SOVA Center: racist crimes growing in Russia
In the period of January 1 – July 31, 2007, in Russia, at least 310 people became victims of racist and neo-nazi crimes, 37 of them died. Last year in the same period there were 252 victims, 21 of them dead. So the number of victims has increased by 22% and the crimes have become more violent.
Moscow, 24 murdered and 93 injured people, and St. Petersburg, 5 murdered and 63 injured, remain the major centers of racist violence. Nizhny Novgorod, 34 injured people, where skinhead groups have started to consolidate recently, is the third in this list.
We believe that we get to know about just a small part of hate crimes. The majority of them remain underreported. Moreover, reports on hate violence in the mass media have become really rare. More and more often the SOVA Center gets the information directly from the witnesses of these incidents.
Spring and summer 2007 have been marked by a drastic increase of attacks against representatives of the youth antifascist movement and subcultures. It is about 40% of all the crimes, while it was never more than 30% before. We believe that this increase is rather due to the underreporting of attacks against other vulnerable groups.
The state’s attempts to prosecute hate crimes are essential, but, however, they are too retarded. From January to July, 2007, there were 13 court decisions in connection with racist violence, acknowledging the hate motive, and at least 3 decisions, which, by different reasons did not acknowledge this motive. In total, there were at least 33 people convicted.
Besides, ultra-rightwing propaganda has been more actively prosecuted. In the reported period there were at least 16 verdicts concerning 17 people. The law enforcement has also improved considerably: there have been less imprisonment sentences and more fines and banning of journalist and publishing activities. We believe such kind of prosecution more appropriate for the crimes connected with propaganda.