In this article on openDemocracy.net, Vlad Tupikin exposes the case of Alexei Bychin, whose treatment by the Russian police may reveal a bias in the state’s handling of neo-nazi and anti-fascist youth movements.
At the beginning of the white nights season in the middle of June 2008, a group of young punk rockers were walking around in the centre of Petersburg. Among them was Alexei Bychin, who had the ironic punk nickname Tolsty (Fatty), because he is thin and small (50 kg, 165 cm). There were girls in the group too.
Not far from the department store Gostiny Dvor, Bychin and the girls encountered two tough guys who decided to pick on them, and in a very peculiar way: they raised their right arms and shouted “Heil Hitler!” These two guys had picked up on signs that the group were anti-fascists. It’s not very difficult – punks in Moscow and Petersburg are practically all anti-fascists nowadays, and not just in these cities. A slanging match ensued. Soon, words became actions. The skinheads made a ‘rose’ (you knock out the bottom of a bottle and get a real weapon, quite a dangerous one) and hit Bychin. It was one scrawny kid against two big guys (the tradition in Russian society is that girls don’t take part in street fights). Bychin took out a knife and stabbed one of them. The nazi sympathizers were not morally prepared for the knife and fled. The girls sighed with relief.
About a month later the police picked up a punk friend of Bychin’s.