Russian Neo-Nazis Publish 'Death List'

Russian murders
Mourners honor two Muscovites who were apparently murdered for their anti-fascist work. Getty Images.

A Russian neo-Nazi group in February published a "death list" naming dozens of journalists, scholars and human rights activists. Members of the group that calls itself BTO have vowed to murder everyone on the list by the end of the year. "They said they were going to kill me and my colleagues for the work we are doing," said Galina Kozhevnikova, the head of the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, a Russian human rights watchdog group.

The death list was posted on Feb. 8 on the Internet and E-mailed to most of BTO's targets. Kozhevnikova and others told interviewers they're taking the threats seriously. And they have good reason to do so. In just the single month before the list arrived in their inboxes, 14 people in Russia were murdered in racist hate crimes or assassinated by neo-Nazis for political reasons.

Two of the victims — reporter Anastasiya Baburova, 25, and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, 34 — were shot to death in broad daylight on a busy street in downtown Moscow, less than a mile from the Kremlin. Baburova was a writer for the magazine Novaya Gazeta and specialized in investigating Russian neo-Nazi gangs. Markelov was the publication's volunteer legal counsel.

Baburova was the fourth journalist working at Novaya Gazeta to be killed in recent months. The paper has asked Russian authorities to allow its reporters to carry handguns for self-protection. A message from BTO leaders that accompanied its E-mailed threats said journalists were being targeted because their murders receive the most press coverage.

Online, Russian neo-Nazis celebrated the double murder, calling the killer a hero and saying they would toast the murders with champagne. A week later, Novaya Gazeta published information from Russian neo-Nazi websites reflecting the rise of Russian neofascist groups and the impunity with which they operate. In 2008, at least 113 immigrants were murdered in racially motivated attacks.

"In Russia, there is fascism," the Novaya Gazeta editors wrote on Jan. 26, just two weeks before the BTO threats were received. "This is not underground, they are no longer hiding and they openly take to the streets of cities."