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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, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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