The Ultra-Right Movement under Pressure: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2015

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 XENOPHOBIA : Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence : Attacks against Ethnic “Others” : Attacks against Political Adversaries : Attacks against LGBT or Homeless People : Violence Motivated by Religion : Vandalism
PUBLIC ACTIVITY OF ULTRA-RIGHT RADICALS : Pressure against the Ultra-Right Movement : The Effect of Pressure on Ultra-Right Organizations : Ultra-Right Public Actions : Effects of the Pressure against the Ultra-Right on Their Rally Activity : “Ukraine-Related” Nationalist Actions : Traditional Nationalist Actions : Other Public Event Initiatives : Electoral Activity : Other Activity by Nationalist Groups
COUNTER-ACTION TO RADICAL NATIONALISM AND XENOPHOBIA : Public Initiatives
Criminal Prosecution. : For Violence : For Vandalism : For Propaganda : Prosecution of Extremist Groups and Banned Organizations : The Federal List of Extremist Materials : Banning Organizations as Extremist : Administrative Prosecution : Prosecutorial Activity on the Internet
Appendix. Crime and punishment statistics:
Statistics of Racist and Neo-Nazi Attacks in Russia
Guilty Verdicts for “Crimes of an Extremist Nature”

 

 


Summary

Greatly increased law enforcement pressure against most active public figures and organizations of the Russian nationalist movement was the principal issue of 2015.[1] The far right activists, who never supported the Novorossiya project, were the first, but not the only ones to be affected.

The exact causes of this enforcement dynamic are not quite clear. At least, it was definitely not a reaction to any increase in the far-right activity. Perhaps, the authorities fear that the nationalists, being much more violence -oriented than most liberals and the left, can become an important power element in a potential, more radical protest movement. А more specific explanation is also conceivable – best-known right-wing leaders and their movements have to be isolated from the political activity in order to prevent them from absorbing fighters returning from Donbass, who can’t be ignored as a potential threat.

Despite the fact that the “Ukrainian issue” within the movement has lost its acuteness of 2014, it still remains very important and, as shown by the Russian March, it still provides a fairly tortuous demarcation line across the far-right field. This split weakens the movement in general. Meanwhile, the Russian nationalists have found no new themes and methods to attract additional support.

In sum, these factors give rise to an atmosphere of gloom and decay, noticeable in many nationalist pronouncements. This atmosphere, and, to an even greater extent, an unusually large number of new criminal cases and other forms of pressure led to restructuring of the ultra-right field, pushing some organizations out of the game and bringing the other ones to the forefront. Movements with ethno-xenophobic agendas, which were disloyal to the ruling political regime, are clearly being displaced by those willing to tone down or even abandon their oppositional rhetoric.

Public activity of the far-right continued to decline in 2015. Traditional rallies and marches of the nationalist opposition attracted no more than a half, or even a quarter of their usual number of participants. The nationalists were unable to put a “spin” on any local conflicts. The “raids” – the most popular actions of the recent years, on the brink of social and criminal activity – were less frequent and their agenda became less aggressive. In the course of the year, the subject of Novorossiya inspired progressively fewer public actions, while the “repressions” against the right-wing opposition came forth as the most important issue. Thus, the oppositional part of the ultra-right movement shifted toward a more defensive strategy.

Quite a different picture emerges when we look at the nationalist organizations loyal to the regime. They continued to avoid sensitive topics, and their public actions, first and foremost, advanced the issues consistent with the official political agenda – their support for the president’s political course, expression of hatred against Russia’s “external enemies” (whether in Ukraine, Turkey or the United States), fight against the “fifth column,” etc. The latter tendency found its expression, among other actions, in their attacks against public events of the liberal opposition or other groups adopting oppositional slogans. In some cases, in St. Petersburg for example, loyal nationalists de facto ousted oppositional ones from the streets.

Loyal nationalists were the only ones able to test their chances in the 2015 elections. However, as demonstrated during the Single Voting Day on September 13, the majority of even their candidates were thrown out at the earliest stages or failed to receive significant support at the regional level. Nationalists were more fortunate at the local elections – at least the Motherland (Rodina) and the Great Fatherland (Velikoe otechestvo) parties, with their 100% loyalty to the establishment, indeed could boast of several winning candidates. The other participants, as far as we can judge, were not as lucky. So, in general, the Russian nationalists remain a marginal element in the political system.

The far-right criminal activity was significantly lower in 2015 than a year earlier. Of course, we can’t evaluate the true scale of racist violence, but a significant reduction in the number of its victims is already obvious, including a reduction in the number of murders, and especially in the key centers of the ultra-right activity.

Most likely, this change has to do with active prosecution against right-wing radicals in general, which affected or intimidated militant groups as well. These groups could be also affected by the above-mentioned overarching depressive mood among the ultra-right.

On the other hand, Russian nationalists from almost all sectors of the movement have been increasingly engaged in systematic combat training. Many of the groups involved in such activities, said that they were training people to go to the Donbass as volunteers, while others simply tried to keep up with the militaristic fashion. However, as the focus shifted from Novorossiya to Syria and other topics, and Donbass volunteers have started to return home, the question about the purpose of this military training no longer has an articulated response. It is reasonable to assume that such training, with hopes for its future use, is a natural alternative to the rapidly weakening political activity, and perhaps, partially, to criminal activity.

Returning to the subject of the government’s efforts against the ultra-right, the number of convictions for racist violence in 2015 was noticeably higher than in the preceding year – an exception from the trend of the last few years. Those, convicted for violent crimes in 2015, included members of well-known neo-Nazi groups Piranha-74 from Chelyabinsk, Folksshturm from Yekaterinburg, Kazan Nazi Crew from Kazan, the Northern Frontier (Rubezh Severa) from Syktyvkar, the Kamensk-Uralsky branch of the Occupy-pedofiliay and the infamous BORN from Moscow.

The number of convictions for propaganda has continued to grow rapidly. For the most part the authorities prosecuted ordinary users who had shared or republished xenophobic statements on social networks, but we also noted the sentences against several popular right-wing figures in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The penalties for hate speech and other public incitement became harsher in general. We recorded an unprecedented increase in the number of offenders sentenced to imprisonment for “words only.” Stricter penalties were associated either with radical Islamist propaganda, or with statements related to the war in Ukraine.

The Federal List of Extremist Materials is growing faster than in the preceding year and with the same percentage of various errors and redundancies. The List has become an increasingly monstrous mechanism, and working with it has been impossible for a long time. In addition to this heavyweight, two other lists related to blocking “extremist” Internet content – the registries of judicial and extrajudicial restrictions – are also experiencing quick growth. They have added and continue to add entries with about a same proportion of inappropriate decisions and just as haphazardly, as the Federal List.

In general, the law enforcement relating to the subject of this report in 2015 creates a contradictory impression. First, law enforcement agencies successfully reduced the level of racist violence and activities by socially dangerous groups of nationalists. Next, the measures to combat creation and sharing of xenophobic statements too often appear meaningless and disorganized, and, obviously don’t achieve their stated goals. Finally, frequent arbitrary actions, as well as excessive or inappropriate restrictions on freedom of speech are not only harmful in and of themselves, but can also discredit the goal of countering radical xenophobia in the public eye.

 



Criminal Manifestations of Racism and Xenophobia

Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence

According to our preliminary estimates, at least 11 people were killed and approximately 82 people were injured in 2015 as a result of racist and neo-Nazi violence; 6 people received credible death threats. Traditionally, our data does not include victims in the North Caucasus and Crimea, or victims of mass brawls. As you can see, the number of racist and neo-Nazi attacks has dropped dramatically. In 2014, 36 people died and 133 were injured; 2 received death threats.[2] Of course, the data for the past year is still far from final.[3] Moreover, it has become increasingly difficult to collect information, creating an impression that the issue is being deliberately suppressed in the media. In addition, victims themselves usually do not seek publicity and rarely report the incidents to law enforcement agencies, non-governmental organizations or the media. Nevertheless, we can say with a high degree of probability that the number of racially motivated attacks has dropped- an undeniably positive result.

In the past year, attacks occurred in 23 regions of the country (vs. 29 regions in 2014). As before, the highest levels of violence were observed in Moscow (3 killed, 31 injured), St. Petersburg (3 and 14) and the Moscow Region (0 and 5). In addition, a significant number of victims was reported in the Khabarovsk Region (4 injured), the Volgograd Region, the Kursk Region and the Samara Region (3 victims in each). Compared to the preceding year, the situation in the Krasnodar Region has improved.

A number of regions, included in our 2014 statistics, has disappeared this year. However, in comparison to 2014, crimes were reported in a number of new regions: the Volgograd Region, the Kaliningrad Region, the Kirov Region, the Kursk Region, the Murmansk Region, and the Samara Region).


Attacks against Ethnic “Others”

The largest group of victims was, traditionally those, perceived by the attackers as “ethnic outsiders.” We recorded the total of 38 victims of ethnically-motivated attacks. This number constitutes only 1/3 of the comparable number from the previous year (101 persons). This drop could be partially explained by active practice of migrant deportations and bans against re-entry[4] by the FMS (Federal Migration Service). However, this factor is unlikely to play a significant role. It can affect the number of random attacks on the streets. However, for people involved in targeted attacks on ethnic grounds, migrants are still present on the streets in sufficient numbers. More likely, the state further intensified its efforts to prosecute right-wing radicals, and their movement was going through a serious crisis (see below), which also undoubtedly affected its militant wing.

Migrants from Central Asia traditionally constituted the largest group of victims with 4 people killed and 6 injured (14 and 29 in 2014). In addition, 11 victims (1 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 1 killed and 17 injured victims in 2014). There are five victims among migrants from the Caucasus Region (vs. 3 killed and 13 injured in 2014).

The number of attacks against dark-skinned also decreased significantly – 6 victims were injured in 2015 (vs. 15 in 2014). Anti-Semitic attacks are quite rare, simply because Jews are not that easy to identify visually. In the past year, saw an example of such violence in the Voronezh Region. The data for 2014 is identical to 2015 (2 wounded). Attacks under xenophobic slogans against other “ethnic others” – a native of Sudan in Moscow, a visitor from Kalmykia in St. Petersburg, a native of Kazakhstan in the Volgograd Region –were reported as well.

In the year under review, we recorded both attacks against lone passers-by and cases of gang attacks. For example, a mass brawl “under nationalist slogans” took place on the night of October 14-15, 2015 in St. Petersburg, near the Metro Club.[5]

We know of at least one far right raid on a commuter train (so-called, “white car”) in 2015. In January, 2015, a group of 15-20 masked young men entered the car on Kratovo station of the Moscow Regional Kazan line commuter train and started beating up people of “non-Slavic appearance.” Right-wing radicals also continued their raids at the markets and other places.


Attacks against Political Adversaries

In 2015, the number of right-wing attacks against political, ideological or “stylistic” opponents decreased slightly to 13 injured (vs. 15 in 2014).[6] The victims include participants of the Franz Kafka and George Orwell forum in the Kaliningrad Region, attendees of a punk metal concert in St. Petersburg and a punk concert in Moscow, and anti-fascists in Cherepovets.

The same category includes the victims of attacks by pro-Kremlin nationalist movements against people they regarded as a “fifth column” and “traitors.” The number of such attacks is growing year after year.

In October, members of the SERB movement led by Igor Beketov (known as Gosha Tarasevich) attacked elderly activist Vladimir Ionov, who was holding a one-person picket near the Historical Museum in Moscow.[7] Gosha Tarasevich unsuccessfully tried to organize an attack against the Sakharov Center, which hosted a charity evening on June 27 in support of the prisoners of conscience.

In January, activists of the National Liberation Movement (Natsional’no-Osvoboditelnoe Dvizhenie, NOD) attacked participants of the January 19 marches in memory of slain lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova in Moscow and Irkutsk, and, in June 2015, they also attacked the participants of the opposition picket, who were holding a banner “Freedom for the prisoners of May 6.”[8]

Anti-Maidan Supporters, after their march in the capital, held on the anniversary of the February events of at the Maidan, attacked a young man on Petrovka Street, who shouted “Glory to Ukraine!” They also attacked participants of the Spring March in memory of Boris Nemtsov in Voronezh.

This category also includes people beaten up “by association” for attempting to defend the victim or daring to express their disapproval against right-wing radicals and their actions. Passerby Roman Muzichenko on the Silikatnaya Station platform (the Kursk line of Moscow Regional commuter trains) reprimanded a group of young people, who were throwing up their arms in a Nazi salute. In response, he was beaten to death. Soccer fans stabbed a young man, who tried to defend a girl in hijab in Moscow. In the Volgograd Region, a woman was hit in the face with a fist for stopping a group of young men from beating up a native of Kazakhstan.


Attacks against LGBT or Homeless People

The number of attacks against members of the LGBT community remains the same as a year earlier[9]- 9 people injured. Over the past year, we recorded cases of attacks against participants of the LGBT events, as well as attacks against participants of any other actions, if they display symbols of the LGBT community. Members of the God's Will (Bozhia Volia) movement headed by Dmitry “Enteo” Tsorionov) were especially zealous in this regard. For example, they attacked participants of the unauthorized LGBT rally in central Moscow on May 30.

LGBT meeting places were also under threat: on April 13, unknown perpetrators sprayed suffocating gas with a pungent odor in the office of the Murmansk regional civic organization Maximum: the Center for Social and Psychological Assistance and Legal Support to Victims of Discrimination and Homophobia. Two people were injured. Notably, “the attitude of police officers toward the victims was dismissive.”

The attacks took place not only against LGBT, but also against people “taken for” them. A young man, wearing a multi-colored scarf with no symbols or LGBT colors was beaten in a subway car in St. Petersburg in October 2015.

 

The number of attacks against homeless people was smaller in 2015 than the year before – 3 killed and 7 injured (vs. 13 and 1 in 2014). All of them became victims of the Moscow “Cleaners Gang,” which has a mission of killing the homeless and people sleeping on park benches. Unfortunately, these attacks on innocent people are certainly more frequent than our numbers reflect; we speak only of the cases, in which the hate motive had already been recognized by the investigation.


Violence Motivated by Religion

The number of victims of religious xenophobia was greater than in the preceding year, but the attacks were less brutal: 18 injured (vs. 2 killed and 12 injured in 2014). Four people received credible murder threats.

Traditionally, Jehovah's Witnesses, who have been the target of the official repressive campaign for at least seven years, top this list. At least 14 of them were injured in 2015.

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. However, such incidents do take place; a group of soccer fans tried to attack the young woman in hijab in Moscow on November 21.

The group of victims also includes an Orthodox priest from Volgograd.


Vandalism

In 2015, the activity level of vandals, motivated by religious, ethnic or ideological hatred, remained almost the same as in the preceding year. In 2015 there were at least 52 such acts of vandalism in 32 regions of the country vs. at least 53 in 35 regions in 2014.

Similarly to the preceding year, most acts of vandalism in 2015 had a pronounced ideological character: the desecration of monuments to heroes of the Great Patriotic War, to Lenin, to Narodnaya Volya revolutionaries etc. – 19 incidents, including 1 arson (vs. 17 incidents in 2014). Our statistics does not include isolated instances of swastikas and other drawings on buildings or fences.

Sites of new religious movements (all of them belonging to Jehovah's Witnesses) took the second place with 11 cases (vs. 12 in 2014),

Orthodox and Muslim sites split the third place in the number of attacks by vandals. In each case, 6 religious sites were attacked (10 Orthodox sites and 7 Muslim sites were affected in 2014) with two cases of arson in each group.

Jewish sites took the fourth place (4 sites, one of which was attacked twice), including one bombing (vs. 9 in the preceding year) followed by the Korean wooden totem poles (a year earlier, there were 0 attacks against pagan sites).

In addition, 4 government institutions were attacked (vs. 5 in the preceding year).

As can be seen from the above data, the number of attacks on religious sites has decreased slightly to 29 in 2015 (down from 32 in 2014).

The number of the most dangerous attacks (arson or bombing) decreased slightly in both absolute and relative terms, it is down 15%, that is, 8 out of 44, compared to 10 out of 53 in 2014.

The regional picture has changed somewhat in the course of the year. A number of new regions reported acts of vandalism in 2015. Meanwhile, some previously featured regions disappeared from our 2015 charts.

The geographic spread of xenophobic vandalism was wider (32 regions) than that of violence (23 regions). The geographic distribution of vandalism overlaps with that of racist violence only in 10 regions – Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Volgograd Region, the Vologda Region, the Kirov Region, the Murmansk Region, the Nizhny Novgorod Region, the Samara Region, the Sverdlovsk Region and the Tula Region.


