Russian Nazi Teenagers Firebomb Jewish Restaurant
– the attack on the Solomon Jewish Restaurant is believed to have occurred at an unspecified point this summer,
but video footage has only recently become available.
– Colin Cortbus
This summer, a neo-Nazi terror group calling itself ‘Sparrows Crew’ unleashed a campaign of violence, gas attacks and arson against immigrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia, Jews, anti-fascists, homosexuals and homeless people. It is known to operate mainly in Yekaterinburg.
Stand for Peace has obtained a collection of over 14 videos of brutal attacks, made by the group and posted on little-known backwaters of the Russian-language social media world and small video-sharing sites. The vast majority of these videos are too gruesome for us to republish. Aside from gas-canister and arson attacks, there is a clear preference for extreme physical violence as opposed to the use of guns or knives, although one video does contain footage of a crude homemade gun apparently being fired. All the attacks shown are extremely cowardly, with the perpetrators almost always outnumbering the victims, who are often on their own.
The group’s activities represent a shift away from unrecorded, low-profile but lethal neo-Nazi attacks against immigrants and the homeless that have traditionally formed the bulk of far-right violence in post-Soviet Russia.
In a recent interview with the far-right news service PN14, the group explains its methodology and propaganda strategy in astoundingly frank terms. Physical violence and shaky filming is consciously valued for being more emotionally effective and ‘creative’: “For us, what we do is creativity. There is the violence of emotion and improvisation, and the camera filming, editing, design and much more.”
Interestingly, the group does not view their attacks as effective in harming perceived enemy groups in themselves, or as part of some racial street war: “Only an idiot would think that if one day he will destroy impure elements on the streets, that it somehow helps their fatherland. That is why we are against random attacks on the Untermensch if they are not recorded on video.” Rather, the recorded attacks serve as “pure propaganda by means of violence and vandalism.”
It may seem strange that videos of violent terrorist attacks, with little or no ideological commentary, may be viewed as effective recruitment and propaganda tools. However, the group provides its own ideologically coherent explanation for this; children are the main target for their propaganda, and ‘like sponges’ they uncritically absorb the content of social media. Thus, via social media, children are imbued with the message of the ‘Sparrows Crew’.
Traditionally written, intellectual propaganda – huge articles about the “death of the white race” – is not effective: “That shit is boring even for a lazy adult to read, let alone children and adolescents.” Instead, children need a much more simple and visual message: “The kids need to see that coming with their Russian friends and beating people of non-Slavic ethnicity is so easy and fun! After all, you can show it on vide [on the internet], earn respect through getting a lot admiring comments and become famous.”
Despite the group’s critical take on traditional propaganda methods, it remains firmly and dogmatically committed to Hitlerism: “And if suddenly all the Untermenschen were to become law-abiding and intelligent, then what? Personally, for us nothing would change since our hatred for these creatures has a different rationale; namely that these ‘people’ are not able to give birth and raise something special.”
Russian Police and FSB are most certainly aware of the ‘Sparrows Crew’ gang; PN14 itself reports on a police investigation. The St Petersburg NS/WP case demonstrated that Russian law enforcement do have the means to smash such organisations. What the present inaction of Yekaterinburg Police shows is that what is absent is the will on their part to arrest the ‘Sparrows Crew’ terrorists. Even the ‘Sparrows Crew’ themselves realize that; attacking other far-right groups for being “secretive and in the underground” in a public interview is not the behavior of a group which feels it has anything to fear from the state.
Worryingly, there are signs the British far-Right may be looking for inspiration from their much more successful Russian counterparts. A recent far-Right-linked conference in London this month featured the notable Alexander Dugin, an “obscurantist pseudo-scholar” and proponent of “revolutionary ultranationalist and neo-imperialist ideology,” albeit not a neo-Nazi or supporter of far-Right violence. It may only be a matter of time before the overtly violent sections of the British far-Right follow suit.