"After we buried him, we decided to somehow take revenge," Shamanov says. "We didn't really want to attack real criminals and break their heads. Well, actually, we did. We just didn't want to go to jail."
Duri.net later expanded to targeting pedophiles and shaming them online. The group also says it shares its information with police and claims that this has
led to more than 30 criminal cases being opened against suspected pedophiles.
But while Shamanov says Duri.net's actions have curtailed drug dealing and made the Internet safer for children, the rising tide of vigilantism -- which
has been mimicked by pro-Kremlin youth groups and nationalists -- have law-enforcement and social workers worried.
Police, for example, have labeled their attacks on drug dealers "hooliganism." Kremlin Child Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov maintained that while people "must
defend themselves," he also sympathizes with the police's apprehension of the activism. "We have to find balance," he said.
Leonid Armer, the 38-year-old founder of the St. Petersburg branch of the Youth Security Service, a decade-old organization that assists recovering addicts and victims of domestic violence and pedophilia, maintains that the lack of police oversight is troubling.
"To be honest, in a raft of cities it has turned into something half criminal that is extremely unpleasant and very ugly," he says. "In Saint Petersburg,
we understood pretty swiftly that not much will come of dispatching these videos and that we should move to something more serious. We worked out a
methodology for cities wanting to undertake this seriously. The first point was that the most important thing is to have ties with law enforcement."
Critics say without oversight and accountability, the scope for abuse is wide. The groups raise money online with little or no accounting of how the funds
There is also a visible strain of zealous homophobia in some of the activities of Duri.net and other vigilante groups.
One recent video shot in Magnitogorsk shows activists sneering at a 27-year-old homosexual man who arranged a meeting with a 15-year-old boy. They write "pedophile" across his forehead in
marker pen. The video is posted on the LiveJournal page of a group called "Occupy Pedophilia: Magnitogorsk" with the caption: "You're gay if you don't
Some vigilantes also appear to openly condone -- and even glorify -- violence.
Videos made by the "Youth Antidrug Spetsnaz" group depict masked activists taping alleged drug dealers to fences, dousing them in paint and, in some cases, setting fire to their cars, destroying their possessions with a hammer,
and blowtorching their wares.
The group was disbanded in April.
For his part, Shamanov says the wave of vigilantism is unsurprising because legislation is insufficient: