10 April we published a material saying that we must demand that police, prosecutor’s office and FSB eradicate the Nazi underground activities. Next morning we got a call from the prosecutor’s office and were told that Prosecutor of Moscow Yuri Semin wanted to talk to the authors of that article telling about sharp rise of xenophobia feeling, Nazis, and killings done on the national hatred ground that happened nearly daily last March. The paper also said about inaction by the authorities and about different approaches to statistics of the crimes committed on the national hatred ground, and that the law enforcement statistics does not add up with that by independent experts. So we had a meeting…
About 30 cases
After briefing by the Prosecutor Yuri Semin our newspaper, like all the other media, reported that 30 cases of attacks on people done on the national hatred ground are being investigated in Moscow at the moment.
“You didn’t hear that from me personally, did you? You probably took it from Interfax agency information. And their coverage was rather superficial” said the prosecutor. “Actually, the briefing was not dedicated to xenophobia issue. I was just asked a “side question” and I answered it. But the media presented it like it was the main topic of the briefing…”
Well, that means that the “side question” hit the nerve of the mental condition of our society. But where did the figure of 30 cases come from? It turned out that some information was voiced at the briefing about the case of two serial murderers – Ryno and Skachevsky – who killed on the national hostility ground. It was said that the case contained 30 counts, among which there were 20 killings and 15 attempts.
Q: Yuri Yurievich, if the figure of 30 cases is untrue, then how many crimes committed out of national hatred are being considered in Moscow at the time being?
A: I can tell you that 7 cases have been passed to the court during last three months. Last year we dealt with 20 cases. The year before last we had 8 cases.
Q: Are you talking about the cases that have already been passed to the court?
A: Yes, as it is difficult to count cases that haven’t been finished yet. But I can tell you there are rather many of them. Besides this Ryno-Skachevsky case, another case of Gorbach will be passed for trial, with 13 counts.
Q: Are those cases considered in your statistics?
A: No, because we have another system of counting. And that is why we ask journalists not to jump to conclusions …
Counting by prosecutor
Deputy prosecutor of Moscow Vladimir Yudin explained to us what his boss said, using an example to follow. There were 9 explosions in Moscow during one and a half year, and then the next known to everyone explosion came, after which the suspected were established and it was proved their involvement in the previous explosions. It was also established that all those explosions were made out of the national hostility feelings. And the case, that was initially categorized as a terrorist act, began to be considered as “the damage caused, with the signs of ethnic hostility”.
“One might say that we concealed those things, but we really did not have the information. As soon as we got it, we re-qualified the case. It’s not very simple in formal sense, when 13 persons are involved and everyone has 1-2 lawyers, and the number of counts is 30 …And you say we are inactive…”
Q: Can you tell about the outcomes of your actions?
A: “Our actions are not always lead to outcomes” said Yuri Semin. “But that does not mean inaction. We do have some outcomes, and there will be more and more of it.”
Are they Nazi skin-heads or not?
Q: When a group of thugs kill a person and they shout “Long live Russia!” in the act, and they call themselves to be skin-heads, and do not conceal their motives, do you categorize such cases immediately, and are those people considered to be Nazi-skinheads?
A: Well, I’m tired of talking on the topic… Actually, I do not care how we shall call them, “skin-heads” or not. They are culprits that must be punished. We shall never show mercy on people committing such crimes or release them from liability. The qualification will be that they committed a crime on the national hostility grounds. It does not matter much if they are skin-heads or whatever.
Q: When we say the crime was committed by skin-heads, we admit the phenomenon itself. Did you really say at the briefing that no one is counting skin-heads?
A: The term “skin-head” presents no grounds for hold a person responsible. There is no crime in the criminal code saying this is a crime to be a skin-head. But when a person, calling oneself to be a skin-head, commits a crime or calls to violent actions, that’s the horse of a different color. Among the crimes committed on the ethnic ground and passed as cases for trials, there are mostly those where we deal with the appealing to violence. As an example, you can read this. (The prosecutor handed to us two sheets of paper and we were able to read the decision by Nagatinsky district court).
Proceeding on the prosecutor’s action, the court decided that the lyrics of the music band “Cyclone-B” contain the signs of extremism and recognized the creative activity by the band to be that of extremist trend.
“That was done by prosecutors! And there are 40 actions like this in the courts. We never put such actions before!” said Yuri Semin. “This is why I repeat I cannot agree to be blamed for inaction”.
Q: Let us try to see again how your statistics is counted. When do you start an immediate case on the “ethnic” article? I mean we want to come back to the topic of obvious crimes of this type. Why the cases are started not being based on this particular article of the criminal code?
A: (The deputy prosecutor Vladimir Yudin could not stand that and decided to convince us using a simple example. He explained that when a reporter arrives at a crime scene and learns that the corpse of a male was found naked, he/she writes immediately an article that “the man was killed on homosexual grounds”.)
“But we cannot act like that” Mr. Yudin completed his example. “Probably, we shall choose this version too but only after we get different evidence. It often happens that the first signs tell about these or those motives, but further investigation may disprove that and find the truth that might be absolutely different from initial hypothesis!”
Thin ice zone
We are living through an epoch of inflation of words and meanings. The words, spoken by officials, get quoted immediately and every “quoter” attaches one’s own meaning to the words. For example, Mr. Semin said at the briefing that today a Kyrgyz only can be killed on the ethnic grounds. This sentence became a popular quotation for the website of the movement Against Illegal Immigration. It’s because that is their semantic space, it’s them who talk about the fascism by Tajik sweepers and absolute absence of fascism from their own side.
A: Well, I really said something like that. Today anyone can kill anyone.
Q: Well, that’s true. But when seven people are killed during a month and that is done in a similar way - that looks odd. Odd also is when Mr. Pronin, the head of the Moscow police, responds to all the appeals and complaints from diasporas that they do not see the “beams in their own eyes” and that the comers commit more crimes in Moscow than the locals. Our experts have already said that such statements are a provocation of the revenging behavior, and that way legitimization of fascism can go on.
A: “Well, the share of the crimes committed by the comers is really big” said Mr. Semin.
Q: First, that’s not exactly true, as most “comers” come from Russian cities and from Moscow region. That’s an official statistics. Second, when the police top officials put the ethnic killings and the crimes by the “comers” on same scale, it turns out to be a bit different meaning. The message is understood like “less “comers” have been killed compared to how many people were killed by the “comers””. Isn’t it so?
A: We have never behaved in such a way and gave no sanctions for murders.
About the figure of 55
A: You say that the society must pressurize the prosecutor’s office so that it pressurizes the Nazi underground. But I do not consider the legal base to be lower than the public opinion. In my professional practice I try to dissociate from the public opinion as far as I can.
Q: Well, we hold to same position. Otherwise, there would be no objectivity. Besides, the society today is infected with xenophobia. According to the polls by Levada center, 55 % of the population supports the slogan “Russia for Russians”. But we are talking now of the crimes which are qualified definitely even by the xenophobic public.
A: I shall repeat I try to be at a good distance from the public opinion. Anyway, I must hold to the legal positions. And we would like that it’s not only the name of the maniac from Bitsevo that get known in the world. The serial Nazi-murders facing their trial now, I do not see crowds of journalists that came when we were having trial on Pichushkin. We shall expose everything, but I’m afraid no one will hear us.