Well-Forgotten Old: Hate Crimes and Efforts to Counteract Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia in the First Half of 2021
The SOVA Center presents a report for the first half of this year in comparison with the corresponding time period of 2017 when we last published such a semi-annual report. 2017 is also the year when mass ethnic xenophobia was at its minimum and the scope of criminal prosecutions for “extremist statements” at its maximum, the year of the “Maltsev revolution,” which marked the complete collapse of the organized nationalist movement.
The 2017 data provide below is not simply based on the text of the 2017 report, but reflects the full data for the first half of 2017 available to us today. We also noted the cases, in which there was a large discrepancy between the figures published in 2017 and the figures available to us today, since we can also expect that over time we will collect significantly more data on the events of the first six months of 2021 than what we currently have available.
Criminal Manifestations of Racism and Xenophobia : Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence : Crimes against Property
Counteracting Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism : Criminal Prosecution : For Crimes Motivated by Hatred : For Public Statements : For Participation in Extremist and Terrorist Communities and Organizations
The Federal List of Extremist Materials : Organizations Banned for Extremism : Administrative Prosecution
Crime and punishment statistics
The number of attacks motivated by xenophobia in the first half of 2021 has shown a slight upward tendency compared to both 2020 and 2017, but, at the same time, we do not know of a single murder (so far). Typologically, “ethnic outsiders” remain the main victim group, although the number of victims is decreasing. At the same time, some cases of violence are directly reminiscent of the events of the 2000s, the period of rampant Nazi skinhead activity. A massive fight between the ultra-right and anti-fascists before a concert in Moscow stood out in July. The number of victims among LGBT people and those mistakenly identified as such is growing.
The number of attacks against buildings, monuments, cemeteries, various cultural objects motivated by religious, ethnic or ideological hatred has decreased in the past five years; this is true both for religious objects and for those that could be classified as ideological.
The number of sentences for hate crimes has increased slightly, but the dynamics here are generally unstable. However, the decrease in the scale of criminal prosecution for public statements is obvious – the number of people convicted of “extremist statements” (incitement to hatred, calls for extremist or terrorist actions, etc.), has decreased significantly compared to five years ago, primarily due to the partial decriminalization of the once popular Article 282 of the Criminal Code. However, the number of those convicted under the Criminal Code articles that cover public appeals to extremism and terrorism has grown. The proportion of those sentenced to imprisonment “for words only” without clearly aggravating circumstances (probationary period, other charges, etc.) has also been growing. It is also worth noting that, according to the descriptions provided by the investigative committees, the majority of those sentenced to imprisonment “for words” called not for xenophobic attacks but for attacks against law enforcement officers.
The number of people convicted of participation in extremist and terrorist communities and organizations has also increased significantly over the five years. In the first half of 2021, these articles were applied primarily against the ultra-right.
The number of those facing administrative penalties continues to grow. Meanwhile, the growth of the Federal List of Extremist Materials has slowed down in 2021, although its quality remained unchanged from the previous years.
Based on both our data and the description of the Prosecutor General's Office, NS/WP, which has been added to the list of organizations recognized as terrorist, is not a single organization, but a collection of more or less loosely associated neo-Nazi groups and an altogether popular neo-Nazi self-designation.
The trends of the first half of 2021 are worrisome. Ideologically motivated violence is now much more concealed than it used to be but by no means disappearing. On the one hand, we see increasingly diverse methods and targets of this violence, on the other – a partial revival of the Nazi skinhead culture reminiscent of the 2000s. The law enforcement system is definitely not taking its eyes off the far-right threat; prosecutions for violence have been fairly stable over the past few years, and the groups still face bans. However, law enforcement in terms of countering “extremist statements” is changing. The aforementioned change in the legal qualification of such statements has not been the only contributing factor; we must also note the changing political direction in law enforcement – a shift from fighting the xenophobic propaganda to fighting radical or allegedly radical anti-government statements.
In the first half of 2021, according to preliminary data, at least 34 people were victims of xenophobic and neo-Nazi violence, two received credible death threats, but nobody was killed. As usual, we have to add a caveat that our data for 2021 is known to be incomplete. In the first six months of 2017, as far as we know now, six people were killed and 30 injured or severely beaten, while our report written in 2017 stated that four had been killed and 15 others injured. Given the incompleteness of our data for this year, we can conclude that compared to 2017, the volume of ideologically motivated violence has increased, perhaps significantly, but the violence has become less lethal – there were no murders. The year 2020 gives us the same ratio – in the course of the entire year, we now know of one person killed and 52 injured.
According to our data, as usual, people perceived by their attackers as “ethnic outsiders” (14 individuals) were the group that was most affected in the first six months of 2021. The victims included natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia, dark-skinned individuals and people of unspecified “non-Slavic appearance.” In the first half of 2017, 15 victims belonged to this group, and the incidents included one murder. Some of these attacks were particularly brutal. For example, in June, unknown assailants in the Leningrad Region attacked a citizen of Uzbekistan, cut off his ear, doused him with gasoline and set him on fire. The nature of this attack is very similar to the attacks perpetrated by Nazi skinheads in the early 2000s. The clash of Nazi skinheads with natives of the Caucasus, which took place on June 22 on Yelninskaya Street in Moscow, was also reminiscent of the early 2000s. As far as we can judge from the video, racist chants of four ultra-right activists, wearing attributes of their subculture, offended several young natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia. A fight broke out between the two groups of young people, during which a far-right activist threatened his opponents with a firearm.
