Hate Crime in Russia: Rethinking Crime and Punishment

Fourteen neo-Nazi youths are on trial in St. Petersburg for deliberately and systematically killing eight people in what appear to be hate crimes.

Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre commented on the case in the Huffington Post today – a piece co-authored with Alexander Verkhovsky, a prominent human rights advocate in Moscow. They explain why the case is important, and what Russian authorities can do to help.

Why is this trial so crucial? For one, the sheer number of accused and
their ability to carry out these violent attacks underscore the danger posed by
neo-Nazi groups in Russia. The diversity of targets – from five countries and
six ethnic groups – also suggests that nobody who appears to deviate from the
“Slavic norm” is safe…

Secondly, the outcome of the trial will signal the Russian justice system’s ability to send a strong message that it will not tolerate violent hate crimes against the country’s minorities and those who speak out on their behalf. That important message has been largely muted.

There has been a surge in hate violence in Russia over the past years, paired with increased intimidation and even murder of human rights defenders speaking out against it. Read more about Human Rights First’s work to combat these unfortunate trends.

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Published on September 21, 2009

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