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Human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin (file photo) (epa)
April 3, 2006 -- Russia's human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, today accused members of Russian law-enforcement agencies and individual regional leaders of covering up and condoning racially motivated violence.
Lukin was commenting on the attacks by skinheads in Moscow on April 1 on the culture minister of Kabardino-Balkaria, Zaur Tutov, and on April 3 on NTV journalist Elkhan Mirzoyev, who is from the North Caucasus.
Tutov was attacked by 15-20 men, who, he said, shouted racist slogans. Mirzoyev was beaten up in a central Moscow metro station by a gang of men and women who told him he had no place in Russia.
Lukin praised the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office for its April 3 decision to order Moscow prosecutors to reclassify the attack on Tutov, labeling it as a hate crime rather than hooliganism.
Moscow prosecutors had initially said there was no evidence to suggest the attack was racially motivated.
There has been a surge in racially motivated attacks in Russia in recent years, many of them directed against people from the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Critics of Russia's law-enforcement agencies say they often treat racially motivated attacks as random violence and that this is encouraging a feeling of impunity among extremist groups.
(Interfax, AFP, AP)
Yusuf Sultonov, whose 9-year-old daughter was beaten and stabbed to death in St. Petersburg on February 9, 2004 (TASS)
EXTREMISM ASCENDANT: More than half of Russians have xenophobic views, according to a report published in August 2005. In the report, rights groups say that -- despite progress in some areas -- racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism remain rife in Russia. But what worries watchdogs most are recent moves by nationalist-patriotic movements to form paramilitary groups....(more)
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