Representatives of the LGBT community comprised the second group of victims, 12 people. We know of no such victims in the first six months of 2017. This is consistent with our observations in recent years – we have been recording an increase in the number of attacks against LGBT people for the third consecutive year. In the first half of this year, as in the end of the previous year, the increase in such attacks was partly provoked by the death of Maxim ‘Tesak’ (Hatchet) Martsinkevich – a well-known neo-Nazi, the leader of the far-right movement Restrukt! and the creator of the homophobic project Occupy Pedophilia – in September 2020. In his memory, his supporters organized homophobic “anti-pedophile raids.” Such raids took place in March 2021 in Tver and Perm. The attack victims included not only LGBT people but also the ones whose appearance the attackers interpreted as indicative of their non-traditional sexual orientation. In June 2021 alone, we recorded three cases of attacks on people for their hair length, an earring, and so on.
The victims of politically motivated attacks constitute the next group. There were seven people whom the attackers viewed as ideological or political enemies (vs. 15 people in the first half of 2017). Thus, on March 27 in Moscow, an unknown person approached Vlad Tupikin, the editor of the Volya newspaper on his way to the Moloko+ Almanac presentation, and punched him, shouting “Let's see you talk about neo-Nazis here!” The fight between the ultra-right and the antifa before the start of the ultra-right Asgardsrei concert in Moscow was yet another unexpected flashback from the early 2000s. Antifascists came to the concert organized by the White Nights Skins and were preemptively attacked by the ultra-right. Some of the participants were carrying flags with Nazi symbols; judging from the video recording, someone also used traumatic weapons. The ultra-right activists detained the day after the fight included Sergei Nelyudov, a supporter of the Popular Resistance Association (Assotsiatsia narodnogo soprotivleniya ANS), and Andrei (Bladma) Pronsky convicted of xenophobic murder in 2013. Apparently, the old theme of the war between neo-Nazis and antifa is becoming relevant again – in the summer we observed the episodes of vandalism against graffiti in Tesak’s memory and his grave.
The South East Radical Block (SERB) group traditionally has been actively attacking their ideological opponents. On April 9, several SERB activists attacked film director Vitaly Mansky. Earlier, the SERB leader boasted of “disrupting the screening of The Summer War, a film by Russophobe Mansky, which “lionizes members of the terrorist organization Azov.”
Besides open attacks, members of the political opposition also faced threats from patriotic organizations. For instance, on May 8, Zakhar Prilepin's Guard delivered to Viktor Shenderovich at the Ekho Moskvy editorial office a lampshade with the inscription “This could be Shenderovich” accompanied by a letter that said, “under the Nazi regime, with a high degree of probability, the little-respected Viktor would have to serve the Third Reich! As ... some kind of product. A lampshade, for example...” The Guardsmen’s indignation was prompted by the May 6 episode of the show Osoboe Mnenie, during which Shenderovich named the Soviet Union along with Hitler as the parties responsible for unleashing the Second World War.
On January 11, members of the Prilepin “For Truth” (Za pravdu) party came to the Moscow office of Memorial. They tried to break into the building, closed due to the pandemic-related lockdown, while filming the event on video, shouting “Look, Memorial is afraid to communicate with people” and distributing leaflets “Let's save Stalin from foreign agents!” The visit was triggered by the debate surrounding the opening of the “Stalin Doner” – a shawarma cafe near the Voykovskaya metro station in Moscow. The Memorial Human Rights Centre objected that naming the cafe after Stalin was unacceptable. In response, For Truth said that Memorial was trying to “rewrite history” and that it was high time for “foreign agents” to “leave our country.”
And, as usual, our statistics are supplemented by people who have suffered by association, as it happened to a young woman who was walking down the street with a dark-skinned companion. Vladislav Pozdnyakov's community “Male State” (Muzhskoe gosudartstvo) posted a video showing an aggressive young man insulting and pushing the woman. We do not know how many other cases of violence are associated with the Male State, which systematically bullies and threatens women for “racial treason.”
In contrast to 2017, we are not aware of attacks against homeless individuals or attacks motivated by religious hatred (there were three and two victims in each group, respectively, in the first half of 2017.)
In the first six months of 2021, we know of at least 12 ideologically motivated attacks against physical objects in eight regions of the country – a significant decrease (we now know of 27 such incidents in the same period of 2017 with 26 of them mentioned in the original report).
Ideological and state monuments were damaged most frequently (five incidents). During the first six months of the year, the targets included Lenin's monuments, a street painting related to the Great Patriotic War, and a Justice Department building.
Among the religious objects, Orthodox, Jewish and pagan sites were most frequently desecrated (two acts for each category). A Protestant church building was also targeted.