Public Activity of Ultra-Right Radicals

Public activity of nationalist groups in 2015 depended largely on whether they ended up among supporters of the official political discourse, or among those in opposition to the current regime. This factor largely determined their interactions with law enforcement agencies, the public actions agenda, relations with other members of the nationalist political spectrum, etc.


Pressure against the Ultra-Right Movement

For the oppositional part of the ultra-right field, the significantly increased law enforcement pressure, directed against the most active public figures of this nationalist segment and, at times, against their organizations, became the most important factor that set the tone for the entire year.

Prosecutions against leaders of the right-wing opposition continued the policy, initiated in the second half of 2014 with the verdicts against founder of the Restrukt! movement Maksim “Tesak” Martsinkevich and head of the St. Petersburg Slavic Strength (Slavianskaia Sila) Dmitry “Besheny” Yevtushenko; the arrests of leader of “the Russians” Association Alexander Belov and ex-leader of the Russian Run (Russkaia probezhka) in St. Petersburg Maxim Kalinichenko; and criminal charges against the members of the Attack (Ataka) movement (a Restrukt! splinter group), the St. Petersburg leader of the Russian Sweeps (Russkie zachistki) Nikolai Bondarik, and, once again, D. Yevtushenko and M. Martsinkevich.[10].

The list of prosecuted right-wing opposition leaders grew substantially longer in 2015, giving nationalists a reason to complain not only about persecution, but about blatant repressions. The most resonant criminal cases involving public figures of Russian nationalism are presented below.

  • In January, criminal investigation for the public incitement to extremism (Article 280 Part 1 of the Criminal Code) was opened against Igor Stenin, the leader of the Astrakhan branch of the Russians” Association;[11]
  • In February, Vitaly Shishkin, the head of the Right Wing for European Development group was arrested and later found guilty of inciting ethnic hatred (Article 282 Part 1 of the Criminal Code);[12]
  • In May, Aleksei Kolegov, the head of the Northern Frontier (Rubezh Severa) movement, was arrested and, late in the year, the court found him guilty of infliction of suffering with the use of torture (Article 117 Part 2 of the Criminal Code);[13]
  • In May, five administrators of “the Russians of Astrakhan” online group (residents of different municipalities), were subjected to searches in connection with a case related to organizing an extremist community (Article 282.1 of the Criminal Code); [14]
  • In May and June law enforcement officials searched the homes of Dmitry Dyomushkin and Vladimir Yermolaev (leaders of “the Russians” Association), Vladimir Kralin (a.k.a. Vladimir Tor, the leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP)), Denis Tiukin (the head of “the Russians” Association in Kirov), Restrukt! activist Artem Trubov, associate of RFO Memory (Pamiat) Vladimir Ratnikov, member of the Moscow branch of “the Russians” Association Vladimir Rostovtsev, and others. The searches were related to three criminal cases under Articles 282 and 280 of the Criminal Code, initiated based on the facts of offensive and violence-inciting slogans shouted by participants of the Russian Marches of 2013 and 2014 in Moscow;[15]
  • In June, criminal proceedings were initiated against Dmitry Bobrov, the leader of the National Social Initiative (Natsionalnaya sotsial’naya initsiativa, NSI, previously known as National Socialist Initiative, Natsional- sotsialisticheskaia initsiativa) who became a suspect under Article 282 Part 1 based on the fact of publishing online the article on “The NSI Racial doctrine”;[16]
  • In September, we found out about the criminal case initiated against Alexander Amelin, the leader of the Russian Renaissance, (Russkoie Vozrozhdeniie) movement, who was later convicted under Article 280 Part 2 of the Criminal Code;[17]
  • In September, a search was conducted in the apartment of Yegor Prosvirnin, the editor-in-chief of the Sputnik and Pogrom website, in connection with the case under Article 282 initiated based on the fact of publication of the article “What We Stand For; What We Want” on his site;[18]
  • In September and December, two new criminal cases under Articles 282 and 280 of the Criminal Code were opened against Nikolai Bondarik;[19]
  • In October, a criminal case was opened against Boris Mironov, the former head of the Print Committee of the RF and the author of several banned anti-Semitic books, suspected under Article 280 of the Criminal Code;[20]
  • In November, Dina Garina, the head of “the Russians of St. Petersburg” movement, was arrested as a suspect under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (Article 282 was added in December);[21]
  • In December, leader of “the Russians” Dmitry Dyomushkin was accused under Article 282[22] (see below).

The number of cases, their character, and the fanfare, which accompanied the legal proceedings for some of them, demonstrated to ultra-right activists the new reality they were facing for the near future.

For example, the start of the public part of the investigation into the above-mentioned case of the Russian March slogans was presented in the mass media as a “special operation;” the searches in the apartments of the ultra-right leaders were filmed by journalists from NTV television channel, and the process itself was conducted in an inappropriately harsh manner (in Dyomushkin’s case it turned just plain ugly- as the nationalist was lying face down on the floor, the police poured a bottle of water on his pants to simulate incontinence, and it was subsequently broadcasted on a federal TV channel). In addition, the slogans case demonstrated that any xenophobic chants during a public event could now lead to a legal action, regardless of the fact that they had previously triggered no law enforcement complaints. Most importantly, the case showed that anyone present at the event (and, of course, its leaders) could get the status of a witness in such a case and to undergo a “hard” search procedure. Nationalists have never previously faced such a situation.

Other legal novelties of 2015 also served to clarify the new realities to the ultra-right.

For example, administrative proceedings under Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code (“organizing public events without giving a proper notice”) were initiated in January against O. Borisova, N. Bondarik and A. Amelin, on the basis of their sharing, via social networks, the calls to attend a people's assembly in Mineralnye Vody. [23] All three were found guilty and fined, despite the facts that neither of them had actually participated in the action or had been among the initiators (all three were physically unable to attend the action, due to being in other cities at the time). Thus, for the first time, as far as we can tell, advertising an action on a social network was equated to organizing it.

Another judicial novelty was the cancellation of the Russian May Day in Moscow organized by “the Russians” Association. The action was prohibited at the last moment, based on the fact that D. Dyomushkin, the principal applicant, ended up under administrative arrest by the scheduled day of the action (Dyomushkin was incarcerated for 8 days for swearing at police officers, who detained him and about 40 other representatives of the far-right on April 20 in the Seven Club in Moscow, where they were allegedly celebrating Hitler's birthday.) [24]. For the first time, an applicant’s administrative detention became the reason for the authorities to cancel a previously approved and relatively large ultra-right event in Moscow.

Regarding D. Dyomushkin, we have to point out that he received more law enforcement attention in 2015 than, perhaps, any other nationalist. In addition to the search, described above, and numerous detentions, he was not allowed to participate in the Russian March – at the time of the action, he was forcibly brought to Vologda for questioning in connection with a certain criminal case. Even the clearly ludicrous nature of his second administrative case of the year didn’t deter the law enforcement (Dyomushkin was arrested for 15 days for posting a still image from a comedy movie about Nazi zombies, with a visible swastika on the character’s armband).[25].

Later, the nationalist found himself under administrative detention for another 8 days for the publication of photos featuring insignia of banned organizations – the DPNI and the Slavic Union.[26]. He was charged in a criminal case opened in December under Article 282 regarding the slogans, printed on placards used during the Russian Marches of 2014 and 2013. Such a personal attention to D. Dyomushkin was apparently due to the fact that, with Alexander Belov in pre-trial detention facility, and Vladimir Basmanov on the run, Dyomushkin de-facto held the full leadership of “the Russians” Association, which, in spite of its deepening crisis, remained the most prominent far-right association and the organizer of the majority of their large-scale public events.

In August, the Moscow Prosecutor's Office filed a lawsuit to recognize “the Russians” Association as an extremist organization. A few days later, the activity of “the Russians” was suspended; the organization was banned in October (see the chapter on Bans against Organizations below for the nature of the claims against the movement).[27]

Besides “the Russians,” a series of other ultra-right groups have been banned as well (see below), including the fairly large and active NSI under the leadership of D. Bobrov. Unlike D. Dyomushkin, who announced his intention to go through all the stages in appealing the ban against “the Russians,” Dmitry Bobrov stated immediately after the judgment that he had no plans to appeal, and the court decision has already entered into force.[28]

In St. Petersburg, the ultra-right ended up in an even tougher situation – to date, almost all relatively well-known leaders of the nationalist opposition are either under investigation or have already been convicted (D. Yevtushenko, D. Garina, M. Kalinichenko, N. Bondarik and D. Bobrov). Among the local participants of the Russian March in 2014, only the leaders of organizations that have joined the “Patriotic March” organized by the Motherland (Rodina) party don’t have problems with the law – the Russian Imperial Movement (Russkoie imperskoie dvizhenie, RID), the People's Council (Narodnyi sobor), the Great Fatherland Party (Partiia Velikoie Otechestvo, PVO), the Black Hundred (Chernaia Sotnia), etc.

It is noteworthy that these criminal cases, as well as the ban against “the Russians” and the NSI caused little protest in and of itself, due to the lack of unity in the nationalist milieu. Whenever supporters of a given leader or organization attempted to elicit a meaningful response from their ideological allies, a substantial number of nationalists always came forward claims that this particular character was a “Kremlin agent,” “FSB provocateur,” “Banderite”, “Vatnik” (a derogatory nickname derived from a cheap cotton-filled winter coat), “hoodlum” and so on. Attempts to launch broad support campaigns for the “victims of persecution,” organize mass picketing, or, at least, get some informational support from their “colleagues” usually led almost nowhere. Even the video produced in support of the D. Dyomushkin, in which many well-known figures – from nationalists to liberals,[29] – spoke in his defense, was shared very little among the far-right segment of the Russian Internet.

However, such a large number of criminal cases and the ban against two major organizations have led to some increase in solidarity among oppositional nationalists, who had previously clashed with each other regarding the events in Ukraine. This development was manifested in rare examples of cooperation between the ultra-right movements that had recently been on different sides of the barricades on the issue of support for “Novorossiya,” although, as we’ll show in our section on the “Rally Activity of the Ultra-Right,” they never overcame the split.


The Effect of Pressure on Ultra-Right Organizations

The scale of prosecution against the nationalist opposition could not fail to affect the organizational structure of the ultra-right field.

A good starting point is an observation that a number of organizations completely or almost completely suspended their public activities. For example, in July, the Slavic Strength – Nord West Petersburg group, formerly headed by D. Yevtushenko and Dmitri Kondrashov, announced its dissolution. The stated reasons for dissolution were: needlessly large number of ultra-right micro-organizations and optionality of a formal structure for organizing educational and sports activities.[30] The decision became quite logical, after an announcement by D. Yevtushenko that he was discontinuing his political activity as meaningless.

After the arrest of D. Garina, the page of “the Russians of St. Petersburg” has been deleted from VKontakte social network. It is unclear what actually happened to the core of the organization, but it can be assumed that, for now, the backers of the imprisoned nationalist are busy conducting actions in her support and have moved away from purely political activity. A similar story happened with “the Russians of Astrakhan” movement, whose leader Ivan Stenin currently faces an accusation in the case on public incitement to extremism. On October 15, the movement’s VKontakte page published an announcement on Stenin’s behalf that the group no longer had an administrator, and everyone could freely publish whatever they wanted.[31] For a while, the group status line read “Everyone has joined the guerillas.” Once again, the movement’s core members don’t show any activity. Two branches of “the Russians”, which were active in the past – in Nizhny Novgorod and Khabarovsk – have also significantly scaled down or completely stopped their public activities. At the very least, neither organization has organized any public actions for a long time.

D. Bobrov almost completely suspended his activity after the NSI ban. When the claim for recognizing his movement as extremist was still under consideration, a plan to create a new organization (under the working title “Russian +”) was discussed, and supporters were told that, even in case of the NSI ban, its projects would be continued. So far, however, none of the above has happened, and Bobrov limited his contribution to renaming the NSI public feed and creating an eponymous website for publishing news selections. As far as we know, activists of the banned movement conduct no raids, people’s assemblies or rallies.

Konstantin Krylov’s NDP deserves our special attention. In contrast to many other organizations, the NDP never attracted too much law enforcement interest (with the exception of the search in Tor’s apartment in March). The explanation may lie in the fact that, in the past year and a half, the party has noticeably pulled away from a public political activity, at least in its overtly oppositional aspect. Of course, members of the NDP participated in public actions, organized several events on their own, and put forward their candidates in the regional elections, but the scale of their activity was a far cry from their earlier campaigns, such as “Stop feeding the Caucasus!” and “For Introducing the Visa Regime.” This reduction in activity can be explained by the fact that the NDP’s was in the process of filing a registration with the Ministry of Justice and did not want to provoke displeasure of the authorities or the law enforcement. However, in October, after the party was, once again, denied registration, its policy of disengagement has not changed. In November, the NDP website published a statement, which said that, in the opinion of the party leadership, the possibility of political action in the current political environment was very limited, and, therefore, the party was going to engage in “human rights, cultural and educational activities” within the framework of its two educational projects – “the political party school” and “the school of humanities,” and to continue pursuing the official registration.[32] Thus, the NDP apparently hopes to “sit out” this complicated situation of the law enforcement pressure, staying away from major events, and, at the same time, to increase their social base through attendees of their schools. Their passive position has already led to their first losses. Andrei Kuznetsov, the leader of the St. Petersburg branch of the National Democratic Party, announced in October, that in the current situation he saw no reasons to participate in the NDP activities, and took his unit out of its ranks.[33]

The activity of the Sergei Baburin’s Russian All-People’s Union (Rossiisky obshchenarodnyi soiuz, ROS) was even less visible than that of the NDP, and we could have assumed that the movement had suspended its activity, if it weren’t for their Party Presidium meeting, held in late 2015 to discuss the Union’s participation in the elections of 2016[34] (unfortunately, we have no further details). It is not clear why the ROS, which began its public activities so energetically in 2011 and remains one of only two registered nationalist parties, has radically decreased its public activities, and whether it happened due to their fear of attracting negative attention of the law enforcement. Evidently, this is the position held by deputy leader of the party Ivan Mironov, who, as far as we know, believes that in the situation of a large-scale campaign against the nationalists' attempts by some groups to engage in legal public politics are futile and lead only to new criminal cases.[35] A fairly consistent member of the opposition and an opponent of the war in Ukraine, Ivan Mironov attracted [the] media attention last year primarily as a lawyer of prosecuted A. Belov, not as the ROS leader. It is also worth noting that Mikhail Butrimov left his leadership position at the Moscow branch of the relatively oppositional and passive ROS to head a new loyalist youth wing of the Motherland party – the Motherland TIGERS (TIGRY Rodiny, see below).

Besides the organizations discussed above, a number of small right-wing groups in the regions have also significantly scaled down their activity.

However, the cancellation of many right-wing projects didn’t lead to any void on this flank. The space, “freed up” by banned organizations or those preferring to reduce their activity, is being taken over by other nationalist groups. Some of them were newly created, others were in existence but relatively passive.

Among the groups that came to the fore in 2015, we can point out the Nation and Freedom Committee (Komitet Natsiia i svoboda), created by V. Basmanov a year earlier as a networking group. Until the fall of 2015, the project was developing quite slowly, and only on the eve of the ban of “the Russians” Association, it suddenly acquired a website and a charter. As far as we can tell, V. Basmanov expects that over time, the Committee takes over the niche formerly occupied by “the Russians.” He has already set the mission for the new movement to become the largest nationalist organization in Moscow.

The novelty of the year was another movement initially close to “the Russians,” – For Honor and Freedom (Za chest’ i svobodu) movement,[36] which grew out of the organizing committee of the march, originally planned by Moscow nationalists for July 25th. The emergent situational coalition initially included such well-known groups as “the Russians,” the Russian Joint National Alliance (Russkii ob’edinennyi natsional’nyi soiuz, RONA), the RFO Memory and others, but then, as far as we know, only some individual activists from these organizations remained. The movement, headed by former federal secretary of “the Russians” Alexander Samokhin, clearly aspires to compete with the old players for a place in the ultra-right wing and seeks to present a contrast to the “obsolete organizations.” As far as we know, the movement is ideologically close to “the Russians” and plans to compete with the Nation and Freedom Committee in recruiting young activists.

In addition to explicitly oppositional groups, the ultra-right wing also added two nationalist organizations that are relatively loyal to the current political regime.

