THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
Vol. 6, No. 3(159) - Special Issue, 13 May
"The Ultra-Right on the Streets with a Pro-Democracy Poster in Their Hands or a Knife in Their Pocket: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2012"
By Natalia Yudina and Vera Alperovich. Edited by Alexander Verkhovsky
SOVA Reports and Analyses, 24 April 2013
Formatted for RNB by Parikrama Gupta
CRIMINAL MANIFESTATIONS OF RACISM AND XENOPHOPHOBIA
Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence
Attacks against Political Adversaries
Attacks on Ethnic "Others"
Attacks on Members of LGBT Community
Attacks against Homeless People
Violence Motivated by Religion
Racism and Soccer
Threats from the Ultra-Right
Grassroots Xenophobic Violence and Xenophobia in the Army
PUBLIC ACTIVITY OF ULTRA-RIGHT RADICALS
Nationalists at General Protest Actions
Rank-and File Nationalists
Ultra-Right Political Organizations
Independent Actions by Nationalists
Other Areas of Nationalist Activity
During the Elections
Raids, Training Camps, etc.
COUNTER-ACTION TO RADICAL NATIONALISM AND XENOPHOBIA
Criminal Prosecution for Violence
Criminal Prosecution for Vandalism
Criminal Prosecution for Propaganda
Criminal Prosecution of Extremist Groups and Banned Organizations
The Federal List of Extremist Materials
The Banning of Organizations
Other Administrative Measures
APPENDIX: STATISTICS OF CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (in word format)
Considering the dynamics of radical nationalism and the state's and society's efforts to counteract it, 2012 became one of the most paradoxical years. It is difficult to make any predictions for the future based on this year's results.
Mass protest actions, a defining feature of the year 2012, became for the ultra-right movement an apple of discord. Key ultra-right organizations viewed the protests as an opportunity to overcome their marginal status, and enter "the big politics" as a part of the democratic opposition. However, the failure of this plan became evident as the year went on.
First, the overall achievements of the opposition ended up being much more modest than initially expected. Second, nationalists were unable to recruit significant numbers of new supporters from among the protest participants. Third, their political leaders have been increasingly unable to bring their "old" guard out to the streets, since the majority of the existing ultra-right activists quickly denounced joint actions with despised liberals and leftists, and many of those, who remained, gradually abandoned the protest activity, upon realizing the futility of any attempts to influence the authorities via large protest marches and rallies.
These unsatisfactory results moved some nationalist organization to denounce the protest activity. Most of them, however, see making such a step back as unproductive, and continue to follow their adopted strategy of cultivating the image of "respectable nationalists" and hoping that new supporters appear eventually.
In addition to participation in the protest movement of 2012, the ultra-right attempted to use yet another method for potential political de-marginalization, that is, creation and registration of their own political parties. Despite the fact, that numerous ultra-right movements expressed their desire to register, earlier in the year, the only ones that have succeeded so far were two previously existing parties of Sergei Baburin and Dmitry Rogozin and a couple of minor groups.
Evidently, the majority of rank-and-file nationalists don't believe that ultra-right parties have much likelihood of getting registered, so they are in no hurry to join their regional party branches. Seeing no promising potential either in the general protest activity, or in party-building, they, once again, started talking about the "white" (in the racial sense) revolution, and violent methods of attaining power. Once again, various militarized sports events started to take place, the level of aggression went up, and many potentially violent ultra-right "raid" initiatives started to take place. The number of attacks against "political" adversaries increased as well.
Thus, the ultra-right movement in general is, likely, moving back toward a half-underground network of fighter cells, then toward forming a nationalist parliamentary opposition. However, the overall public support level for nationalist ideology has increased, due to significant support both from the authorities and from the opposition.
Criminal activity of the ultra-right in 2012 showed no decline, compared to the previous year. Their ideological opponents constituted the most significant group of their victims. However, ethnicity-based attacks were far from disappearing; apparently, the number of victims among "ethnic minorities" is the same this year as it was the year before. Ultra-right attackers frequently chose the most helpless and socially unprotected victims; in particular, we observed the growing number of attacks against the homeless. The number of attacks "by associations" increased as well.
We also observed the increase in grass-roots violence motivated by xenophobia, and greater number of mass conflicts between people, who belong to different ethnic groups. The radical right attempted to politicize these incidents as "ethnic conflicts" (so called "Kondopoga technology") but all their attempts failed.
Prosecution of the groups inclined to violence was less active in 2012, and the number of violence-related convictions dropped sharply. However, the punishments on average became more severe. During the review period, members of several neo-Nazi groups were convicted, including the Autonomous Military Terrorist Organization (Avtonomnaia boevaia terroristicheskaia organizatsiia, ABTO), the Orel Guerillas (Orlovskie partizany), and the gang of Yan Lyutik.
During the year, there were several convictions related to the Moscow Manezhnaya Square riots of December 11, 2010 or to the attacks that followed them. In fact, however, these cases are examples of poor investigative work. The same is also applicable to the court verdicts relating to the attacks against anti-fascists Ilya Dzhaparidze in Moscow and Nikita Kalin in Samara.
Throughout 2012, we recorded a rapid rise in xenophobic propaganda convictions. In many cases, the perpetrators present no significant danger; these are often half-illiterate minors from the VKontakte social network, who either posted links to racist videos on social networks or left intolerant comments on internet forums. Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies often focus on perpetrators, who are easier to find, instead of perpetrators, who present a real danger. The fact that penalties were usually commensurate with actions needs to be pointed out as a positive development in this law enforcement area: courts (and, to some extent, prosecutors) have all but abandoned both the practice of incarceration for "mere words" and the practice of giving suspended sentences. The most common verdicts in 2012 were mandatory and correctional labor.
The situation with the monstrous Federal List of Extremist Materials - which continues its rapid growth, and increasingly becomes a target of indignant criticism and sarcastic articles - is even more troubling. This unwieldy instrument is almost impossible to use, while providing the widest opportunities for abuse.
The mechanism of banning organizations for extremism was utilized only on two occasions; the international network Blood and Honour / Combat 18) and the Northern Brotherhood (Severnoe bratstvo) were the only groups banned in 2012. These bans were largely symbolic, since both organizations were by that time practically non-existent. Obviously, the mechanism of prohibition, as it relates to organization, and further prosecution of its members requires some serious reassessment.
The "fight against extremism" on the Internet continued actively in 2012; there was a dramatic increase in requests that providers block specific sites or materials that had been legally recognized as extremist. The legitimacy and value of these demands is far from clear.
Thus, our overall impression is that, while large segment of ultra-right activists declares the primacy of street violence, and quantitative increase of such crime can already be observed, law enforcement agencies increasingly target social network users for re-publishing information, look for "extremist materials," and make demands on the Internet service providers. This discrepancy could be dangerous in its possible impact on the developing situation.
CRIMINAL MANIFESTATIONS OF RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA
Systematic racist and neo-Nazi violence
In 2012, 19 people died and 187 received injuries as a result of racist and neo-Nazi violence; 2 people received credible murder threats. Please remember, that our calculations do not include victims of mass brawls, and the events in the republics of the North Caucasus. These numbers are practically identical to the ones from 2011, for which we know of 25 murders, 195 injured victims, and 10 people who received murder threats. Considering our annual data adjustments, there is no evidence of any drop in racist crime rates; most likely, the level of violence has even increased.
In the past year, incidents of racist violence took place in 31 regions of the country (compared to 49 regions in 2011). As before, Moscow (4 killed, 65 injured), the Moscow Region (3 killed, 25 injured), and St. Petersburg (1 killed, 21 injured) top the list. They are followed by the Republic of Bashkortostan (19 injured), Primorye (4 killed, 2 injured), the Komi Republic (6 injured), the Samara Region (2 killed, 4 injured). The year before, a significant number of victims had been recorded in the Kaluga Region; however, the situation sufficiently improved there in 2012 (1 inured). The statistics for the other cities have remained practically unchanged for the past several years.
Attacks against Political Adversaries
The most populous group of ultra-right violence victims in 2012 (1 killed, 54 injured) consisted of their political, ideological or "esthetic" opponents. The year before, this group occupied the second position on the list (1 killed, 35 injured).
This phenomenon can by partially explained by the fact that the entire year was marked by tumultuous political and public activity, and the ultra-right did not remain unaffected by this process. Certainly, we also tend to be better informed about such cases; the victims themselves or their associates are better aware of their rights and more often find opportunities to contact NGO's and the media. This group of violence victims includes anti-fascists, (or those, who were perceived as such), attendees of rock and hip-hop concerts and soccer matches, participants of the action in memory of Markelov and Baburova on January 19, left-wing activists, ecologists, fans of certain kinds of music (even anime fans), and members of various groups disfavored by the ultra-right.
Attacks on Ethnic "Others"
Ethnically-based attacks continued without interruption in 2012. We need to emphasize that our classification of this group of victims is approximate - the report on the attack does not always reveal the victim's ethnicity, and most crime victims prefer to avoid contacts with police, community organizations and the media. Of course, exceptions sometimes happen. For example an attack on Abdul Bekmamadov - an actor of Theater.doc in Moscow and a citizen of Tajikistan - in the fall of 2012 received noticeable public reaction and press coverage, probably, because the victim was well-known, and the theater's artistic director made the incident public. However, such cases are exceedingly rare.
The second largest group of victims, the one topping the "ethnic" list, were migrants from Central Asia (7 killed, 35 injured). In 2009-2011, they were the largest victim group. The number of victims is close to the corresponding 2011 statistic, but 2011 showed more murders (10 killed, 35 injured. People from the Caucasus take the fourth position in our mournful rating, with 4 people killed and 14 injured (vs. 6 killed и 17 injured in 2011).
Formally, the third place is occupied by dark-skinned people (25 injured). Attacks on them have been systematically tracked by Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy. However, we also know of 15 additional victims (1 killed, 14 injured) of unspecified "non-Slavic" appearance, most often it was described as "Asian," or "Caucasian"(i.e. from the Caucasus). For example, on Hitler's birthday on April 20, the neo-Nazis conducted the White Car (Belyi vagon) operation on the Tver and Klin directions of Moscow commuter trains; as a result several people of "Asian appearance" were injured. Thus, it is difficult to determine, which group - migrants from the Caucasus or dark-skinned individuals - was a more frequent target of hate crimes
Attacks on other "ethnic others" under xenophobic slogans such as Malaysia natives in Volgograd or a resident of China in St. Petersburg, were also recorded (5 victims). Attack on ethnic Russians, motivated by ethnic hatred (7 victims), took place in Moscow and Syktyvkar.
Notably, the attacks on Russians were initiated by lone perpetrators in all cases; we have no information on any violent racist groups of "migrants from the Caucasus" (along the lines of the Black Hawks, Chernye iastreby). On the other hand, yet another organized racist ethnic minority group surfaced in 2012 - the Patriot (Patriot) gang of ethnic Kyrgyz. Unlike the "migrants from the Caucasus" groups, which attacked ethnic "others," the Kyrgyz "Patriots" focused on women of their own tribe. They attacked girls for ostensibly dating non-Kyrgyz men (Tajik men, for example). The gang became known after their incendiary videos appeared online (in March and May of 2012). The videos show young men, who insult and beat up young women, strip them naked in public, and demand that they answer questions on camera. One video clip shows a Kyrgyz girl, who looks no older then 20, first being savagely beaten, and then hit forcefully in the head with a piece of street curb. It is not known whether the girl survived. The exact number of victims is unknown. One of the Patriots victims committed suicide after returning home and not being able to handle the abuse from her fellow-villagers. Another girl was found in Kyrgyzstan, and it was eventually possible to convince her to go to court. As a result, the criminal investigation was opened. After this, another victim sent a letter to the Russian police and to the Kyrgyzstan Embassy in Moscow with her account of the attack.
In July 2012 it was reported that a criminal case was opened in Russia, and three people were detained. The 25-year-old leader of the gang was among the apprehended. Altogether, the gang included about 15 members, all from the same area of Kyrgyzstan, aged 20 to 35. The group has been active in Moscow and Yekaterinburg since 2006.
Total number of attacks, specifically based on ethnic criteria, remained the same as in the previous year; there were 122 attacks per year in both 2011 and 2012. Thus, in contrast with the trend of 2009-2011, the number of ethnically-motivated violent crimes is no longer decreasing.