The offensive activity was mostly limited to graffiti (seven cases) or breaking glass or inflicting other damage (one case). Over the same period five years ago, we recorded seven instances of graffiti and 13 other cases when damage was inflicted. However, the 2017 data also includes more dangerous acts of vandalism – four cases of arson (vs. five incidents of arson and one explosion in 2017). One of the sites was the Shamir Synagogue building; on Hitler's birthday, unknown persons painted a swastika on the building and set it on fire.
In the first six months of 2021, at least five convictions involving 22 people in five regions were issued for violence in cases where the court identified hatred as a motive. These people were convicted for hooliganism and causing grievous bodily harm. (In the comparable period of 2017, 19 people were found guilty and one was sent for compulsory medical treatment; our 2017 report, mentioned five sentences in five regions with 16 people convicted).
Offenders punished for hate-motivated violence included several members of the Black Bloc (Cherny Blok). Artem Vorobyov and Dmitry Nikitin were found guilty under Article 2821 Part 2 of the Criminal Code (“Participating in an extremist community”) and Article 213 Part 2 of the Criminal Code (“Hooliganism committed by a group and motivated by hatred”) and received suspended sentences of four and three years respectively; Viktor Trofimov was fined 50 thousand rubles under Article 213 Part 2 of the Criminal Code only. The leader of the Black Bloc, Vladimir (Ratnikov) Komarnitsky, escaped from under house arrest on February 15, 2021 and has been placed on the wanted list. According to some reports, he is currently in Lithuania seeking political asylum. Another leader of the organization, Dmitry Sporykhin, also disappeared from under house arrest in late 2020, was subsequently put on the wanted list and arrested in absentia. According to our observations, this is the first sentence in recent years that took into account the hate motive against LGBT people as a “social group.” In November 2017, the members of the “Black Bloc” attacked two female activists after an LGBT conference.
We would like to point out the verdict issued in April in St. Petersburg under Article 33 Part 3 and Article 213 Part 2 of the Criminal Code (“hooliganism organized by a group of persons motivated by ideological and political hatred”) for attacking an anti-fascist concert in the Tsokol club in September 2018. Andrei Linok (a.k.a. Kleschin) and six other young people were found guilty. Interestingly, almost all the attackers received suspended sentences, except for the leader Andrei Linok, who was sentenced to two years and three months in a minimum-security colony; however, he also never served any time in a colony, having served the length of his entire term in pre-trial detention, and was subsequently released.
Another verdict worth noting was the sentence to two ultra-right activists in St. Petersburg found guilty of attacking a migrant from Uzbekistan. Initially, they were charged under paragraphs g and k of Article 30 Part 3 of the Criminal Code and Article 105 Part 2 of the Criminal Code (“Attempted murder by a group of persons motivated by ethnic hatred”); however, the court reclassified the charge, and the hate motive was not included in the verdict.
Penalties for hate-motivated violence were distributed as follows:
- one person was sentenced to six years in prison;
- five people were sentenced to up to three years in prison;
- 15 people received suspended sentences;
- one person was sentenced to a fine.
The increased share of suspended sentences for violent crimes motivated by ideological hatred is alarming. We repeatedly stated our position on this issue and have to repeat that, based on many years of our monitoring experience, suspended sentences do not stop the attackers from committing similar crimes in the future.
Very few sentences for ideologically motivated attacks on inanimate objects were issued after 2015 – less than a dozen convicted offenders per year if we count only the cases, in which the verdict takes the hate motive into account. Six people were convicted in the first half of 2021 (in the first half of 2017, we reported two verdicts against four people), but their sentences had nothing to do with countering xenophobia – the case of arson against the United Russia office and the case of vandalism targeting a booth near the Prosecutor General's Office (we consider the first verdict contentious and the second one inappropriate). One more person, a resident of Simferopol, was sent to a penal settlement colony for his neo-Nazi graffiti due to a prior suspended sentence, but in his case the hate motive was not taken into account.
This report covers only the sentences for public statements that we do not consider inappropriate. However, we cannot confidently say that we regard them as fully legitimate. Starting in 2018, we have significantly changed our system of classifying the sentences, making it more detailed, so we are unable to provide the corresponding numbers for 2017.
At least 74 sentences against 76 people in 38 regions of the country were issued for statements classified as terrorist or extremist. Five years earlier, 123 people were convicted during the same period, and three were sent for compulsory medical treatment, but, at the time of writing our 2017 report, we only knew about 95 sentences against 110 people in 49 regions.
In the first six months of 2021, we view five sentences against seven people as appropriate. Reserve colonel Mikhail Shendakov, a Russian Marches participant, was among the better-known convicted offenders. On February 2, the Krasnogorsk City Court of the Moscow Region found him guilty under Article 282 Part 1 of the Criminal Code (“Incitement to hatred”) and Article 280 Part 2 of the Criminal Code (“Public calls for extremism on the Internet”) and issued a suspended sentence of two and a half years. He was brought to justice for posting the stream “Surkov Promised Donbas a War,” in which the ex-colonel called for violence against law enforcement agencies throughout the country and expressed his support of the shooter who opened fire near the FSB building in December 2019. Previously, Shendakov had been prosecuted twice under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (“Incitement to hatred”) and therefore could be charged under Article 282 Part 1 of the Criminal Code.
