Vladimir Putin, President of Russia said: "The surge in crimes related to xenophobia, and ethnic and racial intolerance is shameful."
In Russia, groups like skinheads are gaining momentum from poverty and lack of job opportunities and targeting immigrants and ethnic minorities for their troubles.
According to the report, the Russian population is declining by 750,000 people annually.
However, economists argue that immigrants, with college educations and willing to work for cheaper pay, are needed to help combat the massive numbers of Russians leaving every year.
"There is a dangerous trend that expresses itself in violence and some political parties are exploiting this trend, exploiting racism," Diene said at a news conference wrapping up his fact-finding trip to Russia.
Several unidentified assailants attacked two women, aged 28 and 34, both of them citizens of Kyrgyzstan of Kazakh origin, in St. Petersburg's Kalininsky district early on Saturday.
The two women, who were vendors in a street kiosk, were returning home from work and one of them was talking over a cell phone in the Kazakh language. Three young men attacked them, stabbing one of the women to death. The second woman suffered serious knife wounds and was hospitalized.
They did not steal cash, jewelry or the cell phone where the dead woman was practicing her freedom of speech, but in a different language.
Ethnic enmity figures among the main motives behind the murder of a female Kyrgyz citizen in St. Petersburg.
Russia has seen a marked rise in xenophobia and hate crimes in recent years, with a series of attacks on dark-skinned migrants, foreigners and Jews. Rights groups say authorities do little or nothing to combat the crimes.
On Monday, the Moscow City Court sentenced Alexander Koptsev, 21, to 13 years in prison for attempted murder in the January incident. But the court cleared Koptsev of a second charge, inciting ethnic or religious hatred, effectively refusing to treat his crime as an act of anti-Semitism. The defense is expected to appeal.
Russian Jewish groups has sharply criticized the verdict of a man found guilty of stabbing nine people in a Moscow synagogue because the court failed to call the attack a hate crime.
Berel Lazar, one of Russia’s chief rabbis said. I’m concerned by a nearly maniacal unwillingness of the courts to qualify crimes of this type as inciting ethnic and religious hatred.
In August, the Moscow Bureau For Human Rights released a report saying half of Russians questioned expressed support for nationalist slogans such as "Russia for Russians."
July 2002, the felons put the booby-trapped poster with "Death to Jews" slogan on a road near Tomsk. Exactly as they had planned, an explosion went off when two passing men tried to remove it. The two men were hospitalized with shrapnel injuries as a result of the shell’s explosion, triggered by a trip wire hooked below the poster.
As opportunity presented itself to these two bombers they twice spilled mercury in a local restaurant owned by a Jewish person. The investigation showed that they also tried to blow up the Synagogue in Tomsk and committed two murders
Victor Lukyanchikov, an owner of a local bakery, admitted to being guilty of terrorism, banditry and incitement of national hatred. For these crimes, he was sentenced to a total of 23 years in prison. Another participant of the group, Igor Kirillov, received 20 years in prison, while the third member of the group, Vladimir Istomin, received a conditional penalty of six years and one month followed by a four-year probationary period.
According to the Moscow-based Sova human rights center, last year 31 murders and 382 assaults had racist motivations.
A Siberian court jailed Tuesday five skinheads convicted of race-hate crimes for between six and ten years and gave three others suspended sentences.
The "Brotherhood of Skinheads," as the group called itself, was detained in 2002 on suspicion of assaulting dark-skinned people from former Soviet republics. In one such attack, an ethnic Tajik was stabbed 18 times. A search of their homes uncovered extremist paraphernalia, books, and audiocassettes.
In one of the latest incidents, four teenagers suspected of the murder of an Armenian man on a commuter train two weeks ago were arrested in the Moscow Region Monday.
The trial of eight teenagers accused of murdering a young Tajik girl last year in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second city and the scene of frequent racially motivated crimes. The court found one teenager not guilty and the seven others guilty of hooliganism.
They stabbed her to death and savagely battered her father and her 11-year-old cousin.
The trial takes place amid fears that extremist groups are becoming more aggressive, and comes just weeks after a Peruvian student was beaten to death in a southern Russian city.
Critics of Russian law enforcement agencies say they often treat the racially motivated attacks that plague the country as random violence -- or "hooliganism" -- and human rights groups say extremists are emboldened by the lack of will to act on the part of authorities.
The prosecutor-general's office said Monday that Moscow prosecutors must reclassify their investigation into a weekend beating of a singer from the North Caucasus region from charges of hooliganism to a hate crime.
The order highlighted growing pressure on Russian law enforcement organs to go after skinheads after a series of blatantly racist assaults have been handled as ordinary crimes.
Zaur Tutov, who also serves as culture minister in his native Kabardino-Balkariya republic in southern Russia, was beaten Saturday by 15-20 young men who he said were shouting racist slogans.
A Russian TV producer from the Caucasus said a group of men in the Moscow metro had picked a fight with him after telling him he had no place in Russia.
In February 2004, a group of teenagers armed with chains, metal rods, and knives attacked 9-year-old Khursheda Sultonova near her home in St. Petersburg.
So far in 2006, 14 people have been killed in xenophobic attacks.
Some 1,000 protesters took to the street to denounce a wave of racist attacks in Saint Petersburg.
Several dozen protesters rallied outside the Russian Embassy in Yerevan, protesting a series of attacks on ethnic Armenians in Russia by skinheads and racist nationalists, The Associated Press reports.
The demonstration, organized by rights activists, came just 10 days after a group of apparent skinheads stabbed a teenager on a train outside of Moscow — the sixth such fatal attack on ethnic Armenians in or around Moscow this year.
Avetik Ishkhanian, head of the Helsinki Committee of Yerevan, said protesters were calling on government authorities to condemn the Moscow attacks.
A U.N. human rights investigator on Friday voiced concern about the rise of xenophobia in Russia and urged the government to step up efforts to combat it.
Doudou Diene, special rapporteur to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, charged certain Russian political parties were spreading racist and xenophobic ideas. He also pointed to a rise in hate crimes and urged authorities to take stronger efforts to investigate them.
Rights groups say authorities do little or nothing to combat the crimes. Prosecutions are rare, with many hate crimes treated as hooliganism, an offense that brings only short sentences.
Vologada is a city of over 200,000 people in northwestern Russia. Oblast in English means zone
The Vologda Oblast Court on May 25 overturned an earlier decision by the Vologda City Court against Anna Smirnova, who is editor in chief of the small weekly "Nash region," Interfax reported.
Smirnova hailed the latest ruling, saying that it was unexpected and shows that the oblast court is "professional and unbiased."
Smirnova was charged with inciting national, racial, and religious hatred in connection with a February article entitled "The Cartoon War: Viewpoints," which was accompanied by the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad
St. Petersburg's governor moved to downplay Wednesday the city's image as a center of Russian race hate and suggested that the roots for a number of racially motivated crimes lay in Moscow.
Russia's second city is set to receive the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in July but has been beset by negative publicity since the start of the year centering on killings and other attacks purportedly carried out by neo-Nazis.
"The crimes were engineered by people who tried to discredit the city ahead of the summit. We know the perpetrators," said Governor Valentina Matviyenko. "The traces apparently lead to Moscow,"
The governor's statement followed an announcement from St. Petersburg Prosecutor Sergei Zaitsev that an eight-member extremist gang suspected of being involved in the killing of a student from Senegal and other crimes had been broken up.
But Matviyenko warned against labeling St. Petersburg, which has a population of 4.5 million, as a capital of xenophobia and drew a parallel with a serial killer in the southern Russian city of Rostov.
But, A Senegalese university student was slain in St. Petersburg early this morning in what investigators are considering a possible hate crime.
The victim was gunned down as he and a group of fellow African students were leaving a night club. The killing comes as the city -- and Russia as a whole -- is experiencing a wave of racially motivate crimes.
Lamzar Samba was a fifth-year student at St. Petersburg's Communications Institute who belonged to African Unity, a human rights organization that represents the interests of the city's African emigre community.
AP quoted the city's deputy prosecutor, Andrei Lavrenko, as telling NTV television that a hunting gun decorated with a swastika was found at the crime scene.
The Public Chamber is calling on the State Duma to bar "extremist" candidates from running for office in what appears to be a broader campaign against nationalists.
Mark Urnov, a political scientist at Moscow's Higher School of Economics, noted that there was no clear definition of "extremism."
Neither the country's civil nor criminal codes define extremism, Nasonov said. A 2002 anti-extremism law fails to distinguish extremist crimes from others, he said.
