Russia for Racists

MOSCOW – In Russia, if you have dark hair and a slightly swarthy complexion, you are likely to be in danger. Sadly, Russia’s leaders have tolerated, if not encouraged, fear of foreigners and assaults on those whose appearance differs from the average Russian.

In a residential area of Moscow, a group of adolescents, many with shaven heads and wearing combat boots, marches and shouts Russian nationalist slogans. When they come across three Azerbaijani boys, they don’t hesitate. Soon, one of the boys – only 13 years old – lies severely injured; he will have to be hospitalized. The other two are injured as well. The perpetrators are never caught.

Bashir Osiev, 24, an Ingushetian-born clerk in a Moscow bank, is assaulted by a group of skinheads while walking home with a friend. The friend is badly wounded but manages to escape; Osiev dies after being stabbed in the back. Two of the assailants are injured in the course of the fight and arrested after seeking medical assistance at a hospital. The others are never caught.

Two men from the Caucasus are on their way to the metro, and are attacked by a group of adolescents with knives. Both are treated in hospital, the perpetrators escape unrecognized.