The overwhelming majority of cases (54 sentences against 55 people) fall into the “We don’t know” category – we have no information about the content of original or shared posts, or we do not know enough to assess the validity of the decisions made.  The “Not sure” category (one sentence for one person) is used for the cases where we are unable to give a definite assessment of the sentence.
Our statistics in the “Other” category (13 sentences against 13 people in six months) also include people whose conviction under extremist articles of the Criminal Code can be accepted as legitimate, but not related to counteracting nationalism and xenophobia. Such are, for example, the sentences against people who had called for a repetition of the terrorist act committed by anarchist Zhlobitsky in the FSB Office in the Arkhangelsk Region – although the public danger of these statements was often insignificant due to their very small audience size.
The relative frequency of use for various articles of the Criminal Code has changed radically. While Article 282 of the Criminal Code (“Incitement to hatred”) was used in the overwhelming majority of cases up to and including 2017, it has now been replaced by Article 280 (“Public calls for extremist activities”). The latter was used in 55 sentences and was the only charge in 39 cases. Under this article, penalties were imposed for social network posts that called for attacks against migrants from Central Asia or the Caucasus, Jews, Muslims, Christians, anti-fascists, public officials, government representatives, and Duma deputies from United Russia. This article was at times used in aggregation with other articles of the charge, for example, with articles for illegal possession and manufacture of weapons or possession of drugs.
The once-popular Article 282 of the Criminal Code was utilized against four people in four sentences. In two cases it was combined with Article 280: the already mentioned case of ex-Colonel Shendakov and the case of a WhatsApp group administrator from Adygea convicted for “materials that called for killing police officers and organizing mass riots” published in the group. In the remaining two cases, Article 282 of the Criminal Code was used in the charges for xenophobic and anti-immigrant Facebook and VKontakte posts made repeatedly in the course of one year – both offenders had been previously charged under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, which corresponds to the composition of Article 282 of the Criminal Code.
Art. 2052 (“Public calls for terrorist activities”) was used in 21 sentences against 21 people. Sentences under this article were imposed for the calls to join the Islamic State and go fight for it, approval of terrorist acts in the Christchurch mosques in New Zealand, and the comments under VKontakte posts about an explosion in the FSB building in Arkhangelsk. In one case, it was used in combination with Article 280 of the Criminal Code, in several cases – with other articles of the Criminal Code, including non-extremist ones. In 17 cases it was the only article used in the verdict.
Art. 3541 (“Rehabilitation of Nazism”) was present in three verdicts. The one case, in which it was the only article, was the verdict issued in the Komi Republic “for approving the unlawful actions of Adolf Hitler during the Second World War.” In two other cases – in Udmurtia and Komi – it was combined with Article 280 of the Criminal Code and used against the social network posts that contained “information denying the fact established by the October 1, 1946 verdict of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal for the trial and punishment of the main war criminals and calls for active actions to incite hostility against a group of persons on a national basis.”
The distribution of punishments for public statements was as follows:
- 29 people were sentenced to imprisonment;
- 32 received suspended sentences without any additional sanctions;
- 14 were sentenced to various fines;
- one was directed to compulsory medical treatment.
In almost all cases, additional punishment was imposed on the offenders in the form of a ban on administering websites or publishing articles, including on the Internet. In two cases, we know of the confiscation of the instruments of crime such as laptops and routers.
A fairly significant number of convicted offenders (29 people) were sentenced to imprisonment. 13 were either sentenced to real terms in conjunction with other Criminal Code articles (possession of weapons, theft, harassment of minors), or, in two cases, were already incarcerated and now face a longer term of imprisonment.
However, the remaining 16 people received their incarceration sentences without any of the circumstances listed above (at least, we have no such information). We doubt the appropriateness of such sentences for only four people in the first half of 2017.
One person – Alexander Tukaev, a blogger from Astrakhan – was sentenced to six months in a penal settlement colony under Article 282 Part 1 of the Criminal Code for sharing on his Facebook page in August 2020 a video from Italy depicting “an angry crowd assaulting a man who tried to drag a little girl into a back alley... the original video title indicated that a migrant attempted to molest the child.” Commenting on the post, Tukaev wrote, “that the Italians did the right thing attacking the man,” and “compared the migrant to an ape.” Earlier, Tukaev had spent 10 days under arrest under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses for “speaking negatively about the ethnic background of the former city manager” (ex-head of the Astrakhan administration Radik Kharisov) on Facebook. The prior arrest explains the use of Article 282 of the Criminal Code; however, it does not in any way explain the fact of imprisonment sentence for xenophobic statements.
Seven people were sentenced to imprisonment under Article 280 of the Criminal Code for incitement to violent attacks. Two of them called for attacks against Jews, the rest – against security officials and employees of state agencies. We never saw the majority of the materials that became the subject of criminal proceedings. We were only able to review the statements by Marina Melikhova, the leader of the Krasnodar cell of the Citizens of the USSR (Grazhdane SSSR). She was sentenced to three years and six months in a penal colony for publishing on VKontakte the video “May 9, 2020. The End of Putin’s Regime May Come! It Depends Only on Us,” where she called on “Russian men” to come out on May 9 and take “power into their own hands, as the Ossetian people did,” reminding her audience that “nobody could ever defeat the Russian people in a face-to-face battle.” In addition, she stated that, on May 9, “there is a chance to overthrow the occupation regime” and that the people have “the right to revolt against tyranny and oppression.”
