The New Generation of the Far-Right and Their Victims. Hate Crimes and Counteraction to Them in Russia in 2023

Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence : Attacks Against “Ethnic Outsiders” : Attacks Against Ideological Opponents : Attacks Against the LGBT+ : Attacks in “Defense of Morality” : Religiously Motivated Attacks
Crimes Against Property
Criminal Prosecution for Violence
Criminal Prosecution for Crimes Against Property

This report by SOVA Center focuses on the phenomenon of hate crimes, that is, criminal offenses that were committed on the grounds of ethnic, religious, or similar hostility or prejudice,[1] and on the state’s countermeasures to such crimes.

Russian legislation also classifies crimes motivated by political and ideological enmity as hate crimes. The inclusion of these types of enmity in the definition of hate crime is quite rare in democratic countries and remains controversial. We do not consider such crimes in our report unless they are committed by groups oriented toward committing hate crimes in general, for xenophobic motives.


The results of the past year are alarming. Since the spring of 2023, we have recorded a rapid increase in racist violence. This growth was for the most part due to those attacked on the basis of ethnicity. However, the number of attacks on all other groups of victims – youth subculture groups, political opponents (anti-fascists, anarchists, and communists), LGBT+ people, and those who the attackers believed led an inappropriate lifestyle (homeless, drunk, drug users, etc.) – has also increased markedly.

This violence was committed mainly by autonomous nationalist groups. So far, judging by the photos and detention data, most of the new autonomous offenders are teenagers appealing to the aesthetics of the Nazi skinheads of the early 2000s. We know very little about the ideological views of these groups (apart from hostility towards migrants). For example, we do not know anything about their attitude to military operations in Ukraine.

So far, much of the activity of the new autonomous offenders consists of not overly dangerous episodes of violence and damage to the property belonging to “outsiders.” Young neo-Nazis sprayed gas cans in the face of victims, slashed tires, smashed windows, damaged goods in stalls, and so on. However, we fear that as the actions grow in number and as perpetrators mature, their brutality will inevitably grow. We are already seeing an increase in brutality in group beatings. Last year saw at least three murders.

The number of cases of everyday xenophobia has also increased. This is facilitated by state anti-migrant propaganda and the practice of combating any otherness.

In 2023, there were slightly fewer cases of damage to material objects (buildings, monuments, cemeteries, various cultural sites) motivated by ethnic or ideological hatred. At the same time, the number of attacks on religious sites remained the same for the third consecutive year.

The number of convictions for hate-motivated violence increased insignificantly compared to the previous year. For the most part, law enforcement in the past year has followed the rut of previous years, finishing the high-profile trials that had been initiated earlier. Formerly famous neo-Nazis, whose arrests had been reported two years ago, were convicted for murders committed in 2003 and 2007. In 2023, several individuals who had been detained in the previous two years in a massive country-wide roundup of the M.K.U., designated a terrorist organization, received sentences.

Some group cases are still ongoing. For example, the case of the revived NS/WP cell is ongoing (only one member was sent to compulsory treatment). In 2023, an investigation began into the activities of another group, Paragraph-88. As a whole, we are aware of much fewer cases of people prosecuted for xenophobic violent crimes than a year before.

Thus, after a comparative lull of a number of years and a sharp decline in violence in 2022, we are once again witnessing a rapid increase in racist violence in Russian society. And law enforcement agencies have not yet reacted to this properly. They are predominantly finishing the cases started earlier or prioritizing the investigation of those new ones that have something to do with the confrontation with Ukraine.

Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence

According to the Sova Center monitoring data, in 2023 ideologically motivated violence affected 121 people, three of whom died. In addition, one person received a serious death threat. Thus, we recorded an increase in the number of ideologically motivated serious attacks that is unprecedented in the entire time of observation: in 2022 we have information on 29 victims, in 2021 – 72 victims[2]. If we compare not even with the abnormally low figures of 2022[3], but with the three years that preceded it, the increase is about two-thirds; this had only been observed in the mid-2000s. According to our data, the level of violence has returned to the level of 2015 and even exceeded it (111 victims), that is, to the period when the far-right was already in crisis but had not yet been completely defeated (after 2015, the figures were lower every year). And we should also keep in mind that the data for last year are not final, as we learn about many attacks with a delay[4].

