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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Neo-Nazis Beat Black U.S. Marine

The U.S. Embassy has warned Americans of African and Asian descent to beware of neo-Nazis in Moscow after a black Marine was badly beaten by skinheads at the crowded outdoor CD market in Fili Park during the weekend.

Police arrested one of the assailants, Semyon Takmanov, whose knuckles still bore deep scratches when interviewed Monday at the police department.

The embassy first warned of neo-Nazi danger two weeks ago, after more than 20 skinheads were seen severely beating two young Asian women in an alley near the Arbat, a popular pedestrian district in central Moscow.

People from India, Kenya and Nigeria are among those who have recently reported being beaten in a rising number of racially motivated attacks on the streets of Moscow.

Russian neo-Nazis had threatened to mark Adolf Hitler's birthday, April 20, by attacking people of color.

The embassy warned Americans to "exercise caution in areas where groups of 'skinheads' are known to loiter." The warning identified the victim of Saturday's attack as a "member of the official American community of Afro-American origin."

Citing privacy considerations, embassy spokesman Richard Hoagland would not confirm that the victim was a U.S. Marine. But Alexei Ogorelyshev, the deputy head of criminal investigations for the Fili Park police department, said he discussed the attack with the Marine's superiors in the embassy Sunday.

Takmanov, 22, a graduate of the Russian Forestry Academy and the publisher of the neo-Nazi newspaper Russian Target, was picked up by police Sunday afternoon.

He had bragged about beating up black people when interviewed by a TV-6 television crew that arrived at the market just minutes after the Saturday afternoon attack.

"To be honest with you, they just seem to be attracted to my fists like metal to a magnet," said Takmanov, who called himself Boose. "Everywhere I go, they bite me on my fists."

The police said Takmanov and three other men with shaved heads and aged 22 to 25 attacked the Marine at about 2:30 p.m. as he and a female embassy translator, both African-Americans, strolled through the busy Gorbushka market.

In an attack that lasted about five minutes, the four skinheads beat the Marine on the face and knocked out two of his front teeth, Ogorelyshev said.

The translator screamed for help, and when market security and onlookers rushed toward the group, the attackers ran away.

Russian police said the translator rushed the Marine to a car and they drove away. In the evening, she filed a complaint with police.

Takmanov, who remained in custody at the police station Monday, described his racist beliefs as "genetic socialism." The aim, he said, was "preserving the purity of Russian blood from interracial mixing."

He said his attack on the Marine was not motivated by his beliefs. "I simply didn't like him as a person. He pushed my friend, and overall, he was acting in a provocative way," Takmanov said.

He said he was not against the presence of people of Asian or African origin in Russian, but wants there to be a "strict control system."

Takmanov, who was wearing military fatigues, had two black eyes. In a brief period when police were not within earshot, he implied that he had been beaten while in custody.

Ogorelyshev allowed Takmanov to answer questions only about his beliefs, and not about Saturday's attack specifically.

The Marine and the translator came to the police department Monday, and as they were leaving, the translator appeared visibly shaken, and the Marine tried to comfort her.

Hoagland, the embassy spokesman, said the beating was the first such attack on an embassy employee of African or Asian descent.

"We have not had any beatings of blacks here before," Ogorelyshev said. "If it were just an ordinary Russian citizen, this case would not even exist. A Russian would not come to the police over two knocked-out teeth."

Police said they were looking for the men who were with Takmanov at the market.

As of Monday afternoon, Takmanov had not been formally charged with any crime. The most likely charge would be hooliganism, Ogorelyshev said.