Tag Archives: Russian neo-Nazis

Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Immigrants in Petersburg (May 17, 2012)

Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Immigrants
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
May 23, 2012

An authorized International Day Against Homophobia rally held in Petrovsky Park on the Petrograd Side of the city was broken up by ultranationalists and Orthodox radicals and ended with attacks and mass beatings Thursday [May 17].

A man shot at two demonstrators with a gun firing irritant fluid, and then a militant crowd smashed windows in two buses carrying Central Asian migrant workers — whom they initially mistook for departing LGBT activists — with stones and attacked those inside one of the buses when it came to a standstill.

Called the Rainbow Flash Mob, the rally — which had been officially authorized by the Petrogradsky district administration — was stopped about half an hour after its start time when the police, who were present in large numbers at the scene, told the organizers that they would not be able to hold back the anti-gay protesters for long, according to the LGBT rights group Vykhod (Coming Out).

Despite their massive presence, the police did not attempt to disperse an aggressive crowd that gathered near the rally site shouting homophobic slogans, firing rubber bullet and irritant guns and throwing objects.

Video footage from Piter.tv shows menacing-looking young men — many with their faces hidden by medical masks or black cloth — clapping rhythmically and chanting, “We will hang and bury you!”

Yevgeny Zubarev, a reporter with Piter.tv, said rubber bullets were also fired at journalists, as he was nearly hit by one.

OMON riot police officers stood in a line, preventing the radicals from entering the rally, but did nothing to stop the threats being made.

The anti-gay protesters, of whom there were more than 200, included Orthodox activists, nationalists and young men who resembled neo-Nazis or football hooligans. One young man, who held an offensive anti-gay sign, was wearing a scarf with the logo and name of the Young Guard, United Russia’s youth organization.

The first attack occurred soon after the rally began, when a man wearing a suit and tie and glasses discharged a pistol firing irritant fluid at a woman who was holding colored balloons, and then shot at a man who rushed to help her. A video on the Piter.tv web site shows him shooting at people and shouting “Sodomy is a deadly sin” as he was being led away by a police officer.

The police told the organizers to end the rally, which was scheduled to last from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., after about 30 minutes, arguing that officers would not be able to hold the crowd for long. Only two of the scheduled speakers had time to make speeches.

Releasing more than 500 colored balloons into the air, the 100-plus participants left the park by bus for safety reasons. Provided by the organizers and the police, three buses left unnoticed in the opposite direction to where the counter-demonstrators were. They took passengers to the offices of Coming Out, as well as to several faraway metro stations.

However, at about the same time, two other buses — which happened to be carrying Central Asian migrant workers — were driving past the site, and a group of about 60 young men and women ran after them shouting anti-gay insults, throwing stones and at least one smoke bomb at them until most of the windows were broken.

Apparently they did not realize who was inside until they caught up with them as the buses slowed down on the bridge over the Zhdanovka River. Discovering that the passengers were not LGBT activists, however, did not cause them to end their attack.

As the second bus stopped, having apparently mounted the curb, the attackers started to climb through the broken windows in the rear of the bus and punch those inside while at least one delivered several blows through a side window.

As the attack continued, the bus passengers started to jump out from one of the front side windows and run away. The bus then managed to drive off as the attackers dispersed in the neighborhood.

The police watched from a distance and did not intervene.

According to LGBT activist Maria Yefremenkova, a young man and woman who were late for the rally were attacked by the same people afterwards as they were walking toward Petrovsky Park wearing rainbow paraphernalia.

On Friday, the police spokesman said that the police had failed to find any of the victims of the attacks on the buses.

“The bus is owned by one of the city’s enterprises, it was carrying the enterprise’s workers,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

“The owner declined to file a report due to the insignificance of the damages.”

The attacks went unreported on the police’s web site, where the May 17 bulletin included incidents such as a pickpocket being caught on a tram and two attempts to sell alcohol without a license.

A probe has however been ordered by the St. Petersburg police chief to investigate the actions of the police during the event, the police spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

The man who discharged the pistol firing irritant fluid has reportedly been charged with hooliganism and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

There has been no reaction from the city authorities, although the city’s new ombudsman, Alexander Shishlov, released a statement Friday urging the police to find the organizers and participants of the attacks and instigate criminal proceedings against them.

The demo was supposed to be the first authorized LGBT rights event since the St. Petersburg law banning “the promotion of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism to minors” came into force in March.

Photos courtesy of Sergey Chernov and Ridus.ru.

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What a Pogrom Looks Like (Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Migrant Workers in Petersburg)

SP Times Online • May 18, 2012

The International Day against Homophobia rally held in Petrovsky Park on the Petrograd Side of the city was stopped less than half an hour after its start time Thursday due to the large presence of anti-gay opponents who shouted homophobic slogans, fired gas and pellet guns and threw objects. Participants in the rally, which had been officially authorized by the Petrogradsky district administration, left the park by bus. The counter-demonstrators, who threw stones, eggs and smoke bombs, then attacked two buses carrying migrant workers, whom they mistook for the departing LGBT activists, smashed the windows in them and attacked some of the passengers traveling in one of them. The police watched from a distance and did not intervene. The demo was supposed to be the first authorized LGBT rights event since the St. Petersburg law banning “the promotion of sodomy … to minors” came into force in March.

Photos by Sergey Chernov. See his complete photo reportage of yesterday’s pogrom in “Russia’s fascism capital” (©) here.

_____

Internet channel Piter.TV aired an even more horrifying and damning report on yesterday’s pogrom. We would have liked (so to speak) to repost it here, but that proved impossible, so watch it here if you dare.

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Timur Kacharava: Five Years Later

The St. Petersburg Times
Issue #1626 (87), Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Five Years On, Antifascists Mourn Kacharava’s Death
By Sergey Chernov, Staff Writer

As antifascist activists marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of the 20-year-old antifascist activist and punk musician Timur Kacharava on Saturday, they claimed that they are under increasing pressure from the police, while the threat of attacks from nationalist radicals has not decreased.

Antifascist Filipp Kostenko filed a lawsuit against the Prosecutor’s Investigative Committee last week after four anti-extremism Center E operatives broke into his apartment, searched it and arrested an activist, Rinat Sultanov, who was there at the time.

The investigators had called the fire brigade to break down the metal door to get into the apartment. The three activists who were in the apartment were thrown on the floor and kicked in the stomach, Kostenko said Thursday.

“When I came 15 or 20 minutes later, they were still lying on the floor, but I asked the [officers] to stop this and they put [the activists] into different corners,” he said.

“But they didn’t beat anybody when I was there.”

Kostenko said it was done to intimidate the activists on the eve of the Nov. 4 antifascist rally and prevent the rally, of which he was one of the organizers, from taking place.

The rally, called “Defend the City from Fascism,” was held to counter the extreme nationalist Russian March that took place on the same day, and was authorized by City Hall.

“They arrested Sultanov for an old fight that took place two years ago and seized a lot of things that don’t even belong to him,” Kostenko said. “If they had just wanted to arrest him, it could have been done in some other manner.”

Sultanov has been charged with “inflicting grievous bodily harm” during an incident that took place on the Russian March on Nov. 4, 2008.

According to Kostenko, the investigators took computers, magazines and banners for the rally, among other things.

Lawyer Iosif Gabuniya said Thursday that a complaint against the actions of the investigator who conducted the search, and an application for the opening of a criminal case against the investigator have been filed.

According to Gabuniya, the investigators committed a number of violations during the search, including refusing to allow him to enter the apartment to observe how the search was being conducted.

“I think the actions were illegal and the rights of my client were violated, and that’s why I believe that the court will find them illegal,” Gabuniya said.

“There was also material damage; the door has been broken. We’ll also be suing for the material damages to be compensated.”

Kostenko said that the authorities turn a blind eye to the activities of nationalist organizations in St. Petersburg.

“They do arrest neo-Nazis who are directly involved in terrorism, but many nationalist organizations are aimed at cooperation with the authorities,” Kostenko said.

According to Kostenko, the threat of attacks committed by nationalist radicals against antifascist activists is still high, as an attack on the fans of the Karelia-Discovery Soccer Club at a soccer match in the town of Pushkin in August demonstrated. Dozens of fans of the club, who are widely regarded as sharing antifascist views, were beaten.

“At some point it appeared to be decreasing, but after the attack in Pushkin it became clear that the threat is still here,” Kostenko said.

“They have even progressed to the next level, because to attack a full stadium of fans, that’s quite a well planned action, and it shows that nationalists, although in the underground, are getting ready for some very decisive actions and are capable of carrying them out,” he said.

“Perhaps they coordinate their actions with the authorities, because there were only ten policemen at that match. Soccer matches are events that are widely regarded as having the potential for conflict, and yet there were only ten policemen providing security.”

For the murder of Kacharava, four extreme nationalists were sentenced to 2 to 12 years in prison and three received suspended sentences in 2007.

Dozens brought candles and flowers Saturday to an annual vigil near the Bukvoyed bookstore on Ligovsky Prospekt where Kacharava was stabbed to death.

Photo by Sergey Chernov. See his complete photo reportage of the memorial for Timur Kacharava here.

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Nikolay Oleynikov: The Urgent Need for Struggle (Moscow)

Nikolay Oleynikov
The Urgent Need for Struggle
May 12—June 1, 2010
Paperworks Gallery (Winzavod, Moscow)

At 2:00 p.m. on May 12, concurrent with the exhibition opening, there will be a presentation of the zine “The Urgent Need for Struggle” at Paperworks Gallery. A joint publication of Chto Delat, the Free Marxist Press, the January 19 Committee, and Paperworks Verlag, the zine features texts and artwork by Artemy Magun, Oxana Timofeeva, Maxim Stepanov, Paolo Virno, Christina Kaindl, Alexander Bikbov, Ksenia Poluektova-Krimer,  Władysław Szlengel, Kirill Medvedev, Darya Atlas, Keti Chukrov, and Nikolay Oleynikov. The presentation will also include a roundtable with talks by Ksenia Poluektova-Krimer, Kirill Medvedev, Maxim Stepanov, Alexander Bikbov, and Vlad Tupikin, and a discussion with zine authors and activists.

The revanchism of ultra-rightists on our streets, in the corridors of power, on the pages of newspapers, in university lecture halls, and at art exhibitions does not allow us to consign antifascism to the archives of the past century.

We are in solidarity with the prisoners who rose against the Nazis in Sobibor and the Warsaw Ghetto, with the struggle of Soviet soldiers, the anarchists and POUM militants of Spain, the heroes of the French and Italian Resistance, the Yugoslav partisans, and the victims of Pinochet’s reign of terror.

We do not believe that their heroism should be relegated to the ghettoes of ethnic, state, party or subcultural memory. We do not believe that the historical contradictions between antifascists in the past should divide us today. Historical memory belongs to everyone who is prepared to apply it in their lives and share it with others.

We do not perceive fascism either as an abstract, supernatural evil or a manifestation of perennial human vices. Historically, fascism of all stripes has been generated by a system that has particular features and a specific name. This system is capitalism. Fascism is born when dialogue about specific social ills and contradictions is replaced by a discourse that preaches the primacy of strength, success, and manifest destiny, and the inviolability of social, ethnic and all other boundaries and hierarchies, which are alleged to be God-given or natural. We believe that there is no such thing as God-given or natural inequality.

We know of only one boundary, that between right (that is, hierarchy, whether conservative, national-socialist or market-fundamentalist) and left (that is, equality as the ultimate horizon and the concrete steps that lead us towards this horizon).

We see the urgent need for struggle, including in the realms of culture, art, and knowledge. We must ensure the continuity of antifascist theory and practice.

—The Editorial Board

____________

Here is the conclusion to the lead article in “The Urgent Need for Struggle.”

Artemy Magun: “What Is Fascism and Where Does it Come From?”

[…]

In today’s Russia, fascism is not (thank God) the dominant ideology or political force. That force is conservative liberalism. Fascism, however, is still on the political agenda in Russia. The powers that be simultaneously fear it, use it to frighten the liberal opposition, and flirt with it.

First, Russia not only has smallish ultra-rightist youth gangs, but also popular fascist intellectuals – in particular, Alexander Dugin and Geidar Djemal. These men do not label themselves fascists (although Dugin did use this word in reference to himself during the nineties). Typologically, however, their texts belong to the fascist “family.” Their rhetoric is deliberately mannered and often does not withstand rational critique. For all the eclecticism of this rhetoric, its content boils down to certain invariants: mystical/eschatological scenarios, the imperialistic propaganda of war on the part of groups and countries subjugated at present (“Eurasia” or the Islamic proletariat), etc. Both thinkers combine appeals to the downtrodden with the propaganda of authoritarian obedience. These texts remained popular among readers for a time, provoking neither moral nor political “censorship” in a country where the consequences of World War Two have not been analyzed from the viewpoint of morality, and where the social consensus is ideologically right-wing. Today, however, Dugin’s ideas are being realized in practice in the “International Eurasian Movement” he heads and within other radical right-wing groups. They are employed to justify direct violence against outsiders (moreover, not non-Russians as such, but certain groups that are incompatible with Dugin’s notion of “Eurasia”). And yet at the same time, Dugin has served as an adviser to the speaker of the State Duma, was recently (in 2008) appointed a professor in the sociology department at Moscow State University, and is frequently invited to lecture at Saint Petersburg State University.

Second, surrounding the flagrant fascism of Dugin or Djemal there is a large zone that we might call fascizoid. It generates a climate in which the texts and gestures of such writers are perceived as comme il faut. As early as the late nineties, a manipulative attitude to political texts and ideas (“political technology”) took root in society, and there emerged an especially cynical style of aggressive rhetoric that did not hide the fact that it was purely demonstrative and sought to impress its audience by virtue of its effectiveness. Vladimir Zhirinovsky was probably the first to “invent” this style. It later came to be widely employed, for example, in the “war” waged on Russian television channels in 1999 (Sergei Dorenko’s style), and is to this day typical of the extremely aggressive nationalistic rhetoric of Mikhail Leontiev (on the “However” program). Moreover, in both cases we are dealing with journalists who were previously liberal and analytical in terms of their style. The ongoing Chechen war and contradictions in Russia’s foreign relations made it possible to engage in this rhetoric of violence with a relative amount of legitimacy. At the same time, this rhetoric services the subject who is “liberated” from ideology but is fundamentally passive. This subject is unwilling to give up those little things that fuel his subjectivity (apartment, education, recognition of his class), but wants somehow to express both his own ego and his frustration with the emptiness that prevails around him.

The aestheticization of violence was also characteristic of popular culture during the nineties (as typified, for example, by such films as Brother, Brother-2, and Brigada). In addition, as early as the stagnation period, a huge interest in mystical and occult theories and practices of all kinds emerged within society, including amongst the intelligentsia. This interest boomed during perestroika, thus coinciding with the popularity of the commercialized New Age in the western media.

Whereas during the nineties the rhetoric of violence, nationalism, and occultism were mostly ludic, aestheticizing, and, at the same time, manipulative in character, in the following decade, after Vladimir Putin came to power, they came to be taken more seriously: although the degree of its violence decreased, this sort of rhetoric became more widespread amongst public figures. Putin himself has frequently exploited it by as it were “breaking loose” from officialese (e.g., “We’ll wipe out [the Chechen terrorists] in their outhouse,” “If you want to become an Islamic radical and have yourself circumcised, I invite you to come to Moscow,” etc.) and publicly humiliating his underlings. Moreover, during the past decade, aggressive nationalism has practically become Russia’s official ideology. True, this nationalism is not ethnic in character and rarely leads to outright militarism. Nevertheless, it is one of the central rhetorical genres of public life (as exemplified in stories about the intrigues of the country’s enemies and the stupidity of politically correct Americans).

In short, a certain fascizoid context exists in Russia today. Given this atmosphere, acute socioeconomic disruption and failed liberal-democratic reforms could fortify the fascist movements and their alliance with the authorities. We could describe this context as a set of popular mindsets and particular facts that the society regards as legitimate and tolerable (at very least). These include a manipulative and cynical attitude to all ideas; a desire for “myths,” which allegedly need to be deliberately produced (many liberally minded intellectuals share these first two attitudes); the aestheticization of violence and violent rhetoric; a nationalistic xenophobia triggered by a sense that the country has been humiliated; and, finally, the presence of quasi-legal paramilitary youth groups. Whereas it is the police who should combat these radical right-wing gangs (something it does not do), it is the job of all citizens, especially intellectuals in their workplaces, to struggle against the overall context. We must strive to create an atmosphere in which fascism or semi-fascism ceases to be comme il faut. But we cannot achieve this with ordinary political correctness or liberal moralism. They are part of the problem, not the solution. It is likewise counterproductive to excessively generalize the notion of fascism, apply it to all non-liberal tendencies, and demonize our opponents.

We can achieve this [de-fascisization of public discourse] by involving people in a concrete democratic discussion of our country’s future, demonstrating the limits of cynicism and egoism, criticizing capitalism, revealing the roots and hopelessness of historical fascism, and seriously enlightening the masses with the aid of philosophy and science (as opposed to positivism, which precisely generates mysticism as its necessary complement). It is only enlightenment from the left, along with the practical struggle to democratize politics and the economy, that can rob fascism of its vulgar charms.

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How the Nizhniy Novgorod Police Celebrated May Day

A Nizhny Novgorod May Day with the Gestapo: The Arrest and Torture of Antifascists at the Avtozavod District Police Precinct

May First in Nizhniy Novgorod Turned into a Celebration of Genuine Police Sadism

A group of young people strolling in the Avtozavod District Park of Culture and Rest aroused the suspicions of police officers. For the OMON, the crowd of 14 people and their outward appearance (several of them were members of the antifa movement) served as an excellent excuse for arrest, torture, and the application of the most perverse “investigative techniques.” According to the detainees, the police did not even explain to them what they had been taken in for. When one of the fellows attempted to ask for the surname and ID of the officer arresting him, the police began beating him and kicking his legs into the “splits” position.

The young men were taken to the Avtozavod District police precinct, where they were subjected to torture and beatings first by OMON officers, then by officers from the Center for Extremism Prevention (Center “E”) who arrived at the precinct.

The detainees were first tortured by OMON officers, who forced them to sit handcuffed in a crouching position with their arms behind their heads for at least half an hour. In this position, a person’s muscles begin to cramp, but any attempt to move was punished with blows delivered through pea-jackets (so as not to leave any bruises) with billy clubs. The detainees were also forced to do push-ups while the police officers stepped on their hands. This “phys-ed lesson” was accompanied by curses and anti-Semitic, homophobic, and flagrantly fascist utterances on the part of the police.

Here is an excerpt from a conversation between one of the torture victims and his tormenter:

OMON Officer: You’re really doing them push-ups! You some kind of big athlete?

Antifascist: Yes.

OMON Officer: Maybe you’d like to go toe to toe? (laughs)

Antifascist: Let’s do it.

OMON Officer: You some kind of badass?

Antifascist: It’s better than doing push-ups.

Center “E” officers then arrived at the scene. In retrospect, all the torments administered by the OMON came to seem not so “egregious.”

One of the antifascists was beaten on the kidneys through pea-jackets. When this had no effect, he was trussed up with ropes in a contorted position and covered with pea-jackets. Two officers sat on him and held him in this pose for half an hour. Any movement on their or his part caused him excruciating pain. They demanded that he sign a piece of paper indicating his consent to cooperate with Center “E”. After two hours of interrogation, he was forced to incriminate himself by confessing on videotape that he had attempted to organize a (failed) attack on neo-Nazis.

Center “E” officers threatened to give the ne0-Nazis all their video recordings (in which the faces of the antifascists are visible) as well their home addresses and other information. In this way they attempted to blackmail the detainees into signing cooperation agreements with Center “E”.

One of the antifascists was intentionally led into a room at the same precinct where detained neo-Nazis were being processed. (The police were much more polite in their treatment of them. They did not torture them, but only copied their passport information and fingerprinted them.) The Center “E” officers addressed the antifascist by his nickname, which is known to the Nazis, and threatened to give them his address. As one officer said to him, “You do realize that if we leak your address to the boneheads they’ll kill you?”

During interrogations, Center “E” officers held open the eyelids of the detainees and threatened to extinguish their cigarette butts in their eyeballs. They also beat them on the kidneys. The entire proceedings were videotaped, and the officers warned that the detainees would have problems at work and school if they refused to cooperate.

As this was going on, the well-known Nizhniy Novgorod neo-fascist Maxim (aka Shaggy) was freely walking about the precinct house. He had already videotaped the antifascists unhindered when the police were detaining them in the park. In neo-Nazi circles, it is widely known that this person is a member of DPNI (the Movement against Illegal Immigration.) He was also a friend of Sergei “Onyx” Ionnikov, who had already been convicted and served time for inciting ethnic hatred and is now under arrest once again, this time for the murder of a young Nizhniy Novgorod man. There is evidence that Maxim aka “Shaggy” was also detained after the attack in which the young man was murdered.

Onyx and Shaggy

All this circumstantial evidence forces us to conclude that Center “E” uses DPNI members as provocateurs. The antifascists overheard one officer say, “That Oleg Ivanov fucked me over again. He promised there would be Nazi-autonomes, but they didn’t show up!” (Oleg Ivanov is the leader of DPNI’s Nizhniy Novgorod branch.)

