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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

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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