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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Court ruling pushes race-hate thugs underground (Russia)

The Moscow Prosecutor’s Office has suspended the activities of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) and will seek a court decision to declare it an extremist organization. The movement’s leaders warn that this will only force their members to go underground and that it risks sparking repeat riots on Manezh Square.

The Moscow Prosecutor’s Office investigated whether the Movement Against Illegal Immigration was within the law and concluded that “it is pursuing extremist goals and objectives.” Prosecutor Yury Semin personally signed the ruling suspending the group’s activity, his next move will be to seek a court ruling banning it.

Movement spokesmen told Gazeta.ru that they had only just received a copy of the ruling. “Plainclothes officers from the Moscow anti-extremism squad gave the document to movement leader Vladimir Yermolayev in Gostiny Dvor, where we had a news conference scheduled for today,” Alexander Belov (Potkin), DPNI’s informal leader, said. He believes the authorities chose not to warn them about the ban so as not to spark a protest.
Now Belov and his followers propose “taking all possible legal action.” But he is less than confident that the ruling will be in his favor. “There is no real court system here so the decision will be a formality,” Belov said. Even after the ban, which Belov describes as a done deal, the Dpni.org site and “public control centers” will stay in the open – units of the movement that render legal aid to “people in conflict situations,” i.e. nationalists facing extremism charges.

“The authorities have banned the largest nationalist organization and the need for a large-scale national-oriented political structure is now more pressing than ever before,” Belov argues. He is confident that a right-wing party will appear in Russia, though he is not going to register one formally. He has a stark warning for the authorities: the nationalists will call people out onto the streets.

Dmitry Demushkin, former leader of Slavic Union, said exactly that almost a year ago: “We will simply stop reining in the ‘autonomous’ gangs, who knife Tajiks and blow up markets.” However, when the Slavic Union was banned in April 2010, human rights activists did not observe any spike in the activity of neo-Nazi killers on Russian streets: legal nationalists and ‘autonomous’ cells essentially do not cooperate with each other, while autonomous radicals fill their blogs, forums and online communities with repeated calls to kill both Demushkin and Belov, deeming them traitors.”

No deadline has been set for examining the ban. The precedent is not encouraging: only a few days after the Slavic Union was banned, Demushkin set up a new nationalist organization registered under the name of Slavic Force.