The exact content of publications made by the other offenders sentenced to imprisonment remains unknown. However, even in the cases for which we have the information, real prison terms for isolated (as opposed to systematic) calls for attacks against government security officials seem excessive to us.
It is also perplexing when law enforcement officers vested with power and protected by special norms of the law are viewed as a group so vulnerable that little-known social network users or people of questionable mental health (in the case of the “Citizens of the USSR”), whose calls are unlikely to have a noticeable following, are sent to a penal colony for threats against them.
Prior to 2020, we excluded Article 2052 of the Criminal Code from our statistics, since we believed that punishments under a terrorist article were traditionally more severe, and our knowledge of the specific content of cases under this article was insufficient. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of sentences under Article 2052 had nothing to do with countering incitement to hatred. However, the enforcement of this article has been expanding in scope, although the first half of 2021 turned out to be quite traditional – six people were sentenced to imprisonment “for words only” under this article. Three of them were punished for calls to join the Islamic State and go fight for it; two – for approving the Christchurch terrorist attacks in New Zealand. The last offender, Ukrainian blogger Nikita Kuvikov, known on the Internet as prankster Yevgeny Vol’nov, was sentenced to six years of imprisonment in a minimum-security colony for posting online a video of his telephone conversation, “in which he publicly declared that he recognized ideology and practice of terrorism as correct, deserving of support and emulation.” Since Kuvikov is currently at large, the hearing was held in his absence.
The share of suspended sentences has remained approximately the same as it was five years ago, a little under half of all cases – 32 out of 76 convicted offenders, that is, 42%.
As in the past ten years, the overwhelming majority of sentences were imposed for materials posted on the Internet. We know of only two sentences for offline actions. The first involved two residents of Perm punished for their graffiti on a fence depicting a mosque under falling bombs with the inscription “01/19/95. Shall we do it again?” The second verdict was issued against the imam of a mosque in Lesosibirsk for incitement to extremism during a sermon and distributing extremist literature.
In the first half of 2021, we know of five sentences against nine offenders under Articles 2821 (“Organization of an extremist community”), 2822 (“Organization of activities of an extremist organization”) and 2055 (“Participation in the activities of a terrorist organization”). Meanwhile, in the first half of 2017, we did not write about such sentences at all, although their absence was an exception rather than the rule even then – 2017 had a record low number of people convicted for participation in such communities at least since 2007. This number does not include the inappropriate sentences, which were much more numerous.
In 2020, Article 2821 of the Criminal Code was used in three sentences against five people. As usual, members of the ultra-right groups formed the largest group among them, including the Black Bloc members from Moscow, mentioned above (see the chapter on sentences for violence).
Two local ultra-right activists were convicted in Ryazan. Artem Smorchkov (born 1999) received a six-year suspended sentence under Article 2821 Part 1 of the Criminal Code followed by a probationary period of three and a half years. Yuri Lunin (born 1990) was sentenced to one year and three months in a maximum-security colony under Article 2821 Part 2 of the Criminal Code and Article 280 Part 2 of the Criminal Code. The offenders had created an ultra-right organization later joined by two additional supporters. From April to October 2018, members of the group carried out several attacks against antifascists. The actions were filmed; the videos were edited and posted on the Internet accompanied by thematic music and texts that promoted ideological violence.
The third verdict under this article was pronounced in Tambov. Sergeant Yegor Metlin was fined 600 thousand rubles under Article 2821 Part 1 of the Criminal Code with Article 30 Part 3 of the Criminal Code (“An attempt to create an extremist community.”) Metlin was released from the payment of the fine, once the time he spent in the pre-trial detention center during the investigation was taken into account. The sergeant had called for xenophobic violence in conversations with fellow officers and had also distributed prohibited literature. In early 2019, he made a decision to set houses of “non-Slavs” on fire. On July 27, 2019, he was detained with two Molotov cocktails and arrested.
Art. 2822 of the Criminal Code was applied in one sentence to two people. In Samara, two people were convicted in connection with the activities of the Al-Takfir Wal-Hijra organization – one was sentenced to four years in a maximum-security colony under Article 2822 Part 2 and Article 2052 Part 2 of the Criminal Code, the other one to three years in a maximum-security colony under Article 2822 Part 2 of the Criminal Code. According to the local FSB Directorate, they planned to commit a number of serious crimes and then leave for Syria and join the ranks of an international terrorist organization. Bladed weapons and publications included in the Federal List of Extremist Literature were seized from them during searches.
