Russia has seen a significant spike in racial incidents and inter-ethnic rioting in the last two weeks. In Moscow, in the Buryulyovo district, an anti-immigrant pogrom began on October 13th after an ethnic minority reportedly killed a native Russian. In Moscow and in St. Petersburg, there were more riots over the weekend. However, police are now saying that last week, a Nationalist leader in St. Petersburg was arrested because he tried to spark ethnic riots, riots which would presumably provide justification for more anti-immigrant pogroms. – Ed.
Police intercepted provocations by nationalists trying to repeat the Buryulyovo events in St. Petersburg. The provocateurs and their ideological inspirer – Nikolai Bondarik, leader of the St. Petersburg Nazis – were detained on 16 October. Criminal cases have been opened against them for incitement of ethnic hatred and enmity.
The “Biryulyovolution” in St. Petersburg began on the night of 16-17 October at the main city mosque at the Gorkovskaya metro stop. In order for it to take place, according to police investigators, Bondarik incited two ethnic crimes, promised to pay some “actors,” but then fortunately they lacked talent.
After the riots on 13 October in Biryulyovo, St. Petersburg police on the eve of Kurban-bayram [a Muslim holiday referred to as Eid al-Adha in most other locations – Ed.] (15 October) were vigilant. If usually during the Muslim holiday they protect migrants from the aggression of the ultra-rightists, then on 15 October they hardly had to change tactics – the Nazis suddenly turned from offenders into “victims.”
A dispatcher at the 2nd police precinct received two alarms, one after another, on the morning of 15 October. At about 10:45 a.m. a message came in from the emergency room: a 17-year-old student of Fyodor Volkov Builders’ College presented to doctors with a knife wound (he did not conceal his nationalist views and took part in Bondarik’s actions—NP). According to the youth’s explanation, at 8:15 a.m. at the Gorkovskaya metro station, an unknown person with an Asiatic appearance struck him with a knife. The wound was not serious. Volkov was given first aid and released. Agents from Department E [to Combat Extremism] raced to find the “victim,” who had not given either an address or a telephone number.
Their search were greatly facilitated by Nikolai Bondarik, who learned about the “incident” at the Gorkovskaya metro before police, and expressed alarm about it at first on his VKontakte page, and then in the media.
A little later, Bondarik reported on social networks about a second “attack” – against 25-year-old Vasily Baranov: “The guys went into a café at night on Prosveshcheniya Avenue to drink coffee. They did not drink alcohol. A crowd of Caucasians broke in, about 10 persons…They attacked the guys. The guys broke away and ran out. The attackers let loose a whole round of rubber bullets at Baranov’s back. He barely crawled home. He fainted…The guys were also wounded, but not as severely… Baranov’s wife was afraid to call the ambulance because those same Caucasians were guarding the entrance way…”
Police learned that both Volkov and Baranov phoned back and forth with Bondarik both before, during, and after the attack. Another detail had been concealed: at about 8:00 a.m. the “wounded man” Fyodor, still in the hands of doctors, managed to post photographs of a sliced watermelon on VKontakte with the caption, “Our reply to Kurban-bayram.” Soon agents found both “victims”: one at the college and the other one at home.
During the interrogation, Volkov admitted that there was no attack, that he had wounded himself with the knife and then sought medical treatment. According to Fyodor, Bondarik talked him into staging the incident with two friends (the names are known to the investigation—NP) so as to create a replay of the Biryulyovo pogroms in St. Petersburg.
When Baranov was brought to the police station, the wounds he had described were not found. But he did make a deal with investigators (now he is figuring as a witness in the case – NP) and described the provocation in detail.
First, at the precinct and then on 16 October, he gave an account of the incident to journalists at a briefing at the Main Directorate of the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region Interior Ministry in the presence of Sergei Umnov, chief of headquarters, Aleksandr Klaus, head of the regional investigative department and Aleksandr Chubykin, deputy city prosecutor.
“I got a link from Bondarik on the Internet; if I wanted to take part in their actions, then I should call him,” explained Baranov. “I called him. Bondarik said that he would pay me 20,000 rubles if I would do everything that was necessary. I met with the other organizers of the action who explained that I had to stage a conflict with persons of non-Slavic appearance, after which I had to call the police and an ambulance as a victim…”
But that night, he couldn’t seem to pick a fight with any of the migrants. Baranov went to explain this to two of his handlers who were standing on guard nearby.
“Suddenly, one of them shot me in the back with rubber bullets without warning,” Vasily continued. “People don’t behave like that. That’s not humane. Yes, I knew that I was getting into a provocation, but I had no idea that I was going to get shot. I called back Bondarik and said I don’t want anything to do with him, because he hadn’t warned me about this. Bondarik replied, “If you want to get your money, call the police, if necessary, my lawyers will get you out of it.”
Today, Bondarik himself is the one who needs the help of attorneys. On 16 October, the Main Investigative Department of the Russian Federation Investigative Committee for St. Petersburg has opened two criminal cases against him under Art. 282, part 2 of the Russian Criminal Code, “Incitement of hatred and enmity.” On that same day, the leader of the St. Petersburg Nazis was detained. Not long before that, Bondarik managed to write on his page on VKontakte about how he had been “slandered”: “Baranov called me and spent a long time apologizing. He claimed that he was beaten by police so that he would give testimony against me.” Baranov himself in an interview with journalists refuted this statement. On 17 October, investigators went to court with a petition to put Bondarik under arrest.