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Russian Experts Say Sentencing Of Skinhead Murderers Too Lenient

Members of the gang listen to the verdicts in a Moscow court on December 15.
Russian experts say the jail sentences given to a skinhead group convicted of committing at least 20 murders were too light.

A Moscow city court found a group of skinheads guilty of 20 murders and 12 attempted murders. All of the group's victims were people from Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Two 17-year-old leaders of the group each received 10-year terms in jail, while others received shorter sentences.

Extremism expert Galina Kozhevnikova, the deputy director of the Sova Analytical Center, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that the verdicts are inadequate and that the murderers will be able to gain release from jail in several years and will be met by ultranationalists as "white heroes."

Viktoria Burkovskaya, an independent Moscow-based expert on extremism, also called the sentences too mild, but added that Russian laws in general do not allow judges to give a more severe punishment to individuals younger than 18, regardless of what crimes they commit.