Supporters of ex-GRU colonel Vladimir Kvachkov were convicted under Article 2055. The court found Yuri Yekishev guilty under Article 2055 Part 1 of the Criminal Code (“Organizing the activities of a terrorist organization”) and sentenced him to 15 years in a maximum-security colony. Pavel Antonov was found guilty under Article 2055 Part 2 of the Criminal Code (“Participating in the activities of a terrorist organization”) and sentenced to 10 years in a maximum-security colony. The criminal prosecution of Yekishev and Antonov was related to their participation in the banned People's Militia in the Name of Minin and Pozharsky (Narodnoe opolchenie imeni Minina i Pozharskogo, NOMP) and the preparations for an armed attack against a police station. Leaflets, campaign materials, OSA pistols and Saiga rifles, as well as improvised explosive devices, small arms and cartridges were found in the suspects’ apartments during searches.
In the past two years, the Federal List of Extremist Materials has been updated less actively. In the first six months of 2021, the Federal List was updated 12 times to include 44 entries (vs. 157 additional entries in the first half of 2017) growing from 5144 to 5187 entries.
The items added to the list are no longer as diverse as before. However, the major updates remain the same. In January-June 2021, the list was expanded to include the following materials:
- 24 items produced by contemporary Russian nationalists;
- 5 items by Islamic militants and other calls for violence by political Islamists (numerous videos with calls for armed jihad);
- 6 items by other Muslims;
- 1 by Orthodox fundamentalists;
- 4 other materials inciting disorder and violence;
- 1 item promoting AUE – 1;
- 2 parody materials banned as serious;
- 1 unknown.
In 2021, four organizations were added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations published on the website of the Ministry of Justice (vs. three in the first six months of 2017).
First, the list came to include the Nation and Freedom Committee (Komitet “Natsiya I svoboda,” KNS), recognized as extremist by the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court on July 28, 2020. The KNS was founded in September 2014 by Vladimir (Basmanov) Potkin, who is currently in emigration; it has become one of the main contenders for the legacy of the banned “Russians” (Russkie) association. Notably, along with the KNS, the list also came to include a detailed description of its symbols, including the organization's emblem and flag.
The other two additions to the list were soccer fan organizations.
W.H.C. – an organization also known as White Hooligans Capital, Belye khuligany stolitsy, White Hardcore Cats, SIBERIAN FRONT or Sibirsky Front) was recognized as extremist by the Tsentralny District Court of Barnaul on September 16, 2020. W.H.C. was founded by Evgeny (Ratibor) Dergilev in 2015. The group consisted of 25-30 hockey fans who arranged sports training in Barnaul, participated in organized fights with other fans, and attacked antifascists. Weapons were confiscated from some of them during the searches. Members of the Siberian Front faced administrative and criminal liability on prior occasions, including for the attack against Egyptian citizens in 2018 and the attack against antifascists in July 2018.
The soccer fans association Irtysh Ultras (a.k.a. Brutal Jokers, or “Fluss Geboren”) was recognized as extremist by the Tsentralny District Court of Omsk on November 27, 2020. Irtysh Ultras was founded in January 2017 and consisted of 26 active members. Participants favored military-style dress, refused mandatory military service and annually celebrated Adolf Hitler’s birthday. The trial evidence included photographs of fans with Nazi swastika tattoos with the “Irtysh” sign on the background. The Irtysh Ultras VKontakte group numbered 525 members; a similar group on Instagram had 48 subscribers. The leader of the group was convicted under Article 111 of the Criminal Code (“Intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm”) in 2015. From 2015 to 2020, he broke the law three times posting extremist materials on the Internet (Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses) and publicly displaying Nazi symbols (Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). 12 additional members of the group were prosecuted under the same articles of the Code of Administrative Offenses. One of them also received a suspended sentence of one and a half years under Article 115 of the Criminal Code (“Deliberate infliction of minor harm to health”) for an attack against migrants from the Caucasus. Four additional participants of Irtysh Ultras were convicted under Article 282 of the Criminal Code in 2015 and 2018.
Another organization added to the list was the Khakassian Regional Public Organization for Spiritual and Physical Self-Improvement of a Person under the Great Falun Law “Falun Dafa,” which was declared extremist in November 2020. We regard the ban on this organization as unfounded.
One organization was added in June to the Federal List of Terrorist Organizations published on the FSB website. On May 21, 2021, the Supreme Court recognized NS/WP (National Socialism/White Power, Crew Sparrows, Crew/White Power, Natsional-sotsialism/Belaya sila) as an extremist organization. It is impossible to guess the organization in question from the list of names provided. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, NS/WP is an international movement and has existed in Russia since 2010 as a network whose leaders have organized at least 18 neo-Nazi groups. It should be noted that the abbreviation NS/WP was used by many ultra-right groups, which, undoubtedly, shared personal or even structural connections, but hardly were all the same. We do not have sufficient information about this and we doubt that the Prosecutor General's Office possesses such information. The most famous of these groups, NS/WP Nevograd, was sentenced in June 2014 in St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, the Sparrows Crew (and not vice versa, as it was in the court decision) is a Yekaterinburg association that published on the Internet and possibly filmed their own videos with xenophobic attacks. We are not aware of any connection between these two groups. We believe that the ban against self-designation that is so widespread in the neo-Nazi environment may lead to increased pressure on the ultra-right groups and their supporters in general.