The first one to be noted is the youth wing of the Motherland party (Alexey Zhuravlev), called the Motherland TIGERS (TIGRy)[37] and formed in late August.[38] The organization is headed by above-mentioned Butrimov from the ROS and Vladimir Laktyushin, a former project coordinator of the DPNI-Ramenskoye. The Motherland TIGERS position themselves as an imperial project, designed to prevent the “repetition of the Ukrainian scenario in Russia” and to fight “internal enemies.”[39] As far as we know, the new movement is trying to absorb nationalist activists, supporters of “Novorossiya,” previously involved with the oppositional right-wing groups that are currently under the law enforcement scrutiny. It seems that, so far, TIGERS had little success.

The Motherland was generally much more active in 2015. In particular, its St. Petersburg activists, inspired by their International Russian Conservative Forum on March 22, which featured an unprecedented number of ultra-right attendees from the West,[40] even tried to initiate the World National Conservative Movement, but apparently to no avail.

The National Conservative Movement “Russian World” (Russky mir), formed on the basis of the Coordinating Center for Helping Novorossiya (emerged in 2014), is also worth mentioning. The project is coordinated by Mikhail Ochkin. This project, as far as we can tell from M. Ochkin’s statements, seeks to create a more moderate form of nationalism, based on ultra-traditionalism and Russian Orthodox Christianity, and hopes for support from an average xenophobic Russian, for whom the majority of existing movements are too radical and associate with “fascists”.[41] However, the participants of the new project are so far, to put it mildly, not very successful at this rebranding – the people, who gathered for their Russian March on November 4, most specifically resembled classic “Russian fascists” of the 1990, probably due to predominating Russian National Unity (RNE) insignia and presence of a number of odd characters in camouflage or black uniforms (see below for more on the Russian March – 2015.) The founders of the Russian World are hoping for immunity from the law enforcement pressure and access to administrative resources in exchange for toning down or even completely dropping the oppositional component of their platform.

 

A characteristic effect of the increased pressure against the ultra-right was the emergence in the fall of two organizations, uniting, first and foremost, the nationalists who had left Russia in order to escape criminal prosecution. Most of them supported the ideas of the Ukrainian Maidan at some point; some emigrated directly to Ukraine, and even volunteered in local official military structures (for example, in Azov Battalion).

V. Basmanov announced the creation of the first such organization, named “the Forces of Good,” in early September. The movement was intended to bring together nationalists, who had left Russia, so they could subsequently work on “forming the Russian diasporas in their host countries.”[42] In addition to V. Basmanov, the organizers included Dmitry Savvin,[43] Aleksandr Valov[44] and Sophia Budnikova,[45] as well as spouses Aleksei Kutalo and Tatiana Kungurova.[46]

The second movement – the Russian Center – was created by an initiative group, which included such well-known nationalists as D. Tiukin (Vikhorev),[47] Roman Zheleznov,[48] Ilya Bogdanov (Dalniy),[49] Andrey Kuznetsov,[50], Aleksei Levkin,[51], Aleksandr Noynets[52] and Mikhail Oreshnikov.[53]. In contrast to the Forces of Good, the Russian center consists only of those far right activists, who currently reside in Ukraine.

The first priority for both movements, apparently, is to lobby for granting persecuted Russian nationalists citizenship in the countries of their current residence, first of all, in Ukraine. However, in addition, both groups also seek to achieve loyalty of right-wing radicals who remained in Russia and to influence the segment of the Russian ultra-right movement, which never joined Novorossiya fans but now faces increasing difficulties with the public expression. However, we cannot say that the Forces of Good or the Russian Center had much success in achieving this goal – the degree of their influence on the Russian domestic agenda remains rather low.


Ultra-Right Public Actions

Effects of the Pressure against the Ultra-Right on Their Rally Activity

An unusually large number of criminal cases against leaders of right-wing movements and bans against several organizations could not but affect the public activity of the nationalists. On one hand, the number of actions dropped significantly (especially in the second half of the year) and their attendance decreased; on the other hand, the mobilization potential of the once tired issue of political persecution against nationalists and “the right-wing political prisoners” increased to some extent.

The latter trend can be illustrated by the Russian Day of Solidarity in March – a network action that took place under the slogan “For the end to repressions against the Russian movement and repeal of Article 282”. It was initiated by the Russian National Front (Russkii natsionalnyi front, RNF) Coalition, which includes the Great Russia (Velikaya Rossiya) party under the leadership of Andrei Saveliev, Russian People’s Militia (Narodnoe opolcheniie Rossii) under the leadership of Yury Yekishev (the successor of People's Militia in the Name of Minin and Pozharsky (Narodnoe opolcheniie imeni Minina i Pozharskogo, NOMP), banned as terrorist shortly before that), the Initiative Group of the Referendum “For Responsible Power” (Za otvetstvennuiu vlast’, IGPR “ZOV”) under the leadership of Kirill Barabash, Russian Imperial Movement (Russkoie imperskoie dvizhenie, RID) under the leadership of Stanislav Vorobyov, and other groups. Preparations for the action took about a month, and it took place on March 15 in at least 19 regions of the country. In addition to the member organizations of the coalition, the regional rallies and pickets were attended by activists from the majority of relatively well-known nationalist movements, including the not-yet-banned NSI and “the Russians,” as well as the NDP, the Northern Frontier, the Other Russia (Drugaia Rossiia), Vladimir Istarkhov’s Russian Right Party (Rossiiskaia pravaia partiia) and others. Despite the fact that most of the events attracted only a few people (except for the Moscow and Saint Petersburg gatherings, which brought together approximately 50 and 70 people respectively), it showed an unexpectedly broad geographic span for a first-time action.

However, the RNF failed to build on that success. On August 24, the Coalition held an action in Moscow with the similar agenda – “Freedom to the Russian people! Against Political Repressions!,” which was attended by approximately 50-70 people. Even one of the organizers, Andrei Saveliev, was dissatisfied with the action and accused nationalists of being passive and lethargic in defending their interests.[54] Perhaps, he was hoping that with the increasing number of opened court cases, attendance of public actions with the anti- “repressions” agenda would start to increase, but, apparently, it did not happen.

The issue of counteracting persecution against the ultra-right opposition was part of their other visible actions as well. In addition, pickets were regularly, especially in the first half of the year, held in defense of A. Belov (mainly by “the Russians”, but, occasionally, included participants from other movements: the Russian Joint National Alliance (Russkii obyedinennyi natsionalnyi alians, RONA) and the Nation and Freedom (Natsiia i svoboda) committee. Several pickets in defense of D. Garina took place in December (attended primarily by her comrades from “the Russians of St. Petersburg” organization, periodically joined by activists from other movements, such as Oksana (Vyolva) Borisova, Elena Rokhlina (RNF), several supporters of the Red Youth Vanguard (Avangard Krasnoi Molodezhi, AKM) and others). The Other Russia held regular pickets in support of National Bolshevik Oleg Mironov, members of the RNF coalition supported Colonel Vladimir Kvachkov, although on a much smaller scale than before. For example, the Russia-wide action in his support was announced for October 17, but public meetings took place in only four cities, and the size of the gathering exceeded 20 people only in the capital.


“Ukraine-Related” Nationalist Actions

Unlike 2014, when the Ukrainian events were a central issue for nationalist movements and rallies, in 2015, the Ukrainian theme was gradually losing relevance, and almost completely receded into the background in the second half of the year.

Movements, which never supported the Novorossiya project, (“the Russians” Association, the RONA, the RFO “Memory,” the Russian Right Party (RPP), etc.) continued to avoid this topic in their public actions, for fear of facing renewed accusations of holding the “Banderite views” and displeasing potential supporters.

The only exception – and somewhat tentative at that – is the participation of several dozen right-wing activists from “the Russians” Association and the RONA in the march in memory of Boris Nemtsov held in Moscow on March 1, and a small group of the ultra-right radicals from the same groups (“the Russians,” the RONA and the RPP) on a general protest rally in Moscow on September 20. Besides the rallies’ officially stated reasons, both actions also had an implied antiwar agenda.

Some oppositional nationalists among those, who played a rather active role in supporting Novorossiya in 2014, later also tried to avoid disputes about it. The most striking example is D. Bobrov’s NSI, which, all the way up to its ban, declared the majority of its actions as neutral toward the Ukrainian question, and prohibited colleagues from touching upon this subject under penalty of removal from events. Furthermore, the NSI put a de-facto taboo on the Novorossiya issue even on its Internet resources, focusing instead on domestic topics.

Most supporters of the Novorossiya from among the oppositional nationalists continued to address on their Internet resources both the subject of Ukrainian confrontation, and their dissatisfaction with the Russian authorities, who, in their opinion, have “betrayed” the “Russian Spring.” However, their ongoing attention to this topic had virtually no impact on the level of their rally activity.

The example of the RNF Coalition, formed in the preceding year specifically for supporting residents of Ukrainian South-East, has been quite illustrative. A year ago, the coalition consistently demonstrated its position on the issue, promoting “Novorossiya” in every possible way during their public events, but, in 2015, it shifted its attention to other issues. Only their few pickets in memory of Aleksei Mozgovoi, the deceased commander of the 4th Territorial Defence Battalion of the Luhansk People’s Republic (Luganskaia Narodnaya Respublika, LNR) People's Militia, were Ukraine-related. Moreover, in some cases even these events were dedicated not only to him, but also to Vladimir Kvachkov, Yuri Budanov and Lev Rokhlin, so they did not focus exclusively on Ukraine. Even when organizing the Russian May Day and the Russian March, the RNF stepped back from its focus on Novorossiya, leaving it as the just another important issue, and bringing domestic problems to the forefront.

Perhaps the only oppositional nationalist organization, which managed to hold a full-fledged Ukraine-related action this year, was the NDP under the leadership of Konstantin Krylov. They organized several events in different cities on May 2 in memory of those killed in the Odessa Trade Unions House. However, the action took place only in 7 cities and brought together only a few dozen people in each case. Such a low turnout is quite indicative – most likely, the Ukrainian conflict has lost its attractiveness in the eyes of the NDP nationalists, while the party lacks connections to a wider audience.

The NDP was not the only organization to come up with an idea of a public rally in memory of the May 2 victims in Odessa. In May, the leaders of the Battle for Donbass (Bitva za Donbass) Coalition announced that they had also been planning a rally on that day in Moscow, but it failed to take place due to the late April raids on the homes of the Coalition’s co-chairs Aleksei Zhivov and Yevgeny Valiaev. The raids must have made a desired impression, since for the rest of the year, the Battle for Donbass’ public activity was mostly limited to participation in the events organized by their “senior colleagues” (such as the Anti-Maidan), and promotion of books by the National Diplomacy Foundation, where E. Valiaev is an associate. All the promoted books have revealing names, such as Extremist Movements in Russia and the Ukrainian Crisis, Bloody Crimes of the Banderite Junta, Extremism in the Ukrainian Politics, Society, Media and Law Enforcement, etc.

Pro-government nationalist movements, such as the aforementioned Anti-Maidan, the NOD (headed by Yevgeny Fyodorov, a Duma Deputy from the United Russia) or the Motherland party, headed by another United Russia Deputy, Alexei Zhuravlyov, were more successful, although not much more active in organizing Ukraine-related public events.

Only two really large actions took place in the period under review: the Anti-Maidan march in Moscow on February 21 under the slogan “One year of the Maidan. We won’t forget! We won’t forgive!” and an all-Russian action of the NOD “From referendum in Crimea to sovereign Russia,” held on the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea on March 18 in several dozen cities and towns. Both events took place with support of local authorities and federal TV channels; Vladimir Putin himself participated in the Moscow rally on Vasilyevsky Spusk, dedicated to the entry of Crimea into Russia. However, the success of public actions of these movements is difficult to assess. For example, the “One Year of the Maidan” march in Moscow involved about 40 thousand people, even according to official data. This number is comparable to the protest rallies attendance in 2012, but the Anti-Maidan commanded far greater resources, including the administrative ones, and their ideology was shared by a much larger segment of the population.

The next major (but not mass) event dedicated to the Ukrainian conflict with support from the Anti-Maidan took place only in late November – namely, the exhibition “We Won’t forget; We Won’t Forgive,” dedicated to the second anniversary of the Maidan, which opened in Moscow. The main heroes of the installations were fighters of the Berkut units.[55] Perhaps the exhibition format was chosen for this event due to the likelihood of low attendance in case of a public action.

Otherwise, pro-government nationalist showed as little interest in the subject of “Novorossiya” on their rallies as the oppositional ultra-right. Basically it came down to episodic references to the Ukrainian conflict as one of many issues during the events with broad agendas (such as the ONF March on November 4), sending humanitarian aid or other one-time and/or small actions. As a result, much of the pro-government nationalist activity this year was focused on more promising topics, such as the Victory Day celebration, expression of support for the president's policies, opposition to the “influence” of the West, anti-Turkish campaign, and struggle against the “fifth column,” including some violent actions, which pro-government nationalist groups, such as the NOD or the SERB (see above) view as a form of political activity.

Even the Other Russia party under the leadership of Eduard Limonov, which had held out longer than the others, have somewhat reduced its level of involvement in the Ukrainian issues, and interrupted their regularly held small pickets and rallies devoted specifically to “Novorossiya.” In the second half of 2015, the party moved on to fight the NATO base in Latvia, oppose liberal policies, fight against Sberbank and German Gref personally regarding absence of the bank’s branches in Crimea, and so on. The only Ukraine-related action of late 2016 was the rally on November 12 against the new rules of stay in Russia for Ukrainian citizens, which, according to the Other Russia members, could lead to deportation of “tens of thousands of opponents of the Kiev junta” back to their homeland.[56]


Traditional Nationalist Actions

The ultra-right traditionally organized two major events in the first half of the year, namely the Heroes Day, dedicated to the Pskov paratroopers, who died fighting in Chechnya in 2000, and the Russian May Day – the second largest nationalist event of the year after the Russian March. Neither action was particularly successful in 2015.

The Heroes Day was celebrated on February 28. As far as we can tell, K. Krylov’s NDP rather atypically acted as an organizer in most cities – this role was usually played by “the Russians” Association, as the successor to the banned Movement Against Illegal Immigration (Dvizhenie protiv nelegalnoi immigratsii, DPNI) that first popularized the action. Likely, this year the Association decided to distance itself from the Heroes Day both due to the lackluster experience of the last year, and out of fear that glorification of “Russian soldiers” could raise a loaded topic of the Ukrainian confrontation. In any case, the NDP failed to return the Heroes Day to its the former scale, and, as in 2014, the action took place only in nine cities, and its best attended event – laying flowers in Saint Petersburg, organized by the NSI rather than the NDP – brought together about 50 people. For comparison, in 2013, the actions took place in at least 20 cities, and the largest of them, in Moscow, attracted about 100 people. Low interest in the Heroes Day becomes especially apparent when we take into account that 2015 marked the 15th anniversary of the Pskov paratroopers’ death.

The traditional Russian May Day never took place at all, due to withdrawal of the permit following the arrest of the organizer, D. Dyomushkin. Thus, breaking with the tradition, a march organized by the RNF ended up as the only action in Moscow, unexpectedly changing its status from an alternative to the main event. [57] The action under the slogan “The Will of the Nation is Nationalization!” proceeded along its usual route from Oktyabrskoe Pole Metro station to Shchukinskaya Metro station and brought together about 170 people, roughly the same number as in 2014 (about 150 people). As expected, this group of nationalists was unable to repeat their success of the previous Russian March, when they doubled their earlier attendance due to their support of “Novorossiya” – a hot topic at that time. The RNF failed either to increase its own base or attract activists from the prohibited main event.

St. Petersburg also reported the same numbers as in 2013 and 2014; a citywide May Day march attracted about 300-350 nationalists.[58] However, it should be noted that about half of the participants in 2015 came from pro-government movements, such as the NOD and the Motherland party (approximately 100 and 50 people respectively), whereas their share was lower in 2014. In 2013 the gathering involved only representatives of local oppositional ultra-right organizations. Thus, we can see that pro-Kremlin St. Petersburg nationalists are gradually replacing the opposition at the Russian May Day, as they have done at the Russian March).

Traditional organizers of the action didn’t have much to brag about in other Russian cities and towns as well – the geographic span of the Russian May Day dropped 50 percent compared to 2014, and, in the municipalities where the events managed to take place, they attracted fewer participants. Apparently, this is the combined impact of the failure of the 2014 Russian March and the law enforcement pressure.

Against this background, the near-doubling of the NOD presence at various May Day marches looks rather remarkable – the movement participated in at least 15 actions in the preceding year, while, in 2015, the corresponding number was at least 28.