The young people were released after five hours in custody. They were formally charged with swearing in public and sentenced to pay an administrative fine. Just imagine it: 14 antifascists gather in a public place and swear loudly! Such actions are not only deserving of indignation, but also of the most Inquisition-like tortures and punishments. This, apparently, is the “extremism” that Center “E” is charged with combatting.

After the beatings he underwent, one of the detainees was barely able to walk; he is now recovering at home. None of the detainees was able to understand  the reason for the cruel treatment they suffered.

***

Joint News Conference following Russian-Danish Talks. April 28, 2010, Copenhagen

QUESTION: Mr President of Russia, I know that this is a question that you’ve been asked more than once and maybe you are tired of it, but I recently saw that 66 percent of Russians believe that Mr Putin is the one who controls the country. Who actually takes decisions in Russia today?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Good question, even though it has perhaps grown somewhat tired; but every question asked at a news conference is good.

You know, Russia is controlled by the Russian people – not Medvedev, not Putin, nor anyone else. This is the first thing.

[…]

Dima and Lars

LARS LOKKE RASMUSSEN: I must say that I was struck by the President’s very strong endorsement of the importance of pluralism and of respecting human rights, and I was struck by the progress that we have seen in this area. But I talked about some of the concerns that Danes have, for example, regarding the murders of journalists in Russia. I expressed my wish that these cases be investigated and that the perpetrators be prosecuted. Denmark’s position on this issue is well known.

[…]

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Let me say a couple of words here too because, first, this topic is important and, second, it is traditional for Danish society and several other countries where such questions are of concern for many people. This is a good thing.

What can I say? First of all, as a matter of fact such topics can never poison the atmosphere because this is a normal issue to bring up. That’s the first thing.

Second: we really do always discuss this sort of questions. I told Mr Prime Minister that we are open to the idea of these topics being discussed with representatives of the Government, representatives of civil society, and representatives of nongovernmental organisations. That said, these are our problems and we will solve them on our own and independently. We don’t need any help from others on this issue – we have to deal with them ourselves.

Finally, there’s one more thing. Of course every crime committed should be investigated, but I do not think that the President or law enforcement agencies should be exclusively preoccupied with the murder of journalists or any other group that share a given professional capacity.

We should seek to eliminate all crimes of this nature because violence against the person constitutes the gravest crime in the Criminal Code of any nation, including ours.

So these issues need to be addressed without picking and choosing, and that’s what Mr Prime Minister and I talked about. I think this is useful, but again I would stress that these issues fall within the jurisdiction of the Russian state and of me as President of Russia.

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Andrei Loshak: Why I’ll Be Marching on January 19th

After they initially had their request for permission to march on January 19 turned down by Moscow city authorities, the January 19 Committee have reached a compromise that will allow both parties to have their cake and eat it too: two standing demos or pickets (at Petrovsky Bulvar, 4, and Chistye Prudy, next to the monument to Griboyedov) with start times staggered an hour apart and with guaranteed safe passage down the boulevards between points A and B. The start time at Petrovsky Bulvar is 19.01; at Chistye Prudy, 20.00. Here is the map of the planned route. If you’re in Moscow on the 19th, join the march! If you’re not, make your way to the nearest Russian embassy or consulate and make your voice heard in memory of Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, and all the other hundreds of people who have been killed and injured by neo-Nazis in Russia over the past several years. Basta!

The January 19 protest action has been publicly endorsed by such folks as writers Boris Strugatsky and Linor Goralik, filmmakers Alexander Mitta and Boris Khlebnikov, musician Andrei Makarevich, artist Vladimir Dubossarsky, and many others.

One of the people who will be marching on January 19 is well-known TV and print journalist Andrei Loshak. He published the following column on the arts and culture website OpenSpace.Ru the other day explaining why he’ll be there.

On the nineteenth of January I plan to take part in a march (which has been curtailed by the mayor’s office to a picket) for the first time in my life. If I’d been at marches in the past, it was only in my capacity as a reporter. I might have been sympathetic to the demonstrators or, on the contrary, felt disgust towards them, but one way or another there was always a distance between them and me, a distance that for various reasons I didn’t want to reduce. But here there is no distance. You walk with a crowd of strangers, and that is the whole purpose.

Of course when “dissenters” [i.e., as at the oppositional Marches of Dissenters] get beaten up [by the police], I feel like intervening and stopping the injustice, because clubbing unarmed elderly people is at very least mean. But I have no urge to embrace the cause of their leaders. I’ll never be able to believe [ex-prime minister Mikhail] Kasyanov with his buttery eyes. I can’t even believe in Khodorkovsky, although I have a lot of sympathy for him. I don’t believe him because he once screwed over a friend of me on a business deal. So I can’t believe in him as the future Saviour, however much I’d like to sometimes. For me, if the imprisoned oligarch is the conscience of the age, then that status comes with some major reservations.

But there are things that aren’t relative. That is, things that are absolute, Nazism among them. It is racially pure, unadulterated, one hundred percent evil. It probably isn’t worth explaining what I mean because it is natural for people to think this way. Anyone who approaches this issue from a relativistic stance by that fact alone arouses serious suspicions. It was possible to doubt until 1933. After twelve years of Nazism in practice, how it is possible to make any concessions to it?

