Nationalists Declare Themselves “Russians”

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This Russia Today report is a perfect supplement to other trends regarding the appeal of neo-Nazism and ultra-nationalism in Russia. Just in time for Victory Day too, when 26-28 million Soviet citizens perished at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators.

To top off the week of national festivities, yesterday, Russian nationalists, who’ve had their organizations increasingly banned by Russian courts, have announced that they were uniting under a nationalist umbrella group.  From Kommersant:

As Dmitrii Demushkin, the leader of Slavic Strength, told Kommersant, the unification of nationalist organizations became possible after the banning of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI).  “After that every nationalist force agreed with the descision to unite in a new movement called “Russians”.  Its framework consists of the largest nationalist organizations–DPNI and the Slavic Union,” Mr. Demushkin explained.  According to him, today’s new unification included more than 40 nationalist organizations.  The minimal goal for “Russians” is to facilitate universal ethno-political Russian solidarity and the maximum is to bring to power a nationalist government which would proclaim a nationalist state.

. . .

The movement has adopted the following structure: national committee of action, national committee of control, and also a high court of honor [These bodies, I assume are to maintain discipline, ideological correctness, and purge those who don’t follow the directives and statutes of the organization.–Sean]. As Mr. Demushkin told Kommersant, “I guarantee that the new movement will not repeat the fate of other banned nationalist organizations. But we have purposely called ourselves an inconvenient name. You see the courts and the security organs will not be banning nationalists, but “Russians,” Mr. Demushkin explained.

This new group shows the limits of the state bans on nationalist groups.  The state can legally chop off one head, but another quickly appears like Hydra in the Avengers comics, and more importantly, more concentrated and united. And be sure there is a growing pool of young people eager to hear “Russians” message.  You don’t have to turn to Russia Today nor the hate-monitoring group SOVA for this.  All you have to do is turn to the Russian government itself, in particular, the results of State Prosecutor Chaika’s annual report to the President which notes an alarming growth in “extremism.”

"Russians for Russia" for Russians

The state’s efforts to excoriate the nationalist scourge from Russian society are mixed. While Chaika pointed to corruption as a source for both the growth in extremist activity and the ineffectiveness and indifference on the part of Russia’s police organs to prioritize it, Russia’s judicial organs are sending more nationalists to jail. For this you can look at the recent conviction of five teens (granted though the group of assailants estimated 25-30 youths) in St. Petersburg for beating two students of Central Asia origin.  What allowed the court to convict the five was the court’s ruling that “Beat the darkies!” and “Russians for Russia!,” both of which were shouted as Tagir Karimov and Suleiman Ramazanov were beaten, indicated that the incident was a hate crime.  More importantly, the conviction constituted both slogans as extremism under the law.

The biggest recent win against ultranationalism, however, came this week when Nikita Tikhonov and Evgeniia Khasis were sentenced to life and 18 years respectfully for the murder of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova in January 2009.  Failing to solve, try, and convict anyone for such murders has been a constant bat for domestic and international human rights groups to bludgeon the Russian state with. With Tikhonov and Khasis’ sentencings the government can boast a win-win in fighting nationalism–both perpetrators were members of the neo-Nazi group Russkii Obraz–and bringing those who murder human rights activists and journalists to justice.

Still, one can conclude from Chaika’s report that the fact more nationalists are being thrown in jail also means there are more of them out there just waiting for Demushkin to be pulled into the ranks of “Russians.”

Gazeta on Chaika’s report:

“A serious factor and formative prerequisite for the formation and spread of extremist ideology is corruption in state organs, local government, and police organs,” this is noted by the obvious links with the “Primorye Partisans” and the riot on Manezh square in Moscow.

The conflict in the center of the capital on 11 December last year, as the Prosecutor’s examination confirms, was actually provoked by “the inaction of police organs,” the report reads.

The bacchanalia of extremism threatens the security of society and the state, Chaika concluded.

The most active work to be conducted for containing the spread of extremism, the number of radical nationalist groups, and ideology is on the internet, the report says.  But a common preventative measure against has not produced the necessary results–“the conditions for the increased growth of extremist attitudes,” as it was called in the report, have not changed.  “In connection with the operational situation in the area of opposing extremism can’t be called stable or be predicted,” Chaika said.

Still, the report did present some success on the legal front:

For all of 2010, there were 656 cases categorized as extremism under the Criminal Code.  That is 19.7% more than last year. Solving these crimes, however, can be concluded from the report, is far higher: 632 cases are considered solved, and what is more 609 criminal cases were brought to court.

Along with this extremism is increasingly becoming the act of loners.  The number of crimes committed by participants in organized groups fell by 14.8% to 104, but to identify the participants in these groups was met with great success in 2010. 101 persons were arrested a quarter more than last year.

Image: Kommersant