Monday, April 17, 2006
SKINHEADS KILL TWO IN ATTACK ON GYPSY CAMP IN RUSSIA
It is becoming almost a common occurance to run across reports of racist or anti-Semetic attaks in Russia. More often then not these are being perpetrated by nazi like skinheads - individuals or groups, organized or not.
In fact, according to a report filed one year ago by the Moscow Human Rights Center, Russia has up to 50,000 ’skinheads’ with active groups in 85 cities.
Accurate statistics for racist incidents are elusive, partly because police are slow to admit them. Moscow's police chief recently denied there were any skinheads in the city.
The first article below comes from romea.cz. The second comes from the Toronto Star.
Two Killed as Skinheads Attack Gypsy Camp in Central Russia
A group of skinheads armed with steel rods attacked a gypsy camp in the central Russian city of Volzhsky, killing two people, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported on Friday.
The agency quoted local prosecutors as saying that the attack took place at 23-00 local time on Thursday. Skinheads assaulted the gypsies who lived in tents on the bank of the Akhtuba river and beat them with metal rods used in construction. Two gypsies, a man and a woman were killed. Two more victims were taken to hospital in a serious condition.
Police detained three of the attackers, all of them young men. Prosecutors said that those detained were thought to belong to a local skinhead group.
A criminal case has been opened under the article “murder of two or more persons motivated by national, racial or religious hatred or by a blood feud,” prosecutors said.
Violent attacks on ethnic minorities are on the rise in Russia
Blood pouring from the wounds on his head, Elkhan Mirzoyev struggled along the Moscow subway platform to the front of the train. Knocking on the driver's window, he told him: "You have to wait. I've been attacked and they're still on the train."
Don't worry, the driver said, I'll call ahead and the police will be waiting for them at the next station. The train sped off. No one was waiting at the other end.
"I should have known they would get away," says Mirzoyev. "No one cares about another chyorny being beaten."
Chyorny, meaning black, is a derogatory Russian term for dark-skinned people from the Caucasus region, or for just about anybody who isn't ethnically white. For people like Mirzoyev, originally from Azerbaijan but a long-time Moscow resident, hardly a day goes by without the term being thrown in their faces.
"You, the Jews and the blacks, are ruining our country," Mirzoyev had been told minutes before his beating April 2 on the subway.
The 28-year-old producer with Russia's NTV television network had been making his way downtown, trying to bury his face in his book. A gang of Russian youths, drinking beer and shouting, had boarded the train and Mirzoyev wanted to keep a low profile. One of them was clearly a skinhead: shaved head, black leather jacket, camouflage pants and combat boots.
He sat down beside Mirzoyev and began asking him: "Where are you from? Why do you live in Russia? Don't you know Moscow is a Russian city?" Before he knew it, Mirzoyev was surrounded by the jeering gang. One of them poured beer over him. Mirzoyev stood up and threw a punch.
"I don't know what I was thinking. It was obviously a bad idea," he said.
A beer bottle smashed into his head and he fell to the ground. Over the next few moments, he was hit repeatedly over the head with bottles and kicked in the torso as the gang shouted "Russia for the Russians" and other nationalist slogans. When the doors opened at the next station, Mirzoyev managed to crawl out on to the platform.
"I lost a litre and a half of blood," he said. "The doctors said I was lucky to be alive."
In recent weeks, Russia has been the scene of an increasing number of racist attacks on Jews, dark-skinned foreigners and non-white Russians. In response to a growing outcry, the Russian government yesterday proposed a bill to impose jail terms of up to three years and fines of up to 100,000 rubles ($4,150) for the production, distribution or use of material with the aim of sowing ethnic, religious or ideological hatred, including Nazi paraphernalia or symbols. The bill must still be approved by parliament.
But critics say the government is still doing too little to stem the tide of racist violence.
"The situation is becoming critical. We need to convince Russian society that xenophobia and fascist attitudes are not acceptable," said writer Dmitry Lipskerov, who was among the founders this month of the Association of Resistance to Fascism, which has pledged to monitor cases of racist crimes and lobby for tougher measures against them. Other members include Russian lawmakers, musicians, the coach of a top football team and academics.
While people of Slavic descent make up 80 per cent of Russia's population of 145 million, the country is also home to hundreds of ethnic and religious minorities. In addition, every year hundreds of thousands of people from impoverished former Soviet republics in Central Asia and the Caucasus flock to Russia to look for work.
Race crime has become so common in Russia that nearly every week sees another brutal attack. In the early hours of April 7, Senegalese student Samba Lampsar Sall, 28, was shot dead outside a St. Petersburg nightclub. The rifle used in the shooting was left at the scene and had been decorated with a swastika.
The night before Mirzoyev was beaten, Zaur Tutov, a popular singer and cultural minister in a north Caucasian republic, was attacked in Moscow by 15 to 20 young men. He suffered broken bones and serious facial damage. The previous weekend, attackers sliced the throat of a 9-year-old girl of African origin in St. Petersburg before spray-painting a swastika on a nearby wall.
Sova, a non-governmental organization that monitors racist attacks, estimates at least 28 people were killed in racially motivated crimes in 2005 and 375 injured. Other groups put the death toll much higher.
Critics often accuse Russian authorities of playing down racist motivations for crime and say lenient sentences for violent nationalists are fuelling attacks.
Experts say most of the attacks are carried about by neo-Nazi skinheads, who, bizarrely, are a growing force in a country that lost at least 26 million people to Nazi Germany. The Moscow Bureau for Human Rights last year estimated there are nearly 50,000 skinheads in Russia and more than 500,000 people sympathize with their cause.