Anastasia Minkova from the MYPLACE research team at HSE St Petersburg in Russia sends this blog.
For more information on the MYPLACE project, visit the project’s website: HERE
“Skinhead? Well, he’s a cheerful guy who does not have too much fun. Skinhead is your friend with whom you were in school, maybe. Then he called you for football game, then you go for a walk, drink a beer, got a bash on the bonce. It’s your good buddy. Well, he’s from a relatively poor family. His mother may have no husband. The carpet on the wall, sofa. Maybe he works. Or doesn’t. He studies at a vocational school, maybe. You always wanted to make friends with this guy. Because he’s funny, he kinda likes to joke, or he may be rude, he can break your nose… with him you kinda feel yourself confident and fun. In a city where it is not very fun”.
With these words, the 27 y.o. Andrei Ivanov’s “Russian skinheads, anti-racists” film begins. This Moscow citizen made it a year ago. In the film, leftist musicians talk about their creative works, activists talk about ideology. Today Andrew is involved in the criminal case to 282th article*. He is suspected that he publicly demonstrated his film, “comprising the facts of negative assessments of the supporters of nationalist views, promoting inferiority of citizens on account of their membership in a social group, and the call for hostile actions against the skinheads”.
The film was posted on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXIdpcvnqVw), and it has an accompanying caption explaining that Ivanov came in the area of police attention after the film was showed in a cafe in Vladimir where a fight started between local anti-fascists and neo-Nazis after the film screening. A criminal case was opened against the anti-fascists, and Ivanov with his film is the next link in the chain.
Judging by the publications of anti-fascists (http://www.antifa.ru/7318.html) and journalists of well-known online media resources the chain becomes quite long: the departments for combating extremism in different Russian cities “are actively working” with the anti-fascists. In Moscow, anti-Nazi accused of assaulting an ultra-right activist is in detention for more than a year.
In Nizhny Novgorod, five leftists accused of creating extremist groups and “criminal activity motivated by ideological hatred and hostility to the representatives of youth movements” “Skinheads – football fans “and “wealthy citizens of Russia”. In St. Petersburg, four anti-fascists were found guilty of assaulting a man. But they were convicted to Article 282* for the public humiliation of the representatives of a social group “Russian nationalists”.
The journalists noticed the cases that are similar in style in Cherepovets and Ivanovo. In these instances “the members of a social group skinheads” and “boneheads the supporters of Russian nationalism” were called victims. The experts to whom the journalists refer say that it is generally a trend during the past 2-3 years. Some of them inclined to consider it in the context of prosecutions of opposition. From the point of view of the police the anti-fascists are the opposition itself.
This point of view is well grounded: antifascists were participants in many mass actions, beginning with the storming the Khimki administration building (administration of Khimki supported the construction of toll road from Moscow to St. Petersburg, against which the locals and environmentalists argued), the winter protests in the capital and the largest Russian cities, and ending with May “March of Millions” in Moscow. And nationalists have always been considered as a group secretly patronized and supported by the current government.
Today Andrey Ivanov gives interviews and explains that he just wanted to show that such a subculture does exist. A public screening of the film in several cities (at least in Moscow) did not cause a special resonance except that fight in Vladimir with which the actual “criminal” history of the author of the film has begun. The advices to download the movie “Russian skinheads, anti-racists” before it will be removed by authorities have appeared in the Internet (http://1gatta-felice.livejournal.com/410293.html)
*Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Inciting Hatred or Enmity, and Humiliation of Human Dignity”. The application of this article has been interpreted very broadly. Since the article provides for sanctions, including the penalties for the production of these actions on the basis of membership of a social group, in different years with the help of experts the police, the believers, children, and now the nationalists and boneheads were recognized as “social groups”.