3 Suicide Bombers Attack Police Station in Southern Russia; Iran Reports 1st Delivery of S-300s

April 11, 2016
S-300 in Moscow. Stock Photo by Reuters


Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

Recent Analysis and Translations:

Getting The News From Chechnya – The Crackdown On Free Press You May Have Missed
Aurangzeb, Putin, Realism and a Lesson from History
Why the World Should Care About the Assassination of Boris Nemtsov
How Boris Nemtsov Was Murdered: Investigation by Novaya Gazeta
How Stalin Returned to Russian Contemporary Life – Meduza


Russian Neo-Nazi Kirill Filatov, Age 18, Sentenced to 6 Years of Imprisonment

Citing the Moskva news agency, Novaya Gazeta reports that Babushkin District Court in Moscow has sentenced Kirill Filatov, a member of a neo-Nazi group called Restrukt, to six years of imprisonment.
Filatov, age 18, was convicted of “assault committed by a group of persons” and “intentional cause of severe damage to health causing death to the victim.” He will serve his sentence in a standard-regimen labor colony. 
Filatov’s lawyer Aleksei Mikhalchik said his client suffers from “severe kidney disease” and was subject to emergency hospitalization in the prison hospital, but the case files contain no reference to such a disease.
Mediazona reports that Filatov was convicted of attacking Aleksandr Li and Zaur Alyshev because they “did not have a Russian appearance.” Alyshev was a drug-dealer who agreed to meet Filatov after a phone call. He was beaten and forced to eat a packet of spice, then handed over to the police, who then released him. Filatov and his accomplices then beat Alyshev again, and he was taken to the hospital unconscious, where he died of brain injury a week later.
Restrukt’s members are accused of numerous attacks on dealers of various smokable mixtures and spice. The “ideologue” of the group, Maksim Martsinkevich, whose nickname is “Tesak,” is the only one in the group to be charged with “incitement of ethnic hatred or enmity.” He has already served multiple sentences going back to 2007 for harassing liberal journalists; inciting others to dress up in white robes like the Ku Klux Klan and executing a Tajik drug dealer; luring suspected pedophiles or gays to meetings at which they are beaten; and other hate offenses. His sentences have been light or suspended; after one release he fled to Belarus and was extradited and tried for insulting veterans of World War II. After appeal, his sentence was reduced to 2 years, 10 months, which he is currently serving.

The case is an example of how Russian authorities occasionally rein in neo-Nazi or other extremist violent groups when they become very visible and attack others, even as they look the other way as similar neo-Nazis continue to harass liberals and minorities, or travel to the Donbass to fight as volunteers against Ukraine. Extremists continue to thrive on VKontakte, Russia’s leading social media network, where they urge support for their comrade Filatov.

Grani.ru reported that Filatov had turned state’s evidence and was cooperating with law-enforcers to expose the identities of his accomplices. 

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

Navalny to Sue Rossiya-1 for Crude Propaganda Smear; Meduza Analysis

Rossiya-1, the Russian state TV channel, aired a teaser narrated by Dmitry Kiselev on Sunday, April 10, about a special feature to be broadcast claiming to reveal that Alexei Navalny, an opposition leader and head of the Anti-Corruption Fund, is secretly working for MI6, British intelligence, supposedly in collusion with William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management.

But the documents that claim to “prove” this allegation appear to be crude forgeries in bad English. 

Navalny is suing Rossiya-1 for libel, and is joking about the film on Twitter.

Translation: Navalny has decided to take Rossiya-1 to court.

Translation: Ohhh, the author of the film yesterday on the spies even has a Twitter account.

Meduza, an independent news site in Latvia run by Russian emigres forced to leave Lenta.ru, have analyzed the show and made a number of points:

The show claims that back in 1986, the CIA created an operation called “Shiver”  to change Eastern Europe and the USSR, then kept the agents they recruited after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 1995, British intelligence recruited William Browder who founded Hermitage Capital Management that same year (although it’s not explained how the CIA operation came to involve the British). He was given the code name “Solomon.” Browder became a great critic of Vladimir Putin and campaigner for justice in the murder of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who died of torture while in Russian custody after blowing the whistle on tax fraud.

According to the film, Browder then recruited Navalny, gave him the code name “Freedom,” and suggested to him the idea to create the Union of Minority Shareholders, an organization which in fact Navalny created on his own. Browder then ostensibly gave Navalny 100 million rubles, 7 million of which were passed through the Moscow Helsinki group, and then later gave him $300,000 more.