Our data on hate crimes in Russia cannot be compared with any other statistics, since no other open statistics exist.

Unfortunately, we cannot include the data on the republics of the North Caucasus in our calculations as our methodology does not work there[5]. We also know very little about incidents between different minority groups motivated by ethnic hatred. As a result, our data are incomplete and can in no way reflect the level of racist violence in Russia. But we can assess the dynamics and major trends at least to some extent, because our methodology has not changed since 2004[6].

We have repeatedly written about the difficulties associated with collecting information[7]. Monitoring based on the media or reports of victims' appeals to human rights organizations and the police remains difficult. But the situation with public reporting by the far-right itself has changed radically: the new autonomous youth groups have returned to the old practice of mass posting of videos of their “direct actions.”

According to our observations, the sharp increase in the number of violent crimes committed with a hate motive began in the spring of 2023, and the lion's share of violent incident statistics are attacks committed by far-right autonomous groups composed mainly of very young people reviving the aesthetics and ideology of the Nazi skinheads of the 2000s[8]. The victims of attacks by such groups were most often people of “non-Slavic appearance,” but also homeless people, people under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and those whom the attackers considered pedophiles.

Such video reports have appeared and continue to appear in large numbers[9] in in the far-right Telegram channels. According to the anti-fascist Nazi Video Monitoring Project, 49 video clips reporting neo-Nazi actions were published in December, 51 in November, 68 in October, and 71 in September. These videos show 52 attacks on people in December, 48 in November, 59 in October, and 62 in September[10].

So far, most attacks are not the most brutal violence. The most popular form being the spraying of tear gas in the victim's face; such minor incidents were not included in our calculations. Unfortunately, the far-right did not limit themselves to this: very serious beatings were not uncommon. In the summer and fall, we learned of three hate-motivated murders.

In the past year, we recorded attacks in 26 regions of the country (in 2022 in 11 regions, and in 2021 – in 21). Moscow and St. Petersburg traditionally lead in terms of the level of violence, and this is the second consecutive year that St. Petersburg comes in first, with 21 victims (14 in Moscow). These are followed by the Moscow, the Orenburg, and the Chelyabinsk regions and the Republic of Sakha (six victims in the Moscow region, and five in each of the other regions). In addition to Moscow and St. Petersburg, attacks were carried out in the Nizhny Novgorod, the Novosibirsk, and the Chelyabinsk regions for the second year in a row.

Attacks Against “Ethnic Outsiders”

In 2023, we recorded 69 ethnically motivated attacks, that is, attacks on those whom the attackers visually perceived as ethnic outsiders. In 2022, nine ethnically motivated attacks were recorded. But even if we exclude the exceptional year of 2022 with its incredibly low number of violent acts and compare 2023 to 2021 instead, the increase in this category of victims is stark: in 2021, we have information on 36 such attacks.

Victims in this category include natives of Central Asia, the Caucasus, and India, and people of unidentified “non-Slavic appearance.”

The lion's share of them are victims of the autonomous teenage Nazi groups mentioned above, which are not always limited to minor violence. Also present are cases of everyday xenophobia. For example, in November, one passenger attacked another on a bus, mistaking him for an “Uzbek,” and as a result, the victim was kicked out of the bus face-first onto the pavement amid shouts that he was a “blockhead" and “doesn't respect the Russians.”[11]

Attacks on people of color continue. In 2023, at least five people became victims of such attacks (in 2022, three were reported, in 2021 - five), one of whom died. We are talking about Francois Njelassili, Ural Federal University graduate student from Gabon, who was stabbed to death inside a Burger King in Yekaterinburg on August 18. His attackers called him racist slurs[12]. An ambulance arrived and tried to save him, but he died on the way to the hospital[13]. It is indicative that the traffic police inspectors who witnessed the murder did not interfere: they stayed inside their vehicle, watched and commented on the attack, joking and making rude remarks about the participants. Other witnesses approached the officers several times and asked them to intervene, but when they finally did so, it was too late[14].

There were other cases of intolerance toward people of color. For example, in February in Ulyanovsk, at the end of the Volga vs. Zenit match, Zenit midfielder Marcus Wendel Valle da Silva had a banana thrown under his feet.

