By Sergey Chernov
The recent murder of a Ghanaian man, which appears to be racially motivated, is under investigation in St. Petersburg, while the police prevented two anti-fascist rallies in the center this week.
Solomon Attengo Gwajio, 25, was stabbed to death near his home on Prospekt Veteranov in the southwest of the city at around 9 p.m. on Dec. 25, according to the web site of the prosecutor’s investigative committee.
He was stabbed more than 20 times.
On New Year’s Eve, a video purportedly depicting Gwajio’s murder was uploaded to a web site allegedly run by extreme nationalists. A New Year greeting speech by a masked man standing against the background of the Nazi flag is followed by a poorly lit sequence of two unidentifiable men apparently stabbing the third.
“The investigation is underway, there are no suspects yet,” a spokesman for the prosecutor’s investigative committee in St. Petersburg said on Thursday.
Protests against fascist violence and in memory of the human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, who were shot to death in Moscow on Jan. 19 last year, were curbed by the authorities this week.
A large painting dedicated to the memory of Markelov and Baburova pasted by an anarchist art group on the brick wall of the Museum of Political History late on Monday was scratched off by unknown people before the museum’s staff arrived at work on Tuesday morning, according to the museum’s press officer.
A group of anarchists and left-wing activists tried to unfold a banner and distribute leaflets near one of the entrances to the city’s central Nevsky Prospekt metro station on Tuesday, but were stopped by plainclothes policemen, who appeared to have known about the planned event in advance. Four activists were detained.
On Wednesday, around 100 anarchists and anti-fascist activists attempted to hold a march on Nevsky, but due to large police presence both at the planned site and on the Petrograd Side, a downscaled version of the march eventually took place on Ulitsa Marata later that day.
A much-publicized anti-fascist rally in Moscow on Jan. 19, which was partly authorized after an initial ban, drew an estimated 1,000. Dozens of detentions were reported.
Activists say the authorities ban and thwart anti-fascist protests because those in power benefit from nationalism.
“We believe that it is the authorities who profit most from fascism, because it divides society and prevents people from trying to solve society’s problems,” anti-fascist activist Olga, who didn’t want her last name to appear in print, said by phone on Thursday.
“Everyone’s attention is therefore refocused on other people, people who aren’t to blame for what is happening in the country. On the contrary, it is precisely our homegrown bureaucrats who are to blame. For some reason, however, the public’s attention is shifted away from real problems to made-up problems like immigration.”
Meanwhile, St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko called for measures to fight illegal immigration and for the “more effective” expulsion of those who violate immigration laws. She made the comments while speaking on the board of the City Department of Internal Affairs on Wednesday, Interfax reported.