Ombudsman Releases Report on Human Rights
Published: April 2, 2014 (Issue # 1804)
Xenophobia in the city rose to alarming heights in 2013, sometimes resulting in violent crime, St. Petersburg ombudsman Alexander Shishlov pointed out in the presentation for his annual report at the Legislative Assembly on Mar. 26.
The year was marked by the right-wing initiative called “Russian clean-ups,” directed against migrant vendors that took place from July 26 to 31 in several districts of the city. Although called a measure against “illegal street vending,” many witnesses said that nationalist activists harassed and used violence against foreign citizens, the report said. The illegal activity aimed at foreigners thought to be of Central Asian origin was confirmed by video evidence.
On Nov. 4, 2013, People’s Unity Day, ultra-nationalists carried out an attack dubbed “White Car,” when a group of neo-Nazis entered a metro car at the Udelnaya metro station and began attacking non-Slavic people while shouting “Kill” and “All for one and one for all.” A similar incident was reported to have taken place at Nevsky Prospekt metro station.
The report said that a group of young men wearing medical masks attempted to attack people of Central Asian descent on Prospekt Engelsa in northern St. Petersburg on Nov. 23, 2013, but were stopped by the police. According to the police, of the 707 crimes that were committed against foreign nationals in St. Petersburg in 2013, only was qualified as racially motivated.
Shishlov’s report, however, omitted the high-profile murder of an Uzbek national committed following the Patriotic March, also known as the Russian March. After the march and rally organized by the pro-Kremlin nationalist party Rodina and held on People’s Unity Day on Nov. 4, 2013, some participants dispersed throughout the city, where they harassed and beat those they perceived to be foreigners.
The Uzbek national was killed by a group of young men, who stabbed, punched and kicked him. On Nov. 21, 2013, seven suspects were detained, including 30-year-old Andrei Kosnikov, 18-year-old Sergei Bondar and five minors aged from 15 to 17 who were returning from the nationalist rally, the Investigations Committee reported.
Purporting to be a balanced assessment of the facts, the report praised city authorities for such programs as “Tolerance” and “Migration,” as well as for establishing a committee on inter-national and inter-confessional relations in Jan. 2014, but pointed out that xenophobic statements and calls to strengthening repressive measures in the sphere of migration had been heard in the city.
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