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African students holding a banner reading "St. Petersburg is a cemetery for foreigners'' at an anti-racism rally in April (RFE/RL) September 25, 2006 -- An Indian medical student has been stabbed to death in St. Petersburg.


India's Consul General in the city, Jordana Pavel, said 27-year-old Nitesh Kumar Singh was stabbed seven times outside a student hostel late on September 24.


St. Petersburg has been the scene of a number of race-related attacks by far-right Russian nationalists this year.


Tatyana Dorutina, co-head of Public Movement for a Racism-Free Russia, on September 25 called on the Russian to get tough on racially motivated crimes before the situation gets worse.


Dorutina said culprits of racial crimes are let off too easily, often simply being charged with hooliganism for crimes that include murder.


(AFP, Reuters, Interfax)

Moscow Takes On Extremism
Kamlizhan Kalandarov in RFE/RL's Moscow studio (RFE/RL)

COMBATTING THE HATRED: RFE/RL's Russian Service on August 21 spoke with Kamilzhan Kalandarov, a member of the Public Chamber and a leader of the NGO Our Russia. (Read the complete interview in Russian). Kalandarov spoke about efforts the authorities are making to combat the wave of hate crimes sweeping Russia.

Kalandarov: Xenophobia today threatens the national interests of Russia. But I agree that the authorities are making good progress in this matter. First, the order on withdrawing Russian forces from Chechnya was recently signed. That is a big plus because the source of extremism, the sources of Caucasus-phobia are partly in Chechnya. Islamophobia grew dramatically after the first Chechen war. Next, the Public Chamber was created. We have a subcommission on nationalities issues and a subcommission that drafts projects related to xenophobia. This work is ongoing, which is why I think the authorities are really interested in making sure this problem does not go any further.
We should also mention the courts. I think that in many cases judges themselves hold [xenophobic] views. Second, we have not created normal conditions for protecting witnesses. People are not physically protected from various types of influence. Judges are afraid and witnesses are afraid. Because they have to keep living in that city. This defenselessness leads to cases not being pursued and to not-guilty verdicts being issued.


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