The Kremlin is afraid of growing nationalism in our country," Markov said. "They are afraid that through the elections, extremist organizations could be legitimized.
Against a mounting backdrop of xenophobic murders and attacks, authorities have sought to beat back the hate. But the campaign has a political subtext that raises questions about its real goals.
Some in the opposition have dismissed as a publicity stunt an "antifascist pact" signed by a number of political parties in February. Meanwhile, seemingly sanctioned "antifascist" rhetoric -- particularly as trumpeted by the Kremlin-sponsored youth movement Nashi (Us) -- has tended to fixate on vocal foes of the Kremlin.
30 murders motivated by ethnic and religious hatred have been committed in Russia this year, president of the Union of Armenians in Russia Ara Abramyan said.
He added that 390 racially motivated attacks had been registered in Russia in 2005, and that seven Armenians had been killed in the country this year alone, Ekho Moskvy radio reported Wednesday.
Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said on May 17 that some 6,000 young people under the age of 18 were involved in extremist activities in Russia.
On April 4, the Moscow-based daily "Novye izvestia" commented that an official campaign against "fascism" and hate crimes is under way in order to channel political protests so that they do not focus on the authorities, and to present President Putin's Unified Russia party in a favorable light.
Human Rights First urges world leaders attending the G8 Summit to take advantage of the opportunity to call on President Putin to recommit to the democratic values of the G8, and to establish a set of clear benchmarks against which Russia will be held accountable by the time of next year’s Summit.
Under the guise of stabilizing civil society and fighting terrorism, the organization argues, President Putin recently signed the “NGO law” that is expected to greatly restrict the activities of Russian NGOs and foreign human rights organizations based in Russia.
However, a state-run television station ran a documentary falsely accusing four respected Russian human rights organizations of accepting money from alleged British spies.
Russian authorities continue to target human rights defenders through false prosecutions. For example, Stanislav Dmitrievsky, editor of a human rights newspaper, was convicted of inciting ethnic hatred under counter-extremism laws for publishing articles calling for peace in Chechnya.
Racist violence is on the rise, HRF concludes; in the past year, NGOs have documented hundreds of cases of assaults — including murder — against immigrants and minorities.
But hate crimes aren't just along ethic lines. Moscow police moved quickly Saturday to end an unsanctioned gay pride march and prevent a counter demonstration from organizing in the Russian capital.
More than 1,000 police officers were put on full alert Saturday, May 27, when Alekseyev and other organizers said they would ignore a court ruling upholding Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s decision not to issue a parade permit. Alekseyev was arrested as he was preparing to lead a group to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin, the Interfax news agency reported.
While police were blocking the gay march other officers were rounding up skinheads, members of a far right political groups.
The gay pride march was to have been part of an international LGBT conference being held in Moscow. Gay rights leaders from throughout Europe were attending the conference. It is not known if any foreign nationals were arrested.
Moscow is the only major world capital not to have a LGBT pride parade. In denying the parade permit Luzhkov said he was concerned about potential violence. But on Russian Radio on Friday he cited moral reasons for the ban. ”I believe that such a parade is inadmissible in our country above all for moral considerations. People should not make public their deviations,“ he said.
AP quoted Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov as saying during a radio interview yesterday that gay-pride parades ”may be acceptable for some kind of progressive, in some sense, countries in the West. But it is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow, for Russia.“ ”As long as I am mayor, we will not permit these parades to be conducted,“ Luzhkov said.
Last month, ultranationalists and Russian Orthodox activists attacked two Moscow gay nightclubs, throwing bottles, rocks, and eggs at party-goers and chanting homophobic insults.
As a final note, reported by St.PetersburgTimes.Com on March 27, 2006 a nine year old African Russian girl was hospitalized iwth stab wounds following a attack of suspected teenagers in busy downtown metro station in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Her mother doesn't want to tell her nine year old she was stabbed for the color of her skin. The mother hesitates and finally she's won't understand it anyway, she's nine years old.
Russian News and Information Agency
All Headline News
- www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7002438874 - Tera Hodges
The Russian Herald
- www.jta.org - Lev Krichevsky
Russian News Agency
Manichi Daily News
Russian News and Information Agency
- www.themoscowtimes.com - Francesca Mereu
- www.rferl.org – Daniel Kimmage
- www.times.spb.ru - Ali Nassor