Mestnyye (Russia)

Country: Russia
Details of Formation: Originally founded as an apolitical environmentalist/anit-drug/anti-gambling group at the will of the Moscow Region government, Mestnyye quickly joined the trend of political youth groups then evolving in Russia by adopting political actions in favour of the government to its regular agenda, such as demonstrating and campaigning. It is not exactly clear when the group was first armed.
Details of Termination: --
Purpose: Mestnyye was founded to clean the environment. Mestnyye are used by the government to intimidate immigrants (Human Rights Watch 2007) and support security forces in fight against crime. The group is frequently active against immigrants. The government profits from supporting Mestnyye because it is an alternative to the far-right anti-immigrant group Movement Against Illegal Immigration.
Organisation: The leader of Mestnyye is called Sergey Fateyev, but sources give no more information about him. The government supplies Mestnyye with media, material and financial support. The Federal Migration Service officially enlisted Mestnyye in 2007 (Human Rights Watch 2007).
Weapons and Training: Mestnyye receives material support from the state. It is not clear if this includes weapons.
Size: At the end of December 2005, 45,000 people allegedly participated in Mestnyye’s actions. Later reports of other actions mention significantly lower numbers of participation, decreasing from 7,000 participating in the anti-Bomb action in 2006 to 50 participating in a rally in 2012.
Reason for Membership: Mestnyye members participate primarily to protect and improve their region and local environment, as well as for ideological reasons (against immigrants, in favour of Putin).
Treatment of Civilians: Mestnyye aims to protect (ethnic) Russians from crime and terrorism. But it instills ethnic hatred against non-ethnic Russians.
Other Information: Some sources refer to the group as "Locals" (the translation from Russian of "Mestnyye") or use the alternative transcription "Mestnye". As the majority of sources used the writing "Mestnyye", the PGM was given that name.
References: Human Rights Watch. 2014. “Russia: Reconsider Use of Youth Group Volunteers to Conduct Police Functions. Letter to Minister of Interior Affairs.”