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Experts Warn of Increase in Ethnically Motivated Attacks

Published: February 14, 2014 (Issue # 1797)



  • A group of nationalists at a march in Moscow, November, 2013.
    Photo: Andrei Makhonin / Vedomosti

Russia has seen an increase in violence motivated by ethnic hatred and physical attacks on the LGBT community in the past year, experts said Thursday.

The topic has taken on a new sense of urgency in light of Russia's anti-gay propaganda legislation and the ongoing street protests in neighboring Ukraine, protests which are now in their third month and took a violent turn in recent weeks as nationalists began to dominate. Observers have expressed concerns that the nationalist sentiment in Kiev could bleed over into Russia.

Judging from conclusions presented in a report by analysts from the Sova Center, a think tank monitoring racism, the public's anti-migrant sentiment will probably not lead to large-scale protests, however.

Related: Life Goes On for Gays in Olympic Sochi

Although "the potential support" of the ultranationalist movement "grew considerably," the movement itself "took a step back to existing in the form of half-legal radical cells," the report said.

"In such a course of development, ultranationalists will hardly be able to attract a really considerable number of new supporters from xenophobically oriented Russians," the report said.

Murder cases motivated by ethnic hatred rose from 19 in 2012 to 21 last year, but the overall number of attacks provoked by racial intolerance dropped from 210 to 199 in the same period, according to statistics contained in the report, which was paid for with a presidential grant.

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The trends seen in 2013 developed against the background of a drop in the number of prison sentences for ethnic violence and a surge in convictions for hate speech on the Internet, Vera Alperovich and Natalya Yudina, the co-authors of Sova's 2013 report on xenophobia and radical nationalism, told some 30 journalists at a news conference Thursday.

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