On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine and started a war under the pretext of “denazification”. Preparations for the conflict in Ukraine became the main topic of discussion in February, including among the far-right, who, as usual, were sharply polarized. In general, far-right and nazi activity in Russia during February 2022 was small.
How the Russian far-right reacted to the war
The first war in east Ukraine in 2014 divided the Russian far-right into two opposite camps. While Russian nationalists of the imperial, Black Hundreds type sided with the Russian intervention, those from Nazi subcultures took the pro-Ukrainian side and viewed the Maidan as a success of related far-right groups. Much more questions were raised by the position of new far-right figures and formations that had no time to publicly take sides in the Ukrainian conflict.
Orthodox nationalist Egor Holmogorov, “Sputnik I Pogrom” and publishing house “Black hundred” unconditionally supported the war.
New right-wing politician Roman Yuneman tried to manoeuvre, welcoming the recognition of the independence of the DNR and LNR, but after the outbreak of hostilities changed his mind and condemned the war. Now his organization is collecting money for humanitarian aid for the inhabitants of Donbas.
A similar thing happened to Vladislav Pozdnyakov’s Male State, which is now the most prominent far-right community. Initially, he was in opposition to the authorities, so he was expected to condemn the war. However, after the outbreak of hostilities, Pozdniakov switched to a sharply patriotic tone. He swore at Ukrainian subscribers and urged his supporters to put the letter Z on their avatars – similar markings were found on Russian military equipment around Ukrainian borders – and urged Ukrainians to surrender. During anti-war rallies in major Russian cities, Pozdnyakov called for provocations at rallies, but in reality, MG supporters got by with patriotic posters. In addition, supporters of Pozdnyakov began to collect personal data of anti-war activists in a separate Telegram channel, but the messenger administration deleted it a day later. Pozdnyakov himself is most likely hiding in Montenegro.
The radical terrorist Nazi group NS/WP did not choose sides in the military conflict, limiting itself to noting that white people were killing white people. At the same time, they did not distance themselves from the conflict, but instead stepped up their agitation, calling for using the troubled times to commit murder.
The unorganized mass of non-partisan Nazis among the fans of Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich refused to support the war against Ukraine and moved on to active criticism of the Putin regime.
“Empire” by Konstantin Malofeev
A major Russian book publishing house AST has released the first volume of “Empire” by Konstantin Malofeyev, head of the Tsargrad group of companies and Orthodox businessman who came under U.S. sanctions for allegedly sponsoring separatists in Donbas in 2014. Researchers have read the book and concluded that Malofeev is reinventing anti-Semitism in his book, which was most likely written by a team of ghostwriters of varying degrees of qualification.
Nazi Dating Service
At the beginning of February, Russian-speaking Nazis launched a channel on Telegram for ultra-right-wing dating. The creators collect Nazi profiles through an anonymous bot and publish them in the channel with photos, short descriptions, and nicknames. The address of the channel is not listed, also for security reasons. Perhaps the photos are fake, and the channel was launched to collect private data.
In February 2022, according to the Sova Center, two people suffered xenophobically motivated violence.
In February only one conviction for xenophobically motivated violence was known. A court in St. Petersburg sentenced Yevgeny Ludanov to six months in a strict regime penal colony for attacking a homeless man.
We can also mention the sentence handed down to Nazi Andrei Smagin for attempting to blow up a dormitory for migrants in Tambov. He was sentenced to eight years in a strict regime penal colony.
In February 14 people were convicted for xenophobic statements. Four people were convicted under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremist activity), three were convicted for publishing on Vkontakte and Telegram the statements calling to attack Roma or law-enforcement officers, and the fourth shouted calls to attack police right from the window of his prison cell. Two people were convicted under both of the above-mentioned articles of the Criminal Code for calling on VKontakte to attack “certain ethnic groups. One person was convicted under part 1 of article 354.1 of the Criminal Code (rehabilitation of Nazism) for posts in the social networking site, in which he “publicly denied the facts established by the verdict of the International Military Tribunal for the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis. At least eight people were punished under Article 20.3.1 of the Administrative Code (inciting hatred). Seven of them were fined for publishing on social networks comments and videos inciting hatred against Ukrainians, natives of Central Asia, the Caucasus and other ethnic groups, as well as children. One person, Edem Dudakov, a delegate of the Qurultai of the Crimean Tatar people and former head of the State Committee for Nationalities and Deported Citizens of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, was arrested for publishing a post about “militant Watniks” on Facebook, in which experts found linguistic and psychological signs of “inciting hatred towards Russians”.
At least eight people were punished under Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code (propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols and symbols of banned organizations). One of them was a colony inmate who displayed his own tattoos with swastikas, while the rest displayed Nazi symbols on social networks