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The evolution of violence within far-right mobilization: evidence from Russia

ethnic and racial studiesJournal abstract

This article analyzes the temporal variation in far-right violence by examining it as a series of interrelated attacks that are embedded within and arising out of a broader cycle of far-right mobilization. It argues that the changing nature of far-right violence occurs as a trial-and-error process – what Sidney Tarrow terms “tactical innovation” – within a mobilizational cycle. As we demonstrate below, far-right mobilization is characterized by innovation, experimentation, and selection of specific types of attacks and particular targets that are deemed likely to garner public support and increase pressure on state officials. Consequently, over the course of the mobilizational cycle, far-right violence employed more organized forms of violence and increasingly targeted ethnic minorities and migrants. We find empirical support for this argument in the case of Russia, using event analysis of a ten-year span of mass violent attacks and an in-depth examination of selected riots.