Foreign students scared to leave their homes after stabbings in St Petersburg

An African student was stabbed to death and another seriously wounded in St Petersburg over the Christmas weekend, raising fears that hate crimes are spreading across Russia. A Cameroonian student was killed just hours after another two Africans were slashed with a knife on the same street. All three victims were members of St Petersburg's Water Transport University, where many foreigners study and live together in dormitories. Many are now terrified to go out onto the streets of St Petersburg.

"We don't know who the next victim will be," said Toni Dukimo, an African student who was a friend of the murdered victim. "Maybe it will be me, when I am going home tonight."

Russian police, who have been criticised for a muted response to a spate of similar attacks, were reluctant to describe the stabbing as racially motivated. "It could be hooliganism, a settling of scores, extremism," said Sergei Zaitsev, a local police spokesman. But human rights groups in Russia say the murder has all the hallmarks of a rise in racially motivated attacks by skinhead groups over the past few years which has been "practically ignored" by authorities and police.

Andrew Suberu, deputy head of African Unity, a support group for African students in St Petersburg, said skinheads were definitely involved.

"According to my information, the attackers looked like skinheads. Now such attacks are a usual story in St Petersburg," he said.

According to the Moscow Bureau of Human Rights (MBHR), 59 people have been killed in racist attacks in Russia in the past two years. In October, an 18-year-old Peruvian student was murdered in a southern university town popular with British students. Enrique Urtado was set upon by a gang of 20 youths who beat him and his friends with metal poles and wooden stakes.

Researchers have warned that Voronezh, a depressed city with high unemployment rates 300 miles south of Moscow, had become the country's main skinhead recruiting ground, labelling the city a "crucible of race hatred". Russia is estimated to be home to more than 50,000 skinheads, with 10,000 in Moscow and 5,000 in St Petersburg alone.

Critics argue the lethargic attitude of the police in chasing and prosecuting racist attacks has encouraged neo-Nazi groups to flourish. Using names such as "Blood and Honour", "Moscow Hammer Skin" and "Skin Legion" some observers fear their numbers could rise to over 100,000 within a few years.

It is not just extremist racism on the peripheries of society that is worrying observers. A leading racism monitoring website in Russia surveyed opinion in the first half of 2005 and found up to 60 per cent of Russians held some type of xenophobic viewpoint. Among the least-liked ethnic minorities were Chechens, Azeris and Armenians. Much of the neo-Nazi literature circulating among extremist groups in Russia has concentrated on insisting Russia is a purely white country.

Political parties have also increasingly resorted to tough immigration policies and xenophobic rhetoric to win votes. The MBHR recently published a report monitoring xenophobia during the Moscow local elections and found "a number of political parties adhering to xenophobic slogans in their election campaigns". Slogans such as "Russia for Russians" and "Russian faces in the Russian capital" were increasingly popular, they said.

In June this year, public figures from St Petersburg wrote an open letter to President Vladimir Putin warning him of the rise of neo-Nazism in Russia. "You certainly know that in the last years along with traditional anti-Semitism and xenophobia another kind of racism is thriving in Russia," they wrote. "The racism of Nazi nature is the ideological basis for crimes sweeping over our country."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Sport
Harry Kane
premier leagueLive minute-by-minute coverage
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin