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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

Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of Repulsion at 7 p.m. and Rosemarys Baby at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy The Tenant, the cult comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers and Cul-de-sac among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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