Police photograph the scene of the shooting
St. Petersburg, May 19 -- Police shot and killed the leader of the neo-fascist skinhead group Mad Crowd. Dmitri Borovikov was shot in the head while resisting arrest and brandishing a knife. St. Petersburg police allege that Borovikov and his Mad Crowd gang committed a number of racist attacks and gunned down a Senegalese student on April 7th.
St. Petersburg police investigated the gang for a month before they linked the murder weapon to Borovikov's neighbor, who had given it to him to repair. The apartment where Borovikov's girlfriend lives was under surveillance, and after several weeks the suspect showed up. Police decided to arrest him when he stepped out of the apartment building into the street.
Three policemen surrounded the skinhead and one approached him to make the arrest. Borovikov then allegedly took out a knife and started "waving it around". More officers immediately appeared at the scene and one of them shot Borovikov in the head. According to the Russian police regulations, officers can't shoot to kill right away - they are supposed to fire shots in the air, or if time doesn't allow, in a body part. The City of St Petersburg immediately launched an investigation of the officer who killed Borovikov, but that investigation is now closed. Three more suspects, all 23 years of age, were arrested yesterday.
In Russia, there is no death penalty and life sentences, even for convicted murderers, are rare. In my opinion, the police responded appropriately to Borovikov's provocation and have shown the skinheads and the rest of the world that normal Russians have zero tolerance towards racist violence. Putin's recent remarks calling for a crackdown on fascist activity and pressure from the international community have forced Russian police to get tough.
The G-8 Summit will be held in St Petersburg between July 15th and 17th. The Russian government does not want any fascist activity damaging the nation's image. I think that we will likely witness more arrests and less ethnic violence in the next few weeks. As a former citizen of Moscow, I can say with confidence that suspects getting killed during arrests is a very rare event, and that the police usually exercise restraint in the use of force.
I hope that Borovikov's gang and other Russian fascist thugs got the message loud and clear, with one of their leaders now dead and his "executive team" now in jail.