A leading human rights organisation in Russia says racist groups in the country are becoming more radicalised.




An immigrant is chased by a gang - an occurence becoming more common


Sova, a hate-crime monitoring centre, says neo-Nazi gangs are now borrowing tactics from Islamic extremists as they try to incite a 'holy racial war'.
Two migrant workers have been beheaded, al Qaeda style, in the last 18 months.
The most recent victim was Salakhetdin Azizov.
The 20-year-old market worker from Tajikistan was attacked as he walked home across a stretch of wasteland in South Moscow.
He was stabbed several times. His body was then dragged into nearby woodland where he was decapitated.

Radicals on the march


Authorities were alerted to the murder after an e-mail was sent to Sova. It contained a photograph of the severed head.
The group claiming responsibility, the Militant Organization of Russian Nationalists, also made a number of political demands.
It warned officials that they would also be attacked if draconian immigration laws were not introduced.
The beheading, though, seems to be part of a disturbing new trend.
Last year, a group of Russian neo-Nazis kidnapped and murdered two migrant workers.
They filmed their brutality and posted it on the internet.
One of the men is beheaded with what appears to be a butcher knife. As the blade starts cutting you can hear that he is still alive.
The second man is made to kneel in a freshly dug grave. He is then shot in the head.

Skinhead gang in court


The sequence ends with two men wearing balaclavas giving Nazi salutes - glorifying their killings for other like-minded groups.
Racist murders are not unusual in Russia but these attacks stand out, not only for their sheer cruelty but also because of the groups' strong political messages.
Sova says there have been more than 80 racist murders in Russia this year alone.
The problem is getting worse as ethnic minorities, particularly from Central Asia, flock to Russia to escape the poverty of their homelands.
Social tensions are exacerbated by a rising tide of ethnic nationalism which is endorsed and even inflamed by mainstream politicians.
The director of Sova, Alexander Verkhovsky, says xenophobic views are now very common in Russia.
"Too many people in the 1990s had to look for some universal explanation instead of Communist ideology, and ethnic nationalism was a good universal explanation.
"That is why it was chosen by many people. It even influenced education and therefore it is natural there are several thousand radicals willing to carry out acts of violence," he said.
Earlier this week, a gang of teenage skinheads was convicted in a Moscow court for the killing of 20 migrant workers.
They filmed the attacks on mobile phones and posted the footage on the internet - online trophies for racists in the digital age.


[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]