In Moscow, an online war has been raging between a far-right movement and ‘progressive‘ Russian companies for several months. The movement, called “The Male State,” launches online attacks, strikes lawsuits and threatens to destroy businesses because of social media posts that focus on lhbti, feminist and black models.
A number of companies have fought to attack, but one sushi chain is opposed to the attacks.
The movement has become more active this summer. Not only sushi chains, but also ecological supermarkets, feminists, critical bloggers, comedians, journalists and media companies have fallen victims of the group in recent months.
Last week, the far-right group launched an aggressive campaign against the Russian sushi chain Jobidojobi because of a black model Instagram post posing with sushi. The founder of “The Male State,” Vladislav Pozdnjakov, mobilized his 100,000 followers on Telegram to attack the sushi chain with DDoS attacks, fake orders and bad reviews.
Jobidojobi then publicly apologized “for hurting our audience with the photos” and deleted all photos with the black model.
A day later, the same Pozdniakov called for a similar attack on the popular sushi chain Tanuki. With more than 61 restaurants in Moscow, branches abroad and hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, the chain appeals to many young people. Tanuki is fighting racism in Russia.
Pozdnjakov shared Instagram posts from Tanuki on his Telegram Channel with the caption: “In the attack!” The pictures featured a male black model and a rainbow print lunch box.
According to Pozdnjakov, those photographs would be propaganda material to “impose progressive values on the Russian people”. Pozdnjakov once again mobilized its hundreds of thousands of followers to attack Tanukki as well and threatened to destroy the company if it did not delete the Instagram posts.
The website was disrupted, hundreds of fake orders were placed but never paid, and FSB security raided at chain branches due to bomb reports. The images were shared by Pozdjnakov supporters who made the reports.
But sushi chain Tanuki refuses to capitulate. “They picked the wrong people,” says Aleksandr Orlov, founder and owner of Tanuki. The owner mobilized hundreds of thousands of followers of Tanukki‘s social media to report Pozdnyakov and his Telegram channel to the companies.
The hashtag “We are Tanoeki” now goes viral. Also, the restaurant has called for the help of Russian media watchdog Rozpotrebnazor and the Russian authorities. This makes it the first company in Russia to open the fight against the “Male State”.
Orlov says, “I don’t understand that people get angry about our content. But anyway, this is a minority. We don‘t take into account a few far-right people; in addition, we do nothing wrong. We don’t spread propaganda, we just show all kinds of beautiful people from all religions, nationalities and sexual orientations. And we will always do that.”
Orlov has now filed a lawsuit against the racial hatred movement. “No one has the right to threaten us or tell us what to post or not. We will continue to do what we do and never give in to these types of threats.”
Ecological supermarket Vkusvill (which also has branches in Amsterdam) was also targeted in July because of an advertising game with a lesbian couple. Vkusvill apologized for “hurting the Russian people” and removed the material.
Vkusvill is now being boycotted on social media by young progressive Russians. The family in question has fled because of death threats from Pozdjnakov‘s supporters.
Today, the Kremlin also responded to the fuss around Tanuki versus the group. “We’re going to look at the case. And if “Male State” violates the law, authorities must respond to it,” said Kremlin spokesman Peskov.