Skinheads Suspected In 21 Ethnic Killings

A group of skinheads have been implicated in the murder of at least 21 ethnic minorities, the Investigative Committee said Thursday.

The seven suspects had been under investigation for the murder of two Uzbek citizens in Moscow in May but are now suspected of killing at least 19 other "individuals with non-Slavic appearances," the committee said in a statement.

The announcement came on the heels of two trials that began this week at the Moscow City Court, in which several teenage suspects are accused of dozens of racist murders.

After being arrested for the murder of the two Uzbeks, four suspects began confessing to more racially motivated murders, including that of an acquaintance from Kazakhstan, the Investigative Committee said in the statement.

They told investigators that they murdered the Kazakh man, whose last name was Melnik, in the apartment where they were arrested and proceeded to chop up the body and bury the remains in the courtyard, the statement said.

The statement identified the four suspects by their last names: Tamashev, Molotkov, Nikiforenko and Yurov. Tamashev said he belonged to a nationalist group called the National-Socialist Society, it said.

It was unclear from the statement when the other three suspects were detained or what their names are.

A woman who answered the phone at the Investigative Committee's press office referred all inquiries to the official statement.

Meanwhile, the Moscow City Court on Thursday ruled that a jury would hear the case of Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, both 17, who along with seven other skinheads are charged with committing 20 racist murders.

A dozen teenagers charged with a series of deadly racist attacks are to go on trial at the court next Monday.