I have a friend named Alem. He was born in Moscow twenty-seven years ago. He went to an ordinary school on the outskirts of the city, and he was different from the rest of the kids in that his skin was slightly darker. His mother is Russian, his dad an Ethiopian. Alem turned out great: a tall man with luxurious dreadlocks, fine features, a toothy smile, and inexhaustible joie de vivre.  Alem was a genuine skateboarding virtuoso, an undisputed authority in this field. In April 2004, neo-Nazis jumped him in the metro. There were two of them. They were decently dressed young men, in white sneakers and jeans, not some sweaty-smelling Nazi skinhead lowlifes. When the train pulled up, these neat young men knocked Alem off his feet and for half a minute smashed his head against the granite platform. Then they ran (or maybe even walked) through the closing doors of the train and disappeared.  It all worked out quite neatly for them.

Alem was in a coma for five weeks. He had suffered a close craniocerebral injury and two cerebral hemorrhages. But he survived and for the past almost six years he has been learning to walk and speak again. On the inside he hasn’t changed at all: he is still the same fun-loving guy. He calls his wheelchair a “board” and he has covered it with skating stickers. Only the famous slogan “Skateboarding is not a crime” now looks a bit ominous. Sometimes he and I go to concerts of his favorite groups — Slipknot, Korn, Cypress Hill. At one of those concerts he leaned over to me and said, “The audience probably thinks I’m such a wild fan, but it’s just this tremor I have!” This is a typical example of Alem’s sarcasm, which is very much in the spirit of his favorite TV series, House.

He has likewise changed little on the outside. He still wears the same brands of clothing and has the same infectious smile, although he was forced to get rid of his dreadlocks. Over the past six years they had become seriously thin, and when his girlfriend left him there was no one to braid them. He is quite strong: from morning to night he walks from one end to the other of his one-bedroom apartment (which he shares with his mom and brother) with a walker, does exercises, and works to improve his diction. I can’t remember him ever once complaining.

Alem is a living verdict against the neo-Nazis. They ordinarily finish off their victims, but he miraculously survived and is thus a flagrant piece of evidence, irrefutable testimony to the reality of their evil deeds. In any other country he would have become a symbol of the struggle against neo-Nazism, but not in Russia, where no one has any use for him. Alem needs constant, expensive therapy, but the state has never given him any money for it, despite the dozens of letters written by Alem’s brother. Naturally, the criminals were also never found.

I sometimes try and imagine them. I guess that they’ve long ago forgotten about this incident — six years have passed, after all. They have changed, too. They have settled down, had kids, and grown beer bellies. Maybe they have even covered their swastika tattoos with Celtic patterns so that they can go to the beach when they’re abroad. Now they’re “oldsters,” and ordinary values — home, family, work — are in first place. They’re just like other people. Except for the fact that sometimes they do the Sieg Heil at a football match just for fun or over beers, amongst their kind, recall past exploits. Maybe, lowering their voices so the kids won’t hear, they recount how they crippled a “monkey” at Borovitskaya metro station.

My dream is that these Übermenschen would stop feeling like honorable family men. That they would tremble in fear because they’d been driven into the underground, a deep, stinking underground. That instead of going to the multiplexes and the Ashan hypermarkets on the weekends, they would have to move from apartment to apartment, use fake passports, and live every second with the animal fear that they could be captured at any moment. They would be made to understand that Valhalla is cancelled, that they face a perpetual Nuremberg Trial that begins in this world and continues in the next.

On January 19 of last year, they murdered Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelov. Nastya and Stas were heroes. However sacrilegious it might sound, to be white and be killed by the fascists you have to earn it. They kill people who have fought evil long and fearlessly, who have tried to make its existence unbearable. The neo-Nazis usually lie in wait for such people with knives and guns. They kill so that other people, people who are a bit less bold and bit less committed, will stay at home and enjoy their tiny private joys and won’t venture out to where they’re not invited.

On January 19, Alem and I are going to the march in memory of Nastya and Stas, no matter how the mayor’s office might try to hamper it. To be more precise, I will be walking in the march and Alem will be riding alongside me on his “board.” Being apolitical in our society is considered good form. But this isn’t about politics. It’s pure ethics. Evil or good? Fascism or antifascism? Unfortunately, there is no such comfortable option as “neutrality.” Whose side are you on?

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January 19 Committee: Neo-Nazi Terrorism in Russia Today

 The January 19 Committee calls on everyone who cares to distribute this text as widely as possible.

Nazi terrorism. This is exactly how we should call the problem facing our society today, a problem no less acute than the fundamentalist terrorist underground in the North Caucasus. For many people, ultra-rightist terrorism is a relatively unfamiliar, new and to a great extent incomprehensible phenomenon. That is why bureaucrats, politicians, the media, the siloviki, and the expert community in the majority of instances prefer to ignore the real problem, presenting it instead as a series of isolated, unrelated excesses.

Telling in this respect is the bombing of the Nevsky Express train late last year. The Nazi group Combat 18 Nevograd first claimed responsibility for this terrorist act, followed a few days later by Dokku Umarov’s guerrillas. The media immediately began discussing the likelihood of neo-Nazi involvement. Many journalists, members of the security services, “experts,” and politicians demonstrated their total lack of command of the situation. A stereotype still exists in our society: contemporary Nazis are embittered teenagers in heavy boots who gather in mobs to beat up people who they think look the “wrong way.” Of course they can kill someone in a pack, but terrorism is a serious matter. Following the politicians on the right end of the spectrum, many are inclined to go even further: Those guys are not Nazis at all, they’re nationalists. Sure, they sometimes do stupid things, but in their hearts they’re patriots. You shouldn’t defame them. As it turns out, such notions, very much in the spirit of the 90s, are still extant amongst the populace. For the majority of average citizens, Nazis in Russia are a bit of disgraceful exotica.

