Three face trial for racial attack

Three men are to be put on trial for a racially-motivated assault on three Chinese nationals in Moscow. The attackers are accused of knifing the men last month.

Russia's fight against a deadly wave of racism and xenophobia has become a top priority for the government.

Race-related crimes are often prosecuted on charges of hooliganism rather than as racially-motivated attacks.

According to the Moscow-based Centre for Information and Analysis, there were 540 hate crimes during 2006. Ten per cent of those ended in murder. Only a third of those who stood trial were convicted.

The authorities say that in this latest case, evidence that racism was involved is overwhelming.

According to police investigator Dmitry Shershakov, officers believe the attackers intended to murder the victims.

“Those detained have confessed and we have brought charges of racially motivated crimes against them. These youths are associated with the ‘skinhead’ gangs that target people of non-Slavic origin. The investigation has found out they used the internet to plan their attack,” Shershakov said.