“The Russians” Association promised to compensate for disruption of the traditional Russian May Day in Moscow by conducting marches under the slogan “For Honor and Freedom” in the capital and other cities across the country on the Day of Right-Wing Political Prisoner on July 25. The campaign was actively advertised on the social networks. Movements, such as the Russian Civic Union (Russkii Grazhdaskii Soiuz), the RONA, the RFO “Memory” and the Nation and Freedom Committee joined the organizing efforts and seconded “the Russians” in promises to make the march “the main event of the summer.” Nationalists obviously hoped that, given the increased police pressure against the ultra-right, they will be able to mobilize activists and hold a Day of Right-Wing Political Prisoner on a large scale. However, their hopes were shattered.

The Moscow mayor's office didn’t agree to any of the proposed march routes and then denied permission for a picket as well. As a result, it was decided to limit the action to two events: a “folk festival” near the Heroes of Plevna monument and one-person pickets near Novokuznetskaya Metro Station. Almost nobody attended the non-permitted actions; the festival, which, as far as we know, were organized by activists of the RONA and the RFO “Memory,” attracted no more than 20 people, and the picket, organized by “the Russians,” brought together about 15 people. In addition, no insignia was displayed at either of these events.

Besides Moscow, the actions, usually in the form of pickets, were held in at least 8 cities (Astrakhan, Yekaterinburg, Kemerovo, Krasnodar, Irkutsk, Saratov, Syktyvkar and Ulyanovsk), and four additional cities hosted very small actions, such as putting up posters and banners (St. Petersburg and Oryol) or collecting and sending money to imprisoned nationalists (Volgograd and Nizhny Novgorod). In addition to public events, “the Russians” Association and the NSI held a traditional marathon to raise funds for the nationalist prisoners.

Of course, such an action could hardly qualify as the “main event of the summer,” but neither was it a complete failure. After all, nationalists managed to hold at least some public events, despite the fact that almost everywhere, the actions were banned, police frequently came to the picket locations, and the VKontakte page of the March group was blocked.

The next traditional nationalist action was the “Victims of Ethnic Crime Remembrance Day,” which takes place on the weekend closest to October 1 (the day of Anna Beshnova’s death). In contrast to 2014, when no one took up the responsibility for organizing the action, in 2015, “the Russians” made at attempt to regain their organizing role. The RFO “Memory,” the Nation and Freedom Committee, For Honor and Freedom and the Moscow RONA branch heeded their call in Moscow. Together with activists from “the Russians,” they held a rally near the Chistye Prudy Metro Station on the spot where FC Spartak fan Yuri Volkov had died. Approximately 20-30 people attended. In addition to Moscow, only two cities – Khabarovsk and Balakhna of the Moscow Region – reported very small actions (both had rather active branches of “the Russians” Associations). In 2014 and in 2013 nationalists celebrated this day on about the same “scale”.

The remaining hope was focused on the Russian March on November 4th. In Moscow, the action attained a scandalous reputation in advance, as soon as it was reported that as much as four processions, claiming the status of “the Russian march,” were to take place in: the “traditional” one in Lyublino, the RNF’s “Russian March for the Russian Revenge” on Oktyabrskoe Pole, “The Russian March for the Russian World,” organized by the Russian World movement on the Tsvetnoy Boulevard, and the Motherland TIGERS column at the ONF march. Only organizers of the Lyublino event had problems with obtaining a permit – the officials refused to accept an application from D. Dyomushkin, citing his numerous administrative penalties, but an application filed in the name of Yuri Gorsky (the editor-in- chief of the ArtPolitInfo online portal) was denied as well. As a result, the action received a permit only after an application was submitted by a certain Anton Smirnov, almost unknown outside of the far-right circles. Smirnov was also fined twice after that, leading to fears that the event would be canceled, but the permit remained in force, and the fears never materialized.[59]

A large number of competing actions angered right-wing activists, who felt that the continued fragmentation of the Russian March had a negative impact on the entire movement. There were appeals to the leaders of the organizations to unite for holding a single march, and a host of accusations against them, suggesting that, led by their personal ambitions, they were destroying the Russian March as an institution.

A large number of the planned actions and the struggle for participants exacerbated criticism levied by the competing organizing committees against each other. For example, supporters of “the Russians” Association urged activists in Moscow and the regions not to attend the “100% Vatnik actions for “Novorossiya and Putin” with participation from the Motherland, the RNE and the Great Russia”.[60] Almost simultaneously, the Great Russia party, a member of the RNF, distributed a text, which labeled the organizers of the other marches as provocateurs, fakers, and “direct hirelings of enemies of the Russian people”.[61]

Some nationalist movements found no place on any of the Moscow actions, despite the unusually varied choice. For example, the NDP, which had repeatedly stated that it saw no reason to join alternative rallies, had to abandon the March in Lyublino as well, due to criticism they received in 2014 for participating in this “Banderite event.”

In the end, Moscow hosted four different actions on November 4 as planned, although the Motherland TIGERs march can only be conditionally considered to have taken place.

The following groups attended the March in Lyublino: the RONA supporters, led by their leader Oleg Filatchev, the “pan-Slavic column,” the Russian Human Rights League (i.e. V. Istarkhov’s RPP); the Unappeasable Column, led by Ilia Sotnikov; the Right Column (the combined column of the activists from the RFO “Memory” and the Nation and Freedom Committee) led by Denis Romanov-Russky; the column of the Black Bloc of autonomous nationalists and For Honor and Freedom activists, led by A. Samokhin; supporters of the already banned “Russians,” led by Yuri Gorsky; a group of Orthodox Banner Bearers and others. The Unappeasable Column included representatives of the Slavic Strength – North-West (Slavianskaia sila – Severo-Zapad), who travelled from St. Petersburg to participate in the march. The total number of participants was about 700-800 people, making it the most numerically small of all the “traditional” marches over the years. We would like to remind that in 2014, when the march was deemed a failure, about 2 thousand people gathered in Lyublino.

However, in contrast to 2014, when the March organizers could not hide their disappointment, it was not so noticeable in 2015. It seems that their distress in 2014 stemmed from the sense of their ideological loss to the “Novorossiya” supporters, while the low attendance of the following year could be attributed to persecution of the right-wing movement leaders. In such circumstances, holding even a poorly attended event was hailed as a small victory.

The RNF march at Oktyabrskoe Pole was also not a success. It was attended by about 360 people, while, the organizers managed to attract about 600 people in 2013, and 1200 in 2014. Thus, the RNF, not only failed to keep its new marchers, who joined in 2014, but was not even able to retain their old allies.

The third Russian march – “For the Russian World” on Tsvetnoy Boulevard – also couldn’t be described as well-attended. Around 100 people came to participate. Presumably, the organizers were counting on the same group that joined the ranks of the RNF marchers in 2014 (those 500-600 people, who came to Oktyabrskoe Pole, in addition to 500-600 that usually attend the RNF events). Judging by the fact that they were able to attract only 100 people, they had miscalculated. However, it would be premature to write off the action as failed, since it was the first event of “For the Russian World” at this location, and they already managed to bring in a three-digit number of participants.[62]

It is not clear how to assess the fourth nationalist event of November 4, namely the Motherland TIGERs march.” Contrary to initial claims, the ONF march included no separate TIGERs column or visible symbols of the new organization. Movement leader V. Laktyushin walked in the column of the Motherland party, which numbered up to 120 people. Young people comprised about half of this number and (judging by the placards) included the youth who had nothing to do with TIGERs.

In sum, all four events (even if we count the entire Motherland Party column as TIGERs) does not come close in attendance to the numbers of 2014 and, especially, 2013. All four marches combined involved no more than 1,450 people, compared to about 3,000 in 2014 and 6,700 in 2013.

If we take into account supporters of the NOD (about 1,000 people), and of the Anti-Maidan (about 5000 people), who attended the ONF march, the result becomes much more impressive. However, there are serious doubts whether these movements, in fact, have so many activists, and the slogans they carried cannot be qualified as ultra-right.

While Moscow nationalists had a problem of choosing their march, in St. Petersburg, the issue quickly resolved itself, since it soon became obvious that no action was going to happen. The Motherland party, which held its Patriotic March in 2013 and 2014 and ousted the nationalist opposition, did not organize anything, and the organizing committee of the local far-right movements (the RID, the Great Russia, the RNE, the Russians of St. Petersburg and others) failed to get a permit for the event. Only D. Garina tried (without much success, by the way) to mobilize her supporters for holding an unpermitted march along Nevsky Prospekt, but got arrested two days before the action.

The process of preparing for the Russian March in other cities was not as dramatic as those in Moscow and St. Petersburg (and involved no new criminal cases), but activists in the regions also had to deal with increased complexity of obtaining permits for their public events. As a result, marches in one form or another were held only in 24 cities; in 11 other cases permits proved impossible to obtain. Even including the actions, which would have taken place if it weren’t for the resistance by the authorities, we still end up with fewer events than in the preceding year (36 cities). Thus, for the second year in a row, we observe the shrinking geographic distribution of the Russian March. In addition, attendance of the events also fell almost everywhere.

We would like to remind here that, in the last few years, the complaints have been increasingly heard among the right-wing opposition that the Russian March – and the format of public actions in general – exhausted its potential. As we see from the traditional activities of right-wing radicals, the rallies are, indeed, less in demand by their audiences and are increasingly becoming the prerogative of pro-government associations.


Other Public Event Initiatives

Attempts to turn criminal incidents involving local residents on one side and migrants on the other into major political events have been an important form of ultra-right public activity. Since 2006, when riots in the Karelian town of Kondopoga gained notoriety all over the country, nationalists keep hoping to repeat and multiply that success. In 2014, the attempts on spinning criminal incidents were atypically few due to the Ukrainian confrontation dominating the public discourse, but, by late 2014 and early 2015, the situation began to normalize, and the nationalists brought their attention back to this type of activity.

However, the only incident to gain any significant publicity, was the murder of contract soldier Dmitry Sidorenko by migrants from Armenia in Opera Cafe in the city of Mineralnye Vody. A. Amelin, O. Borisova and N. Bondarik attempted to “spin” the incident via social networks by spreading emotionally charged material that portrayed the conflict as ethnic.

On January 24, an unsanctioned people’s assembly, which attracted about 150 people, took place in the town. The action ended peacefully, even without any mass arrests, despite the fact that its participants attempted twice to block the federal highway.

Despite the fact that the action achieved some resonance, it didn’t fulfill the hopes of the far-right, since it had no pronounced nationalist character. The principal slogans were directed not against resident Armenians but against the local authorities and the police, who, according to locals, were corrupt and incompetent.

Having taken stock of the mood in the city, the nationalists changed tactics, started calling Mineralnye Vody “the new Kuschevka” rather than “the new Kondopoga,” and attempted to hold another people’s assembly, scheduled for February 1. However, the action never took place, and the online nationalist resources, which called people out to the streets, were blocked.

Another story to achieve relatively wide notoriety was the people's assembly in Moscow in connection with the murder of Sergei Kostiuchenko, a student of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University on February 6. “The Russians” Association and Vladimir Basmanov personally actively promoted this action and announced the people's assembly to be held near the MSTU’s dormitory in the Izmailovo District on February 8. Announcements for the event reported that the media and the FSB were carefully concealing the information about the student’s killers, allegedly migrants from the Caucasus; it was also claimed that the girl, who had been the cause of the conflict, found herself under pressure.

Despite the organizers’ best efforts the assembly turned out quite peaceful. Only a few dozen people gathered and laid flowers at the murder scene. The attendees included the activists of “the Russians” Association, the Nation and Freedom Committee and the RFO “Memory”.

The gatherings in Mineralnye Vody and Moscow ended up being the largest such events of the year, since, once the new round of prosecutorial actions against nationalists started in the spring, the activity level of the ultra-right markedly declined.

It is indicative that even such a symbolic ultra-right storyline as the death of soccer fan Ivan Stanin in a fight with migrants from the Caucasus, which occurred on March 30 in St. Petersburg, failed to mobilize a large number of activists. After the 2010 Manezhnaya Square riots in Moscow, provoked by the death of soccer fan Yegor Sviridov, nationalists have traditionally paid serious attention to such murders, counting on their great mobilization potential. Despite the efforts of several far-right movements of St. Petersburg to promote this story (the NDP, “the Russians” Association, the Great Russia and others), they only managed to hold a noticeable public event in the end of May, and it was attended by no more than 40 people. The ultra-right activity immediately after the murder was limited to a number of one-person pickets.

All other actions “against ethnic crime” were even less attended and brought together no more than 30 people, until they came to a complete halt in the second half of the year.

The far-right oppositional organizations tried to draw the attention of their supporters to the truck drivers protest, which began in the late fall due to the imposition of the Plato payment system. In most cases, nationalists limited their support to outraged descriptions of events, but calls to somehow participate, or at least help appeared periodically. Nationalist websites advertised the truckers’ actions; trips were taken to the protesters camp in Khimki and Brateevo; aid was collected. Apparently, right-wing radicals were hoping that, if the truckers’ protest enters the “hot phase,” they would be able to join it, but the actions remained rather passive and never lived up to the expectations.

All other attempts of the nationalists to bring people to the streets were even less convincing. In the second half of the year, very small-scale actions, in the “get-together” format took place quite regularly. They were devoted to relatively random topics: a protest against the restoration of the monument to Dzerzhinsky in Moscow; dissatisfaction with the number of hours dedicated to the Russian language instruction in schools of Tatarstan, as well as local history textbooks; anniversary of the collapse of the ruble in 2014, etc.


Electoral Activity

Local and regional elections, held in a number of subjects of the Federation on September 13, became an important issue for a number of nationalist organizations.

The Great Fatherland Party (PVO), led by Ivan Starikov, announced its participation in the elections, and nominated its representatives for municipal governments or municipal representative bodies. As a result, only four activists, designated by the PVO in the Primorye Region, the Nizhny Novgorod Region and the Orenburg Region received their mandates. In addition, the PVO attempted to nominate its candidate in the gubernatorial elections in the Arkhangelsk Region, but he never got registered. Despite the fact that most of the candidates failed to get enough votes, and out of 11 PVO candidates in the Nizhny Novgorod region only one got elected, the elections can be considered successful for the party. Until recently, the PVO was a little-noticed party without any unique ideology, and Starikov was known more as a writer of books glorifying Stalin. However, probably due to their membership in the Anti-Maidan movement, they were able to register their candidates in several regions and even to win several electoral contests.

The Motherland party also took part in the elections, was dissatisfied with the results and complained of “pressure against their candidates,” due to the fact that, in about half of the cases, the party lists and candidates could not get registered or were withdrawn from the elections under various pretexts. For example, in the Chuvash Republic, and the regions of Amur, Bryansk, Kaliningrad, Leningrad, Smolensk, and Sakhalin the party had nominated its gubernatorial candidates, but they eventually did not participate in the elections. The Motherland succeeded in registering its nominees in only two cases: Andrei Dvoretsky ran for the post of the head of the Omsk Region, and Vladimir Popkov – of the Penza Region. Neither of them succeeded: Dvoretsky scored 3.62% of the vote and finished the fourth out of five, and V. Popkov received less than 1% of the vote, showing the worst result. At the regional level, the Motherland also failed in advancing on party lists, and, as far as we can tell, did not receive a single mandate– it received anywhere from 0.26% of the votes (the election of deputies to the Kostroma Regional Duma) to 2,48% of the votes (elections of the deputies to the State Council of the Komi Republic).

As a result, the party had some success only at the local level: on the Single Voting Day, 422 out of 2968 candidates, nominated by the Motherland, were elected deputies of local governments in 19 subjects of the Federation. This result can be considered quite good, although success in the local elections, where voters don’t take party affiliation of the candidates very seriously and often familiarize themselves with the list of nominees directly at the polling site, are not indicative in assessing the party's popularity. The losses in regional elections on the party lists and in gubernatorial races provide a clear evidence that the Motherland’s statements about enjoying broad support are clearly premature. Representatives of K. Krylov’s NDP took part in elections at the local level. We have no information about most of their candidates; we only know that Rostislav Antonov, the leader of the Novosibirsk branch of the NDP, was nominated to the Novosibirsk Council of Deputies, failed to receive the necessary number of votes, but took the second place in the district, getting 17.3%.

It was reported that members of the NPD have been nominated in a number of cities (Astrakhan, Voronezh, Novosibirsk, Samara, Kaliningrad, Oryol) and in the Moscow Region. However, the party never openly engaged in promotion or informational support of the campaigns, probably fearing that public announcements of the candidates’ NDP membership could only hinder their success.