We may want to contemplate the reason for such change, or at least the reason of this year's exception to it. Sociological surveys indicated rising levels of ethic xenophobia; however, mass sentiments do not correlate that closely to activity levels of marginal radical groups. Another suggested explanation for the observed increase in violence, was that law enforcement agencies prosecuted xenophobic violence with less zeal, since their attention switched to the political opposition. This theory has merits, since there indeed were fewer prosecutions (see below), and, since the preceding drop in violence had been achieved exclusively via active law enforcement, the decrease in law enforcement necessarily led to losing previously attained results. However, considering that, on average, each court case is initiated at least a year prior to its verdict, the shift must have occurred in 2011, and can't be explained as a reaction to the protest movement. Some analysts surmise that young ultra-right activists became disappointed with the "peaceful protest," and instead turned to violence. However, this explanation can be rejected outright; the protest movement gained strength only in December 2011, so its "appeal" and "disappointment," (which are undeniable but also shouldn't be overestimated) only pertain to 2012. More likely explanation is that the new generation of ultra-right militants, after the experience of mass arrests, takes the need for secrecy more seriously than their predecessors. At this time it is still impossible to construct the exhaustive explanation.
Attacks on Members of LGBT Community
For the first time since the 2007 gay pride parade dispersal in Moscow we recorded a significant number of ultra-right attacks against gay activists (12 injured), a 400 % increase since 2011. In general, the number of attacks on LGBT is much greater, but we cannot provide even a rough estimate, since the victims are extremely reluctant to report the incidents.
Increase in number of attack can be partially attributed to increased visibility of the LGBT community, as its members were protesting against the notorious law banning "homosexual propaganda" adopted in St. Petersburg and several other regions in early March 2012. Ultra-right radicals interpret the state's position as a tacit approval of violence; therefore, all their groups - nationalists, Cossacks, Russian Orthodox radicals - engage in violence more openly. Notably, the police officers on duty during the events often choose not to intervene and make no attempt to stop an attack.
Attacks against Homeless People
We also recorded a significant number of homeless victims in 2012: 6 killed and 2 injured. Last year showed an increase in the number of attacks on these most socially isolated and helpless individuals, often balancing on a brink of survival. The ultra-right (particularly, members of the Nazi Straight-edge subculture) view them as "biological garbage" and call for "cleaning up the country" from this "scum" (the radical ultra-right blogs mentioned that, on occasions, municipal lower officials encouraged bullying the homeless and their ejection from basements)
Attack victims also include people, who, according to their attackers, "lead an unhealthy lifestyle," as it happened in case of an inebriated woman on Moscow Metro train in early 2012.
A number of attack victims of ultra-right radicals in the past year can be classified as "victims by association," that is, either the eyewitnesses of attacks, who tried to interfere in defense of people being attacked, or simply random passers-by. In addition, the list of victims includes people, who "dared" to show their disapproval of the ultra-right activists' public behavior. In winter 2012 Dmitry Alyaev, a reporter from the Novye Izvestia newspaper, was beaten up for expressing his disagreement with nationalists, who shouted "Russia for Russians!" on board of a commuter train.
Violence Motivated by Religion
In 2012, as in the preceding years, followers of the Jehovah's Witnesses doctrine constituted the largest group among the victims of religion-based xenophobia; at least 8 people were injured during the attacks. This is, undoubtedly, the result of the repressive campaign against Jehovah's Witnesses that have been going on for about four years. However, the number of such incidents dropped significantly compared to 2011, when we recorded 24 injured victims.
Attacks on members of other religious groups motivated specifically by religious hate remain uncommon. Besides Jehovah's Witnesses, the victims in 2012 included only a pastor of a Goodnews Mission Church and his assistant.
Defenders of the Pussy Riot punk collective, who came out on pickets in a number of Russian cities, also became targets of religiously motivated attacks. For example, on March 14, April 19 and May 26, there were attacks on the picketers at the courthouse, where the band members were on trial for their "punk prayer." A group of Orthodox activists in Moscow attacked people and organizations in some ways associated with the punk collective on several occasions in August. Attackers also included some activists of right-wing organizations.
The attack on journalist Sergey Aslanian that took place in Moscow on the night of May 29, 2012 was, likely, also motivated by religious reasons. While beating him up, an attacker shouted "You are an enemy of Allah." Aslanian's May 14 statement on Mayak radio station about the prophet Muhammad, which was found offensive by some Muslims, could be a possible motive for the attack.
Racism and Soccer
Reports on manifestations of racism among soccer and hockey fans have become commonplace. It can partially be explained simply by the direct influence of the neo-Nazis, some of whom are also soccer fans. The fans' behavior on Hitler's birthday on April 20 provided an indirect confirmation of this effect. On this day in Ryazan during the match between Arsenal (Tula) and Zvezda (Ryazan) fans displayed a traditional banner "Happy Birthday, Grandpa!" Meanwhile, 50 soccer fans and participants of the Russian Runs in Nizhny Tagil marched under imperial black-yellow-white flags and swastika-decorated banners.
Xenophobic soccer fans don't particularly try to hide their views. For example, in December 2012, Zenit fans issued a manifesto "Selection-12" (Selektsiya-12), which expressly opposed any gay and black players at the club. Additionally, in September 2012, two fans of the same Zenit club, boarding the plane in the Finnish city of Vantaa en route to Spain for the game with Malaga, were taken off the plane by the police because of their racist remarks.
The fans and players of the Anzhi (Makhachkala) faced the greatest extent of racism in 2012. In different cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Yekaterinburg), before nearly every soccer game throughout the year, ultra-right fans of other teams placed racist banners and streamers or drew swastikas, runes, SS signs and other such symbols near the stadiums. The games were accompanied with shouting of anti-Dagestani and anti-Caucasus slogans and throwing bananas at the team members. The situation even deteriorated into violence: in August, a group of Zenit fans in St. Petersburg attacked a group of Anzhi fans; as a result, two residents of Dagestan suffered injuries (according to another account, there were three victims).
Part of the reason for all this attention to Anzhi is the fact, that dramatic quality improvement of the Dagestani players caused the envy of other clubs. Since billionaire businessman Suleiman Kerimov purchased the club in 2011, Anzhi acquired distinguished players and coach. However the anti-Anzhi campaign is still primarily rooted in anti-Caucasian and, in particular, anti-Dagestani sentiment; it represents a new chapter in the ongoing history of mutual attacks between Anzhi fans and fans of central Russian clubs.
Racism is directed not only at the teams from the Caucasus region; it also takes a form of rejection of dark-skinned players. Presence of both factors increases the xenophobic reaction. For example, on the eve of the Alania - Torpedo game some ultra-right soccer fans pelted Alania players (including dark-skinned Akès da Costa Goore) with snowballs
The Russian fans' behavior have attracted attention of international soccer associations; in the summer of 2012, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) initiated disciplinary proceedings against the Russian Football Union (RFU) in connection with the Russian fans' behavior at the Russia - Czech Republic game of June 9. The fans threw fireworks on the field and displayed banners with "prohibited content." Racist insults from Russian fans directed against Czech national team defender Theodore Gebrselassie during the match, also caused concern of the UEFA and of the Football against Racism in Europe (FARE) network.
