23 September 2008, 15:14

Council of Europe alarmed with growth of xenophobia in Russia

Russia experiences growth of racist spirits, believes Michael Had, member of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI). While presenting the ECRI's report for the Russian Federation, Mr Had has noted that as a whole, the public opinion in relation to national minorities in Russia has worsened.

According to Michael Had, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance is concerned with the situation of national minorities in Russia and is ready to provide assistance in counteracting racism and intolerance. "So far, Russia lacks a well-developed uniform and universal strategy for fighting against racial discrimination," he said.

During the roundtable in Moscow, Mr Had has emphasized that politicians are rather often using racist utterances in their speeches. "Politicians are rather regularly imposing the guilt for the social situation in the country on minorities," said the expert.

The member of the ECRI has called the Russian government to make use of the 14-year experience of the European Commission of solving the problem, the RIA "Novosti" reports.

The concern of the European Commission is shared by Russian human rights activists. According to the information of Galina Kozhevnikova, Deputy Director of the "Sova" Analytical Centre and an expert in the problems of nationalism and xenophobia, we now witness a new wave of nationalist spirits - from the beginning of this year, over 70 persons were killed in Russia and about 300 more wounded as a result of nationalism-motivated attacks.

Ms Kozhevnikova has defined a new tendency: "Racists have understood that they would be caught, and they prefer to mask their crimes as common everyday offences, for example, as defence of a girl from hooligans."

Let us note here that according to the information of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights (MBHR), published in the website "ANTIRASIZM.ru", the number of victims of xenophobia is even larger - in the period from January to July 2008 at least 180 attacks were committed on the basis of aggressive xenophobia, as a result 81 persons were lost, and least 217 suffered.

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