Rising crime rates: Russian 'fists and knives' patriotism
by Vladimir Rozanskij

It is a side effect of Ukraine war. Disputes over the conflict have led to several murders, with highest incidences in southern Russia. Expert: The risk is that it will degenerate into widespread forms of "pogroms" against non-aligned people.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Criminal tensions are growing amid Russia's great mobilisation, where since the beginning of the aggression against Ukraine citizens are divided between resentment, exaltation and fear. There is now increasing concern of the growing social conflict between those who do not want to 'die for Putin' and those who are prepared to kill to defend their homeland.

In the last few months in southern Russia there have been at least three murders over street arguments about the war in Ukraine. In each of these cases, the investigators denied that this was the cause of the crime, or were simply silent about the motives. An investigation by Kavkaz.Realii sought to shed light on these events, and to comment on their effect on social relations.

On the night of 20 June, in the village of Bolshaja Martinovka (Rostov region), locals beat 49-year-old biker Viktor Goldobin to death. According to the official version, two men aged 18 and 28 argued with him at the billiards table, came to blows and then disappeared, leaving him dead.

The incident was classified as a 'sudden street fight'. A video on Instagram, however, shows that one of the assailants shouted "Do you like Ukraine?", while his wife incited him to "take that b**stard out!". The video circulated online a few days, then was removed, and its author closed the account. An acquaintance of Goldobin says that he openly spoke out against Putin's policies, and after the invasion of Ukraine had told friends that 'the sad and rotten intoxication of the leaders has led Russia to fascism'.

A similar murder took place on the Rostov-on-Don riverside on the night of 15 August, when the 33-year-old captain of the Russian army, originally from Moscow province, shot 51-year-old Roman Govasari, who was carrying materials to earn some extra money, with his Makarov.

According to the local publication 161.ru, initial police interrogations indicate that a heated argument had arisen between the two over Ukraine, but officially there was no comment from the police headquarters or the army, and the officer was held in solitary confinement for two months. The victim's son, Roman jr, gave several interviews, saying that he did not believe the version of the argument about Ukraine, because his father always advised him to avoid talking about political issues.

On 25 August in Gelendzhik, a quarrel between a 32-year-old tourist from Belgorod and a local resident ended in tragedy. It appeared to be a classic drunken argument, but the next day a video appeared on Telegram, circulated immediately after the arrest of murder suspect Nikolaj Pavlov, in which he recounts that the deceased was a Ukrainian and had 'promised to cut my mum's head off'.

Surveillance cameras captured the moment of the murder, showing four men, one of whom is kneeling in front of the others; one of them suddenly hits him in the throat with a knife, later found by investigators. According to some witnesses, the discussion had lasted at least an hour and a half, and was about the war in Ukraine, but the Krasnodar regional police headquarters categorised it as a 'conflict over personal issues'.

The internal tensions in Russian society have reached exasperated levels due to the Ukrainian war, as confirmed by Mikhail Savva, doctor of political science, director of the 'Sova' analysis group: 'The official propaganda has changed. It is no longer only mass propaganda, but also without any possible alternatives, because the expression of different opinions is forbidden by law and must be punished, so whoever dares to support them becomes an outcast for the whole society. If the state does not come to take action, there is then someone ready to do justice with their hands or weapons at their disposal. The risk is that it degenerates into widespread forms of 'pogroms' against non-aligned people.

Professor Savva also points to the increasing number of people returning from combat with shattered nervous systems, thirsty for confrontation with enemies and traitors, as a concomitant cause. Finally, many are consumed with anger by overlapping guilt complexes, against the West and the sanctions, or against the country's leadership and the army, for not being able to do anything to prevent the disaster, and feel the need to take action somehow.