For those who monitor the situation attentively, however, it is obvious that over the past few years the neo-Nazis have made the qualitative shift from street violence to the tactics of terrorist groups supported by a well-developed infrastructure of extreme rightists. It suffices to analyze ultra-rightist Internet resources and the statistics of nearly daily crimes to understand the scale and nature of the problem.

One of the most notorious events of 2009 was the murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova. Two neo-Nazis have been charged with these crimes, and investigators had every reason to do this. Not everyone who was party to this crime has been apprehended, however, and the Tikhonov-Khasis gang is not the only one of its kind. On June 28, 2009, antifascist Ilya Dzhaparidze, who had promoted anti-racism among football supporters, was murdered near the entrance to his own building. On November 16, 2009, Ivan Khutorskoi, a leader and founder of the street-level antifascist movement in Moscow, was shot and killed in the entryway of his own home. This was the second attempt to murder Ivan there; the first such attack took place in 2005. On the morning of October 10, 2008, antifascist Fyodor Filatov, a friend of Ivan Khutorskoi, was killed as he left his home.

When we talk about attempts on the lives of antifascists, we should remember a series of attempted bombings. On December 22, 2006, a homemade bomb went off in the entryway of a residential building in the southwestern Moscow suburb of Lyublino; several police officers who were attempting to defuse the bomb were seriously injured. The device was attached to a radiator near the door of an antifascist’s apartment, and a swastika had been drawn on the wall near the bomb. On October 13, 2007, three neo-Nazis attempted to set off an explosive device containing the equivalent of 200 grams of TNT and packed with bolts and bits of glass at the Roks Club in Petersburg, where an antifascist concert headlined by a Swedish band was taking place. No one was injured thanks to the swift actions of security guards.

Another widespread misconception is the notion that the only people who are in danger are those in the so-called risk groups: people of non-Slavic appearance, active antifascists or members of subcultures. This is not the case. In recent years, “random” people have more and more often been the victims of Nazi terrorism.

On January 16, 2009, an attempt was made to blow up the McDonald’s on Zelenodolskaya Street, near the Kuzminki metro station. Black smoke began to issue from a bag left behind by one of the customers, and then a loud bang was heard. FSB bomb technicians who arrived on the scene discovered that the bag contained an explosive device that for reasons unknown did not go off. Members of the neo-Nazi group NS/WP turned out to have organized the unsuccessful blast. This same gang was responsible for blowing up spur tracks near the Tsaritsyno station on October 5, 2008, and the main tracks of the Paveletskaya line near the Bulatnikovo station on November 4, 2008, as well as the explosion at the Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra Church in the Biryulevo-Zapadnoe district on November 30, 2008. The members of this gang who were arrested had committed almost two dozen attacks on passersby, people they regarded as non-Russians. All these crimes took place between November 2008 and January 2009. For example, on January 1, 2009, the gang murdered an Uzbek and a Dagestani on Biryulevskaya Street. On December 6, 2008, these same criminals attacked an ethnic Russian whom they mistook for a priest because of his thick beard. One of the leaders of the gang was 17-year-old Muscovite Yevgenia Zhikhareva, a student at the Water Transport Academy who personally participated in the murders. The terrorists were aided by 29-year-old Pyotr Bashelutskov, who worked in Moscow as a departmental head in the Russian Federation Ministry of Tourism, Sports, and Youth Policy. Investigators suspect that this government official provided the fugitives with money and fake passports.

The ideology of the NS/WP is expressed in texts on their own website:

It is time to change our psychology, to throw out all the shit of small-minded nationalism. Our cause is not nationalism, much less patriotism. Russia for Russians, yeah? But the Russians are a nation of enslaved people, degenerate Slavs. Russians are merely a nation, moreover a nation of unter-Slavs. This has to be understood. Russia was first a country of Russian Christians (which is a verdict in and of itself), and then the state of the Yids. Russia must be destroyed!

Another telling example of the psychology of the ultra-rightists is the text “Cultivate Your Inner Executioner!”:

If you see a white traitor or a white whore walking with their colored lovers, imagine how the white race is degenerated by mixing with inferior beings. Imagine the suffering of Russian children who grow up in poverty because the authorities give the best piece of the pie to non-Russians. If you see a pregnant colored or white whore, imagine yourself cutting the future Untermensch from her belly and train yourself to see this as an act of courage.

If your relatives condemn your views, imagine how you will execute them with your own hands once we come to power. Remember that they might become accomplices of forces inimical to the Russian people if you don’t stop them. Get used to the thought that the deaths of your antifascist relatives will be your noble sacrifice to God and Nation. A genuine National Socialist is someone who, even when forced to choose between his nation and his mother, will chose his nation.

When you see or read that some “distinguished cultural, scientific or artistic figure” condemns nationalism, racism and national socialism, remember that thanks to such “authoritative” figures, who brainwash the Russian people, our nation is still enslaved by non-Russians. Get used to the thought that we will have force them to serve the cause of national socialism or destroy them.