For the first half of 2021, at least 225 people faced administrative penalties under Article 20.3.1 (“Incitement to hatred”), Article 20.3 (“Propaganda and public display of Nazi attributes or symbols”) and Article 20.29 (“Mass distribution of extremist materials or their production or storage for the purpose of mass distribution”) of the Code of Administrative Offenses, compared to 152 people in the first half of 2017. It should be noted that our data on the application of the Code of Administrative Offenses, is particularly incomplete; it is worth keeping in mind as a frame of reference that, according to the Supreme Court data, the total number of people punished under these articles in the year of 2020 reached 4862 (3511 people in 2017).
We know that at least 59 people were punished under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, corresponding in composition to Article 282 Part 1 of the Criminal Code, which did not exist in 2017. They were charged for their social network posts (mainly on VKontakte, but also on Facebook, YouTube and TikTok), comments, videos with xenophobic insults against people from the Caucasus and Central Asia, Jews, people with dark skin, Arabs or other ethnicities, including Russians, a comment that humiliated “the human dignity of Orthodox Christians,” and statements insulting law enforcement officers. The majority were fined in amounts ranging from 5 to 10 thousand rubles. Five people were placed under arrest, and four were sentenced to community service.
Among those punished in the period under review was Vsevolod Moguchev – an associate of the notorious ex-schema-abbot Sergiy (Romanov), the former head of a branch of the Yekaterinburg Office of the ultra-right Rus’ Party for the Defense of the Russian Constitution (Partiya zashchity rossiyskoy konstitutsii “Rus’,”PZRK “Rus’”), the head of the local branch of the banned Movement Against Illegal Immigration (Dvizhenie protiv nelegal’noi immigratsii, DPNI), then the head of the regional squad of the Nashi youth organization and a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). Moguchev was arrested twice in one month. On January 12, he received 15 days of administrative arrest for sharing the video “Who Organizes Slavery in Russia” (with the sermon by Sergiy that contained xenophobic statements) on his personal VKontakte page in June 2020. On January 25, he received another 15 days of administrative arrest for posting an unspecified video on YouTube.
Two women residents of Moscow were also punished for attacking two girls from Buryatia, Saryuna Rinchinova and Irina Darnaeva, with xenophobic insults in a Moscow courtyard in April 2021.
We know of approximately 95 people punished “for symbols” (vs. 51 in the same period of 2017), mainly for their posts on VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Instagram, the Telegram messenger, or in a WhatsApp group. Symbols in question were usually far-right, with a few cases related to dissemination of the Islamic State symbols. 22 people, 20 of them penal colony inmates, were guilty of showing their own tattoos with Nazi symbols. One man wore a swastika-decorated ring on his finger. The offenders were usually sentenced to fines ranging from one to three thousand rubles. Four people were placed under administrative arrest.
71 people were convicted of distributing prohibited materials (vs. 92 in the first half of 2017). These included songs by Chechen singer-songwriter Timur Mutsurayev glorifying armed resistance, several Islamist videos, songs by the bands Kolovrat and D.I.V. (popular among neo-Nazis), the “Games of the Gods” video, and the neo-pagan poem “Christian Slavery.” One person was punished for distributing banned literature offline. For the most part, the offenders were fined in amounts ranging from one to three thousand rubles; one person was placed under arrest.
 Our work on this issue was supported in the first half of 2021 by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the International Partnership for Human Rights and the European Commission.
On 30 December 2016, the Ministry of Justice forcibly listed SOVA Center as “a non-profit organization performing the functions of a foreign agent.” We do not agree with this decision and are appealing it. The author of the report is a SOVA Center Governing Board member.
 Xenophobia and Nationalism, Levada Center. 2020. 23 September (https://www.levada.ru/2020/09/23/ksenofobiya-i-natsionalizm-2/).
 Natalia Yudina, The Far-Right. Crimes and punishments. The First half of 2017, SOVA Center, 2017, 25 August (https://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2017/08/d37744/).
 Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich in Brief // SOVA Center. 2020. 1 February (https://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/news-releases/2020/10/d42991/).
 More information on these raids in: Natalia Yudina, “Potius sero, quam nunquam:” Hate Crimes and Counteraction to Them in Russia in 2020, SOVA Center. 2021. 5 February (https://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2021/02/d43611/)
 Mass Brawl in Moscow, SOVA Center.” 2021. 6 June (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2021/06/d44346/).
 Crimes against property include damage to cemeteries, monuments, various cultural sites and other types of property. The Criminal Code qualifies these cases under different articles, but law enforcement is not always consistent in this respect. Such actions are usually labeled vandalism; we had used the same term but decided to abandon this practice several years ago, since the concept of "vandalism," not only in the Criminal Code but also in everyday language, clearly does not describe all possible attacks against property.
 Verdict Issued in the Black Bloc Case, SOVA Center. 2021. 17 March (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2021/03/d43858/).
 Vladimir Ratnikov (Komarnitsky) Placed on the Wanted List, SOVA Center. 2021. 2 March (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2021/03/d43759/).
 A Defendant in the Black Bloc Case Placed on the Wanted List, SOVA Center. 2021. 3 December (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2020/12/d43320/).
