Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Moscow Blames New Upsurge in Radical Right Activism on Ukraine

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 20 – recent weeks, after a long period of decline, incidents of radical right activism have increased in number in the Russian Federation; and siloviki agencies are blaming the increase not on worsening economic conditions or the approaching elections but rather on the work of Ukrainian special services.

            But Aleksandr Verkhovsky, director of the SOVA Center which has tracked extremism in Russia for many years, says that there is no evidence that the Ukrainians are behind this. There is one Ukrainian who has been convicted of extremist crimes but no one else, something calls into question official suggestions (svoboda.org/a/natsisty-probuzhdayutsya-rossiyskie-uljtrapravye-vnovj-napomnili-o-sebe/31367877.html).

            The SOVA director also says that there has been an increase in the number of radical right actions but a significant decline in their level of violence. His group, which registered large number of murders by such groups a decade ago, has yet to record even a single incident of that crime by the extreme right this year.

            Dmitry Lemushkin, one of the few remaining radical right leaders not behind bars, says he does not expect any growth in the number of intensity of radical right actions. There are several thousand young Russians who sympathize with Nazism but few of them, in contrast to their predecessors, are more than talk.

            Antifa leaders who oppose the radical right nonetheless say there is cause for concern. Sergey Petrov, head of the Antifa.ru telegram channel, says that the far right is increasing in numbers, although he acknowledges that they aren’t as large a movement as they were a decade or so ago.

            And Maksim Vertsinsky, a member of Antifa United, says that much of their activism is being missed because of where it is taking place. Young radical right activists are more active in smaller cities. In larger ones, “the siloviki harshly control everything,” whereas outside their limits, “there are more opportunities for the establishment of such structures.”

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