We know relatively little about hate crimes among ethnic minorities. But such cases are not uncommon; we record them almost annually. For example, in December, a video went viral where natives of Dagestan beat up an ethnic Tajik and then forced him to apologize on camera to “all the peoples of Dagestan” for “hanging out with a Dagestani girl.”

There are also attacks motivated by ethnic hatred against ethnic Russians. We are aware of six such attacks in the last year. Most of them appeared in the videos, circulated online and in the Zhizn brodyagi [Life of a Bum] Telegram channel, of young people who call themselves the Azerbaijani Mafia attacking people of Slavic appearance.[15].

The war between Israel and Hamas provoked a sharp rise in anti-Israeli and even anti-Semitic acts, which carried the danger of a resurgence of almost extinct hate crimes against Jews. However, this phenomenon did not spread beyond the North Caucasus.[16] One could mention the incident at the Hello, India! restaurant in Moscow, where two men armed with a knife and a gas pistol harassed patrons, raised their hands in a Nazi salute, and screamed pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic slogans. In a Moscow suburb, someone drew a Star of David and wrote the word “Jude” on the fence of a private house where a Jewish person lives.

Attacks Against Ideological Opponents

The number of attacks by the ultra-right against their political, ideological, or “stylistic” opponents also grew last year – 15 beaten (seven in 2022, and nine in 2021)[17]. Among the victims were non-ideological, non-political non-conformists (furries, punks, etc.), ideological opponents (Communists, anarchists, anti-fascists, or those who have merely been mistaken for such[18]), and simply those who publicly expressed outrage over racist slogans.

Among this category of victims, the teenagers commonly associated with the subculture of PMC Ryodan are worth mentioning in 2023. In late February and early March, mass arrests were carried out all over Russia of fans of the Hunter x Hunter anime series, featuring the Gen’ei Ryodan (the Phantom Troupe) band of thieves. The teenager fans’ distinctive outfits (sweatshirts with a spider logo and plaid pants) drew the attention of other teenage groups, leading to a series of conflicts involving soccer fans, ethnic bands, and other groups. All of these clashes were widely covered by the press. The totally apolitical adepts of the spider aesthetics began to be called PMC [private military company] Ryodan. The number of teenagers detained in different cities, both hypothetical participants of “«PMC Ryodan” and others, reached tens and hundreds. For example, on February 24 and 25, police detained about 200 teenagers after mass fights in the Gallery shopping mall in St. Petersburg. Similar reports came from Kazan, Kursk, Novosibirsk, Kurgan, as well as from Ukraine and Belarus. Reports about “«PMC Ryodan” quickly took on the character of a “moral panic,” teenagers were assessed and analyzed by many politicians, even the presidential press secretary, and the police reported that “PMC Ryodan” acted “against both football fans and natives of the Caucasus and migrants.” There were also allegations that “PMC Ryodan” was Ukraine-inspired (Ukraine responded with a symmetrical reaction). The mass media wave provoked new fights and group attacks on the alleged participants of “PMC Ryodan.” For example, in Surgut on March 2, a 15-year-old girl was caught and beaten because of a photo with a spider on her VKontakte page.

In addition to single attacks on political opponents, there were also mass attacks on participants at various events, as happened on August 21 in Rostov-on-Don, where a group of around 15 ultra-right persons wearing medical masks attacked anti-fascist concert attendees at the Quadrupel bar with traumatic guns and firecrackers.

Pro-Kremlin activists of the National Liberation Movement (NLM or NOD), headed by United Russia deputy Yevgeny Fedorov, and the SERB group, led by Igor Beketov (who goes by the pseudonym Gosha Tarasevich)[19] were not very visible last year. The only one of note is the May attack by NOD activists on a cameraman who was recording K-pop dancing; the activists shouted, “You are broadcasting lechery.”[20] SERB members, according to our data, limited themselves to minor provocations.

Attacks Against the LGBT+

The number of attacks against the LGBT+ community also went up compared to the previous year. SOVA Center has recorded 18 victims (six in 2022, 21 in 2021).

People directly or indirectly associated with anything concerning LGBT+ find themselves, expectedly, under threat. For example, on July 24 in Moscow, near the Ostankinsky district court, a young man sprayed paint from a can inside a cab carrying defenders and representatives of Delo LGBT+ [LGBT+ Cause]. Seven people were injured (six activists and the cab driver).

