Markets Closed Over Skinhead Jitters

Outdoor markets and kiosks run by ethnic minorities were closed and thousands of police ringed the Luzhniki stadium Sunday to thwart possible racially motivated violence.

Police nationwide were on alert all weekend amid fears of skinhead attacks around Hitler's birthday Saturday. The alert was to last through Monday.

No neo-Nazi violence was reported Saturday or by Sunday evening, but Izvestia reported that 15 people were injured in a fight started by skinheads before a soccer match Friday in Tula.

Also Friday, a small homemade bomb exploded on the street outside a synagogue in the western Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. No one was hurt and no damage was reported in the blast. A duty officer at the Krasnoyarsk branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said it was unclear whether the bomb, which exploded on the street, was targeting the synagogue.

A number of outdoor produce and consumer goods markets and kiosks in Moscow that normally do brisk business on weekends were closed Sunday.

About 3,500 police surrounded Luzhniki on Sunday evening to brace for violence connected to a Premier League soccer match between Moscow's Spartak and CSKA. CSKA won 3-0 and aside from a few minor incidents inside the stadium the match ended peacefully. Interfax said police detained 154 fans outside the stadium after the game.

While police fanned out to prevent racist violence, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov admitted that law enforcers haven't done enough to stem ethnic strife. Ustinov, answering calls from readers of the Izvestia daily, conceded that not enough is being done to prevent racially motivated attacks.

"The police ... are clearly not doing their job properly," he said, in comments published in Saturday's edition. "And the Prosecutor General's Office is not overseeing this question carefully enough." He insisted that cases of racist violence are routinely investigated, but added: "It's another matter how thoroughly they are being investigated, how quickly measures are taken, how objectively the sentences are handed down."

The Union of Right Forces party issued a statement Friday accusing Ustinov, the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry of indirectly encouraging racist activity by failing to stem a string of earlier attacks.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, meanwhile, said the concern about neo-Nazi activity in Russia was exaggerated. "In Russia, which suffered from fascism more than any country in the world, there is no place for Nazism," he was quoted by Interfax as saying, referring to the Soviet Union's estimated losses of 27 million people in fighting the Nazis in World War II.

 Sri Lanka has asked Russia to step up security for its nationals after a series of racially motivated right-wing attacks against Sri Lankans, Reuters reported.

"Two Sri Lankan students had been assaulted by a group of skinheads inside an underground station in Moscow," the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said in statement Friday.