Threats from the Ultra-Right
Public officials and community activists, connected in any way with the issue of xenophobia, encountered numerous threats from the ultra-right in 2012. Law enforcement personnel continue to attract attention of ultra-right activists. In summer, a number of non-Slavic judges received threats from a so-called "Regional Branch of the Committee on Crimes Committed against the Russian People in Southern Federal District." Personnel of six district courts in the Rostov Region "were sentenced to the capital punishment" for "imposition of verdicts, known to be criminal and illegal, and conducting prosecution under Article 282 of the Criminal Code of Russia"
Community activists constitute yet another vulnerable group. In November 2012, right after the Russian March in Voronezh, four young men, who raised their hands in a Nazi salute and carried an imperial flag, drove up to the Human Rights House Office in Voronezh. The young men introduced themselves ("We are from "Format-18") and said "it took us a long time to get to you; we would like to ask a couple of questions." The police was called and scared the Neo-Nazis away.
Members of Pussy Riot collective did not escape the ultra-right's attention, the right-wing Web sites published the young women's personal information, accompanied by threats of violence; members of the South-East Cossack society (Iugo-Vostok) suggested that Pussy Riot members be "tried by the parishioners." Data that leaked online apparently came from the Kitay-Gorod Department of Internal Affairs, which had apprehended the Pussy Riot members after a different performance (therefore, not all band members, who received the threats, had participated in the notorious performance in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior).
Grassroots Xenophobic Violence and Xenophobia in the Army
The dynamics of grassroots xenophobic violence remain difficult to trace, since law enforcement and mass media tend to qualify most episodes as locally-motivated incidents of hooliganism. Based on indirect data, the violence level has not changed. We still record at least ten violent incidents of this category each year.
Traditionally, many racially-charged brawls take place on August 2, when drunken troopers celebrate the Airborne Forces Day. On this day in 2012, racist incidents were reported in at least 4 regions of the country, and paratrooper's attacks injured at least 5 people were injured (there were at least 7 victims in 2011).
Racial conflicts undeniably exist in the Army (the stories about ethnically-based "fraternities" (zemlyachestva) have been circulating for many years), however the army life is isolated from outside observers, so only a few incidents of racist violence became known to public in 2012. This summer, for example, ordinaries Teymur Mamedov i Elbrua Musayev woke up the squadron in one of the military units stationed in the Sverdlovsk Region, took 16 soldiers from the line-up, used shaving foam to write "Dagestan," "Azerbaijan," etc., on their backs, and took pictures with their mobile phones. Meanwhile, in the winter of 2012, the corporal, who served under contract in the Pacific Fleet, insulted a medical officer, "focusing on his nationality," in the presence of other soldiers, and was subsequently prosecuted.
In 2012 the occurrence of vandalism motivated by religious, ethnic or ideological hate, was not much different from the preceding year; at least 95 such incidents were recorded in 2012, compared to 94 incidents in 2011, and 178 cases in 2010.
This year the greatest number of attacks was made against sites belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church - 38, including 5 cases of arson (compared to 12 incidents total in 2011). Without a doubt, this change was due to increased media coverage of the Church-related scandals, the Pussy Riot case, and overall growth of anti-clerical sentiments in the society.
The second place belongs to ideologically motivated vandalism (24 cases). Monuments to Lenin and other leaders of the October Revolution, the Great Patriotic War memorials, memorials to victims of political repressions, and other such objects were desecrated in numbers, practically unchanged from the year before (28 cases in 2011).
As for the other kinds of vandalism motivated by religious hatred, its targets were distributed as follows:
- sites belonging to new religious movements - 13 incidents, of them Jehovah's Witnesses - 12, including 1 explosion, 1 case of arson (16 cases in 2011);
- Jewish sites - 8 incidents, including 1 case of arson (14 cases in 2011);
- Muslim sites - 6 incidents, including 1 explosion (17 cases in 2011);
- Sites of various protestant denominations - 5 incidents, including 1 explosion (5 cases in 2011).
Thus, the number of attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses (including the ones where explosives were involved) went down compared to 2011. The number of attacks on Muslim and Jewish sites decreased considerably. However, the numbers are not yet final and may need further corrections
We observed a moderate quantitative reduction for the most dangerous acts - explosions, gunfire and arson (11 out of 95 cases in 2012 vs. 13 out of 94 cases in 2011). However, the overall share of such acts still remains quite high.
Explosives and other similar devices get used for more than just vandalism. Thus, unknown young masked men threw Molotov cocktails at the Caucasian cuisine restaurant "Zhi Est" on Ordzhonikidze Street in Moscow; the restaurant's administrator was injured. Unknown people threw an improvised explosive device inside the Uzbek-owned "Tashkent" store in St. Petersburg. In both cases, swastikas and unspecified "extremist" slogans had appeared on the walls prior to the incidents.
PUBLIC ACTIVITY OF ULTRA-RIGHT RADICALS
Nationalists at General Protest Actions
The year of 2012 was a very complicated year for the ultra-right movement, characterized, among other things, by its attempts to find its place with respect to general protest activity that emerged in late 2011. Right radicals faced a choice, whether they should join the rest of the opposition, play against them, or maintain their independent existence.
Here, leaders of organizations should be considered separately from rank-and-file activists; as shown below, their self-identification process followed different trajectories and often produced dissimilar results.
Rank-and File Nationalists
The majority of the rank-and-file ultra-right activists in Moscow immediately chose not to join forces with other, ideologically foreign, opposition groups in the protest movement. Nationalists insisted that they need to prepare for the "White revolution," rather than attend and bring their flags to "Jewish" events, "sponsored by the US State Department". This majority is comprised primarily of small neo-Nazi groups not connected to the high-profile political ultra-right organizations. Essentially, these small groups constitute the principal form of the ultra-right movement in Russia. It is in this environment that rank-and-file (and sometimes not only rank-and-file) members of aforementioned high-profile political organizations usually start out.
Only a small segment of the ultra-right movement disagreed with this stance. Subsequently, very few right radicals attended rallies of the opposition, and so they had to settle for supporting roles in the protests.
The greatest number of ultra-right participants showed up at the very first general protest of 2012 - the March for Fair Elections on Bolshaya Yakimanka Street in Moscow on February 4. Total number of self-identified nationalists on the march reached 900. Considering the fact, the Russian March in Moscow can attract as many as 6 thousand people, 900 people should be viewed as a rather modest result.