With this scheme, the propagandists have tied together some of the Kremlin’s chief enemies, even if they are not organizationally connected in reality.

Meduza reports that the documents that “prove” this story fell into the hands of Rossiya-1 via Sergei Sokolov, the former head of Boris Berezovsky’s security who now heads a protection agency which is “involved in information collection,” he says.

Sokolov said 60 servers were taken from Ukraine after the fall of Viktor Yanukovich, and this happened to be where Berezovsky kept his secret correspondence. Sokolov, through “acquaintances in the Ukrainian Security Service,” was able to get the email servers of several companies, including RBC Ukraine, but declined to name any others. 

Meduza noted that RBC Ukraine never mentioned any server theft, and Vesti only had one story about the confiscation of the Ukrainian Vesti’s servers.

Next, Meduza points out that these supposedly British agents who would be expected to speak English well make the grammatical mistakes of foreigners, dropping articles before nouns and leaving out prepositions.

Redditors have gotten to work on the story and concluded that the British agents deliberately spoke English poorly so that if the documents were exposed, they could more easily claim that they were fake. But the Russian program doesn’t make that claim.

There are other problems — the dates don’t work. According to the show, on March 3, 2006, Navalny says he was interested in what Browder could offer him. But then when Browder replies, the date is February 27 for some reason. The same occurs with correspondence about the death of Magnitsky, which Browder writes about in November 2008, but receives a reply from Navalny dated in 2006.

A parody account poked fun at the fake document.

Translation: Barack Obama @ThanksAbama I have endowed @navalny with the ability to travel in time so that at least someone can return to 2007 and correct everything.

Then there’s the aspect of the film which is for many a clincher: the voices of the supposedly secretly-taped Navalny and Ilya Ponomarev, an opposition deputy in the State Duma forced to live abroad due to criminal prosecution for his role in the tech innovation center Skolkovo, don’t sound like them.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika also claimed that Browder was the one to contract Navalny to write an expose about Chaika’s wife’s ties with the Tsapkov gang. Navalny tried to take Chaika to court for this claim, but no judge would take the case.

The video also shows footage of state TV reporters trying to get a comment from Navalny outside his office, which the TV sub-title says is in Kiev; this was later corrected but the original remains on YouTube.

The full show is set to broadcast April 13.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

3 Suicide Bombers in Stavropol; 1 Detonates Himself; 2 Shot Dead
Authorities are now reporting that 3 militants planned the attack on the police station in Novoselitskoye in Stavropol (not 2 as earlier indicated), Interfax reports, citing the regional press service of the Interior Ministry.
A source said two would-be bombers were shot dead, and a third managed to detonate himself, but no one was hurt.
Stavropol Territory Prosecutor Yury Turygin said he had information about 3 terrorist suicide bombers, but that neither  police nor civilians were injured and the area was roped off.

A source told Interfax that the police building as well as a police car were slightly damaged in the bombing.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

Russian Police Shoot Dead One of Two Suicide Bombers in Stavropol; Other Detonates Himself; No Other Injuries

LifeNews reports a suicide bomber attack in Stavropol in the south of Russia.

Translation: A counter-terrorism regimen has been declared in Stavropol Territory.

An amateur video of the scene has been uploaded to YouTube 

LifeNews reported:

RIA Novosti also cites a security source as saying at least five explosive devices were used in the attack.

No injuries were sustained among police and locals, it has been reported.

Stavropol region is located in southern Russia, close to the turbulent Northern Caucasus

The police said they had been placed on a state of alert in the wake of the attack.

Interfax reported that no one was injured in the bombing, but police shot dead one of the attackers.

The suicide bombers tried to break into the police station first but were stopped and then detonated the bomb, said officials.

The press service for the Interior Ministry branch in Stavropol Territory said two militants tried to attack the police station in the district center of Novoselitskoye in Stavropol Territory. One bomber was liquidated, the other managed to blow himself up. Said Interfact (translation by The Interpreter):

“During an attempt to attack the police station in Stavropol Territory, two militants were annihilated. One was liquidated at a checkpoint upon attempting to break into the grounds of the police station and the other managed to blow himself up.”

Authorities said only fragments were left of the man who  blew himself up.

Witnesses mentioned 3-4 bombs going off, and the sound of machine guns.

 — Catherine A. Fitzpatrick