 See: Natalia Yudina. “On the Threshold of Change? The State against the Promotion of Hate and the Political Activity of Nationalists in Russia in 2018,” SOVA Center. 2019. 18 March (https://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2019/03/d40754/).
 These are the sentences for which we can form an accurate opinion regarding the content and believe that the courts passed sentences in accordance with the rule of law, at least as it pertains specifically to the content of the utterance.
 Sometimes, indirect evidence suggests that their persecution could be considered legitimate. For example, a person was a member of an ultra-right group in the past or was previously charged under "extremist" administrative and sometimes criminal articles, or reports by law enforcement agencies inform us that the person has called for violent actions. However, since the text of the original incriminating publication is not available, we have to admit that we cannot properly assess the legitimacy of the case.
 For example, we view some charges in the case as appropriate and the other ones as inappropriate.
 Citizens of the USSR (Grazhdane SSSR) – a community of people who deny the collapse of the Soviet Union and insist on the need to comply with the Soviet laws. In their opinion, the Russian Federation does not exist. For more information about the Citizens of the USSR, see: The Komi Republic: The Court Banned the USSR // SOVA Center. 2019. 8 July (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2019/07/d41233/).
 For more details see: Natalia Yudina, “Anti-extremism in Quarantine: The State against the Incitement of Hatred and the Political Participation of Nationalists in Russia in 2020,” SOVA Center. 2021. 12 March (https://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2021/03/d43830/).
 The statement probably refers to the capture of the presidential palace in Grozny by federal troops on January 19, 1995.
 The verdict in the “Chistopol Jamaat” case stands apart; it deals with serious crimes, but there is no certainty that all of them were committed by the convicted individuals.
 The case involved at least three more people, but their cases were dropped “due to active repentance” and “reconciliation of the parties” after the victims received material compensations. Yuri Lunin had already been convicted under Art. 111 Part 4 of the Criminal Code ("Intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm, posing danger to human life, resulting in death due to negligence of the victim") and sentenced to six years in prison; he was released on parole in 2015.
 According to Metlin's father Mikhail, his colleague, who "collaborated with the FSB", was detained along with the sergeant. The father insists that Yegor Metlin’s arrest was based only on the interrogation of this colleague, who was subsequently released.
 Characteristically, well-known ultra-right activist Yuri Yekishev also appeared in our similar report for the first half of 2017, only he was mentioned among those convicted for speech. For more details on Yekishev's cases, see: Yuri Yekishev Released in the Courtroom, SOVA Center. 2018. 1 September (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2017/11/d38333/).
 Sergei Finogin, detained in the spring of 2019, together with Yekishev and Antonov was sent for compulsory treatment on April 28, 2021 by the 2nd Western District Military Court.
 The Court Recognized the NOMP as a Terrorist Organization, SOVA Center. 2015. 18 February (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/02/d31308/).
 The Prisoners Criminal Unity (Arestantskoe ugolovnoe yedinstvo, AUE) was recognized as an extremist organization by the Supreme Court on August 17, 2020. We consider this decision inappropriate, since the anti-extremist legislation was misapplied in this case. For more details see: The AUE Movement Recognized as Extremist, SOVA Center.” 2020. 17 August (https://www.sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2020/08/d42774/).
 As of July 8, 2021, there were 84 organizations on the Federal List. Entry No. 84 – The Russian Patriotic Club-Novokuznetsk/PKK, recognized as an extremist by the decision of the Tsentralny District Court of Novokuznetsk, on December 7, 2020, as well as entry No. 84 (?) – The Siberian Sovereign Union, recognized as extremist by the Supreme Court of the Altai Republic, were added to the list in July 2021.
 For more details see: The Nation and Freedom Committee Recognized as Extremist, SOVA Center. 2021. 29 July (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2020/07/d42712/).
 The Court Declared the Regional Falun Dafa Organization Extremist, SOVA Center. 2020. 10 November (https://www.sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2020/11/d43173/).
 The Supreme Court recognized NS/WP as a terrorist organization, SOVA Center. 2021. 21 May (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2021/05/d44261/).
 A Verdict Passed in the Case of NS/WP Members in St. Petersburg, SOVA Center. 2014. 23 June (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2014/06/d29772/).
 Five people were convicted under both Article 20.3 and Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses; one person under the aggregate of Art. 20.3.1 and Art. 20.3, one person under the aggregate of Art. 20.3.1 and Art. 20.29 Administrative Code, and one person under the aggregate of all three articles.
 Summary statistical information on the activities of federal courts of general jurisdiction and justices of the peace for 2020, Official Website of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (http://cdep.ru/index.php?id=79&item=5669)
 The victims posted on Instagram a video about the incident, which drew wide public response and the representatives of Buryatia in Moscow intervened in the situation. A criminal case was initiated under Article 116 of the Criminal Code ("Battery motivated by hatred"). The decision on the case has not yet been made. For more details, see Xenophobic Insults in Moscow, SOVA Center. 2021. 15 April (https://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2021/04/d44060/).
 We do not take into account the cases of dissemination of symbols of The Prisoners Criminal Unity (AUE).