Later, the number of ultra-right protest participants gradually shrunk, despite some situation-based fluctuations, and finally dwindled to almost zero by the end of the year.
No more than 100 nationalists attended the rally on Pushkinskaya Square on March 5, and about 300 of them participated in the march on Novyi Arbat Street on March 10. The Millions March on May 6 was, de facto, ignored by the majority of ultra-right activists - about 50 people marched under their flags; about 100 other activists of Andrey Savelyev's party, the Great Russia (Velikaia Rossiia), who had never participated in such protests, showed up just so they could immediately and defiantly leave. In addition, a visibly small number of right radical activists without insignia took part in the march, and then engaged in clashes with the riot police.
The clashes during the march of May 6 and the new amendments to the legislation on meetings provided additional motivation to all the opposition members, including right radicals, and the next Millions March, on June 12, attracted about 550 right-wing activists. However, the effect proved to be short-lived, and at the rally in support of those arrested in Bolotnaya Square riot case the number of ultra-activists was small, and their role insignificant. The only major general protest of the fall, on September 15, was attended by no more than 350 nationalists, and for the only winter event, the Freedom March on December 15, their numbers were down to single digits.
Thus, with the sole exception of the Yakimanka march, the participation of 300-500 nationalists in the protest action can constituted a good result in terms of attendance. This has happens to be an approximate average number of attendees for a successful specifically nationalist meeting (except for the Russian March).
Three major factors are thought to have shaped the situation:
First, the known nationalist political leaders were extremely unpopular among the rank-and-file neo-Nazi even prior to December 2011. Predictably, underground radicals accused them of opportunism, in particular for their attempts to join forces with the democratic opposition. This constituency could not condone open collaboration with the liberals or even the left.
Second, many ultra-right activists (along with many other people) no longer believed in peaceful rallies and marches as an effective mechanism of political struggle. After the presidential elections in March, the slogan "For Fair Elections" lost its urgency, and many nationalists decided that it made no sense to continue their participation in street protests, particularly, alongside their ideological enemies. These disappointed activists have joined those, who believed from the very outset that the nationalist movement should wait for the most favorable moment to start their "White Revolution."
The third and final reason for the nationalists' reluctance to attend general oppositional rallies was their frustration with their assigned roles. Originally, the ultra-right intended not merely to participate, but to take the initiative away from the hated liberals and leftists who, in their opinion, "usurped the protest." In practice, as was mentioned above, they had to settle for the role of extras, who, also, never received a particularly warm welcome from the rest of the opposition. In their attempt to reverse the situation, the right-wing radicals, who attended the rallies, tried to attract attention and express their view of the situation - they whistled and yelled at the speakers to show their disapproval, initiated clashes with anarchists, LGBT activists, and Pussy Riot advocates, and even repeatedly tried to take over the stage. They certainly succeeded in attracting attention, but it did not lead to seizing the initiative. Instead, this behavior only caused irritation and resentment among other members of the opposition, who repeatedly accused nationalists of provocation.
The only action where ultra-right activists managed to gain some status was the May "Occupy" campaign, where young people wearing "imperial" ribbons were in charge of camp security. Then they tried to use the same strategy in order to take over the management of the camp kitchen and even the camp fundraising, but such an arrangement no longer seemed satisfactory to other participants, who made several attempts to ban nationalist propaganda and even to discuss the presence of nationalists and their status in the camp. However, before these attempts had a chance to bear fruit, the Occupy camp was cleared by the security forces.
Thus, for those ordinary Moscow nationalists, who decided to take part in the protest movement, 2012 became a year of big disappointment. Its beginning was very optimistic, and, up to a certain point, the far-right still held hopes that the "angry city dwellers" protest could result in a "Russian revolt." It quickly became clear that these expectations were unfounded. Nationalists blamed both liberals and their own leaders for this failure, arguing that they "betrayed the protest," by preventing it from following the "proper" course.
The situation was somewhat different in St. Petersburg, where nationalists managed to play more than just supporting roles. Nevertheless, the final outcome was the same. The St. Petersburg protesters were far fewer in numbers than those in the capital; meanwhile the number of ultra-right participants did not differ much between the two cities. As a result, nationalists constituted a much larger and more visible segment of the protest movement.
The right radicals of St. Petersburg much more readily attended protest rallies and marches, usually contributing from 100 to 600 participants - a number, comparable to the St. Petersburg attendance of the Russian Marches (500 to 1000 people). Emboldened by this level of support, the local ultra-right leaders were much more straightforward and did not shy away from their traditional nationalist rhetoric during their stage time. In general, the St. Petersburg opposition took nationalists more seriously, they were even accused (and rightly so) of taking over the Civil Committee, the local protest government body.
Nevertheless, the number of right-wing activists, who attended general protests in St. Petersburg, also gradually declined and fell from 600 at the march of February 4 to 70 people at the Freedom March on December 15. Like their Moscow counterparts, St. Petersburg activists shared a sense of disappointment in rallies and marches as a way to fight for power, exacerbated by the fact that they could not blame the liberals for this particular failure.
The far right presence during the protest actions in most other Russian cities was even less significant than in Moscow, and usually consisted of several people carrying the imperial flag. Nationalists sometimes managed to speak at the rallies; occasionally, they became co-organizers or even organizers, but their number never exceeded several dozen even in the cities, where the Russian March tended to attract hundreds of participants.
Thus, we can conclude that the majority of nationalists refused to participate in the "liberal rebellion," and those, who had initially hoped that these events could become a prelude to the "White Revolution," quickly became disillusioned. Ordinary nationalists started talking once again about the need to seize power by force; thus the year of peaceful demonstrations resulted in stronger emphasis on violence among the ultra-right.
Ultra-Right Political Organizations
Unlike the rank-and-file activists, the largest ultra-right organizations - primarily "the Russians" (Russkie), led by Alexander Belov and Dmitry Demushkin, the Russian Social Movement (Russkoe obshchestvennoe dvizhenie, ROD), led by Konstantin Krylov, and the Russian Citizens Union (Russkii grazhdanskii soiuz, RGS) and its leader Anton Susov - initially were much more optimistic about general oppositional activity. They hoped to use it as a platform to increase the social base of their movements. Early in the year, it seemed that they followed a strategy, developed back in the fall of 2010, of progressing from their earlier status of "non-handshakable" radicals to an organic part of the democratic opposition.
