SOVA Center

The SOVA Center for Information and Analysis is a Moscow-based nongovernmental organization and think tank conducting sociological research primarily on nationalism and racism in post-Soviet Russia. Currently, SOVA devotes its monitoring, research and advocacy to three projects: Misuse of Anti-Extremism Legislation, Racism and Xenophobia, and Religion in Secular Society. SOVA publishes print reports in Russian, and maintains a website updating readers in both Russian and English. Its reports are often cited by Western media sources including The New York Times and The Guardian.[1][2][3][4]

History and Structure

Members of the Russian research center "Panorama" established SOVA in October 2002.[5] SOVA is based in Moscow, and receives funding from several Western think-tanks. The organization's director is Alexander Verkhovsky, and its deputy director was Galina Kozhevnikova until her death in March 2011.

SOVA's activities are devoted to the following projects:

Misuse of Anti-Extremism Legislation

Monitoring and reporting on the improper application of anti-extremism legislation in Russian courts. This project reports on trial decisions, wrongfully banned materials (texts and otherwise), improper punishments delivered in connection with legitimate or illegitimate extremism convictions, and other relevant topics. The Administrative and Criminal Code of the Russian Federation are central to its activities.[6]

Racism and Xenophobia

Monitoring and reporting on the activities of radical right-wing and nationalist groups in Russia, and any counteraction by the Russian government. This project's reports cite numbers of individuals killed and injured in neo-Nazi or racist attacks, incidents of xenophobic vandalism, any demonstrations by ultra-right Russian groups and other relevant issues. It also keeps track of convictions and acquittals under charges relating to racism and xenophobia, with emphasis on cases that establish hatred as a motive.[7]

Religion in Secular Society

Monitoring and reporting on problems of freedom of conscience in Russia. Data covers the regulation of religious organizations, preferential treatment given to select religious organizations and other forms of discrimination, religion in Russian military and secular educational institutions, and protection or lack thereof from defamation and attack. Such questions often intertwine with SOVA's other two projects.[8]

Previous projects

  • Countering Hate on the Internet
  • Antisemitism
  • Democracy Under Siege
  • Hate Speech
  • New Conservatism in Russia
  • Resisting Radical Nationalism

Many problems addressed by discontinued projects are now covered under SOVA's three current projects.