The fact that, most likely, none of the representatives of the National Democrats received mandates was indirectly confirmed by the statement, later issued by the party. In this statement, among other things, the NDP protested against the recent regional elections, and stated that the process was the evidence of rolling back from “even the modest cosmetic liberalization promised by the authorities in 2011,” and “destroying the remnants of democratic institutions.”[63]

The ROS (S. Baburin) presented its candidates for gubernatorial positions – Alexander Ivanov in the Kaliningrad Region and Oleg Lopatko in the Sakhalin Region – but both of them were denied registration. The ROS didn’t go on the party lists in any elections to regional parliaments, and, unfortunately, we don’t know whether the party had any single-mandate nominees and whether it took part in local elections.

Nothing was reported regarding participation of other nationalists, particularly from oppositional groups, in the elections. Meanwhile, the ROS and the Motherland TIGERs have already announced their plans to take part in the elections of 2016.


Other Activity by Nationalist Groups

Various raids with the “social” agenda, aimed at demonstrating their active social position, have become an important direction of nationalist activity in recent years. Raids to combat pedophilia, illegal migrants, shops selling alcohol to minors, and so on, were very popular not so long ago and were held in a most aggressive manner. However, starting in late 2013, the number and the level of aggression of such actions have been steadily decreasing, primarily due to the law enforcement pressure against the leaders of the major raiding groups. Many of these criminal proceedings were listed above (N. Bondarik, D. Yevtushenko, D. Bobrov, A. Kolegov, M. Martsinkevich and others), and this list is incomplete. In most cases, cases were not initiated in connection with the raiding activity, but, nevertheless, could not fail to affect it. In 2015, there was only one new raid initiative associated with the fight against illegal immigration, namely the Citadel project of the For Honor and Freedom movement.[64] However, this project has been passive so far, and, apparently, not popular.

Raids with less aggressive agenda, for example, against drinking alcohol in public places, sale of alcohol to minors, or at the wrong time, were quite popular throughout 2015. The groups most engaged in such activities include the Sober Yards (Trezvye dvory) movement, Civil Patrol (Grazhdanskiy Patrul’) (R. Antonov), the Lion Against (Lev Protiv) organization, People's Watch (Narodnaya Druzhina), as well as a number of very small far-right groups on an occasional basis. As previously noted, these raids pose the threat of clashes between the activists and perceived violators of the public order, particularly given a frequently aggressive attitude on both sides. Activists from the Lion Against repeatedly got involved into fights in 2015; the Sober Yards had clashes with traders and buyers of alcohol at night, etc. It should also be noted that the practice of ultra-right activists accompanying police raids continued in 2015 (although, it is often difficult to determine who accompanies whom); we view this practice as unacceptable.

The pro-government Motherland joined the raiding activity in the first half of 2015. In June only, the party activists took part in a raid against the night trade of alcohol, in an anti-drug action, in a raid to search for illegal migrants and in an action to patrol the streets and combat drinking alcohol and smoking in public places. However, in the second half of the year, we received very few reports of any raids.

In contrast to the Motherland, which had no problems with the law enforcement, some ultra-right leaders, for whom raiding was their primary activity even in 2014, turned their attention elsewhere in 2015 – primarily, to the activities related to, or at least associated with, the armed conflict in Ukraine.

Igor Mangushev’s movement, the Light Russia (Svetlaya Rus’), which used to be very active in carrying out searches for residences of illegal immigrants, is now busy cooperating with the E.N.O.T. Corp. group. Officially, E.N.O.T. members, who include many activists of the Light Russia, are engaged in collection and delivery of humanitarian aid to the South-East of Ukraine; unofficially they are taking part in the hostilities.

Another leader of the “raiding” movement, former head of the Shield of Moscow (Shchit Moskvy) Alexey Khudyakov has also switched to the “Ukrainian” theme. His new organization, the Russian Choice (Russkii vybor) is dedicated to regular gathering and shipping of humanitarian aid to Donbass. It is not clear, whether this is a purely humanitarian project or, similarly to E.N.O.T. Corp, a military one as well.

Uliana Sporykhina, the leader of Russian Khimki movement, shut down her big raiding project Guestbusters. She is now coordinating certain basic military training courses, which are actively advertised on the Russian Khimki social network page.

 

Late in the year the activists of the banned NSI, who had actively conducted raids against street trade, discontinued them and, instead, established a military sports association and now provide training to all comers.

It should be noted that the Russian Khimki and the ex-NSI activists are not the only organizations to promote their military training courses – aforementioned E.N.O.T. Corp, the Russian Choice and other ultra-right movements do the same. Such courses are usually organized on the basis of various military-and-sports clubs willing to collaborate with nationalists. One of the most famous examples – the St. Petersburg Reserve (Rezerv) club under the leadership of Denis Gariev, actively advertised on the RID, NSI and other ultra-right websites. The club cooperates with the RID “Imperial Legion” movement, which, in turn, formed the eponymous unit that was a part of the Donetsk People Republic (Donetskaia Narodnaya Respublika, DNR) armed forces until 2016.[65]S. Vorobyov, the leader of the RID, said in an interview that two groups of volunteers per month, on average, were sent to this unit, and their training was handled by Reserve. Meanwhile, the club accepts not only those ready to go fight in Ukraine, but, as far as we know, anyone wishing to obtain military skills and will likely continue to do so after the flow of volunteers to the south-east of Ukraine has stopped.

As noted in our previous reports, the number of permanent clubs affiliated with the nationalists and providing everyone interested with combat training has dramatically increased, starting in 2014. Increasingly, instead of their usual irregular camp and training announcements, the websites of the ultra-right movements feature calls to join clubs that teach knife and unarmed combat, combat tactics in urban or forest environment, shooting skills, handling of weapons, etc. Many of these clubs include women and children's sections. We believe that such a drastic militarization of an already extremely aggressive ultra-right environment is very worrying.

Ultra-right groups, unwilling or unable to join the work on creation and promotion of permanent combat training courses, conduct more traditional small gatherings and outdoor military exercise, trying to keep up with the spirit of increased militarism. The number of such events has remained consistently high starting in 2014.

Purely sporting actions continue as well; we see many small events in mixed martial arts, football and “Russian Bench Press,” as well as all sorts of runs, “walks” and swims. Organizers of sporting events include major nationalist groups, regional activist groups and ultra-right fashion brands.

Nationalists compensated for their shrinking raiding and political activity not only by martial or sporting events, but also by undertaking purely social projects without any aggressive components. We would like to remind here that such actions were popular in 2009 and 2010, when the law enforcement embarked on active prosecution of ultra-right groups and detained gangs of right-wing radicals with unprecedented frequency. Later on, partially due to the reduced pressure against the nationalists and partially due to their adaptation to the new realities, the number of peaceful social nationalist actions dropped significantly. Now, right-wing radical groups can, once again, be observed taking up actions such as blood donations, collecting aid to the poor, holding Subbotniks (volunteer work on Saturdays), etc.

 



Counter-action to Radical Nationalism and Xenophobia

Public Initiatives

In 2015, the public activity to counteract xenophobia and radical nationalism followed the patterns established in previous years. However, attendance of the actions significantly decreased.

On January 19, the traditional All-Russian campaign in memory of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova took place in 11 cities in Russia[66] (same as in 2014). Fewer people (500-540 at most) attended the anti-fascist march and rally in Moscow, compared to the preceding year.[67] Activists from the NOD and from the God's Will movement actively tried to obstruct the action. According to the police data, 10 people were detained. In St. Petersburg the march received an official permit for the first time in several years.[68] The march started from Birzhevoy Proezd on Vasilyevsky Island and brought together about 200 people.

As part of the European Week of Actions, the UNITED for Intercultural Action network held its annual International Week of educational activities “Stop Racism!” on March 14 – 22. This international event attracted practically no attention. We only know of two events that took place in connection with the Week – an action in St. Petersburg and a debate on xenophobia in Murmansk.

The annual International Week of Tolerance under the slogan “Kristallnacht – never again!” took place on November 9 – 16, timed to coincide with the International Day against Racism and Intolerance. Unfortunately, the commemorative week has remained practically invisible to the wider public for the past four years. In 2015, we know about small-scale actions in Saratov, Ulyanovsk and Syktyvkar, and memorial rallies in Volgograd and Kaliningrad.

Two traditional anti-fascist activities took place in St. Petersburg. The March against Hate, instituted in 2004 after the assassination of scientist Nikolai Girenko by neo-Nazis, was not granted a permit for the first time in its 11 years. Nevertheless, about 200 people came to attend the march on October 31 near Sportivnaya-2 Metro Station. The participants came to the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island, held a short rally and dispersed. At the end of the rally, participants unfurled banners with portraits of activist Dmytro Chyzhevsky, who partially lost his sight after the November 2013 attack against an LGBT organization,[69] and of murdered human rights defenders, social activists and politicians, from Natalya Estemirova to Boris Nemtsov. Representatives of right-wing radical movements lined up along the column’s route and shouted insults at the marchers. Overall, however, the event went off without incidents and required practically no police intervention.

An action in memory of antifascist musician Timur Kacharava, who died on this day in 2005 at the hands of neo-Nazis, was conducted on November 13 near the Bukvoed bookstore on Vosstaniya Square and attracted about 30 people, who laid flowers, candles and attached portraits of the deceased anti-fascist to the bookstore’s facade. The police did not interfere. In contrast to the preceding years, there was no picket, because the organizers feared provocations and arrests.

The “Football People” Action Week, which was organized by the Football against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, took place from October 8 to 22.[70]. This is the largest campaign that unites fans, players, clubs and activists in the fight against discrimination in soccer, for diversity and equality. Russian football clubs also joined the campaign in 2014. In the framework of this Action Week, we know of a friendly match in Krasnodar, a school tolerance class conducted by the Student Fan League of FC Zenith, in St. Petersburg, and the match between Muslim women teams in Moscow.


Criminal Prosecution

For Violence

In 2015, for the first time since 2011, the number of convictions for violent hate crimes was slightly higher than in the preceding year. In 2015, there were at least 24 convictions in which the courts had recognized the hate motive in 19 regions of Russia (compared to 22 convictions in 20 regions in 2014). As a result of these court cases, 61 people were found guilty (vs. 47 people in 2014).

Practically all the relevant articles of the Criminal Code containing the hate motive as an aggravating circumstance were utilized to qualify penalties for racist violence. Article 105 Part 2 paragraph “l” (“murder”), Article 119 Part 2 (“Threat of murder”), Article 116 Part 2 paragraph “b” (“battery”), Article 115 Part 2 paragraph “b” (“infliction of a light injury”), Article 112 Part 2 (“infliction of a moderate injury”), Article 111 Part 4 (“infliction of a grave injury”), Article 213 Part 2 (“Hooliganism”), etc.

Article 282 (“inciting ethnic hatred”) in relation to violent crimes appeared in seven sentences. According to the 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” of June 28, 2011,[71] it is appropriate to apply Article 282 to violent crimes, if they are aimed at inciting hatred in the third parties, for example, through a public and demonstrative ideologically motivated attack, and in such cases Article 282 should be used in combination with another appropriate article of the Criminal Code (“murder,” “battery,” etc.). We completely agree with the position of the Supreme Court. Indeed, in all such verdicts of 2015 -the most resonant ones were the verdicts to a member of the Yekaterinburg Folksshturm group and to the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk shooter, Article 282 was utilized for specific cases of ultra-right propaganda combined with violence.

 

Penalties in violent crime cases were distributed as follows:

  • 3 people were sentenced to life in prison;
  • 2 people received a custodial sentence of 24 years;
  • 3 people – up to 20 years;
  • 2 people – up to 15 years;
  • 14 people – up to 10 years;
  • 12 people – up to 5 years;
  • 7 people – up to 3 years;
  • 5 people – up to 1 year;
  • 9 people received suspended sentences;
  • 1 person was sentenced to a fine;
  • 3 people were released from punishment due to reconciliation of the parties;
  • 1 person was acquitted.

 

We know of four verdicts, which ordered the offenders to pay a financial compensation to their victims for moral harm and medical expenses. Regretfully, we rarely encounter reports about such measures. Meanwhile, we believe that this practice should be expanded. It would be only fair, if the offenders, who have caused the need for medical care in the first place, pay the expenses.

As you can see from the above data, 14 % of convicted offenders (9 out of 61) received suspended sentences. All these people (some of them minors) were convicted in large group trials, and, probably, their direct involvement in the attacks could not be proved or they accepted a deal with the investigation

It is encouraging to see the number of suspended sentences for violent crimes go down, because suspended sentences for violent racist attacks, in the overwhelming majority of cases, tend to engender the sense of impunity and do not stop ideologically motivated offenders from committing such acts in the future.

Offenders sent to prison in 2015, included members of the well-known nationalist groups, such Kazan Nazi Сrew from Kazan, Folksshturm from Yekaterinburg, Piranha-74 from Magnitogorsk, the Northern Frontier from Syktyvkar (with their leader Aleksei Kolegov), the Kamensk-Uralsky branch of the Occupy-pedofiliay in the Sverdlovsk Region.

Three people were sentenced to life in prison. All of them came from the infamous Military Organization of Russian Nationalists (Boevaia organizatsiia russkikh natsionalistov, BORN). Vyacheslav Isaev and Maxim Baklagin were sentenced by the Moscow Regional Court on April 21[72], and the ex-leader of the Russian Image (Russkii obraz) organization Ilya Goryachev, accused of founding the BORN and planning the murders committed by the group, was convicted by the Moscow City Court on July 24.[73]


For Vandalism

Twice as many sentences were issued for ethno-religious and neo-Nazi vandalism in 2015 than in the preceding year; we know of 8 verdicts against 14 persons in 7 regions (vs. 4 verdicts against 6 persons in 8 regions in 2014).

Four cases involved the charges under Article 214 of the Criminal Code (“vandalism motivated by ethnic or religious hatred”). Only in one case it was the only article utilized in the prosecution. In the other three verdicts (to above mentioned Nazi skinheads from Kazan Nazi Crew and Occupy-pedofiliay, and to the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk shooter) it was used in combination with charges under other (violent) articles.

Three cases utilized Article 244 of the Criminal Code (“Desecration of gravestones”). In all cases, it was used in combination with other criminal charges. In one instance, it was combined with Article 158 (“Theft”), in another one – with Articles 222 (“Illegal possession of ammunition”) and 2221 (“Illegal possession of explosives”) and in the third case – with Article 282.

In 2015, we encountered the first sentence for vandalism issued under recently introduced Criminal Code Art. 3541 (the part on “Desecration of symbols of Russia's military glory, publicly committed”). The Krasnoyarsk Regional Court convicted three local residents for desecrating monuments to military glory in Gvardeisky Park on January 9.

As in the preceding year, the majority of convicted offenders (8 out of 14) were sentenced to imprisonment. Vandalism was not the sole or primary charge against any of these people – they included members of the right-wing groups, mentioned above, and their sentences included grave charges, such as violence. Previously mentioned individuals, whose verdicts included Articles 158 and 222, were sentenced to prison terms as well. The only doubtful prison sentence is the court decision in Krymsk of the Krasnodar Region. A 19-year-old young man was sentenced to one and a half years in prison under the combination of Articles 282 and 244 for desecrating the memorial in honor of heroes of the Great Patriotic War together with his “colleague,” filming the act of vandalism with his mobile phone camera and uploading the record on the Internet; in addition, he wrote an “extremist statement” on a tank with a marker.

As for the other sentences, two individuals (from the Kazan Nazi Crew) received suspended prison sentences. However, we do not know the specific episodes they were charged with.

Three people were sentenced to mandatory labor for a period of 60 to 110 hours (all under Article 3541 of the Criminal Code), and one – to restrictions of freedom. We view this level of punishment for graffiti on the monuments to military glory or Lenin’s statues as adequate.

By the way, a number of similar crimes (desecration of buildings, houses or fences) were still qualified not as vandalism but as propaganda under Article 282 (see the next chapter). This phenomenon stems from the dual nature of such offenses. Decisions on a specific article to be used are left to the discretion of law enforcement agents, the law enforcement and the media are more familiar with Article 282.


For Propaganda

The number of propaganda-related convictions continues to grow at an alarming rate. In 2015, it, once again, significantly exceeded the number of sentences for all the other kinds of extremist crime combined. There were at least 202 verdicts for xenophobic propaganda in 2015, and 211 people were found guilty (one person was been released due to active repentance) in 60 regions of the country. In 2014, 154 sentences were issued against 159 people in 54 regions.

Propaganda could be qualified under articles 282, 280, 212 (“incitement to mass riots”) and 2052 of the Criminal Code.

Article 282 was utilized for 148 sentences to 156 people. The verdict used exclusively Article 282 in the overwhelming majority of cases (127 persons, 124 verdicts).

7 people were convicted exclusively under Article 280 (“public incitement to extremist activity”).

3 people were convicted exclusively under Article 2052 (“public incitement to terrorist activities or public justification of terrorism”);

11 people – under the combination of Articles 282 and 280;

3 people – under the combination of Articles 2052 and 282;

1 person – under the combination of Articles 282, 280 and 2052;

1 person – under the combination of Articles 282 and 212 (in part relating to incitement to riots);

1 person – under the combination of Articles 280 and 212.

 

In 9 sentences to 16 people violence charges were aggregated with propaganda charges (including the sentences we mentioned in the section on “Prosecution for Violence”).[74] In addition to these, two more verdicts are worth our attention.

The first issued under the combination of Articles 282 and 359 of the Criminal Code (“Mercenarism”). The Moscow City Court sentenced member of the Ukrainian Right Sector Alexander Razumov to seven years in a minimum security penal colony for publishing Russo-phobic material on his VKontakte page. In addition, Razumov belonged to the People’s Watch of Zelenograd, and used to accompany the police in their arrests of law-breakers. During one of these missions, he offered cops money to go and fight in the South-East of Ukraine on the side of the government forces. The police reported this recruitment attempt to their superiors. This is the first known conviction of an ultra-right activist for mercenary activities.

The second sentence was issued in Astrakhan under Article 280 Part 1 and Article 318 Part 1 of the Criminal Code (“Violence against an official representative”) for publishing on VKontakte multiple photos and comments to them, which called for racist violence against “non-Russians.” In addition, as the police was carrying out investigative activity on the case, the suspect entered in a scuffle with one of the police officers. The court fined him 140 thousand rubles.

In three verdicts against five people the criminal charges for propaganda were aggregated with those for vandalism (their sentences are also mentioned in the section on “Criminal Prosecution for Vandalism”).[75]

Some verdicts combined Articles 282 or 280 with other articles of the Criminal Code.[76]

The share of convictions under Articles 282 and 280 in relation to the total number of offenders convicted for their statements remained about the same as a year earlier. However, the share of offenders, convicted under Article 2052 increased significantly. As the data shows, 11 people were convicted under these charges. Traditionally, this Article was utilized for the radical Islamist propaganda. However, last year the practice of using this Article has widened – it was utilized for anti-Russian propaganda in the context of the Ukrainian events.[77]

People convicted under this article include editor of the Radikalnayapolitika [Radical Politics] newsletter Boris Stomakhin,[78] and activist Robert Zagreev from Ufa It should be noted that the penalties in such cases were generally harsher than under other propaganda-related articles.

 

The court verdicts for the propaganda cases in the period under review were distributed as follows

  • 41 people received custodial sentences;
  • 38 people received suspended sentences without additional sanctions;
  • 31 people were sentenced to various fines;
  • 63 people were sentenced to mandatory labor;
  • 26 people were sentenced to correctional labor;
  • 4 people received suspended correctional labor sentences;
  • 2 people were sentenced to educational intervention;
  • 1 person was sentenced to restriction of freedom;
  • 3 people were sent for compulsory treatment;
  • 2 people were released due to statute of limitations;
  • 1 person was acquitted.

 

As you can see, not only the number of such cases, but the percentage of people, who have received sentences related to real imprisonment, significantly increased in 2015 (19 out of 158 in 2014, 14 out of 133 in 2013). Some 2015 sentences involving imprisonment were issued in conjunction with charges under other Criminal Code articles. As we already mentioned, it could be racist violence, vandalism, possession of weapons, theft, etc. Other offenders went to prison, due to an unexpired probationary period for their prior suspended sentences. Two people were convicted of “propaganda” activities for the second time.

However, a number of sentences seems unduly harsh. At least 14 people (including repeatedly convicted Boris Stomakhin and ex-leader of the Russian Runs Maxim Kalinichenko faced real prison terms for “words only.” Such an increase in this type of punishment has no precedents throughout all the years of our monitoring. For example, we recorded two such “questionable judgments” in 2014, and one in 2013. Of course, most of the statements in question, made by the majority of these offenders, indeed included incitement to violence. As far as we could see, the charges stemmed from their statements against the government, against the President of the Russian Federation personally, or against the Russian armed intervention in the affairs of Ukraine; there were also charges for incitement to the violent jihad. Offenders sentenced to prison for their speech, included representatives of well-known right-wing organizations, such as Vitaly Shishkin (the head of the Kaluga Branch of “the Russians” Association and an ex-leader of the RFO “Memory”) or Maxim Kalinichenko, the ex-leader of the Russian Runs. We don’t view the fact of these people having been convicted for their statements as inappropriate per se, but punishment in the form of imprisonment seems excessive. The tendency to resort to real prison terms is disturbing – even for legitimate convictions, it violates the principle of proportionality of punishment in a sensitive sphere for our society, such as restrictions against freedom of speech.

On the other hand, the share of suspended sentences also increased in 2015, in comparison to the preceding year and amounted to 18% (38 out of the 2011 convicted offenders). We have strong doubts about the effectiveness of such sentences. Of course, even a suspended sentence is a real punishment, as it can cause substantial damage to one’s reputation and career opportunities, and most importantly, in case of repeated offenses, a pending suspended sentence leads to heavier punishment. However, many people, who receive suspended sentences, prefer not to think about the consequences and don’t consider a suspended sentence as a severe punishment, especially young people, who do not (yet) worry about their future.

In the case of well-known ultra-right figures, a suspended sentence can have an effect of slowing down their activity. However, some of them perceive this punishment only as an additional advertisement of their actions. For example, well-known St. Petersburg nationalist Nikolai Bondarik received a suspended sentence of 1.5 years for his complicity in preparing serious provocations on Kurban Bairam (Eid al-Adha). The Court also gave him 3 years of probation, which included bans against using the Internet, making statements in the media, and participating even in permitted events and marches. Bondarik violated the ban so quickly, that a new criminal case against him – for re-posting his own interview, given to one of the Internet portals -was already initiated by the end of December 2015.[79]

We know of at least six verdicts, which used the bans against mass media, publications, public speaking and participation in the rallies as additional penalties. Regretfully, this practice has been slow to develop; meanwhile, these sanctions are the most effective ones for people engaged in nationalist propaganda, including professionally via the mass media or among their students. In this respect, we would like to point out the case of a fine imposed in March on director of the Algorithm publishing house Sergei Nikolaev and editor-in-chief of the same publishing house Alexander Kolpakidi for the publication of books authored by Benito Mussolini and Joseph Goebbels. We believe that, in their case, an additional penalty in the form of a ban against practicing their profession would have been appropriate.

Still, most of the offenders (125 persons) were sentenced to real punishments, not involving deprivation of freedom, such as correctional or mandatory labor, or fines. These penalties seem to us quite appropriate for the offences.

Following the trend of three preceding years, the propaganda convictions overwhelmingly pertained to online publications (182 verdicts for 184 persons). As expected, their share only keeps increasing. The number of convictions for online propaganda in 2015 was over nine times greater than the number of convictions for offline statements (20 verdicts for 27 persons).

The materials were posted on the following Internet resources

  • Social networks – 166 (VKontakte – 113, unspecified social networks – 51, Odnoklassniki – 2);
  • Blogs – 2;
  • YouTube – 2;
  • Internet publications – 2;
  • Unspecified Internet resources – 10

 

This picture is almost identical to the one we discussed in our two previous annual reports. The law enforcement continues to search for extremism, primarily on the VKontakte social network, popular among the Russian youth (including its ultra-right segment). The number of convictions related to VKontakte keeps growing year to year. Over the past few years, the law enforcement mechanism for the cases related to Vkontakte statements has become a routine and quite simple procedure. Page owners have to provide their personal data and phone number during registration, and network administrators provide this information immediately upon request from the law enforcement.

All the shortcomings of the Internet-related law enforcement, which we discuss year after year, remain unchanged. The key issue for the Criminal Code “propaganda” articles, namely, lack of clarifications relating to quantitative assessment of public exposure, has never been addressed. Only a few reports mention the number of page visits and the accessibility level of the incriminated material. Meanwhile, the audience size obviously varied widely from one case to another. The number of visitors to the social networks pages of above-mentioned Nikolai Bondarik, Vitaly Shishkin, Dmitry “Besheny” Yevtushenko or Maxim Kalinichenko obviously cannot be compared to the number of visitors to the page of a little-known social network user.

 

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

  • Videos and films (including the notorious The Execution of a Tajik and a Dagestani (Kazn’ Tadzhika i Daga)– 79;
  • Audio (including the songs by the Kolovrat, Bandy Moskvy, Korroziya Metalla and Timur Mutsuraev) – 26;
  • Images (photo or drawings) – 55;
  • Articles or other complete texts (original or re-published)– 32;
  • Statements, comments, forum posts – 12;
  • Creating or administering online groups and communities – 8;
  • Unspecified – 18.

 

Similarly to the preceding year, sentences for audiovisual materials predominate. Their prevalence can be easily explained by the fact that the audiovisual materials are much more effective for propaganda purposes than texts. Linking to videos is technically simple, and the verdicts are mostly issued for links to materials posted elsewhere (social network technology provides little visual difference between posting an original publication and sharing someone else’s material). Subsequently, they frequently attract the law enforcement attention. We view this law enforcement policy as leading nowhere. It would have been much more appropriate, albeit more challenging, to focus on identifying people, who created and uploaded these videos, or, better yet, the perpetrators, who committed the crimes demonstrated on the videos, especially when it comes to demonstration of violence.

As for the posted or shared textual materials, unfortunately, reports by the prosecutors or the Investigative Committee rarely provide sufficient information regarding their content. We see the drop in the number of sentences for individual comments in social networks or comments to articles or videos as a positive development.

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, and this group often regularly and systematically incite to hatred. Unfortunately, we saw only a small number of such convictions in 2015.

There were far fewer (20) convictions for the off-line propaganda. They were distributed as follows:

  • Public shouts and insults – 1;
  • Songs during concert – 1 (Sergei “Pauk” [the Spider] Troitsky for performing his own song “Beat up the devils”;)[80]
  • Address at a rally – 1 (A. Amelin);
  • Provocations – 1 (N. Bondarik);
  • Leaflets – 1 (an activist from the Attack group);
  • Posting stickers – 1;
  • Cermons – 1;
  • Publishing articles – 1;
  • Verdicts to book publishers for publishing books – 1 (editor-in-chief and director of Algoritm publishing house);
  • Graffitti – 4;
  • Verdicts to members and leaders of ultra-right groups and single activists for particular (but unspecified) incidents of propaganda – 7.

 

We have no reason to classify these verdicts as inappropriate, and we are ready to accept the need for criminal prosecution against xenophobic propaganda in the form of printing newspaper articles (depending on the circulation), distributing books, posting leaflets, addressing rallies, singing songs, preaching or other incendiary public statements (obviously, based on their content), especially if they occur in connection with an actual attack. However, painting graffiti on buildings and monuments does not merit much law enforcement attention. Fortunately, the latter kind of criminal cases dropped in numbers compared to the preceding years.


Prosecution of Extremist Groups and Banned Organizations

Prosecutions under Article 2821 (“organizing an extremist community”) and Article 2822 (“organizing an extremist organization”) of the Criminal Code were more widespread than in 2014. We know of ten such sentences against 24 people in eight regions of the country[81] (vs. 4 sentences against 12 people in five regions in 2014).

Article 2821 was used in six cases and quite appropriately applied to creators and participants of far-right groups. As mentioned above, the combination of this and other (violent) articles led to the life sentence for ex-leader of the Russian Image (Russkii obraz) Ilya Goryachev. Four Nazi skinheads from Kazan Nazi Crew group received lengthy prison terms in Tatarstan; so did nine members of the Occupy-pedofilyay movement in Kamensk-Uralskysky of the Sverdlovsk Region.[82]

Member of the Attack movement Vladimir Kudryashov, 28, was convicted in Moscow for creation and leadership of an extremist community. The court sentenced him to one year of imprisonment in a minimum security penal colony and loss of the right to engage in activities related to the creation, leadership or operation of non-profit organizations for 3 years. The Attack movement was founded in the summer of 2014 by several activists, who had left Restrukt!. The founders of the group issued a statement regarding their intentions to advocate National Socialism and more actively engage in “social” projects similar to “Occupy-pedofilyay” and “Occupy-narkofilyay”. According to our information, Attack members took part in raids against illegal immigrants, of which at least one was conducted jointly with the police. Members of the movement and their associates carried out their propaganda through social networks, as well as posted leaflets and stickers, which fairly explicitly incited violence and hatred. The case against activists of the Attack was launched in the fall of 2014;[83] it involves a total of 10 people.[84]

In Vladimir, leader of a nationalist group Alexander Ptitsyn (known in social networks as “Burivoy Liuty”) was sentenced to two years and ten months' imprisonment followed by restriction of freedom for one year. In addition, he was deprived of the right to hold administrative positions in state and municipal institutions for 5 years.

In Nizhny Novgorod, a local resident (born in 1995) attempted to create an ultra-right group, and received a suspended sentence to 2.5 years.

The remaining cases were qualified under Article 2822 (“Organizing activities of a banned organization”).

A Kirov court sentenced 29-year-old Alexander Zamyatin to two years in a minimal security penal colony for trying to continue the work of FC “Dynamo fan club, [85] which had been banned for extremism.[86]

Article 2822 was traditionally applied to neo-pagan right-wing radical organization Spiritual and Tribal Sovereign Rus' (Dukhovno-rodovaia derzhava Rus’). Members of this organization regularly and persistently mail their propaganda to various government institutions, including law enforcement offices. Four such activists were fined in the amounts of 50 to 100 thousand rubles in the Krasnodar Region.

Another member of the same organization, already serving a sentence in the Murmansk Region,[87] received an additional year in prison for trying to recruit his fellow inmates to join the organization; he even managed to convince one person.

Another verdict worth mentioning is the suspended five-year sentence issued in the Vladimir Region against a 34-year-old resident of the city of Kolchugino under Article 150 Part 4 of the Criminal Code (“involvement of a minor in the commission of an offense motivated by ethnic and religious hatred”). The perpetrator was de-facto acting as a leader of a group of teenagers he created. According to the Investigative Committee of the Vladimir Region, the man, “being a supporter of the nationalist ideology, started to impose his views on his 13-year-old son and his peers, calling for violence against persons of non-Slavic origin or followers of other religions”. He brought the teens to the dormitory residence of Tajik nationals, beat up two of the foreigners with a metal bat, and damaged the car of another citizen of Tajikistan.


The Federal List of Extremist Materials

The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated 79 times in 2015, and added 667 entries[88] (vs 381 in 2014), five entries were removed from the list without changing the numbering, and it grew from 2562 to 3229 positions [89]. Many entries represent the lists of diverse materials. The additions are distributed by subject as follows:

 

  • xenophobic materials produced by modern Russian nationalists – 419;
  • materials of other nationalists – 9;
  • materials by the classics of racism – 1;
  • materials of Islamist militants and other calls for violence, issued by political Islamists – 96;
  • other Muslim materials (Said Nursi's books, materials of the banned organizations, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, etc.) – 53;
  • other religious materials (materials of Jehovah's Witnesses, evangelicals, the Russian Orthodox groups that are not part of the ROC, etc.) – 11;
  • various anti-government materials, inciting violence and riots (including Anarchist materials) – 27;
  • very radical anti-Russian statements from Ukraine – 12 (we have been counting them separately from “other nationalists” since 2014);
  • other materials from Ukrainian media and the Internet– 19;
  • non-violent oppositional materials – 8;
  • history books and other texts by historians – 1;
  • large body of various texts, blocked in its entirety – 1;
  • parodies banned as serious statements – 3;
  • materials, obviously banned by mistake – 4;
  • unidentified materials – 3.

 

As expected, the share of online materials on the list keeps increasing: at least 594 entries out of 667 refer to materials found on the Internet (compared to 333 entries out of 590 in the preceding year).

All the deficiencies of the List, described in our every report, still persist; its size continues to grow, and working with it has long been impossible. It is worth noting, that, in the period under review, about 70 titles of Muslim literature, mainly from the notorious “Orenburg list”[90] were removed from the Federal List, but the overall picture didn’t show much improvement.

