Russia Assailed at UN Over Racist Attacks

GENEVA -- Russia must do more to stop violence against minorities, torture by the police and army, and the murders of journalists, delegates to a UN rights body said Wednesday.

"We are concerned at the trend of racism and xenophobia, which is resulting in a continuing rise in racial attacks," a delegate from South Africa, which often backs Russia, said during a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

Other issues raised at the first Russian appearance for a review process of the 47-nation council included political abductions in the North Caucasus, Internet child pornography and limits on independent civil society bodies.

Russian officials agreed that racism was a problem but said they were tackling it through education and monitoring of extremist groups and noted that such violence was not always fatal.

Russia is a democratic state "based on the rule of law," and its people enjoy equal rights, according to a report by Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov that was presented to the council.

Every effort was being made to combat extremism and ethnic violence, Konovalov said, and a special police unit had been set up to track activities of such groups under a law on fighting extremism and terrorism.

Human rights group Memorial contested this at a briefing, saying the law was being used to limit its activities.