Author`s name Ольга Савка

Russian storm troopers: myth or reality?

Referring to 50 thousand skinheads, it is just a phantom

Moscow Bureau for Human Rights made a report, which said that “there are about 15 thousand adult fighters and up to 50 thousand teenage skinheads under arms of Russian nationalistic organizations” and “these groups are already responsible for several terrorist acts and riots.”

Sixty-five thousand fighters is a whole army. Hitler had about ten times less storm troopers in 1933 not to mention a handful of Russian Bolsheviks in 1917. If such an army existed for real in Russia it would have occupied Moscow long time ago and solved the national question. It is obvious that such an organization that forms armed groups and organizes operations would not be left unnoticed. In fact there is no such army or regiment or battalion of skinheads in Russia. This conclusion can be drawn from the report itself.

To advance a slogan is one thing, but to support it with facts is absolutely different. It is not clear what was meant by the terrorist acts in the report. There was no incident mentioned in the report, which can be regarded as such. There are some examples: several buildings where Gypsies lived were burnt in the Novosibirsk region, a so-called “Che Guevara squad” smashed several cars, which presumably belonged to drug dealers in Yaroslavl, Cossacks sacked local Armenians' houses near Novorossiysk. Three Polish people were beaten in Moscow. There is more: “nationalists in the Komi Republic threatened with massacre to several scientists and human rights activists, whom they accused of espionage for the US.”

Those are certainly crimes. However, it is a lame argument to prove the existence of 65-thousand-strong army. Human rights activists themselves almost admit that they made up this figure. In fact, it is hardly possible to count the number of armed nationalists. Suppose, that 15 thousand were deduced by simple calculation of members of seven nationalistic parties and movements – Russian National Unity, Brown Season and others. However, it was nationalists themselves, who counted their members. It is obvious that they did so in order to show off. It is unclear why the human rights advocates believe them though.

Referring to 50 thousand skinheads, it is just a phantom. The report clearly states: “there is no unified skinheads organization in Russia, they are scattered in small groups.” It continues with “their number is estimated at 10 thousand to 50 thousand people.” The second figure is meant to impress, of course. It is stated in the beginning of the report, but afterwards it is admitted that the figure cannot be proved. A gap of 40 thousand is too much. It is impossible to count all the people who belong to these bands and gangs (not the troops). How can you differentiate between mere street thugs and devoted skinheads? 

Moscow Bureau for Human Rights statements that 10 people were killed by skinheads and more than 200 were beaten in the first half of 2005 can be proved neither by facts nor by testimonies. Seems like the responsibility for any crime can be shifted on skinheads.

It would be wrong to deny that that there is enough scum in Russia who loathe Caucasians, Gypsies, Chinese, Jews and who are ready to beat and even kill foreigners. But there is such a scum in every society. They must be fought. And they are fought in fact! The human rights activists said, “During the first half of 2005 there were 6 trials. As a result 21 extremists were sentenced to 4-19 years in prison for committing grave crimes on the ground of national hatred.” Those are the real figures.

Igor Dmitriev