In addition to the fact that newly added entries contain an enormous number of bibliographic, grammatical and spelling errors, the materials are frequently described in a way that makes them impossible to identify. For example, No. 2811 lists some of its materials as follows file (image) “2Rzb641K5zw”; file (image) “7-0BfHyi7T4,” etc. Sometimes, materials are described only by their electronic address (URL), which is also intentionally modified upon addition; thus the list reflects a non-existent internet resource. The need to modify the URL can be explained by the reluctance of the Ministry of Justice staff to inadvertently promote extremist materials, but then the actions of the Ministry are simply meaningless.

Certain items, such as Jehovah's Witnesses’ materials or books by Said Nursi, have been recognized as extremist inappropriately. Some other materials ended up on the list obviously by mistake, for example a number of informational and clearly critical articles on terrorists.

 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. In addition, courts and prosecutors obviously don’t monitor the list – the same materials are being recognized as extremist by parallel court decisions (for example, http://kobakbogoder.blogspot.ru was listed under Nos. 2990 and 2926, and Stesya Pravdy [The Path of the Truth] book by I. Sinyavin – under Nos 2061 and 3028. At least 13 duplicate items were entered in 2015,[91] bringing the total number of such duplicates to 101.


Banning Organizationsas Extremist

 The Federal List of Extremist Organizations, published on the Ministry of Justice website,[92] added 11 entries in 2015, almost twice as much as in the preceding year (6 organizations).

 In January 2015, five Ukrainian right-wing organizations were added to the list: [93] the Right Sector, Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People's Self-Defense (Ukrayinska natsionalna asambleia – Ukrayinska narodna samooborona, UNA-UNSO), the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrainskaia povstancheskaia armiia, UPA), the Brotherhood (Bratstvo) and Stepan Bandera All-Ukrainian Organization ″Tryzub″ (all were recognized as extremist by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in November 2014). The activities of these Ukrainian organizations, undoubtedly, include elements that meet the definition of extremist activity, so the ban is justified. However, presence of members of these organizations in Russia in significant numbers is unlikely. It is obvious that they were banned for the sake of making a political declaration.

Another new organization on the list, the Misanthropic Division association, was recognized as extremist by the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court on July 17, also in connection with the Ukrainian events.[94]

Other right-wing organizations added to the List include People's Social Initiative (Narodnaia sotsialnaia initsiativa, formerly commonly referred to as the National Socialist Initiative, Natsionalnaia sotsialisticheskaia initsiativa), recognized as extremist by the St. Petersburg City Court on September 16,[95] and the White Cross (Belyi krest) Military-Patriotic club, recognized as extremist by the Murmansk Regional Court on June 29.[96]

In the course of the year, the List also added tree religious organizations, including two Jehovah's Witnesses organizations – one in Samara, the other one in Abinsk (the Krasnodar Region). We view these decisions, as well as the use of anti-extremist legislation against Jehovah's Witnesses in general, as inappropriate; this issue will be discussed in a separate report.

The final addition to the list was the association of followers of “Yngliism” in the Stavropol Region, recognized as extremist by the Stavropol Regional Court on August 21.[97]

Thus, at the time of writing, the Federal List of Extremist Organizations contains 47 organizations (not including 24 organizations recognized as terrorist), whose activities are banned by the court and punishable under Article 2822 of the Criminal Code.

 

The List will inevitably keep growing further. In October 2015, the Moscow City Court granted the prosecutorial claim and recognized “the Russians” Ethno-Political Association as extremist. The ban against the movement was based on the law enforcement’s problems with the movement’s Manifesto, which the court considered extremist, and the fact that supporters and leaders of “the Russians” had repeatedly faced criminal and administrative liability under the articles related to the nationalist propaganda. During the trial, the prosecutor stated that the Manifesto, which had been submitted for an expert examination, contained calls for “the creation of the national state and the struggle for national liberation by any means,” which, according to experts, can be interpreted as incitement to ethnic hatred. In our opinion, this conclusion relies on arbitrary interpretation, because the founding documents of “the Russians” contain no direct incitements.

As to the second basis for their ban – the criminal and administrative cases against members of the organization – in our opinion, not all of them were justified. Moreover, some cases, such as the case against leader of the movement Alexander Belov, are still under consideration and, in the absence of verdict (which is likely to be appropriate), they cannot serve as an argument in the court proceedings. However, “the Russians” Association explicitly carried out xenophobic propaganda, so, in effect, the decision to ban the organization can hardly be considered completely inappropriate, despite these obvious violations.[98]

 

The list of organizations recognized as terrorist, which is published on the FSB website,[99] was also updated during the year. Five organizations were added; some of them were banned as far back as 2013.

-       Autonomous Militant Terrorist Organization (Avtonomnaia boevaia terroristicheskaia organizatsiia, ABTO) (the first right-wing group that was banned as a terrorist organization, and not just as extremist);[100]

-       a branch of the Right Sector in the Republic of Crimea;[101]

-       [the] Islamic State (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham); [102]

-       Jebhat en-Nusra (the Victory Front) (a.k.a Jabha al-Nusra li-Ahl ash-Sham (Front in Support of Greater Syria).;[103]

-       People's Militia in the Name of Minin and Pozharsky, Narodnoe opolcheniie imeni Minina i Pozharskogo, NOMP). [104]

The ban against NOMP deserves a separate discussion. The NOMP was founded by Vladimir Kvachkov in 2009. A number of materials by this organization was recognized as extremist. The leader of the organization and members of the Yekaterinburg NOMP cell, so-called Khabarov's group, were sentenced to imprisonment, de-facto for preparing a revolt. Unfortunately, the evidence base for the decision to recognize the NOMP as a terrorist organization is not known to us. NOMP members were known to possess weapons; they conducted combat training. However, many activists were not involved in these activities. So we can say that certain grounds for the decision to recognize it as a terrorist organization could conceivably exist, but we are not aware of them. However, we also have no reason to regard the court's decision as inappropriate.[105]


Administrative Prosecution

The cases of administrative prosecution related to “extremism” multiply year to year. Unfortunately prosecutors don’t always inform the public about such measures. The data we collected is reported below. 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.”).

We know of 85 offenders penalized under Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code (“propaganda or public demonstration of Nazi paraphernalia or symbols”) in 2015, including 12 minors. A year ago, we reported 47 such cases.

These verdicts were issued in connection with publication of Nazi symbols on the Internet; 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), or displaying the swastika tattoos.

In most cases, the perpetrators faced fines in the amount of 1000 to 3000 rubles. Six people faced five to fifteen days of administrative arrest, and four minors received a prosecutorial warning on impermissibility of breaking the law.

Dmitry Dyomushkin was one of these offenders – he was fined 1000 rubles and taken into custody for 8 days for celebrating Hitler's birthday in the Seven Club.

Anatoly Boltyhov, an activist of the People's Militia in the Name of Minin and Pozharsky, was sentenced to nine days under arrest for publishing the symbols of the Ukrainian Right Sector on VKontakte. We question the legality of the decision, since the Supreme Court has banned the Right Sector a year after Boltyhov had posted the symbols – although, it must be noted that he never deleted them after the ban.

In addition to individuals, legal entities also faced administrative responsibility under Article 20.3, including the online store Dom Podarka, charged for selling swastika-decorated souvenir daggers[106] and the private security company Kastos, which was fined for using the emblem of the SS Panzer Division Das Reich as its logo.

In 2015, 70 people, including two minors, faced responsibility under Article 20.29 of the Administrative Code (“mass distribution of extremist materials, as well as production or storage with intent to distribute”), compared to 43 people, convicted under this article in the preceding year. The court sentenced three offenders to administrative detention (5 to 7 days), a teenager was put on preventive watch, and the others were fined in the amounts from 1 to 2 thousand rubles. In all cases, the perpetrators were punished for publishing on social networks the materials from the Federal List.[107]

Three people were charged under both Administrative Code articles at the same time. All of them were sentenced to fines of 1-2 thousand rubles for their VKontakte posts (swastikas or audio or video files recognized as extremist).

We know of at least 53 cases of inappropriate punishment under Article 20.29 of the Administrative Code, and 28 such cases under Article 20.3. Thus, the tally for the first six months is 81 inappropriate decisions against 155 appropriate ones.

Two mothers of xenophobic minors faced administrative responsibility under Article 5.35 of the Administrative Code (“Failure to carry out or improper carrying out, by parents of minors of their obligations regarding maintenance, or upbringing, or training, of minors.”) Two such cases were reported in 2014 as well. One of the mothers was ordered by a court to pay a fine; the other one received a warning from the Commission on Juvenile Affairs.

In 2015, 11 right-wing activists have been prosecuted under Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code (“Violating the established procedure for arranging or conducting a meeting, rally, demonstration, procession or picket”).

Oksana (Vyolva) Borisova from St. Petersburg, was arrested for 24 hours for disseminating information about a “people's assembly” in Mineralnye Vody. In Moscow, coordinator of Russian Renaissance (Russkoie Vozrozhdeniie) movement Aleksandr Amelin, was found guilty of organizing the same “people's assembly” and fined 20 thousand rubles.[108] (See chapter on “The Pressure against the Ultra-Right.”) Four organizers of the “Black NS Block” at the Russian March of November 4, 2015 in Moscow were fined 10,000 rubles for their slogans. Five more people from the same unit were fined 500 rubles.


Prosecutorial Activity on the Internet

Prosecutorial motions on impermissibility of extremist activity addressed to school administrations in connection to lack of content filtering on school computers have been gradually tapering off. We are not completely sure about the reasons for this change – either school administrators finally installed the required filtering software in order to avoid further trouble, or the law enforcement agents were otherwise occupied. In any case, we only know of 13 such motions (compared to 24 a year earlier). We view these changes as positive, since the software, issued by Rosobrazovanie in March 2008, cannot cope with its task, and, moreover, ideal content filters do not exist.

However, this change did not mean that prosecutors’ offices scaled down their fight against extremist content on the Internet in 2015. The prosecutorial activity for the past three years has been focused primarily on blocking access to restricted (or otherwise allegedly “dangerous”) materials.

The number of motions to local Internet service providers with requests to restrict “extremist sites” has been decreasing as well. Unfortunately, prosecutors and service providers rarely report on the measures taken; therefore, our data is necessarily fragmented. Nevertheless, we know of 13 such cases in 2015 (vs. about 48 in the preceding year), not including the obviously inappropriate ones. Local actions are being replaced by additions to centralized blocking registries.

 

A new system of Internet filtering, based on the Unified Register of Banned Websites (in operation since November 1, 2012) functions very actively. According to the data on the Roskomsvoboda website,[109] preliminary estimates put the number of such resources at no less than 431 as of January 1, 2016. [110] Based on the data available to us (only Roskomnadzor has complete information), 283 resources were added there by court decisions for “extremism” in the year under review (vs. 129 in 2014).

 

  • xenophobic material of modern Russian nationalists – 125;
  • materials by the classic fascist and neo-fascist authors – 21;
  • xenophobic materials by other nationalists – 3;
  • materials of Muslim militants and other calls for violence by political Islamists – 18;
  • other Muslim materials (books of Said Nursi, materials of banned organizations, including Hizb ut-Tahrir and others.) – 65;
  • materials of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Ron Habbard and other religious materials – 6;
  • peaceful oppositional websites– 10;
  • very radical anti-Russian statements from Ukraine –5;
  • other materials from Ukrainian media and the Internet – 14;
  • Orthodox fundamentalist websites – 2;
  • various materials, inciting violence and riots (including Anarchist materials) – 7;
  • peaceful materials, critical of the ROC – 1;
  • parodies banned as serious statements – 1;
  • materials, obviously banned by mistake – 4;
  • unidentified materials – 1.

 

The Register continues to grow. Already, we know of at least another 19 prosecutorial claims to the courts seeking to recognize the presence of information “forbidden for dissemination in the Russian Federation” on a number of web pages and to add the resources to the register. It is unlikely that many of these claims have been rejected.

In the course of the year, it became apparent that another heavy and overloaded mechanism was being created. The Register-based restrictions seem to be implemented just as haphazardly as the additions to the Federal List of Extremist Materials. Restrictions against the pages that contain incitement to violence (whether by neo-Nazi skinheads or Muslim fighters) coexist with blocking of the resources, which were clearly inappropriately recognized as extremist. Similarly, extremely radical statements from Ukraine are found next to completely non-violent Ukrainian media materials.

The know-how of this year is blocking search engine results for certain keywords, primarily on music sites, rather than restricting specific websites or pages (“page containing download links for various audio files found by searching for keywords “kill a cop,” Dobermann,” “David Lane,” “Kolovrat,” etc.”). This is manifestly inappropriate, because the pages, found by the keyword search, could contain any kind of resource, not necessarily problematic.

 

The Law on the Register is supplemented by “Lugovoy’s law,”[111] which provides for extrajudicial blocking – at the request of the Prosecutor General, but without trial – of websites that contain incitement to extremist actions or riots. The Roskomnadzor website created a separate register to work with this mechanism. By the decision of the Prosecutor General's Office, 133 resources were blocked under this law in 2015.[112] They include:

 

  • xenophobic material of modern Russian nationalists – 19;
  • various inciting anti-government materials (including Anarchist materials) – 4;
  • non-violent oppositional websites – 18;
  • materials of Muslim militants and other calls for violence by political Islamists – 22;
  • other Muslim materials –17;
  • non-violent Ukrainian websites – 32;
  • websites of banned Ukrainian organizations – 18;
  • parodies banned as serious statements – 2;
  • large body of various texts, blocked in its entirety – 1.

 

As far as we know, two registers partially overlap (judging by the links), which seems to us a complete nonsense; it means that they are both blocking the same page. The register already includes many cases of inappropriately banned materials (such as Said Nursi books), and there are more such cases in this register than in the other one. Almost half of it is taken up by nonviolent sites from Ukraine and blocked opposition websites. Once again, it has been demonstrated that such extrajudicial bans, based only on suspected “sedition,” inevitably lead to arbitrariness and abuse by the authorities and to violations against freedom of speech.

In most cases, there was no evident need specifically for extrajudicial (urgent) restrictions of materials that had been available online for many years (for example, various Islamic literature).

The registry contains references to web pages created for mobilizing people to participate in mass actions (resources with the assembly points for the Russian March on November 4, Russian May Day, etc.). The need to block such pages had been the primary argument for adopting “Lugovoy’s Law” – this mechanism was ostensibly necessary for suppressing mobilization to participate in possible riots. In practice, as we could see, a situational mass mobilization is impossible to suppress by blocking. Such cases involve too many dissemination channels at once, and a huge number of identical or nearly identical materials still remain accessible online so all the necessary information reached the intended target audience almost instantaneously.

 



[1] Report on the events in 2015 has been prepared as part of the project, the implementation of which uses state support funds allocated as a grant in accordance with the Presidential Decree of April 1, 2015 No. 79-rp and on the basis of competition held by the Civil Dignity Movement (http://civildignity.ru).

[2] Data as of January 29, 2016

[3] Our corresponding report from 2014 reported 27 dead, 123 injured, 2 death threats. See: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina. Calm before the Storm? Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2014 // SOVA Center 2015. 26 March (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2015/03/d31575/).

[4] Deportation of Migrants: Figures and Facts // Website of the Civic Assistance Committee. 2015. 29 September (http://refugee.ru/news/vydvorenie-migrantov-tsifry-i-fakty/).

[5] Mass brawl near Metro Club in St. Petersburg // SOVA Center 2015. 16 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2015/10/d33050/).

[6] These attacks peaked in 2007 (7 killed, 118 injured), and have been gradually decreasing in quantity, then fell sharply in 2013 (7 injured). See: V. Alperovich, N. Yudina. ibid.

[7] SERB activists attacked a man in a one-person picket // SOVA Center 2015. 24 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2015/10/d33105/).

[8] Pro-government movement activists beat up participants of an opposition picket // SOVA Center 2015. 25 June (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2015/06/d32282/).

[9] We have recorded a sharp rise in homophobic violence in 2013 (2/25) during an active homophobic campaign, and at the time when LGBT activists were very noticeable. 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/).

[10] More in: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina. Calm before the Storm? Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in Russia in 2014 // SOVA Center, 2015. 26 March (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2015/03/d31575/#_Toc379209529a).

[11] Astrakhan: the “the Russians” Association local branch leader has been detained // SOVA Center, 2015. 22 January (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/01/d31098/).

[12] Verdict issued in the case of nationalist Vitaly Shishkin // SOVA Center 2015. 16 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/10/d33039/).