Making their way into the protest movement's coordinating bodies was the key element of this strategy. The greater part of the struggle took place in late 2011; the ultra-right and the ultra-left jointly promoted an idea of establishing ideology-based quotas in order to compensate for the outright dominance of the liberals. The Citizen's Council (Grazhdaniskii Sovet, GS) - the coordinating body of the protest movement - was formed accordingly, and consisted of 60 people from the four "curia": 10 representatives for each of the three broad political affiliations (nationalists, liberals, leftists) and 30 representatives from the non-partisan citizen activists.
In late January, the nationalists announced that they were not selecting ten permanent members from their "curia" - instead, their four coordinators, namely A. Belov, D. Demushkin, K. Krylov and Vladimir Tor, were to select them prior to each meeting. Thus, in fact, "the Russians" and the ROD decided who got to speak on behalf of the nationalists in the protest movement.
In addition, the nationalists received 5 out of 30 seats in the "Citizens Curia" (Grazhdanskaia kuriia). Three organizations - the supporters of National-Stalinist Yuri Mukhin, Valery Ganichev's Russian Union of Writers, and the National News Service (Natsional'naia sluzhba novostei) of "the Russians" - scored the necessary number of votes in the elections, conducted via text messages. Attempts by the leftists to veto this decision and deny certain nationalists the right to represent "Citizens Curia" were met with opposition from Ilya Ponomaryov, the State Duma deputy from the Just Russia (Spravedlivaia Rossiia) party, and the question was never put to a vote.
Even the "Liberal Curia" did not escape the nationalists' attention; Ilya Lazarenko, a veteran of Russian neo-Nazi movement, the founder of the "Nav' Church - the Gnostic Church of the White Race," and, currently, the leader of the tiny National Democratic Alliance (Natsional-demokraticheskii alians) was elected to the Citizen's Council from this curia.
In fact, this whole fight in the committees was important to nationalists primarily because it provided them with opportunities to get on stage and address the audience during rallies and marches, to recruit people to their side, and to demonstrate their status to other activists. Nationalists addressed the audience during general protests since the very first rally of December 5, 2011, but, nevertheless, failed to expand their presence.
The Pushkin Square rally on March 5, one of the least attended events (no more than 10 thousand people), was the only one that featured three speakers from the far-right. On that day, Sergei Baburin, the leader of Russian All-People's Union (Rossiiskii obshchenarodnyi soiuz, ROS), and the ROD leaders V. Tor and K. Krylov got the floor. Two nationalists speakers, Natalia Kholmogorova (ROD Human Rights Center) and A. Belov ("the Russians"), participated in the rally on September 15; one (A. Belov) spoke on February 4; another one (Ivan Mironov of ROS) addressed the rally on June 12. During the March 10 rally not a single representative of the far right (or even ideologically close) was invited on stage; in protest, D. Demushkin defiantly led off about 200 of his supporters, who then proceeded to march along the Old Arbat Street carrying banners with xenophobic slogans.
The ultra-right movement leaders were clearly unhappy about the situation, but proceeded with their original course of participation in the oppositional activities despite the small number of followers and displeasure of most right-wing activists.
In the framework of this strategy, it was decided to conduct the traditional Russian May Day (Russkii Pervomai) not as a customary purely nationalist action, but as a large march of the general opposition. Eventually, they succeeded in convincing non-nationalist websites to promote the event, organized by nationalists, and the Citizens Council declared it an event of the opposition. In their desire to conform to this status, the organizers even changed the event's traditional name; in 2012, it was rebranded the "Citizen's March." The far right clearly expected to turn the Russian May Day into a large oppositional event, but the one with nationalists - not liberals - as primary moving force. However, these hopes were not fulfilled. The Citizen's March was expected to attract 5,000 people, but, instead, it had even fewer participants than the year before - about 500, compared to 600 in 2011. Other opposition leaders essentially ignored the nationalists' invitation..
Thus, the Russian May Day demonstrated to the right-wing leaders the failure of their plans to expand their social base through recruiting general protest participants; meanwhile they were starting to lose their existing supporters, previously willing to attend nationalist events.
After the Russian May Day failure, the event's main organizers, "the Russians," apparently began to doubt the wisdom of their chosen strategy. They decided not to attend the Millions March on May 6, and, instead, to hold a separate rally on Manezhnaya Square. Nationalists clearly hoped that the breakthrough attempt near the Kremlin - especially given the fact that activists from For Fair Power (Za chestnuyu vlast') paratroopers movement promised to show up (but didn't) - will attract greater attention than just another peaceful demonstration, where the ultra-right, once again, were assigned the spectator role. Thus, the action on May 6 was planned in a more familiar independent format, including elements of forcible resistance to the authorities. However, the opposite happened - clashes with the police, so beloved by nationalist activists, took place during the Millions March, which became a major event, while A. Belov, D. Demushkin and Georgii Borovikov brought about 70 activists to the Revolution Square, but were unable to hold the event, since some attendees were almost immediately detained by the police, and the rest dispersed.
After this failure, nationalists once again returned to their course of participation in general opposition events. As mentioned above, they were active in the Occupy campaign, and showed up in greater numbers for the next march on June 12.
The ultra-right even sacrificed a traditional Moscow public action on the Day of Solidarity with Right-Wing Political Prisoners, observed by the right radicals on July 25 for the past few years. They hoped to bring their supporters to a general protest rally on July 26 in support of the prisoners in Bolotnaya Square riot case, but they didn't have much impact. Leaders of the right-wing organizations were not invited on stage, the number of rank-and-file nationalists was small, and their role was negligible.
In summer 2012, the opposition leaders decided to form a real democratic governing body instead of the Citizens Council, which was almost forgotten by that time. During the march of June 12 they announced the new Opposition Coordination Council (Koordinatsionnyi Sovet Oppositsii), with elections scheduled for October 20. The nationalists were actively involved in the electoral process, especially since it involved public debates, which, by themselves, provided a platform for addressing a wider audience of potential supporters.
The Opposition Coordination Council was formed according to the same principle as the Citizens Council, that is, 5 people from each of the three ideological factions (nationalist, leftist and liberal) and 30 people from the "citizens' faction." The elections were conducted online, but were much better protected from fraudulent inflation of the results by the small subset of users then the preceding ones.
