Neo-Nazi groups suspected of murdering ethnic relations expert

Agency WPS
What the Papers Say. Part A (Russia)
June 23, 2004, Wednesday


SOURCE: Izvestia, June 23, 2004, p. 5

by Sergei Nekhamkin, Elena Rotkevich

The St. Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office considers that Professor
Nikolai Girenko’s professional activities are likely to have been the
motive for his murder. Girenko frequently appeared as an expert
witness in trials involving charges of inciting ethnic or racial

Nikolai Mikhailovich Girenko was killed on the morning of Saturday,
June 19 in his own apartment by a bullet fired through his door from
a sawn-off shotgun. His murder is being investigated by the St.
Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office major crimes directorate. St.
Petersburg Deputy Prosecutor Alexander Zhukov told the media on June
21 that one of the theories for the murder motive involves Girenko’s
professional activities. However, according to Zhukov, investigators
do not rule out the possibility of a random killing either.

Valentina Uzunova, a close colleague of Nikolai Girenko, does not
believe it could have been a random killing. According to Uzunova,
scholars in the group headed by Girenko, working on expert analyses
of nationalist extremist publications, constantly received threats.

One current trial in which Professor Girenko was involved as an
expert witness concerns the toughest nationalist group in St.
Petersburg: Schulz-88. The Schulz case began in spring 2003. While
investigating an assault on an Armenian citizen, detectives
identified a skinhead gang with about 30 members. After Girenko
presented his expert conclusions, it became clear that the gang was
more than a bunch of city hooligans: these were hard-line racists and
neo-nazis. Group leader Dmitri Bobrov (alias “Schulz,” with the “88”
in the gang’s name symbolizing the eighth letter in the alphabet and
standing for “Heil Hitler”) maintained strict discipline in his
organization; physical and “theoretical” exercises were carried out,
with youths being trained to “beat up blacks” and practising
large-scale pogroms. The group published a magazine called “Wrath of
Perun” with instructions for young skinheads.

The group of experts headed by Girenko did an evaluation of the
“Wrath of Perun” magazine. Bobrov and his colleague Alexei
Vostroknutov found themselves in pre-trial detention (four other
Schulz-88 members had to sign an undertaking not to leave the area).
The Schulz-88 investigation continued in May. Group members are
charged with inciting ethnic and racial hatred, and issuing public
calls for the overthrow of the constitutional order. The
investigation into the case is still under way.

Shortly before his death, Girenko started preparing to act as an
expert witness in another trial, involving the Russian National Unity

Translated by Gregory Malyutin