Amid the official fight against “LGBT propaganda,” homophobia in Russian society is only worsening and assuming the nature of a “witch hunt”: people are attacked with homophobic slurs simply for looking like LGBT+, because their clothing, hairstyles, or symbols seemed inappropriate to the attackers.

Attacks in “Defense of Morality”

One type of far-right violence is attacks on people who are seen as elements that undermine the “moral level of the nation.” Ethnically, such victims may also be “one’s own,” although “outsiders” are certainly favored. The far-right often refer to this category of victims as “biowaste” or “human garbage.” Homeless people have always belonged to this category[21]. Since the emergence of the Nazi Straight Edge movement[22] in Russia, drunks, drug users, and drug dealers have been added to it (the degree of hatred is raised by reports on far-right resources, which state that the business of drug trafficking, storage, and distribution is mostly carried out by people from the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Africa and by Roma people). Since the Occupy-Pedophiliay project was founded in the 2010s by the well-known neo-Nazi Maksim (Tesak) Martsinkevich[23], this group of victims also included alleged pedophiles. In Tesak's time, young men were used as bait; new projects use underage girls. In some cases, the motive of the attack can be mixed: today’s far-right groups prefer to lure to fake dates people with “non-Slavic appearance.”

Collecting information on this category of victims is particularly difficult due to the antisocial nature of many victims and the difficulty in extracting motive from the description of the attack. Nevertheless, in 2023, we found out about 15 such attacks[24] (two in 2022 and four in 2021).

Among other things, we learned about one brutal xenophobically motivated murder of a homeless man: a far-right Telegram channel posted a video of a sleeping homeless man being stabbed several times to hateful comments. Another brutal murder was committed in Novosibirsk[25]: a group of schoolchildren calling themselves “cleaners” murdered a man they mistook for a drug addict.

Religiously Motivated Attacks

Violence motivated by religious xenophobia in Russia is far less common than that motivated by ethnic xenophobia. For example, in the last year we have information about one case: a Jehovah's Witness was attacked in Tyumen[26].

Muslims as a religious group are constant targets of hostility on far-right Internet resources, but they are rarely attacked as members of a religious group; instead, they are targeted as ethnic “outsiders.” In September, however, several instances at once came to light of assaults and public threats against women wearing Muslim head coverings[27].

Last year, we also witnessed attacks by Muslims concerned about the dress code, not only in the republics of the North Caucasus, but also in Nakhabino, near Moscow. Media widely circulated a story of a 20-year-old man from Tajikistan attacking a girl for being “inappropriately dressed” while jogging (the girl was wearing long sports shorts). The suspect, who had been undergoing treatment at a mental health facility, was detained. In the video that circulated on the Internet, when asked why he had hit the girl, he explained that he “saved her from sin.”

Crimes Against Property

Crimes against property include damage to cemeteries, monuments, various cultural objects, and various property in general. The Criminal Code qualifies these cases under different articles, but law enforcement in this sense is not always consistent. Such actions are usually referred to as vandalism, but for several years now we have preferred not to use this term, since the concept of “vandalism,” not only in the Criminal Code, but also in everyday language, clearly does not describe all possible types of damage to material objects.

The number of property crimes motivated by religious, ethnic or ideological hatred has been gradually declining year by year: in 2023 we know of 15 cases in 12 regions of the country, in 2022 – 22 cases in 14 regions of the country, and in 2021 – 29 cases.

Our statistics does not include isolated cases of neo-Nazi graffiti and drawings on buildings and fences, but it does include serial graffiti (though law enforcement considers graffiti to be either a form of vandalism or a means of public statement).

As with violent crimes, we do not include in our counts attacks on material objects for political or ideological reasons (which have become particularly numerous since 2022), unless these ideological reasons are themselves linked to xenophobia. Neither do we include episodes qualified as attacks on a material object, such as the “Eternal Flame,” in which material damage was not inflicted[28].

