MINELRES: Under the Sign of Political Terror: Radical Nationalism in Russia

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Mon Feb 1 18:01:59 2010

Original sender: SOVA Center <mail@sova-center.ru>

Press release

Under the Sign of Political Terror: Radical Nationalism in Russia and
Counteracting It in 2009. A Report of the SOVA Center

The new report of the SOVA Center contents an overview of the basic
tendencies and phenomena in the field of radical rightist violence,
ultra-rightist groups' activity, and xenophobic manifestations on the
part of the authorities in 2009. It also reflects the change in the law
enforcement practice of ultra-rightist violence and propaganda
prosecution during the period.

Last year we registered considerable change of both radical
nationalists' activity and the response to racist and xenophobic
manifestations in Russia. For the first time in six years of systematic
observation we see an apparent decrease in the number of victims of
racist and neo-Nazi motivated violence. This is not in the last place
the result of liquidation of the largest and the most aggressive
ultra-rightist groups in the Moscow region. Still, we cannot state that
the situation has improved: the range of xenophobic violence remains

Ultra-rightist groups proceed to anti state terrorism more and more
willingly and actively. They seek to destabilize the state structuresa&#65533;&#65533;
activity and to aggravate the population's distrust in them. In the
field of public activity we observed a deliberate refusal of open racist
propaganda which is now generally allowed in a closed mode e.g. during
events or discussions for members only. New activists' recruiting is
carried out through symbolic actions and sub cultural activity (concert
management, in particular).

Among legal Russian nationalist organizations the main characters in
2009 were the "Russian Mode" and the Movement against Illegal
Immigration (DPNI) which compete fiercely. It is noteworthy that at the
moment DPNI pretends to be a movement in opposition while the "Russian
Mode"  represents itself as an authorities' ally.

The basic tendencies in nationalism expansion into public life remain
unchanged. Xenophobic propaganda is a persistent attribute of election
contest, pro-Kremlin youth movements still adopt ultra-rightists'
slogans, and government officials at all levels not only use xenophobic
rhetoric frequently in their statements but sometimes initiate
discrimination campaigns themselves.

As to radical nationalism legal counteracting, in 2009 we observe
specification of the respective legislation. Several points related to
warnings about extremism to the media were settled up. Racist violence
prosecution practice was activated and improved. The number of trials
not only of the individual attackers but of the groups practicing
systematical racist attacks increases. The number of suspended sentences
for violence is reduced. At the same time the authorities almost ceased
applying imprisonment for racist propaganda not associated with
violence. Almost all the possibilities provided by the Criminal Code are
used for qualification of violent crimes.

Still, it is noteworthy, that the authorities continue paying attention
mainly to minor crimes which don't really influence emergence of
xenophobic attitudes or actions (we mean such activities as Web
chatterers or graffitists' persecution, issuing warnings to libraries on
the matter of extremist materials collecting, etc.). Many dangerous
propagators in practice remain unpunished. Practice of prosecution for
extremist community making almost doesn't extend. Problems of law in the
field of prohibiting extremist materials distribution aren't settled at
all. All of this prepares a wide ground for abuse of law and discredits
the actual practice of hate crimes and racist propaganda counteracting.


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