Russia’s Cooperation with the Racists

Charles Glover has an extensively well researched and impressively well written report in the Financial Times Magazine on the transformation of nationalist and extremist hate groups in Russia into terrorist organizations, sometimes with the assistance of the state. Recommended reading in full.

A simple Google search of the NSO is illuminating. It has existed since 2004, and has been far from publicity-shy. Not content with publishing its violent exploits and paramilitary-style training on the internet, in 2007 it even feautured in a Sky TV series about gangs. This high profile is another incongruous element of the NSO, says Sergei Belikov, another lawyer, who recently withdrew from the NSO case for “personal reasons”. That the group survived so long, given its high profile, troubles him.

“They were essentially a terrorist group, and they were well-known to everyone. And nobody touched them. I find that puzzling,” says Belikov. “I would think that for whatever reason, the existence of such a gang might have served the purposes of the state, and that is why they were allowed to exist.”

The only person who is alive, not on trial or in prison, and able to answer the numerous questions about the group, is the gang’s former leader, Dmitry Rumyantsev. He left in 2008 after he was accused of not sharing his comrades’ radical ambitions, and ceded leadership to Bazilev. Rumyantsev’s blog posts on the white-power website allude fairly blatantly to the group’s high-level backing. For instance, he claims that had he been allowed to stay as leader, “those who protected me would have protected the NSO, on the condition that they didn’t commit murders”.

Bazilev, he said, “was a very talented propagandist and national socialist. But at some point he became completely fucked in the head. He became convinced that by killing a few dozen Tajik migrants, he would put the regime on its back.”