“Narko Stop“ or “NS“ is a radical-nationalist vigilante group. Proclaiming to be taking the fight against drug dealing in Russia into their own hands, this growing group of young men carry out brutal raids on their victims - alleged drug dealers.
I was able to gain access to this group in spring 2014 to document their raids and the private lives of the members, aged between 16 and 26 years old. This project also looks at the question of identity. The search for identity growing up in a quick changing and developing post-soviet Russia. What kind of youth is attracted to such groups and what are the reasons for young people to join such a movement. To understand recent developments and rising nationalism in Russian society, we can also look to the activity of the youth as a clue to the broader situation:
The men – many of who identify as Nationalist or Right-Radicals – primarily target people selling Spice, a psychoactive, synthetic designer drug that mimics the effects of Cannabis. The usual approach for the men is to call suspected drug dealers pretending to be an interested buyer. They set up a meeting near a metro station. Once the group catches a alleged dealer they beat him, force him to smoke the drug, paint their victims face with enduring paint and cover his face with pepper spray. Documenting the situation with mobile phones they later upload photos and videos of their raids online on social media sites.
Doing their raids on busy streets, in bright daylight, the group is not afraid of onlookers or the Police Force; youth militia and vigilantism are met widely with approval by Russian society. Their victims rarely file charges due to fear of the police and the authorities, so there is little fear of prosecution for their actions.