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Researcher Says Nationalists in Cahoots with Authority

Published: April 9, 2014 (Issue # 1805)




  • Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

More than 20 nationalist and extremist organizations are active in the city and comprise around 1,300 active soldiers, St. Petersburg police chief Sergei Umnov told the Legislative Assembly when he presented his report for 2013 on Apr. 2.

Dmitry Dubrovsky, a researcher at the Russian Museum of Ethnography and an expert on nationalist groups, said the numbers sounded as if they had been minimized. He added that the terms used by Umnov were too vague.

Its not clear how they count these individuals because it became evident in 2011 and 2012 that this bunch could easily mobilize 5,000 to 6,000 people at any given time, Dubrovsky told the St, Petersburg Times via Skype from Amsterdam this week.

It looks like [the police] seriously think that [these types of people] carry membership cards and pay dues. [Umnov] does not know what identity means. Apart from that, its not clear what Umnovs definition of extremist groups is either because theres an interesting difference [in his report]. Hes talking about around 1,000 nationalists and around 1,300 extremists. Who are the remaining 300? Are they football fans or anti-fascists whom they also see as extremist?

Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced anti-extremism legislation in 2008. Since then, it has been criticized as being a means to fight political opposition, while counter-extremism police units launched the same year that are known as Center E were dubbed Putins political police by the opposition.

Just about anything can be classified as extremism in Russia, Dubrovsky said.

As [film director and human rights activist] Alexei Simonov put it, Extremism is disagreement with superiors, expressed bluntly. Thats why they are earnestly following anti-fascists and young liberals that dont belong to officially recognized organizations. So I would treat these numbers [with caution], I truly dont understand how they arrive at them.

Police chief Umnov explained that the increase in nationalist sentiment stemmed from a rise in immigration levels and an increase in crimes committed by immigrants. In such situations, any spark, any conflict can provoke large-scale clashes, Umnov was quoted by the BaltInfo news agency as saying. What it may lead to was shown by the events of the past autumn.

On National Unity Day on Nov. 4, 2013 a national holiday introduced by the Kremlin in 2005 as a replacement for the main Soviet holiday, October Revolution Day marked on Nov. 7 an outbreak of ethnically-motivated violence took place.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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