Russia: New report shows racist killings out of control

Racist killings in Russia are out of control, said Amnesty International today (4 May), as it published a new report detailing instances of racially motivated killings, racist attacks and xenophobia in the country.

Recent research shows that in 2005 at least 28 people were murdered and 366 assaulted on racial grounds in Russia. Another study shows that people of non-Slavic appearance are 21 times more likely to be stopped and checked on the Moscow metro than those of Slavic appearance.

Amnesty International’s report condemns the Russian authorities’ discriminatory practices and a systematic failure to properly record or investigate racist crimes.

The 35-page report, ‘Russian Federation: Violent racism out of control’, includes numerous examples of Russia’s police and prosecutors’ habit of routinely classifying murders and serious assaults by skinhead extremists against foreigners, ethnic minority Russians and anti-racist campaigners as lesser crimes of “hooliganism”. One killing of a medical student from Guinea-Bissau was originally dismissed as non-racist on the grounds that the assailants - a youth and two young men - “had hair”, ie were not skinheads with shaven skulls.

Numerous cases of apparently racist murder and serious assault - many in city parks and near metro stations - have been carried out by large armed groups (up to 18-strong) of young men with shaved heads, heavy boots and paramilitary-style black clothing. Russian non-governmental organisations estimate that there are now 50,000 members of ultra-nationalist groups with extreme racist, neo-fascist and violent ideologies active in Russia. Groups implicated in racist behaviour style themselves as “White Patrol”, “Schultz 88”, “Movement Against Illegal Immigration”, “The Slavic Union” and “Russian National Unity”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described racism in Russia as “an infection” and Amnesty International’s report outlines recent positive steps taken by some elements of the Russian authorities. However, the report finds the overall situation dangerously out of control.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Racist killings and violent attacks against foreigners, visible ethnic minorities and anti-racist campaigners in Russia are out of control and some Russian authorities are turning a blind eye.

“Instead of seeing only ‘hooliganism’ in vicious organised attacks on students from African, south-east Asian countries and non-Slavic Russians from Chechnya, Russia’s police and prosecutors need to tackle head-on the growing scourge of violent racism in Russia.

“President Putin’s government should adopt a comprehensive ‘plan of action’ to combat racism and anti-Semitism - especially to counter hostility towards Chechens, Roma and those of Jewish faith.”

Cases featured in the report include:

Khursheda Sultonova, a nine-year-old girl of Tajik ethnicity, attacked with other members of her family in St Petersburg in February 2004 by a gang wielding chains, knives, sticks and knuckledusters. Khursheda was stabbed nine times in the chest, stomach and arms and died at the scene from excessive blood loss.

Vu Anh Tuan, a 20-year-old Vietnamese student, stabbed to death in October 2004 by a gang of 18 skinheads near a metro station in St Petersburg.

Liana Sisoko, a nine-year-old girl whose mother is Russian and father is from Mali, attacked by two youths in St Petersburg in March 2006. She was stabbed three times, including in the throat, and hospitalised with serious injuries. The attackers reportedly painted a swastika near the scene.

Dmitrii Kraiukhin, head of anti-racist organisation “United Europe”, who has received threats to “cut off your head”. He has repeatedly been denied protection from the authorities in Orel, western Russia.

Abdul Wase Abdul Karim, a 28-year-old asylum-seeker from Afghanistan, attacked in March 2004 outside a metro station in Moscow by a skinhead gang that beat him with metal bars. Abdul, an ethnic Tajik who had escaped persecution from the Taliban, never recovered consciousness and died in hospital six days later.

Amaru Antoniu Lima, a medical student from Guinea-Bissau, stabbed to death in February 2004 by a gang in Voronezh. One of the gang admitted that they had set out to “kill a black”.

View latest press releases