Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 39

The Moscow prosecutor’s office announced yesterday that it had instituted criminal proceedings against Aleksandr Barkashov, leader of the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity movement (RNE). The charge against Barkashov is threatening violence against a public official. As local prosecutors see it, Barkashov, in organizing a January 31 march by 200 RNE followers, was carrying out threats he made last December against Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and the Moscow city government (Russian agencies, February 24). At that time, after Luzhkov banned an RNE congress scheduled to be held in the capital, Barkashov threatened to return to Moscow with 100,000 “healthy, young” men who would do whatever was necessary to protect their rights.

Officials of the Moscow prosecutor’s office said yesterday that the January 31 march had been unauthorized and involved “Nazi symbols.” Following the march, criminal proceedings were instituted against twenty of the participants. Thirteen marchers were found guilty and eleven received a warning. Two were “penalized,” though it is not clear what the penalties entailed (Russian agencies, February 24).

Existing laws in Russia specifically ban symbols of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. RNE’s symbol resembles a swastika. But while the legal status of the RNE’s symbol remains hazy, Moscow’s chief prosecutor proposed a law yesterday which would simplify the prosecuting and penalizing of those who wear or sell Nazi–or Nazi-like–symbols. If this becomes law, police chiefs in the capital will have the right to impose a fine as high as 8,300 rubles (US$363 at current exchange rates) on violators (Moscow Times, February 25).

Meanwhile, a group of RNE members were reportedly arrested today for selling copies of the movement’s newspaper, “Russky Poryadok” (Russian Order). On February 2, Moscow’s press committee filed a lawsuit with a district court, asking it to terminate the newspaper’s registration certificate, since no copies of the newspaper have been received by the State Committee for the Press and the Russian Book Chamber since March 1997, as required by law (Russian agencies, February 24).