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Russia steps up struggle against right-wing radicals

July 28, 2015, 17:59 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, July 28. /TASS/. When he heard the judge declare he had been sentenced to life in prison, Ilya Goryachev, the leader of the legal organization Russian Image and illegal militant group of Russian nationalists BORN lost consciousness. In the meantime, he can hardly be called a nervous person: BORN is notorious for multiple killings of migrants and anti-fascists. Goryachev himself was accused of five murders.

The BORN case has proved a very high profile affair. According to the investigators, in 2008 Goryachev and Nikita Tikhonov, who is already serving a life sentence, founded an extremist armed group called BORN. It has been found responsible for ideologically and ethnically motivated hate murders and encroachments on the lives of law enforcers in retaliation for their professional activities, the prosecution said. It is noteworthy that during the investigation the group’s members testified against each other, trying to put most of the blame on their former associates.

The law enforcers have noticeably stepped up struggle against right-wing radicals, the centre of information and analysis Sova said in its report entitled Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism and Resistance to them in Russia in the First Half of 2015.

"According to our sources the ultra-rights’ criminal activity in 2015 was considerably lower than a year earlier," the report says. "In the first half of 2015 no less than 37 people suffered from xenophobic and neo-Nazi violence. Four of them died. Two received serious murder threats. In the first half of 2014 23 people were killed and 86 others injured and one was threatened with murder."

Criminal prosecution of the most active leaders of oppositional nationalist organizations was one of the major factors that influenced the ultra-rights’ public policies in the first half of 2015. The law enforcers’ pressure on nationalists considerably eased their public activity. Traditional street processions and rallies failed to gather even half of the usual number of demonstrators. Not a single ethnic conflict flared up and pressures by the authorities were the most widely discussed theme.

Whereas before the nationalists acted on their words and mounted attacks on migrants and other minorities, these days they prefer to focus on combat training. There has been noticeable growth in the number of nationalists-affiliated permanent clubs offering combat instruction to any outsider. Experts say that on the websites of ultra-right movements invitations to join knife and hand-to-hand fight clubs and groups receiving instruction in urban and forest battle tactics and the handling of firearms are ever more frequent. It is beyond doubt that this type of training is meant for future internal political use.

"It is a rather alarming sign the nationalists are no longer in the mood of attending rallies. They prefer to play war running about with firearms in hand," the RBC Daily quotes the director of the Sova centre, member of the presidential council for human rights Aleksandr Verkhovsky as saying.

Obviously the authorities regard this movement as a threat, the first vice-president of the Political Technologies Centre, Aleksey Makarkin, told TASS. "Attitudes to them varied at different moments in time. There was a period when one had the impression there are good right-wing radicals and bad right-wing radicals. The bad radicals are to be fought against and good radicals, to be made friends with. But then the tragic affair involving the Russian Image organization showed that the people who are considered as good right-wing radicals may prove murderers and there is nothing moderate about them at all."

Makarkin believes that these illusions are now all gone.

"The harsh sentences pronounced in the BORN case are a clear sign the authorities are determined to offer firm resistance to such organizations and personalities," he said.

He remarks, though, the question is to what degree the official policies in this respect are a matter of consensus.

"There is the official government policy, there have been harsh court sentences passed on those who commit political murders, including murders of judges. On the other hand, individual personalities within the law enforcement adhere to different views. Some argue that if the ultra-rights go to war with the left-wing radicals, the ultra-rights are more preferable. They are just to be put on the right track and reformatted, but not persecuted."

The opposition’s attitude to the nationalists is dual, too, Makarkin added.

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