RUSSIA

Neo-Nazis flaunt videos of violent attacks online

5 min

Preying on foreigners and gays and then posting the gruesome evidence online has become all the rage for skinheads in Russia. The growing trend was brought to public attention at the end of July, when a case opened against a gang charged with the daylight murder of 20 people. Read more and see the videos...

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Preying on foreigners and gays and then posting the gruesome evidence online has become all the rage for skinheads in Russia. The growing trend was brought to public attention at the end of July, when a case opened against a gang charged with the daylight murder of 20 people.

The youths being charged, aged between 17 and 22, specifically picked on immigrants from central Asia and Caucasia, and then posted footage of the horrific and unprovoked attacks on video sharing websites. And with no less than 141 similar groups in Russia, it's unlikely that theirs is an isolated case.

Material compiled with the help of Anastassia Metral.

Video posted online by skinhead group

WARNING: This video contains violent content and may be found to be disturbing.

Video posted by mogutenok

"We're skinheads"

"Almost every immigrant has faced aggression in some way "

Elena Bourtina works for an NGO called "Civil Cooperation", which helps immigrants with administrative problems and medical aid.

Almost every immigrant has faced aggression in some way, whether it be by a neo-Nazi or a normal person, or even the police (theft, or a verbal or physical attack). However, this doesn't necessarily lead them to do anything about it. It's a long and costly process, and usually comes to nothing. Immigrants in Russia are the most vulnerable part of the population - most of them don't even have their papers in order or access to medical aid. So they're not unused to this kind of thing."

 

"The Western press tends to exaggerate the problem"

Samy has been living in Moscow for four years. A French national with North African parents, he's currently studying economics.

This is, undeniably, a problem in Russia. However, I'm of African descent and I've never been a direct victim of this kind of attack, despite walking by myself in the streets and taking the metro every day. I think that the western press tends to exaggerate the problem. You'd think that it's almost unliveable in Russia.

These things usually happen in the suburbs. They normally target central Asian immigrants and people from ex-Soviet republics like Georgians and Armenians. Russians divide society by race. There are still problems between the Slavic people - the "white Russians" - and the rossiski [non-Slavic nationals]. Confrontations usually come between the least liked minorities and the least educated. People who become neo-Nazis are often those who feel vulnerable from a socio-political point of view and are trying to gain back some kind of power by using racial superiority."

"These small groups are now ready to do anything"

Sergei Belikov is a lawyer based in Moscow. He has written several books about nationalism in Russia, including "Skinheads" in 2002.

The ultranationalist movement in Russia is organised by a network of small groups. There's no real leader. Most of the well-known names are those of heroes; those sent to prison or killed.

It's true that the movement has made a comeback in the past few years but for the moment it's quite well controlled by the authorities and the secret services. The reason for this renewed nationalism is probably something to do with increased living costs - growing numbers of Slavic people are finding it increasingly difficult to get by. They have quite a low birth rate, and the neo-Nazis use this to play on a fear that the white race will disappear while other communities take charge.

These violent attacks show that these small groups are now ready to do anything. They've got nothing else to lose. The way they go about things is similar to terrorist groups, like the explosion in Tcherkizovo market in Moscow in 2006, which killed 14 people. Some are starting to make bombs and gather specialists like former soldiers who fought in the Chechen war. If that continues, they really could organise more systemised attacks against certain groups of people.

The ultranationalist movements have slowly lost political power, as the authorities think that they take up too much of a prominent place. That's a shame, because with the creation of a political party, they'd be forced to negotiate reasonably."

"A boy came into the carriage and stabbed him six times, while he shouted ‘Glory to Russia’"

Svetlana Aïvasian* is Armenian. She moved to Moscow with her family in 1993.

My son killed when he was stabbed in the back with a knife. Just because he didn't look Slavic. He had brown hair and dark skin.

It happened two years ago on a suburban train in Moscow. He was coming back from work late at night, listening to his earphones. The train stopped suddenly - someone had pressed the emergency button. A boy came into the carriage and stabbed him six times, while he shouted "Glory to Russia". My son died instantly. He was 18.

The presumed killer was arrested. He was 15 and from a deprived family. It wasn't the first time he'd killed someone because of xenophobia. They found neo-Nazi paraphernalia at his house - photos, books, videos, swastikas etc., and he was a member of the neo-Nazi organisation "Slavic Union" ["Slavianski Soyouz" or "SS"]. He was found not-guilty. We appealed, and the second case is currently underway.

Skinheads are just a part of Russian society. You often see them in television documentaries. I don't know why the police don't do more to arrest them."

*False name used.