Black-clad Russian nationalists face 'extremism' ban

16th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Moscow prosecutor has suspended a populist right-wing movement involved in a recent violent protest in a step toward a possible ban for extremist activities, the group's leader said Wednesday.

The prosecutor last week suspended the Movement Against Illegal Migration for "extremism," pending a court decision that could lead to a ban, a legal document obtained by AFP showed.

The movement was a key coordinator of mass protests after the death in December of a football fan, who was allegedly shot in a fight with men from the Russian Caucasus, inflaming popular prejudices against non-ethnic Russians.

Protestors blocked a highway and gathered on Manezh Square in central Moscow in an unsanctioned protest that turned violent, with crowds making Hitler salutes and attacking people of non-Slavic appearance.

The movement's leader, Vladimir Yermolayev, on Wednesday slammed the decision to suspend the movement, saying it ignored the interests of ordinary Russians and that leaders were frightened of an Egyptian-style uprising.

"The Russian leadership are afraid that the events on Manezh Square ... will repeat and grow into a people's revolution, as it happened in Tunisia and Egypt," he said at a news conference.

The authorities "do not want to hold dialogue with civil society, do not want to consider the interests of Russians," Yermolayev said.

Founded in 2002, the movement organises annual "Russian marches" of its black-clad members in Moscow and other cities, often sanctioned by authorities, and has joined populist causes such as protests against higher taxes on cars.

The movement, whose slogan is Law and Order, says it has around 1,200 members. It supports harsh anti-immmigration laws and the removal of legal sanctions on inciting religious and ethnic hatred.

In 2007, Russia banned as extremist the Russian nationalist National Bolshevik Party, led by maverick writer Eduard Limonov.

Limonov co-founded a new organisation, Another Russia, which has collaborated with liberals on protests.

© 2011 AFP

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