Staunton, April 5 – Investigators from Novaya gazeta identified 92 cases over the last three years in which activists were attacked on the streets of Russian cities and queried local investigative and prosecutorial institutions about what happened in each case (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/04/06/ulichnyi-terror-podderzhivaetsia-gosudarstvom).
They asked how many of those who had carried out such attacks had been arrested, how many had been charged with crimes, and how many had been punished for their actions. Many officials said they didn’t understand the question; others refused to answer citing confidentiality concerns; and only a few answered they simply could not provide such information to the media.
Only one, in Belgorod, declared that the person who had engaged in the street attack was someone who had acted on his own on the basis of right-wing attitudes. “In all the rest,” the paper’s journalists report, “criminal cases either weren’t opened or the investigations collapsed” which ended with the same result.
The law enforcement organs showed no desire to identify political motives in any of the other cases but simply preferred to describe them as ordinary clashes. That attitude strongly suggests, the Moscow paper concludes, that the government either is directly behind these attacks or welcomes them and will do nothing to stop them.
And that in turn means that activists need to recognize that what they are up against is not some amorphous group of people who don’t like them but a state-organized or state-tolerated one that acts only against people the Putin regime doesn’t like or approve of – in short that “terror in the streets is being supported by the state.”