68] Nos. 2342 and 2343.

[69] For example, No. 2498 (“Information materials contained in the article “Muslim Brotherhood” on the website http: //ilgid/ru/politics/brothers.html, which represent an information resource of the Muslim Brotherhood (Al Ikhwan al-Muslimun)) (decision of the Tazovsky district court of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District on July 28, 2014) contains a critical and rather formal description of the Muslim Brotherhood.

[70] Videos “Zlaya Rossiya” [Angry Russia], “Kiborg – Slava Rossii” [Cyborg – the Glory of Russia], “Kolovrat – Nasha Strana” [Kolovrat - Our Country], “Nastavlenie Sester” [Instructing our Sisters], the film “Rossiya s Nozhom v Spine – 2” [Russia With a Knife in its Back- 2], the Kavkaz-Jihad website, Istoriia prorokov [History of the Prophets] book by Osman Nuri Topbaş, Krasnaia Kabbala [The Red Kabbalah] book by Georgy Klimov.

[71] The official name is: A list of community and religious associations and other non-profit organizations, with respect to which a court decision was made and entered into force on liquidation or ban on activities on the grounds stipulated by the Federal Law “On Combating Extremist Activity.”

[72] For more details see: Viacheslav Likhachev, The Right Sector and Others: the Radical Nationalists and Ukrainian Political Crisis of Late 2013 - Early 2014 // Rossiya – Ne Ukraina: Sovremennye aktsenty natsionalisma [Russia Is Not Ukraine: Contemporary accents of nationalism]: Moscow: SOVA Center, 2014.. pp. 230–275.

[73] In 2013, the warnings were issued for publishing the following materials: “The Red Guards of the Kremlin. Are they also Masons?” by N.P. Zubkov; “Thinking about the future. A Letter to Mukhin” by M. Zhasimov, and “An Open Letter to an Enemy of the Homeland and a Traitor of the Russian People” by M. Shendakov. In 2012 – for materials “Looking from Ukraine” by A. Sivov, “Smash the Rat Front!” and “The People Shall Win!”.

[74] Comprehensive statistics on the use of the Administrative Code Articles 20.3 and 20.29 compiled on the basis of the Supreme Court data, can be found in: Natalia Smirnova, PoliticalRepression inRussia in 2011-2014: Administrative Prosecution // Ovdinfo.org. 2015. 6 March (http://reports.ovdinfo.org/2014/adm-report/#web_resource_2bb4fce43348a4c793d2c41abd5b5721).

[75] These materials include Hitler's Mein Kampf, V. Istarkhov’s Udar Russkikh Bogov [Strike of the Russian Gods], audio and video recordings of the bands Kolovrat (for the most part), and Korroziia Metalla, songs by Chechen bard Timur Mutsurayev, the videos “Poslednee Interview Primoskikh Partizan” [The last interview of Primorye guerrillas], “Russkii, Ochnis'! Protiv Tebia Idet Voina” [Russian, wake up! There is a war against you] , “Russkoe Soprotivleniye” [Russian resistance,], “Pis'mo Fatimy Mudzhakhidam” [Fatima’s Letter to Mujahideen] and several others. Number of items from this huge List, which attract prosecutorial attention, has been gradually increasing, but still remains negligible in comparison with the size of the List itself, once again proving the uselessness of this unwieldy mechanism.

[76] See: Register of Banned Websites // Roskomsvoboda (http://reestr.rublacklist.net/).

[77] See the updated list: “Extremist Resources” in the Unified Register of Banned Websites // SOVA Center (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/docs/2014/08/d30056/).

[78] Full name: On Amending the Federal Law “On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information.”

[79] See the updated list:”Resources in the Registry of Websites Blocked in Accordance with Lugovoy’s Law. // SOVA Center (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/docs/2014/10/d30228/).

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