These statistics also do not include insignificant incidents, including those committed by the ultra-right, such as damage to cars with license plates from the Caucasus regions (tire punctures, broken windows, arson), attacks on retail outlets that employ people with “non-Slavic appearance” (broken windows, damaged goods), broken windows in construction trailers, and so on. According to the Nazi Video Monitoring Project, the numbers of such acts were as follows: 16 in December, 33 in November, 62 in October, and 34 in September[29].

According to the SOVA Center, in 2023, eight sites were targeted for ideological rather than religious reasons (including hostility to ethnic groups or LGBT+), which is less than a year earlier (10 in 2022 and 16 in 2021, including one state-owned site). Traditionally, the Lenin monument and monuments to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War were among the targeted sites. On January 19 in Yekaterinburg, ultra-right activists painted over graffiti at the site of the memorial to slain lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova; on November 14 in St. Petersburg, the memorial to the murdered anti-fascist activist and musician Timur Kacharava was desecrated; and on August 21 in Yekaterinburg, the makeshift memorial in memory of the above-mentioned murdered graduate student from Gabon was vandalized.

In addition, in June, more than a dozen tombstones at Roma gravesites were destroyed in the Tosnensky district of the Leningrad region.

Religious sites traditionally represent a significant proportion of the targets. In 2023, their total number – seven sites – was twice less  as in the two previous years. Orthodox churches and crosses were the most frequent target with four incidents (five in 2022 and four in 2021). Muslim objects and sites were targeted in two incidents (one in 2022, none in 2021). Contrary to our expectations (due to Israel's war against Hamas), only one Jewish site was affected (five in 2022, three in 2021).

The share of the most dangerous acts – arson and explosions – remained the same as a year earlier: two arsons and one explosion (compared with four arsons in 2022). Hence, the share of such acts increased slightly and reached 21% (18% a year earlier, while in 2021 there were seven out of 29, or 24%).

The geography of the acts of violence (26 regions) in 2023 was noticeably wider than that of the vandals' crimes (12 regions), while for four years in a row prior to 2023 the opposite was true. Both types of crimes were recorded in six regions (four in 2022, nine in 2021): Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Volgograd, the Kaluga, the Novosibirsk, and the Sverdlovsk regions, and Krasnoyarsk Krai.

Criminal Prosecution for Violence

In 2023, the number of those convicted of violent hate crimes known to us was higher than a year earlier. Not less than 17 guilty verdicts where the hate motive was officially recognized by courts were issued in 14 regions. 35 suspects were found guilty in these trials[30]. (In 2022, 23 suspects were found guilty, 36 in 2021, and 8 in 2020). Official statistics on sentences with hate motive are not available, as this qualifying characteristic does not constitute part of an article of the Criminal Code, but only a paragraph, and the sentencing statistics are published by the Supreme Court by parts of the articles.

Racist violence was categorized under the following articles containing hate motive as a categorizing attribute: Murder Art. 105 (Paragraph L of Part 2), Intentional Infliction of Injury to Health of Average Gravity Art. 112 (Paragraph E of Part 2), Intentional Infliction of Light Injury to Health Art. 115 (Paragraph B of Part 2), Battery Art. 116, Hooliganism Art. 213 (Part 2).

In another case, in the city of Kamensk-Uralskiy, the Sverdlovsk region, two young men were sentenced to imprisonment[31] for beating a girl on August 1 and attempting to drown her in a fountain while shouting that they had recently returned from the “special military operation.” The reason for the attack was that the girl “looked Jewish and had blue hair.” Unfortunately, it is unclear whether the hate motive was taken into account in the sentence under part 2 of Art. 213 of the Criminal Code and in relation to which group, so we cannot include it in our statistics.

We are not aware of the application of Art. 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred) to violent crimes in the past year. (In 2022, this article was used in one guilty verdict, and in two in 2021).

Penalties for violent acts were distributed as follows:

  • 1 person sentenced to 20 years and 3 months in prison;
  • 4 persons sentenced to up to 20 years in prison;
  • 4 persons sentenced to up to 15 years in prison;
  • 4 persons sentenced to up to 10 years in prison;
  • 1 person sentenced to up to 5 years in prison;
  • 6 persons sentenced to up to 3 years in prison;
  • 3 persons sentenced to up to 1 year in prison;
  • 11 persons received suspended sentence;
  • 1 person received suspended correctional labor sentence.

1 person sent for compulsory treatment without conviction.

