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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

PMC “Ryodan” and mall fights: what we know about them and why it’s not a subculture, but a meme

At the end of February, the Russian media, and then the media of neighboring countries, began to write actively about the previously unknown PMC “Ryodan”. The movement has been presented as an aggressive youth subculture, inspired by the anime crime gang Hunter x Hunter, which has declared war on migrants and football fans. However, before the sensational brawl in the capital’s Aviapark shopping center, there was no mention of such a subculture on the Internet. The Eastern Herald wanted to know where the myth of the new movement came from and who wore sweatshirts with 12-legged spiders.

The first mention of “Ryodan”

The first mention of PMC “Ryodan” appeared in the media after a fight between teenagers in the shopping center “Aviapark” in Moscow, which occurred on February 19. He was followed by “ofniks” (quasi-football fans) on the one hand and guys in checkered pants, sweatshirts with a spider and long hair on the other. The former allegedly didn’t like the way the anime people looked and decided to “ask for the gear”.

However, on February 19, the fight went almost unnoticed. In total, at Ryodan’s request, a total of 11 posts were posted that day. The oldest of them: in a channel called jzxdx.

The group of the same name is on VKontakte, it has an account with the name “Juzo Suzuya”. It also has a hikikomori kai group of 77,000 people. The group links point to a site with very spidery clothing. In Juzo Group, Suzuya describes himself as an anime-related merch designer and writes that he created the design in 2019.

Here is how he describes the fight at Aviapark and the promotion of this event in hikikomori kai group media (post has now been deleted) and telegram channel jzxdx (style and spelling changed):

“1. Redan is originally a clan tag from Hunter x Hunter anime.

Spider stuff is a hikikomori kai/redan brand collection that was released in 2020 and has nothing to do with left, right or nazis, it’s just stuff. On February 19, in front of a company in clothes with spiders (came to the bottom), a company of athletes just for their looks and the first to start a fight. The redan boys could not stand it and fought back, after which the video with the fight spread and everyone began to support the company of spiders, because the video clearly shows that sportsmen behaved inappropriately and some (idiots) were the first to start a fight and started spamming texts with nationalists and the like (garbage) with calls to beat them and so on, following which some guests from neighboring countries, officers and other castes were offended. They started marching in crowds and randomly grabbing, as they say, nefors, which didn’t even belong to Redan, one at a time and attacking, threatening retaliation, a 16-year-old boy usually in the toilet with ten of them, threatening with a knife, made them kneel and forced to apologize to the camera, after stripping, they took away half of the things and started broadcasting this video.

How the Kremlin heard about Ryodan

After the scuffle and news from major media about the “detention of teenage boys from PMC ‘Ryodan'”, reports of similar gatherings in shopping malls started coming in from different cities, and soon from other countries.

Against the backdrop of news that Ryodan’s PMCs would oppose football fans and Nazis, brawls in malls became more frequent, followed by mass arrests of suspiciously dressed teenagers. Messages about this came from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ivanov, Tula, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk

and other cities of Russia, and by the end of February – also from Ukraine and Belarus. In Ukraine, the activity of teenagers was attributed to the ruses of Russian counterintelligence and rushed to forbid a movement “created to destabilize the internal situation”.

Russian officials have not stood aside either. So, the head of the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption Vasily Piskarev saw in “Ryodan” “is trying disguised as a youth subculture to involve the younger generation in a criminal environment” and promised to send requests to law enforcement.

Questions about the creators of PMC “Ryodan” too asked in a conversation with RBC, MP Yana Lantratova: “We see signs of coordinated actions – this is a fact. Suddenly, massive fighting begins not in one, but in several regions at once, and then we also see a fight on Ukrainian territory. The attribute is the same.

Ultimately, the incidents were commented on by the Russian President’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, who called Ryodan “a subculture with a minus sign” and urged stop illegal activities.

Where does the PMC prefix come from?

For the first time, the designation of PMC “Ryodan” appeared on February 20 in local telegraph channels for young people, according to data from TGStat. It began to be used in memes in which anime was deliberately associated with opposition to gopniks, fans, and Nazis, messages appeared along the lines of: “PMC REDAN DEATH TO BALDERS (BATTERS) IN ADIK.” One such post appeared on the Ryodan Generation channel, which only began reporting on Ryodan on February 19, after a fight at the mall. The channel itself was created in December and remained inactive until February.

Rise and fall of PMC “Ryodan”

Many posts related to Ryodan, such as fight videos on VKontakte or posts on Telegram, have now been deleted. This may have been due to the attention of the police, who began raiding shopping malls in search of a dangerous group.

As of February 21, the number of mentions of “Ryodan” increases to 19 publications, but still does not exceed local channels by several tens or hundreds of subscribers. On February 22, the number of messages increased to 93. At the same time, another fight took place in Aviapark with the participation of teenagers with the symbols of Ryodan, and the media began to write about it, and the Moscow Investigative Committee has launched an investigation.

The Telegram began announcing channels allegedly dedicated to the Ryodan subculture, to call for gathering in the Aviapark again on February 23. The “administrators” of the Ryodan PMC channel, which was only created on February 19, appeared and began commenting on the media.

The popularity of the “Ryodan” theme has grown explosively: as of February 23, there were already 479 messages in the telegram with complaints about the increasing number of “Ryodan” memes in Tiktok and requests for an explanation of what they mean.

At the same time, on February 23, a message about the appearance of a certain PMC “Ryodan” was published by the news telegram channel “Bottle” with 147 thousand subscribers. The channel collects news from Russia and Ukraine, actively covers topics related to the hostilities. Among the columnists, there is for example Eduard Basurin, press attaché of the military command of the DPR.

From Bottleka, a message about PMC Redan began to spread to other news aggregation channels, such as Dvach (705,000 subscribers) (on March 2, the message was deleted), Ax 18+ (6 ,3 million), “I’m in shock” (220 thousand) and others.

Posts about Ryodan peaked on February 28, when MPs and politicians began talking about the non-existent subculture: some demanded Ryodan be banned, others pointed to Ukrainian intelligence intrigues . The number of posts for that day exceeded 11,000, and the number of views of posts mentioning “Ryodan” rose to over 120 million, and then the hype began to fade rapidly: already on March 5 , the number of their mentions in the telegram amounted to 2370 posts.

It is possible that after a while there will be nothing left of Ryodan at all: after the hype and calls for violence in his name, the creator of the spider clothes who gained popularity announced in his VKontakte group that it was stopping its output. . At the time of publication, the inscription appeared on the brand’s website: “Technical work”.

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