We should mention several other characteristic instances of ultra-rightist terrorism in 2009. Major terrorist strikes were planned for Moscow and Izhevsk on the eve of Victory Day, May 9. In Lyublino, a teenager who held ultra-rightist views was arrested for plotting to detonate in a crowded place an eight-kilo explosive that he had fashioned himself — according to the security services, his target was the chapel on Poklonnaya Gora. A 20-year-old neo-Nazi from Izhevsk planned to blow up himself and those around him with a one-kilo explosive device packed with shrapnel. In preparation for this act, he conducted a test explosion on May 2 in a forested area. The terrorist planned to blow himself up on Victory Day right in the middle of a column of marchers.

If we speak of the motives of these lowlifes, then an incident that occurred on May 9, 2009, in Tambov speaks for itself. There a young neo-Nazi was arrested after he attempted to tear war medals from the jackets of veterans.

One example of the well-developed terrorist networks that formed in 2007–2009 is the NSO (the National-Socialist Society). Thus, the video that they posted on the Web on August 12, 2007, which showed the beheading of two migrants against the background of a swastika-emblazoned flag, turned out be real, although many journalists and “experts” had been quick to pronounce it a montage.

The identities of the murdered men were established, and later suspects were arrested. The murderers were members of the NSO Obninsk cell. No less resonant was the posting of another video on the Komsomolskaya Pravda website on May 5, 2009. In this video, neo-Nazis from the NSO-North cell are shown beheading one of their accomplices, whom they suspected of treason. These neo-Nazis committed more than two dozen murders and a series of robberies, and they had planned to blow up a hydroelectric plant in Moscow Region. In the case brought against the NSO, more than two dozen neo-Nazis belonging to terrorist cells were arrested. The leaders of the NSO had links with State Duma deputies (with Nikolai Kuryanovich, in particular), and with a number of commercial organizations and neo-Nazis in Europe and the US. Such international ties are not at all unique in the neo-Nazi world. For example, a branch of the international terrorist organization Blood and Honour operates in Russia.

The Nazi terrorists mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg. There now exists a tendency in the neo-Nazi milieu to heroize the most odious gangs of neo-Nazis. Such terrorists as Nikolai Korolev and the SPAS gang, who were responsible for the blast at the Cherkizovsky Market, or the Borovikov-Voevodin gang, who murdered the ethnographer Nikolai Girenko, sold drugs, and committed a number of other murders and crimes (including the murders of two of their own wayward comrades-in-arms), are now objects of adoration amongst ultra-rightists.

New groups of lowlifes are emulating these “heroes.” Extreme right-wing websites are distributing Voevodin’s book, allegedly written in the Crosses Prison (Petersburg), as a cult classic. The book is an artistic rendering of a hypothetical plan of action for a neo-Nazi terrorist group. As targets for attacks, Voevodin lists Orthodox priests and parishioners, members of the police and the FSB, trains, antifascists, celebrations for WWII veterans, and Jewish kindergartens. He proposes that migrants and homeless people be murdered as a way of “training” for “serious missions.” Voevodin explains that the goal of this terror is to spread fear and destabilize the country as a whole, thus easing the ultra-rightists’ seizure of power. He also suggests that the Nazis borrow the methods of the guerrillas in the North Caucasus. Yes, you heard it right: this sort of borrowing and even imitation is discussed on ultra-rightist websites and forums. Whereas Russian neo-Nazis had once taken their cues from ultra-rightists in Europe and the US, today they find their examples in the history of the dozens of terrorist groups that functioned in our country during the nineties and in this decade. What is more, neo-Nazis and racists in the west, who have been practically driven into total isolation, observe with unconcealed joy the expansion of the terrorist network in Russia: the members of all the groups that have been neutralized had been in one or another form of contact with members of other gangs and other such legal, semi-legal, and illegal networks.

In 2009, 75 people were killed and at least 284 people were injured as the result of racist and neo-Nazi violence in Russia. Over the past three years, no fewer than 277 people have been killed and 995 injured at the hands of ultra-rightists. In 2009, 319 people were convicted of crimes involving racial and ethnic hatred. This is two times more than in the previous two years.

And yet the crimes of the neo-Nazis continue. They have their own infrastructure, sources of financing, links to state officials, and security services officers who are loyal to them; and they continue to actively promote their cause amongst young people. The facts speak for themselves. All the known terrorists were educated and trained by the Slavic Union, Russky Obraz, and hundreds of other formal and informal organizations, which have supported them legally and financially after their arrests. All the murderers and terrorists were raised on the music of such neo-Nazi bands as Kolovrat, which performed in public in downtown Moscow on November 4, 2009. The absolute majority of organizations for “legal nationalists” are in fact accomplices of flagrant neo-Nazism and terrorism.

The most important problem is the absence in our society of an adequate assessment of the threat posed by neo-Nazis and extreme rightists, and, as a consequence, the absence of systematic measures for countering terrorism. Repressive methods are powerless to tackle complex phenomena of this sort: the Nazi milieu, which has been actively growing in recent years, is capable of successfully reproducing itself. In order to really combat the ultra-rightist underground we need to destroy this movement’s well-developed infrastructure, in particular that part of it where a convergence between Nazi terrorists and state officials (bureaucrats, deputies, security services officers, police officers) is taking place. Indifference to all problems has become the norm in our society. But this is precisely the situation in which such indifference is really dangerous. Our society is sick. It is sick with alcoholism, drug addiction, crime, and corruption. Nazi terrorism is another such illness. We have to recognize it and combat it, not pretend that the problem doesn’t exist. This is a situation in which the reaction of each person is extremely vital.

Here is information about the crimes of ultra-rightists and legal actions taken against them in December 2009:

—The January 19 Committee (http://19jan.ru/)


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