The nationalist curia candidates included Daniil Konstantinov from Moscow Defense League (Liga oborony Moskvy) Igor Artyomov from RONS (which after its ban, now stands for "Rossiia osvoboditsya nashimi silami", Russia Freed by Our Efforts), Nikolai Bondarik from the Russian Party (Russkaia partiia), K. Krylov from National-Democratic Party (NDP), V. Tor (NDP), Alex Rezchikov (Abanin) (NDP), Vsevolod Radchenko (NDP), D. Demushkin ("the Russians"), A. Belov ("the Russians"), Vasily Drovetsky (independent), Andrey Tyurin (independent), Vadim Kolesnikov (independent), and Stanislav Vorobyev form Russian Imperial Movement (Russkoe imperskoe dvizhenie, RID). The voting results were surprising: the five winners were D. Konstantinov, I Artyomov, N. Bondarik, K. Krylov and V Tor. To everyone's surprise, the most famous nationalists - A. Belov and D. Demushkin - received no mandates. Also, while the high voting results of Konstantinov, who had been recognized as a political prisoner, and of two moderates Krylov and Tor are understandable, it is far less clear why so many votes were casts for little known Artyomov and Bondarik. We can offer two possible explanations for this outcome.
First, rank-and-file ultra-right activists largely ignored the elections, since they never approved of collaboration with the liberals in the first place. In addition, they were, likely, scared away by the requirement to show their passport in order to take part in the elections. On one hand the majority of voters in these elections were people who did not share nationalist ideology, for whom the known figures of A. Belov and D. Demushkin are extremely unattractive, while the surnames "Artyomov" and "Bondarik" (in the very beginning of the list) bring up no associations. On the other hand, some voters were nationalists from the 1990s, to whom Artyomov and Bondarik as better known and more desirable then the 2000s crop of activists, such as Belov and Demushkin.
Second, fans of Sergei Mavrodi played a major role in this outcome. S. Mavrodi called on his fans to support three winners - D. Konstantinov, I. Artyomov, and N. Bondarik - for the nationalist curia. After the elections, the Coordination Council election committee was said to annul 9 thousand of these supposed "MMM votes." However, according to some sources, it was done for all the factions; according to the other reports, it was true only for the liberal and the citizens' factions. Thus, we can suspect that the many votes for Artyomov and Bondarik come from MMM voters.
We don't have enough data to determine which of the versions is more accurate. However, the actual result is not too politically different from the expected one (Konstantinov, Krylov, Tor, Belov, Demushkin). Bondarik is on friendly terms with "the Russians," and can easily replace Demushkin, while Belov participates in the work of the Opposition Coordination Council as a stand-in for Artyomov, who was in the United States hiding from the prosecution.
The nationalists, who ran as the citizens faction candidates, received no significant support, and none of them was elected to the Opposition Coordination Council.
The ultra-right leaders were clearly disappointed with the results; they had been much better represented in the Citizen's Council. Following the election loss and the lackluster Russian March in Moscow (see below) Demushkin made a sensational announcement that nationalists were not joining the Freedom March on December 15. "While initially this was a kind of people's movement, and there was hope that the organizers had the guts for some kind of action, now it turned into these obviously pointless walks around Moscow." However, other leaders of "the Russians," such as V. Basmanov, held an opposite opinion. As a result, "the Russians" promoted the march, but nationalists were barely visible there.
Thus, by the end of the year, the key ultra-right organizations, despite misgivings, continue to follow the course of cooperation with other oppositional groups, stubbornly ignoring their own activists' lack of enthusiasm.
While some organizations remained committed to the general protest movement through the end of the year, there were also those who tried to earn political points from the lack of support for the protest among rank-and-file nationalists. In one particularly telling instance, the Russosvet coalition, the Right League (Pravaia liga) association and a few other groups decided to hold an alternative Russian May Day and built their advertising campaign on rejecting any cooperation with the liberals, or participation in their events. However, the efforts of these groups did not bear fruit, as only about 50 people attended the march, i.e. 10 fewer participants than the year before.
The Great Russia party led by Andrey Savelyev achieved greater visibility in 2012. The party ignored a number of early protest actions, then showed up and demonstratively left from several of them. Moreover, Savelyev openly accused the ultra-right organizations that took part in the general opposition marches of "conspiring with the liberals." In response, he was accused of being uncooperative, helping nobody but his own supporters, and discrediting nationalist activists by dressing up his activists in uniform resembling that of the Nazi SS troops. The demarches by the Great Russia spoiled its relations with other far-right political projects, but did not bring the sought-for approval among ordinary nationalists; most of them felt that A. Savelyev is no better than the others, because he, nevertheless, attended the general protest events.
The far-right milieu also included some activists who have changed their views regarding participation in protest activities in the course of the year. In the fall, Valery Solovey's party refused to participate in further civic protest actions. On the eve of the Millions March on September 15 the New Force (Novaya Sila) party stated: "While we share the democratic aspirations and civic impulse of the rank-and-file March participants, we see that this event has increasingly become an instrument for realizing personal ambitions of certain shady "lords" and "comrades." Our political and moral disgust does not allow us to walk side by side with people, who, once again, call for "Taking everything away, then dividing it up." Quite remarkably, Solovey's party distanced itself not only from the general protest movement, but partially from far-right organizations as well, by refusing, for example, to participate in the Russian March. The New Force has decided to organize its own event on November 4, but it could not be held due to insufficient attendance. The tactics of non-affiliation has so far failed to yield their anticipated dividends.
Thus, in and of itself, a vocal refusal to participate in protest actions does not make an organization more respected by rank-and-file nationalists and does not increase its social base.
Independent Actions by Nationalists
Despite the fact, that 2012 was primarily defined by participation in general civic protests, nationalists never stopped conducting public actions of their own.
The first in a series of such actions in 2012 were "Mirzaev must go to jail" rallies, which took place in several Russian cities. As the name implies, they were related to the criminal case of Rasul Mirzaev, an athlete, whose fight in a Moscow's nightclub with student Ivan Agafonov resulted in the latter's death. The rallies were in response to a decision by the Zamoskvoretskii Court (later overturned by the Moscow City Court) to release R. Mirzaev on bail. The Moscow rally on February 18 attracted only about 200-300 people, and ended with a march through the city center of about 100 right-wing radicals, who were shouting neo-Nazi slogans and slogans against migrants from the Caucasus region (in addition, two workers from Central Asia were attacked during the march). About 100 people came to the St. Petersburg rally; in other cities the action attracted no more than 30 people, or could not take place at all.
Nationalists largely ignored this year's Heroes Day - the traditional March 1 events, dedicated to the Pskov paratroopers, who died fighting in Chechnya in 2000. The action took place only in a few cities, and the largest gathering, in Nizhny Novgorod, brought together 40 people.
