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Russian Court Jails Teenage Gang For Racist Attacks

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A Russian court has jailed members of a teenage gang for terms of up to 10 years after the youths were found guilty of racist attacks during August and September 2007 in which two people died.

The 13 teenagers were Moscow school students when they attacked people who did not look European, a spokeswoman for the court said. Twelve of the gang were under 18 when they committed the crimes.

She said the accused had been found guilty of about 10 racist attacks. The two dead victims were a 46-year-old chess master from Russia's Siberian region of Yakutia and a 23-year-old violin player of Armenian origin.

A 19-year-old was sentenced to a maximum term of 10 years in jail, the court said. Prosecutors believe he took part in the two killings. Two underage defendants were given a minimum term of three years.

The youths used knives and baseball bats to attack strangers in Moscow streets, parks, and trains and then posted mobile phone pictures of the assaults on Internet sites.

The Internet images were the main evidence used by prosecutors against the defendants in court, Russia's state Vesti-24 channel said.

It ran some of the sequences featuring groups of teenagers chasing darker-skinned victims, sometimes knocking them to the ground and violently kicking them. A separate one showed a youngster chasing a man with a hammer.

Several teenagers were also shown attacking a pregnant woman walking with a little child in a pram.

Russian courts are currently hearing several cases of racist groups, including one involving a teenage gang accused of 20 premeditated and 12 attempted murders.

Local antifascist campaigners have repeatedly urged the authorities to tackle rising xenophobia and neo-Nazism in Russia, which lost millions of its citizens fighting fascism during World War II.