[13] The leader of the Northern Frontier was sentenced to four years' imprisonment // SOVA Center 2015. 8 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/12/d33407/).

[14] An administrator of “the Russians of Astrakhan” online group subjected to a search // SOVA Center, 2015. 25 May (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/05/d32047/).

[15] Searches in the homes of leaders of “the Russians” Association and the NDP // SOVA Center 2015. 26 March (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/03/d31586/).

[16] Criminal case opened against NSI leader D. Bobrov // SOVA Center, 2015. 23 June (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/06/d32256/).

[17] Moscow: verdict against Alexander Amelin // SOVA Center 2015. 29 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/10/d33138/).

[18] A criminal case on the fact of publication on Sputnik and Pogrom // SOVA Center 2015. 17 September (http://www.sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2015/09/d32822/).

[19] New criminal case against nationalist Nicholai Bondarik // SOVA Center 2015. 30 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/12/d33583/).

[20] B. Mironov is charged with public calls for extremism // SOVA Center 28 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/10/d33134/).

[21] Dina Garina’s arrest extended, and Article 282 added to charges // SOVA Center 2015. 29 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/12/d33566/).

[22] A criminal case opened against Dmitry Dyomushkin // SOVA Center 2015. 4 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/12/d33371/).

[23] Sharing information about an assembly as violating order during a public event // SOVA Center, 2015. 2 February (http://www.sova-center.ru/misuse/news/other-actions/2015/02/d31181/).

[24] Dmitry Dyomushkin arrested for eight days In Moscow // SOVA Center 2015. 24 апреля (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/04/d31883/).

[25] Dyomushkin under arrest for 15 days for zombies // SOVA Center 2015. 6 August (http://www.sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2015/08/d32552/).

[26] Another administrative arrest for Dmitry Dyomushkin // SOVA Center 2015. 11 September (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/09/d32782/).

[27] “The Russians” Association recognized as an extremist organization // SOVA Center 2015. 28 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/10/d33132/).

[28] The NSI recognized as extremist // SOVA Center 2015. 16 September (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/09/d32815/).

[29] The list of those who spoke out is remarkable in itself: Maksim Shevchenko, Mikhail Leontiev, Alexander Sotnik, Mikhail Delyagin, Sergei Baburin, Sergei Troitsky, Vladislav Shurygin, Eduard Limonov, Vsevolod Emelin, Sergei Zhavoronkov, Maria Butina, Andrei Piontkovsky, etc.

[30] Belated report on dissolution of SS-NWP // VKontakte, the Slavic Strength – Nord West Peterburg group page. 2015. 22 July.

[31] October 15, starting at 00.00 the group becomes truly open // VKontakte. ROA the Russians of Astrakhan group page. 2015. 14 October.

[32] Regarding the NDP projects // Official site of the National Democratic Party. 2015. 1 November.

[33] A. Kuznetsov. As we found out, the National Democratic Party was once again refused registration // VKontakte. Andrei Kuznetsov page. 2015. 22 October.

[34] The meeting of the Presidium of ROS // Official website of the Russian All-People’s Union. 2015. 26 November. (http://vsezaros.ru/news/item/461-zasedanie-prezidiuma-ros.html).

[35] Reaktsia. Issue No. 59. “The Russian March – With Whom and What For? // Day-TV. 2015. 4 November.

[36] Since 2016 known as Honor and Freedom

[37] Abbreviation TIGR stands for Traditions, Empire, State, Motherland (Traditsii, Imperiia, Gosudarstvo, Rodina)

[38] The congress of the youth wing of the Motherland party – the Motherland's TIGERs – took place in Moscow. // Official site of the Motherland party. 2015. 28 August (http://rodina.ru/novosti/V-Moskvesostoyalsya-sezd-molodyozhnogo-dvizheniya-partii-RODINA-TIGRY-RODINY).

[39] Motherland's TIGERs: the youth will not allow repetition of the Ukrainian scenario in Russia // Official site of the Motherland party. 2015. 28 August (http://rodina.ru/novosti/TIGRY-RODINY-Molodyozh-ne-dast-povtorit-ukrainskij-scenarij-v-Rossii).

[40] International Russian Conservative Forum in St. Petersburg // SOVA Center 2015. 1 April (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2015/04/d31627/).

[41] Reaktsia. Issue No. 59. “The Russian March – With Whom and What For? // Day-TV. 2015. 4 November. (http://dentv.ru/content/view/reaktsiya-vyipusk-59-russkij-marsh-s-kem-i-zachem/)

[42] A. Valov. Why Do We Need Russian Ethnic Associations of Emigrants // Official site of the Forces of Good movement 2015. 24 September.

[43] Former activist of the Union of the Russian People and the New Force party has asked for political asylum in Latvia. See: Nationalist from the New Force seeks asylum in Latvia // SOVA Center 2015. 12 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/10/d32996/).

[44] The leader of the Murmansk nationalists serves in the Azov battalion.

[45] Activist of “the Russians” Association, previously of the DPNI. Director of the “National News Service” (information portal of “the Russians” Association). As far as we know, she has emigrated.

[46] Former RONS associates. When criminal case was opened against them, they went first to Ukraine and then to Argentina where they asked for political asylum. See: Vladimir: a criminal case opened against the activists of the banned RONS // SOVA Center 2013. 27 August (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2013/08/d27779/).

[47] The ex-leader of the Kirov Branch of “the Russians” Association, Tiukin went to Ukraine after facing the criminal case under Article 282. See: Head of the Kirov branch of “the Russians” Association left for Ukraine // SOVA Center 2015. 15 August (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2015/08/d32582/).

[48] Ex-leader of Restrukt! expelled for his support of the Maidan. He moved to the Ukraine and joined Azov battalion. See: Zuhel arrived in Ukraine // SOVA Center 2014. 11 July (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2014/07/d29888/).

[49] Moved to Ukraine, a member of the Right Sector.

[50] Co-chairman of the St. Petersburg branch of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), editor of #Orange, an online community of liberal-nationalist orientation. He asked for political asylum in Ukraine.

[51] The head of the radical music bands M8L8TH (MolotX) and AdolfKult. He has emigrated to Ukraine. Member of the Right Sector.

[52] Citizen of Ukraine. Editor-in-Chief of the internet resource Petr and Mazepa.

[53] Ex-organizer of the Russian March in Cheboksary, belonged to Restrukt!. In 2014, he asked for political asylum in Ukraine and volunteered to fight in Azov.

[54] A. Saveliev Yesterday's rally lacked spark // VKontakte. Page of the Great Russia party. 2015. 25 August.

[55] The exhibition “We Won’t forget; We Won’t Forgive” was held in Moscow // Official site of the Anti-Maidan movement. 2015. November 26.

[56] Two activists of the Other Russia detained at the rally at the Moscow office of the Federal Migration Service // Official website of the Other Russia movement. 2015. 12 November.

[57] For more information see: The Russian May Day-2015 in Moscow // SOVA Center 2015. 1 мая (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2015/05/d31918/).

[58] For more information see: The Russian May Day-2015 in the regions of the country // SOVA Center 2015. 5 мая (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2015/05/d31933/).

[59] Yuri Gorsky. Russian March in Lyublino on the verge of collapse // VKontakte. Page of Yuri Gorsky. 2015. 30 October.

[60] The Russian Sector Statement on the Russian March 2015 // National News Service. 2015. 26 October.

[61] A. Saveliev. As in previous years, the Russian March will involve not only Russian nationalists, but also provocateurs and imitators // VKontakte. Страница Андрея Савельева. 2015. 26 October.

[62] For more information on nationalist events on November 4, 2015 see: Moscow-2015: The “Russians” and other nationalist marches // SOVA Center 2015. 4 November (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2015/11/d33174/).

[63] The NDP Central Committee Statement // Official website of the National Democratic Party. 2015. 17 September.

[64] The project split away from the movement in 2016.

[65] Moved out of Ukraine in early 2016.

[66] Actions in memory of Markelov and Baburova took place in a number of cities // SOVA Center 2015. 20 January (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/01/d31065/)

[67] March in memory of Markelov and Baburova took place in Moscow // SOVA Center 2015. 20 January (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/01/d31064/).

[68] Previously, applicants were denied permits in Smolny and tried to challenge these denials in the courts (up to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation).

[69] For more information see: LGBT activists attacked in St. Petersburg // SOVA Center 2013. 12 November (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2013/11/d28391/).

[70] Football People movement united in Fare action weeks // FARE. 2015. October 25 (http://www.farenet.org/news/football-people-movement-united-in-fare-action-weeks/).

[71] 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/)

[72] Mikhail Volkov was sentenced to the term of 24 years for a series of racist attacks. Yury Tikhomirov was acquitted in the same case (in 2012, he was sentenced to ten years in prison for the murder of anti-fascist Ilya Dzhaparidze). More in: “The Verdict in the BORN case has been issued” // SOVA Center, 2015. 21 April (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/04/d31834/).

[73] Ilya Goryachev receives a life sentence // SOVA Center 2015. 24 July (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/07/d32496/).

 

[74] 5 people – under the combination of Articles 2821 (“Participating in an extremist group”), 282, 116, 161 (“Robbery”)

1 person – under the combination of Articles 116 and 282;

person – under the combination of Articles 282 and 359 (“Mercenarism”);

person – under the combination of Articles 280 and 318 (“Use of Violence Against a Representative of the Authorities”);

1 person – under the combination of Articles 105 and 282 and 2421 Part 2 of Criminal Code (Demonstration of pornographic materials with images of minors”);

4 persons – under the combination of Articles 2052, 282, 213, 150;

1 person – under the combination of Articles 282, 105, 111, 112, 214, 243 (“Destruction or damage of monuments of history and culture);

1 person – under the combination of Articles 282, 105, 2821, 161;

1 person – under the combination of Articles 280, 282, 116, 139 Part 1.

[75] 1 person was convicted under the combination of Articles 282, 244, 222, 2221;

3 persons – under the combination of Articles 282 and 3541;

1 person – under the combination of Articles 282, 105, 111, 112, 214, 243 (also included in the footnote above).

[76] Not including the ones mentioned in the footnotes above.

4 persons – under the combination of Articles 282 and 222 (“Illegal storage of firearms”);

2 persons – under the combination of Articles 280, 222, 223;

1 person – under the combination of Articles 282 and 1381 (Illegal turnover of special hardware intended for private obtainment of information”).

[77] This was reflected in the sentence handed down in April in Nizhny Novgorod to 22-year-old citizen of Belarus Kirill Silivonchik for posting on his social network page “the photos and statements, expressing his attitude toward the events in Ukraine, incited to “kill the Moskals”, “return Crimea to Ukraine.” We doubt the appropriateness of this sentence. We also view his sentence of two years of settlement colony as excessive. For more information see: In Nizhny Novgorod, an Internet user was sentenced for incitement to terrorism // SOVA Center 2015. April 15 (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/04/d31796/).

[78] On April 20, 2015, the Moscow District Military Court sentenced Boris Stomakhin under the Criminal Code Article 2052 to 7 years in a penal colony. According to the prosecution, when kept in a pre-trial detention facility in Moscow, the journalist found out about the terror attacks in Volgograd and wrote the article “Or Blow Up a Couple of Railway Stations!”, which was then posted in his blog on the portal lj.rossia.org. We view this sentence as excessive, not only because it was a punishment “for online publications”, but also because the readership of Stomakhin’s blog is known to be small. This is Stomakhin’s third conviction.

 

[79] A new criminal case against nationalist Nikolai Bondarik // SOVA Center 2015. 30 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/12/d33583/).

[80] S. Troitsky was convicted for two statements in the form of a single song – once for the concert and once for the video.

[81] We do not include here clearly inappropriate sentences and sentences to followers of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which will be covered in another report.

[82] Participants “became acquainted with men of non-traditional sexual orientation” on the Internet, lured them to a meeting, and then beat up and tortured people, filmed their bullying on camera and posted it online. Altogether, they conducted 19 “actions”. The officers of Center to Combat Extremism of the State Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in Sverdlovsk region have found 11 people, victimized by the actions. Four of them submitted statements in relation to five offenses. In November 2013, the leader of the organization, who was under recognizance not to leave, and another active member of the gang went into hiding, after which they were added to the federal wanted list. As a result, they were caught in the Krasnodar Region.

[83] See. An attack against the “Attack” // SOVA Center 2014. 30 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2014/10/d30556/).

[84] The Attack Association case was returned to the prosecutor // SOVA Center 2015. 25 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/12/d33543/).

[85] A young man published materials about various activities of the club, such as meetings, marches, outings, etc. on a social network page. Some of the published materials were xenophobic and contained images of Nazi symbols. He managed to recruit several residents of Kirov into the club.

[86] FC Dynamo liquidated for extremism in Kirov // SOVA Center 2013. 5 July (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2013/07/d27476/).

[87] His official title is “The chieftain of the 31st squadron of Cossack Forces “Horty Velesa”, awarded the combat title of sub-yesaul.”

[88] SOVA Center thanks Maria Muradova, the second year student of the Journalism Faculty of Moscow State University for help in the classification of the list.

[89] The list contains 3278 entries as of February 13, 2016.

[90] In March 2014, the Leninsky District Court banned virtually the entire library that was seized during the search at Asylzhan Kelmukhambetov’s place in Orenburg, convicted in June 2011 for the creation of a cell of banned Nurcular organization. The Orenburg Regional Court lifted the ban on some religious materials on February 27, 2015. See: That's Enough Joking: the ban is lifted for 50 out of 68 religious materials deemed extremist in Orenburg // SOVA Center, 2015. 27 February (http://www.sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2015/02/d31375/).

[91] 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

[92] 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.”

[93] 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.

[94] The Misanthropic Division association has existed since 2013 and supports the Right Sector.

[95] The organization is headed by Dmitry “Schultz” Bobrov. An inspection has shown that its representatives were “spreading the ideas of National Socialism similar to the ideology of Nazi Germany, based on the exclusive status and superiority of a person on the grounds of their nationality or origin.” Autonomous cells under the leadership of Dmitry Bobrov exits in the Kurgan Region and the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District – Yugra. In 2011, a court in Cherepovets already recognized a branch of the NSI as extremist.

[96] Alexander Valov, who also headed the ultra-right association Pan-Slavic National Volunteer Association and organized the Russian Marches in Murmansk, is regarded as the club’s founder.

[97] Old Believers-Yngliings profess the idea of racial superiority, and the movement uses the swastika as its symbol. According to the law enforcement data, the church supporters split into several separate groups with identical ideology and organized branches in Mineralnye Vody, Yessentuki, Pyatigorsk, Georgievsk and Nevinnomyssk.

Previously, several Yngliing organizations were already eliminated as extremist.

[98] Unfortunately, we do not have complete data in this case, and rely only on the facts presented in the media; our position could be updated.

[99]The official name is: Unified federal list of organizations, including foreign and international organizations recognized as terrorist in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation.

[100] Recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Moscow City Court of June 28, 2013; the decision entered into force on November 27, 2013. For more details see: Vera Alperovich, Natalia Yudina. The State Duma Directed Right Radicals Toward New Goals: Xenophobia, Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract It in Russia during the First Half of 2013 // SOVA Center 2013. 12 July (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2013/07/d27507/).

[101] Recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Moscow City Court of December 17, 2014; the decision entered into force on December 30, 2014.

[102] Recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of Russia of December 29, 2014; the decision entered into force on February 13, 2015.

[103] Recognized as terrorist by the same decision as above.

[104] Recognized as a terrorist organization by the decision of the Moscow City Court of February 18, 2015; the decision went into force on August 12, 2015.

[105] For more details see: Court declared NOMP a terrorist organization. // SOVA Center, 2015. 18 February (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/02/d31308/).

[106] The merchandise was removed and the case went to the magistrate court. The court's decision is, unfortunately, not known.

[107] These materials include audio and video recordings of the band Kolovrat, songs of Chechen bard Timur Mutsurayev and several Islamic materials. The number of items on the List of Extremist Materials, which has attracted the attention of prosecutors, is negligible compared to the size of the list itself. Perhaps prosecutors find it just as hard to navigate as everyone else – which once again proves the futility of this bulky mechanism.

[108] A. Amelin was convicted in 2015 under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (see the chapter “Prosecution for Propaganda”

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

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

[111] Full name “On Amendments to the Federal Law” On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information.”

[112] See: The updated list of resources in the register of sites blocked under “Lugovoy’s law” // SOVA Center (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/docs/2014/10/d30228/).