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16 Feb, 2008 05:11

Organised gangs behind Moscow hate crimes

A group of teenagers arrested for their involvement in racially motivated killings may have been behind over forty attacks. Film footage depicting the violence has been seized by the police. It shows victims being assaulted in Moscow parks in broad daylig

Last autumn the Russian capital was shocked by the killing of a Russian chess player Sergey Nikolaev, a native of Yakutia, and a street sweeper, who came from Uzbekistan. Police believed they fell victims of their non-Slavic appearance.

Initially, police were studying several motives, the leading one being football fans outraged by a lost game. But five months later, with the trial due to start, a new more sinister explanation has emerged.

This group of youngsters video taped almost every assault. They allegedly organised over forty hate crimes, mutilating and killing victims in broad daylight, in front of witnesses, in populated parks.

The tapes have been shown to a psychiatrist. He concluded these attacks were publicly staged.

“Most probably, these attacks were paid for and assailants were executing the order. This was a pure settlement of accounts, and I doubt there were any political motives behind it,” said psychiatrist Evgeny Shaposhnikov.

Investigation has confirmed the version of killing racially selected victims for money. The footage was just a report prepared for whoever ordered the crime.

Not many could escape the merciless pursuit of the gang.

“Such behaviour is beyond all ethical, legal or humane norms. This is mere savagery. They couldn't care less if it's a pregnant woman, a child, an adult, or an elderly person as long as there's cash offered. They're just murderers,” says Evgeny Shaposhnikov.

All the perpetrators captured on tape have been arrested, although their number is kept secret.

But one thing is clear – the gang was well-organised. One and the same person was filming. Each man would use a certain type of weapon in all the attacks – a hammer or a knife.

The evidence suggests there are several such gangs operating in Moscow. However, the names of those who ordered the crimes are still not known, as well as most investigation details.