Staunton, October 28 – Major General Sergey Girko, the head of the Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs, says that there are now more than 150 neo-Nazi groups in his country and that both their number and the number of extremist crimes they commit is rising rapidly.
Speaking to an international conference in Moscow on combating extremist and terrorist groups and crime today, Girko acknowledged that for that reason as well as many others, “the operational situation in the area of countering extremism on the territory of the Russian Federation remains complicated” (www.vnii-mvd.ru/news/1128).
Girko said that “every year” the number of crimes of an extremist nature in Russia has been growing. “If in 2007, there were 356 such crimes registered” – a 35 percent increase over the year before – “then in 2008, this figure increased to 460 (up 29 percent) and in 2009 to 548 (up 19 percent).”
The current year has been no exception to this pattern, the MVD general said. During the first six months of the year, there were 370 such crimes recorded, up by 39 percent over the same period in 2009. And that figure suggests that there will be a comparable increase for the entire year as well.
Moreover, Girko continued, “the number of radical groups based on the ideology of national, racial and religious tolerance also continues to grow.” According to MVD figures, there are now “more than 150 radical neo-fascist groups” in Russia “whose members profess a cult of nationalism and racial superiority” and seek to implement it with violence.
The MVD institute director said that “we very well understand that statistics are not an absolutely exact barometer” in this area. “As law enforcement practice shows, at the initial stage, extremist crimes are sometimes classified as having been committed for other reasons” all the more so because extremist groups are often combined with ordinary criminal ones.
“In Russia,” he continued, “particularly in recent years,” the powers that be have adopted “a complex of legislative and organizational measures in order to react in an adequate fashion to the existing threats from the side of organized criminal formations of an extremist and terrorist direction.”
Among these steps, Girko said, has been “the creation of a government system of countering extremism in which a particular place undoubtedly belongs to law enforcement organs.” They in turn have created inside the MVD a special department, whose staff specializes in providing advice on how to respond to and then prevent extremist crime.
His own institute, Girko said, conducts research and makes recommendations in this area in order to “raise the level” of the understanding of front-line officers in the struggle with this kind of crime and to generalize on the findings of investigators so that what one group learns all can benefit from.
The institute’s research, he continued, shows how complicated and multi-faceted is the task of those who seek to combat such crimes, and Girko suggested that what is “required” now is the involvement of “all institutions of government power” in this struggle, with each being responsible for one or another sector.
While a great deal has been accomplished, Girko said, “work in this direction in many regions [of the Russian Federation] is not being carried out at all or is being carried out in an ineffective way.” In all too many places, such activities are limited to declarations of good intentions rather than continuing action.
Girko concluded by saying that Russia’s fight against extremist crimes can only benefit from the experiences of others who have assembled in Moscow for this conference, and he said that the speeches and deliberations of the group would be published so that they could benefit everyone who is engaged in this struggle.