On February 13, 2014, at a press conference in Moscow annual report “Right-wing radicals spread their shoulders. Xenophobia and radical nationalism and counteraction against them in Russia in 2013” was presented by information and analytical center “Sova”. Head of “Sova” Center Alexander Verkhovsky spoke on the activities of the Center. This was followed by presentations by Vera Alperovich and Natalya Yudina, authors of the report.
Speaking about political activities of right-wing nationalist radicals Vera Alperovich reported some evident growth of xenophobic sentiments, which found its expression in numerous “popular assemblies” and raids through marketplaces. De facto silent legitimation of the principle of “collective responsibility” of immigrants has occurred in Russia, which manifested itself in xenophobic election campaigns and later also anti-immigrant violence and pogroms.
As a whole nationalists became more radical in 2013, which was estimated by the experts as a return to the situation we had back in 2009: as violence was less actively publicly advocated by nationalists, their political activities, on the contrary, became more intensive. In spite of the fact that by the end of last year a number of right-wing radicals were prosecuted on criminal charges, experts conclude that adherence of nationalists to violent methods has not decreased and that the ultra-right still rely heavily on radical youth in their activities.
Natalya Yudina spoke in greater detail about the criminal aspects of nationalist activities and presented Sova’s statistical data on hate crimes in Russia. Same as for the last several years, the main target of racist violence remain people from Central Asia, who are a vulnerable group and an easy victim of the ultra-right violence. At the same time attacks against people from Caucasus also became more widespread.
In 2013 several members of nationalist groups were prosecuted for hate crimes, they were sentenced to various prison terms (these include “Volksturm” gang in Yekaterinburg, “Simbirsk white power” in Ulyanovsk, Yan Lyutik’s gang in Moscow, “Monolit SS” in Togliatti).
In spite of the growing number of prosecutions for xenophobic propaganda, most of these were aimed against users of Vkontakte social network.
Inessa Sakhno, expert of ADC “Memorial”, pointed out that a year ago official Russian report to the UN Committee on the elimination of racial discrimination was considered. Following that recommendations for the Russian Federation were adopted. One of these recommendation dealt with the necessity of over-ruling the recently adopted Russian law on non-governmental organizations in order for the NGOs dealing with defense of the rights of vulnerable groups to be able to work without undue interference from the state.
In mid-2012 Russia adopted national concept of migration policy, whose priorities were stated to be “observation of human rights” and “prevention of discrimination”, but just a few months after that the Russian authorities launched a nationwide campaign of “fighting against illegal immigration”. As a result of the latter, several laws were passed which made regulations on the stay in Russia and the rights of immigrants much harsher. In January 2013 changes were introduced into several laws, which made entry and leaving Russian Federation more complicated, and a 3-year ban on entering the country was introduced for those who stayed in Russia by more than 30 days longer than allowed by registration documents. Following that on August 9, 2013, another legal regulation was introduced, which required obligatory expulsion from the Russian Federation for any violation of registration rules. Then on January 1, 2014, legal changes came into force, which stated that a foreign national could stay in Russia for only 90 days during a half year period if he didn’t have a work contract. These legal initiatives aimed at fighting against “illegal immigration” turned out to be most disadvantageous for children from countries which are not required to have visas for Russia – they deprived them of possibility to study in Russian schools. These changes in Russian legislation lead to violation of both the right for education and the right for unity of family.
Inessa Sakhno also spoke about the raids and special police operations against “illegal immigrants” in Saint Petersburg. These were carried out with the participation of police officers as well as “voluntary assistants” to the police and members of nationalist organizations and were linked to so called “Russian cleansings”. Massive police raids often resulted in detention of immigrants and placement of them into Aliens Detention Center. Conditions for inmates in the Aliens Detention Center are degrading and the government of the Russian Federation has officially admitted this fact following a legal appeal considered by the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR) made by Roman Kim, a stateless person who had been held there. In its reply to ECtHR Russian government admitted not only that conditions in Aliens Detention Center did not fully conform to the provisions of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), but also admitted impossibility of proper legal defense for its inmates.
Report about the press-conference on the website of “Sova” Center (in Russian)