Nearly a third of those convicted in 2023 (11 out of 35, that is, 31%) got suspended sentences. We are highly skeptical about suspended sentences for violent hate crimes, as during years of monitoring we have repeatedly seen that suspended sentences for violence are not perceived as punishment by the offenders and do not prevent them from committing similar crimes in the future. In some cases we can understand the motivation of the court and accept the admissibility of its decision, but in 2023, there were several cases where we did not consider suspended sentences to be proportionate to the crimes committed.

We understand why suspended sentences were given to three people in Bashkortostan, who were on their way to the village of Karmaskaly “in order to carry out direct actions (inflicting bodily harm, damaging property, extorting money) against persons of Armenian ethnicity residing in the area”[32]: the offenders did not have time to carry out their intentions. The suspended sentences given to two teenagers in Kirov for attacking a passerby who had reprimanded them for “shouting nationalist slogans” can probably be explained by the fact that the attackers were minors and the victim was not badly hurt.

Most likely, the suspended sentence issued to the 15-year-old who, together with an M.K.U. supporter Inna Belesikova, attacked two foreigners is also explained by him being underage. But we doubt that a suspended sentence is an adequate punishment for “stabbing vital organs” from the back. Finally, we find the sentence handed down to four young people in Belgorod[33] for repeatedly beating foreigners to be inexplicably lenient.

The other offenders were sentenced to terms of various lengths.

In particular, two trials for murders committed in 2003 and 2007 have ended with long sentences. In August, six veteran neo-Nazis – Semyon Tokmakov, Andrei Kail, Alexei Gudilin, Pavel Khrulev, Alexander Lysenkov and Maxim Khotulev – were sentenced in the Moscow region for a series of brutal murders of migrants in September-October 2003[34]. The proceedings against their associate Maksim (Tesak) Martsinkevich were terminated by the Mytishchi City Court of the Moscow region due to his death[35]. And in September in Tula, two far-right activists who had already served time, Denis (Filkin) Makarov and Vladimir Ovsyannikov, went to jail again for the 2007 murder of an Uzbek native[36].

The accused in more recent criminal cases were also sentenced. In Kazan, Vladislav Konyshev, a member of a far-right group whose supporters were convicted in 2019 for the notorious murder of a student from the Republic of Chad, was sentenced to 6 years and 10 months in prison for the brutal group beating of a citizen of Azerbaijan[37]. Konyshev's case was separated into a separate proceeding, as he was involved in only one attack. In the course of the trial, the lawyer particularly emphasized the fact that his client had few tattoos: “Look at Khalilov and Arkhipov, they have Nazi tattoos, while our defendant has only one, and even that one is Orthodox Christian.”[38]

The ultra-right activists who were detained in 2021 and 2022 as part of a raid on the Maniacs. Cult of Murder (M.K.U.) group, recognized as a terrorist organization in early 2023[39], were sentenced to imprisonment.

In January, Inna Belesikova, a native of the Voronezh region, received a three-and-a-half-year sentence in Moscow for two attacks on passers-by: she pepper-sprayed a shawarma vendor and then, together with the 15-year-old accomplice mentioned above, attacked two migrants with a knife.

In January, seven far-right activists, three of them minors, were sentenced to various prison terms in Saratov for several armed attacks on five city residents. It was previously reported that they were members of the M.K.U., but their involvement in the organization could not be proved in court.

In April, a 19-year-old resident of the Orenburg region who was a member of the M.K.U.'s VKontakte group received a lengthy prison sentence for, among other things, planning to blow up a mosque in Orenburg.

To date, we know of a total of 25 persons convicted under various articles of the Criminal Code among those who had previously been detained in connection with the M.K.U., but the connection with the M.K.U. has been established in only about half of the cases.

Of special note is the sentence of 17 years imposed on Polina Dvorkina in July: in 2022, motivated by man-hating, she killed her father and came to kindergarten with a gun with the intent of shooting at boys, but was disarmed.

Vasily Strizhakov, a member of a cell of another network revived in 2021, NS/WP, also recognized as a terrorist organization, was released from criminal responsibility in November and sent to compulsory treatment. He and other members of the same group were accused of planning an assassination attempt on TV host Vladimir Solovyov and other crimes[40]. The case of the other group members is still in court.

