Old Violation Shuts Nazi Paper

A newspaper put out by the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity movement, or RNE, has been shut down by the courts over a minor, eight-year-old technical violation in its government registration paperwork.

At the request of the State Press Committee, a Moscow district court closed the newspaper Russky Poryadok, or Russian Order. The committee's lawsuit was utterly silent on the paper's content - yet indignant over its failure back in 1991 to send one copy of its first issue to the committee's archives.

The legal discourtesy of that missing first edition, along with the absence of a written and properly filed "mission statement" for Russky Poryadok, was good enough for Judge Olga Illarionova of the Ostankinsky district court, who revoked the paper's license to print.

"This is an absolutely illegal decision, weakly motivated. It's nothing but another element of the campaign against RNE started by the Moscow authorities," RNE spokesman Alexander Rashitsky said. (See Insight, Page 11.)

He added that RNE has five national, officially registered newspapers it can resort to for getting out its message, and that RNE would appeal the court decision.

Russky Poryadok was registered in October 1991 by the press committee. But over the next three months the paper failed to give the committee a copy of its first issue and a written description of its mission, as media law required it to do.

These violations were discovered this winter, seven years later - coincidentally as Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov was in a public feud with the RNE.

But a State Press Committee spokesman denied the committee's sudden vigilance was politically motivated.

"The violations were noticed only recently," he said. He refused to elaborate other than to say, "We don't typically run around looking for violations."

Alexei Pankin, editor of Sreda, a journalism trade publication, said many Russian publications could easily be found guilty of similar violations.

"More than half of all existing publications could be closed for this same reason," he said. "It's clear that this has been done to hurt the organization that publishes Russky Poryadok."

Judge Illarionova pulled Russky Poryadok's permit to publish just four days after another Moscow district court had outlawed RNE's Moscow branch in a case that turned on similarly trivial technical points - among them, the recruitment of minors to hand out Russky Poryadok in "unauthorized" locations.

Russky Poryadok is technically not an official RNE newspaper because it had been registered in the name of a private person, but it served as a tribune for the movement's ideologies and told sympathizers how they could join up. It published stories on "history, culture, religion and philosophy," according to Rashitsky, and academic-sounding articles about the origins of the swastika and other Nazi symbols.

"It was not a current-affairs newspaper with a one-day lifespan. It was aimed to form a mentality, to wake the national self-awareness," Rashitsky said.

Sreda's Pankin saw it a bit differently.

"In fact, it was awfully boring. That's not how I would call people to the barricades," he said, adding that it read more like "a research paper" than a call to launch "pogroms."

The newspaper came out irregularly, as soon as there was a "need to bring a certain point of view to people's minds," Rashitsky said. About 50 issues were published over its eight-year existence.

The last issue came out last summer and claimed to have a wide circulation of 1.5 million, much of which was in southern regions of Russia, where the RNE has its strongest support.

Russky Poryadok was suspended once before, for several months in 1993 after the October clash between the Russian military and the protesters at the Supreme Soviet. RNE leaders were among those briefly jailed in the wake of the destruction of the parliament.