07 February 2008

Arrests in String of Racist Murders [Updates: 3]

The Moscow Times reports that eight youths have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in at least twenty racist murders.

According to MT: "Investigators believe that the suspects, who were not named, are members of a gang of skinheads led by Artur Ryno, a student from Yekaterinburg who was detained in May and confessed to 37 murders of dark-skinned people in a bid to 'clean up the city.'"

Details to follow when I get back from the archive and start digging.

[UPDATE #1: Graphic from Komsomolskaya Pravda]

Nothing more substantive than the Moscow Times report has appeared in English. The Russian-language news, however, has considerable coverage. I am currently digesting the reports and background, but here's an interesting graphic from KP:

Translation: "Number of Skinheads Detained in Moscow"

"There are 29 skinheads altogether on this list. Of them, nine are university students, 3 are high school students, 6 attend vocational schools and 11 are unemployed. Twenty-three grew up in families without a father, 6 were from normal, well-off families, and one has a psychiatric record. They have murdered 46 people. The maximum number of injuries to one victim is 91. The average number of injuries per victim is 40."

[UPDATE #2: Review of Russian-language Coverage]

In April 2007, two skinheads were arrested following brutal attacks on a young Tadjik and a middle-aged Armenian businessman. Teenager Artur Ryno, a student in Moscow from Ekaterinaburg, soon admitted to participation in 37 murders of non-Russians. Though he later recanted this confession, detectives noted that he had given precise addresses and accounts of the murders. Pavel Skachevskii, on the other hand, denied any wrong-doing from the outset.

After Ryno and Skachevskii’s arrests, three more from their band were arrested in November. In the past two weeks, another four have been arrested on charges of murder and “fomenting inter-ethnic strife” (razzhiganie mezhnatsional’noi rozni): 18-year-old Denis Lavrenenkov, 19-year-old Ivan Kitaikin, 21-year-old Svetlana Avvakumova, and 16-year-old Nikolai Dagaev.

According to the picture put together by investigators, the gang of skinheads around Ryno carried out planned “hunts” of those of non-Slavic appearance, roaming from neighborhood to neighborhood, so as to avoid detection. Groups of two to five would gather and head out to bedroom communities around Moscow in the evenings. They would either provoke a fight, or simply attack a dark-skinned person from behind. Victims have included men and women, Russian-citizens and foreigners, white-collar workers and gastarbeitery. The victims were typically stabbed more than twenty times. When Ryno was first interviewed by detectives, he claimed that there had been many witnesses, but nobody ever tried to interfere with an attack.

One of the accused, Denis Lavrenenkov, had also been detained in late 2006 after the detonation of a home-made bomb in the entryway of a young anti-fascist activist, according to KP. He was released for lack of evidence.

Ryno’s gang is but one of many in a country that hosts thousands of skinheads. Another gang accused in the murder of Yakut chess-master Sergei Nikolaev (previously mentioned at MTBE here) heads to court soon. And just a day after the arrest of the four skinheads in Moscow, the body of a Kyrgyz man was found Wednesday evening with over thirty stab wounds. Kyrgyz officials, after the murder of five of their citizens thus far in 2008, have formally requested that Russian officials solve these crimes as soon as possible and prosecute them to the full extent of the law, should racist motives be found.

As Sean’s Russia Blog noted yesterday, Putin has publicly condemned rising ethnic violence as a threat to law and order. Whether this declaration will be translated into the effective prosecution of hate crimes remains to be seen.

[UPDATE #3: Task Force Formed Says Kommersant]

According to Kommersant, a task force has been assembled by the Moscow police to investigate the recent surge in suspected hate crimes and racially-motivated murders.


Iris Neva said...

out of 29 nazi pigs 23 are from families without a dad. that's a nice statistic that i'll retain.

Chrisius Maximus said...

Buster, do you think there's any water in the following idea:

I understand that about 30-40 years ago, Moscow and Leningrad experienced a wave of provincial immigration, with attacks on newcomers (nothing approaching the scale of the ones going on today, but hostility and some violence nonetheless). Is what is going on in some of Russia's cities perhaps to some extent a repeat of this, with the children of the former-newcomers-cum-Moscovites meting out what they experienced on a new wave of immigration? Or is this total bunkum?

BusterPh.D.Candidate said...

Chris, I don't know if that holds water. But it certainly does sound like the kind of explanation that certain Russians would take a shine to. For reasons I won't get into.

First, I don't know about the psychological scar of the ostensible trauma of 30-40 years ago, especially as it would carry over to the children of these migrants.

Second, the violence doesn't seem to target all migrants, but rather Caucasians, Central Asians and overseas Asians and Africans. That is, it's racialized violence. My Russian friend who moved here from Chelyabinsk has no problems, except for when she's hanging out with her Asian or African friends. My Roma friend bleaches her hair blond to try to blend in with "those of Slavic appearance," as they say.

Third, take Artur Ryno for example. Not much claim to Moscow-native status for that teenage student of icon painting from Ekaterinaburg. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a good number of the skinheads are migrants from the provinces themselves, but that's pure speculation.

The big phrase I've seen is that the skinhead violence is a symptom of etnicheskie razborki--ethnic turf wars--in marginal neighborhoods. I know that a similar idea was floated to explain inter-ethnic violence in American cities. But this idea seems to miss the political organization of skinhead violence.

[The other two explanations I've seen: (1) too much time on computers and (2) lack of appropriate masculine figures.]

The big problem is that I've seen very little comprehensive analysis--looking at victims, perpetrators, neighborhoods, political climate, organizational ties, etc. It's something that I've been thinking about posting on, but it's a weird post--talking about a lack. One that, for want of time, I can't fill.

But someone should. SOVA does a nice job collecting data, but their analysis is sorta paltry. Yep, that's another free dissertation idea for some go-getter sociologist.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting what you say. But how about racial hatred motivated murders of ethnic Russian? How about the situation with violence throughout the country?

Do you know some 28,000 murders happen a year? How much of them are racially motivated? Without asking (and answering) this simple question the very talk is much of senseless.

Up to the moment racially motivated murders don't show up from the statistics. This means that struggle must be aimed against the very crime of murdering, rather than on racially motivated ones (btw, how do you see hate murders of ethnic Russians in this respect?).

Of course, the fact a murder was racially motivated should count -- and it is -- in the court, adding weight to the crime.

p.s. The case you referred to -- 37 racially motivated serial murder -- besides being a horrifying crime -- imho speaks about poor mechanisms inside the society, which doesn't counter some utter cases of radicalism. There are a lot of great youngs, but also some brainless stupids full of malignance... that wouldn't happen if we cared.

We don't care, and then get horrifyed on the results. Indifference is a wrong way for society... but a man would be that indifferent having so tough environment..

Chrisius Maximus said...

Buster, I'm not contesting your wider point about these attacks being racialized (which they obviously are), or even sticking up for the hypothesis in question, since I have no evidence for it one way or the other. But I don't think that the current attacks being racialized and the previous ones not being so necessarily indicates a lack of a connection between the two.

BusterPh.D.Candidate said...

Anonymous and CM,

I will address your points in a fuller post later this week on the on-going skinhead violence. Thanks for your comments and spurring me to pull together some of the disparate ideas, explanations and information kicking around.