Another group of neo-Nazis, whose members are suspected by the FSB of planning an attempted assassination of media personalities, was detained last summer in Moscow and the Ryazan region. According to the FSB, the Paragraph-88 group was planning an assassination attempt on media manager Margarita Simonyan and journalist Ksenia Sobchak on the assignment of the special services of Ukraine. But so far, according to the court press release, they are not being charged with that, but with at least three attacks on migrants in the area of Bitsevsky Park and Novoyasenevskaya metro station in Moscow.

In 2023 some of the attackers seen this year on the abovementioned Telegram channels were detained. Thus, in December, cases were opened in St. Petersburg against 16-year-old college students detained on suspicion of at least five attacks on janitors from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In Novosibirsk the abovementioned “cleaners” were arrested on suspicion in murdering a homeless man. And in October nine Azerbaijani teenagers charged with hooliganism and incitement to hatred for assaults on Russians, also mentioned above, were arrested in St. Petersburg.

According to our incomplete data, a total of 33 criminal cases for ideologically motivated violence were open last year (in 2022 it was 43).

Criminal Prosecution for Crimes Against Property

In 2023, we learned of seven convictions for crimes against property where, we believe, a hate motive was imputed, excluding cases in which we see convictions as illegitimate. Ten people were convicted under these seven convictions (12 in 2022, none in 2021, and two in 2020).

If to add here 25 illegitimate convictions against 31 persons, in 2023 we know of 32 convictions for crimes against property against 41 people. (In 2022, we were aware of 38 convicted, in 2021 there were 8, and even fewer earlier.) The fact is that in 2023, the vast majority of convictions were related to attacks on material objects that were a form of protest against the military operation in Ukraine.

As in the case of violent hate crimes, we cannot rely on official data, as the statistics of sentences published by the Supreme Court do not allow us to isolate the data we need: in Article 244 of the Criminal Code on cemetery vandalism, the hate motive is a paragraph, not a part of the article, and in Article 214 of the Criminal Code (vandalism) it is a part of the article, but together with an act committed by a group.


[1] Hate Crime Law: A Practical Guide. Warsaw: OSCE/ODIHR, 2009 (available on the website of the OSCE in several languages:
Verkhovsky Alexander. Criminal Law on Hate Crime, Incitement to Hatred and Hate Speech in OSCE Participating States (2nd edition, revised and expanded). The Hague, 2015 (available on the website of SOVA Center:

[2] Here and below, the data are provided as of January 27, 2024.

[3] Probably the reason is that after February 24, 2022, the entire Russian society, including the radical ultra-right, was in a state of shock after the beginning of the military campaign in Ukraine.

[4] Compare, for example, with the data from the previous report: Yudina N. The Old and the New Names in the Reports. Hate Crimes and Counteraction to Them in Russia in 2022 // SOVA Center. 2023. 25 January (

[5] All the more so, the four regions of Ukraine that were included in the Russian jurisdiction in the fall, are not taken into account. But Crimea is: the real regime there in recent years is already very similar to that in the regions of southern Russia.

[6] Here and below, all chart data are based on the monitoring by SOVA Center.

[7] See: Yudina N. The State Has Taken Up Racist Violence Again. Hate Crimes and Counteraction to Them in Russia in 2021 // SOVA Center. 2023. 31 January (

[8] For more on this see: Alperovich Vera. Nationalists “tame” and “wild”. Public activity of far-right groups, summer-fall 2023 // SOVA Center. 2024. 12 January (

[9] See for example a selection of videos from the first two weeks of 2024. Videos of far-right violence // SOVA Center. 2024. 17 January (

[10] Nazi attack video statistics from December 2023 // Telegram channel Nazi Video Monitoring Project. 2023. 9 January (

[11] A minute of denazification on a bus near Moscow – a passenger attacked his neighbor because he was allegedly an “Uzbek” // BAZA. 2023. 20 November (

[12] The assailant was apprehended.

[13] Yekaterinburg: Racist murder of a graduate student from Gabon // SOVA Center. 2023. 18 August (

[14] “This is not our problem...” What Yekaterinburg police officers were talking about when an African graduate student was being murdered in front of their eyes // 2023. 24 October (

[15] Teenagers who attacked passers-by have been detained // SOVA Center. 2023. 19 October (

[16] Anti-Semitic riots in the North Caucasus // SOVA Center. 2023. 30 October (

[17] Attacks of this type peaked in 2007 (7 killed, 118 injured); the numbers have since been steadily declining. After 2013, trends have been unstable.

[18] For example, in Novosibirsk, three young men harassed a brother and sister, 17 and 16 years old, inside a KFC restaurant because of the red shoelaces the teenagers were wearing: they demanded that they take off their laces and say on camera that “anti-fascists are bad people.” Red laces in Russia are believed to be worn by anti-fascists or members of the S.H.A.R.P. subculture (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudices).

[19] For more details on their actions, see, for example: Alperovich V., Yudina N. Calm Before the Storm? Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2014 // SOVA Center. 2015. 26 March (

[20] Polygon Media identified one of the attackers, NOD activist Dmitry Sobolev.

[21] See for example: Alperovich V., Yudina N. The Ultra-Right on the Streets with a Pro-Democracy Poster in Their Hands or a Knife in Their Pocket: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2012 // SOVA Center. 2013. 26 Aril (

[22] Originally, Straight Edge (sXe for short) was an apolitical movement that promoted total abstinence from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and promiscuity. However, with time, Straight Edge began to attract supporters of neo-Nazi ideology, who brought with them their ideas of the struggle for the purity of the race, including the violent imposition of their lifestyle, the fight against "biowaste," etc. In Russia, NS sXe spread since the 2000s, after the first NS music collectives appeared promoting the idea of a "healthy nation."

[23] Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich in Brief // SOVA Center. 2020. 1 October (

[24] Primarily from videos posted by the far-right themselves.

[25] A year earlier, we already drew attention to videos posted online of teenage gangs attacking drunk people in Novosibirsk. See: Yudina N. The Old and the New Names…

[26] The repressive state campaign against the Jehovah's Witnesses has been ongoing since at least 2009 and triggered a wave of xenophobic attacks against them. After the Supreme Court banned the activities of the religious organization "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" and all of its 395 regional branches in April 2017, such attacks became rare. This is not surprising, since the organization no longer has any premises and cannot engage in missionary work openly, so typical violence has been extinguished.

[27] This is described in more detail in the report on freedom of conscience, which will be published in March 2024.

[28] The eternal flame may have been put out with snowballs, or used as a bonfire for domestic needs, or someone danced around it. Such incidents are often qualified under Article 354.1 of the Criminal Code.

[29] Nazi attack video statistics for December 2023 // Nazi Video Monitoring Project Telegram channel. 2023. 9 January (

[30] Only the verdicts where a hate motive was officially recognized and which we believe to be legitimate and appropriate are included in this count. We are also aware of two cases motivated by political hatred. As already mentioned, they are not taken into account in this report.

[31] One got 3 years, and the other – 3 years and 2 months.

[32] In Bashkiria, a sentence is issued for an attempted assault in the village of Karmaskaly // SOVA Center. 2023. 10 January (

[33] Depending on the role played in the crime, they were found guilty under Part 2 of Art. 2821 (participation in an extremist community), paragraphs G, E, I of Part 2 of Art. 112, Art. 116, and Art. 115 of the Criminal Code.

[34] For more on this see: Yudina N. «Potius sero, quam nunquam»: Hate Crimes and Counteraction to Them in Russia in 2020 // SOVA Center. 2021. 3 February (

[35] Tesak's case dismissed // SOVA Center. 2023. 22 February (

[36] In Tula, a verdict passed for the 2007 murder // SOVA Center. 2023. 6 September (

[37] For more information about the sentence, see: Yudina N. Criminal Activity of the Ultra-Right. Hate Crimes and Counteraction to Them in Russia in 2019 // SOVA Center. 2020. 4 February (

[38] Dmitry Shatrov. The last of the skinheads: a member of a well-known extremist group convicted in Kazan // Tatar-inform. 2023. 14 March (

[39] For more information about the M.K.U. see: The Supreme Court has recognized the M.K.U. as a terrorist organization // SOVA Center. 2023. 16 January (

[40] For more on the arrests of NS/WP members see.: Yudina N. The Old and the New Names…