"The Russians" association, responsible for organizing the event in Moscow, limited it to the laying of flowers, attended by 15 people only. For comparison, in 2011 the events were held in 13 cities, and about 120 people attended the largest rally in Moscow. No additional independent nationalist actions of any significance took place during March and April 2012.
In contrast with the failed Russian May Day in Moscow, the same event was much more successful in the regions, where the general protest movement exerted far less pull. There, the nationalist marches managed to attract at least as many or even greater number of activists then the year before. The geographical spread of the march increased as well: in several cities it took place for the first time in 2012. Yekaterinburg can serve as a convincing example; the first ever Russian May Day conducted there brought together about 500 people. In the previous years, only the traditional autumn Russian March was conducted there, and about 200 people attended it in 2011.
The Day of Solidarity with Right-Wing Political Prisoners, observed by the right radicals on July 25 since 2009, became their next independent action. As we mentioned before, it was decided not to organize a separate rally in Moscow. However, many regions decided not to break with the tradition; modest actions took place in 22 Russian cities and several cities in Ukraine and Belarus. As in the previous year, major ultra-right organizations focused primarily on collecting money for the prisoners, but didn't succeed. The total amount collected by all the affiliated movements ended was smaller than the amount collected in 2011 by Krylov's ROD alone. No progress was achieved in terms of the action's geographic distribution. Most events did not receive much coverage in the official mass media or even on ultra-right Russian Internet resources, and the number of cities showed no significant increase since 2010. (22 vs. 20)
On September 30, a series of events commemorated the traditional Day of Remembrance for Victims of Ethnic Crime. Two actions that took place in Moscow attracted 70 and 25 participants respectively; two parallel actions in 2011, according to different estimates, brought 150-200 and 300-500 participants respectively.
Evidently, the Day or Remembrance had the same problem as the Heroes Day - "the Russians" and Krylov's ROD focused on elections to the Opposition Coordination Council and failed to adequately promote their event.
The level of activity in the other cities remained unchanged; the events attracted the maximum of 25 people.
The Russian March was the next and, traditionally, the most important nationalist public event of the year. Unlike the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Ethnic Crime, the Russian March was promoted quite actively.
The March was not very successful in Moscow, despite the fact that, for the first time in several years, it took place not in Lublino area, but in the city center, where the nationalists marched from Yakimanskaya Naberezhnaya to Krymsky Val. Baburin's ROS acted as an official organizer and actually managed to get an official permission to hold the march in the vicinity of the Kremlin.
The 2012 March was rather underwhelming. It attracted even fewer participants than in 2011 or 2010. In 2012, 5.5 thousand people took part in the event compared to 6-6.5 thousand in 2011 and 5.5.-6 thousand in 2010. Prior to December 2011, the Russian March far outnumbered any other oppositional event, but nationalists had nothing to be proud of by the 2012 standards. The form of the event was also unremarkable and no different from general protest marches.
The March was attended by slightly different demographic groups than in the previous years, and even the organizers noticed an uncommonly large number of middle-aged people. They interpreted this phenomenon as an occasion for celebration, declaring that their event finally managed to attract not merely hardcore neo-Nazis, but ordinary Muscovites, concerned with immigration issues. However, we don't believe this to be an adequate explanation. Two factors are responsible for the change in the participant age distribution. First, some traditional March participants, that is, right-wing, or even openly neo-Nazi youth, which in the past comprised up to 80 % of the attendees, failed to show up. Second, the action brought together organizations such as Baburin's ROS, Vladimir Kvachkov's People's Militia in the Name of Minin and Pozharsky (Narodnoe opolcheniie imeni Minina i Pozharskogo, NOMP), the Will (Volya) party led by Svetlana Peunova, the Union of the Russian People (Soiuz russkogo naroda, SRN) led by Boris Mironov and various groups of Russian Orthodox radicals, many of whose members are middle-aged or elderly. Thus, the nationalists only attracted fewer of their traditional supporters, but managed to improve their relations with ideological "neighbors" and thus avoided a large drop in attendance. In any case, the event failed to bring out the "ordinary Muscovites".
In addition to Moscow, the Russian March took place in 45 cities. This is a fairly significant increase, compared to 32 cities, which hosted the action in 2011. Not counting the first-timers, the average attendance remained the same as last year. However, some cities showed a sharp increase in numbers, for example, Krasnodar reported about 1,000 people compared to 200 the year before. In other places the attendance has fallen dramatically - only 170 activists marched in Krasnoyarsk, compared to 400 in 2011.
Another independent nationalist rally was held on November 27 and was, once again, related to the Mirzaev court case; nationalists decried his sentence as excessively lenient. A. Belov and D. Demushkin promised "the second Manezhnaya Square," but, eventually, no more than 100 people attended the rally.
In fact, the second anniversary of the Manezhnaya Square riots of December 11, 2010 mobilized almost no one. In St. Petersburg, there was a march on Kronshtadtskaya Street to Komsomolsky Square. It brought together about 150 people: supporters of the National Socialist Initiative (NSI, Dmitry Bobrov), supporters of Semen Pikhtelev's National Democrats (Natsionalnye Demokraty) and Zenit fans. About 100 people marched in Nizhny Novgorod. "The Russians" managed to collect a total of 70 people in Moscow. In other cities the event attracted no more than 15-20 people.
Independent public actions of the ultra-right in 2012 were taking place in the context of the general protest movement and, as a result, underwent a number of important shifts.
First, we observe a clear decline in attendance of their traditional activist base. This occurred because major ultra-right associations and movements often couldn't pay sufficient attention to event organizing, and due to activists' disappointment in their leaders and in overall effectiveness of marches and rallies. Large protest events failed to bring the desired change, and, as a result, many rank-and-file ultra-right activists once again began to focus on violent methods. Moreover, with thousands of people attending the general opposition marches, nationalists not longer had the distinction of being the most active protest force in the country, and the Russian March lost its status of the most visible oppositional event of the year. Altogether, there were few reasons for optimism. We can't even say that nationalists left the general protest and went back to their original format
However, the changes mostly pertained to Moscow and St. Petersburg, the centers of the civic protest movement. The nationalist movement in other regions, on the contrary, widened and grew in numbers. Possibly, this effect has to do with provincial political process lagging behind the center. Either way, it is hard to predict how all these discordant tendencies in different regions will affect the future of the nationalist movement.
The second big change was the consolidation of the existing ultra-right political organizations that coincided with growing overall disengagement of the neo-Nazi youth from these organizations. Despite their constant bickering, various right-wing
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