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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Skinheads Threaten Foreigners By E-Mail

A group claiming to represent Russian skinheads has sent threatening electronic mail messages to foreign embassies in Moscow, warning that foreigners should leave the country or face attacks.

Officials in the embassies of the United States, Japan, India, the Philippines, Italy and Sweden confirmed Friday that they had received the English-language messages, and many more foreign missions were reported to have been recipients as well.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy issued a warning to U.S. citizens to "exercise caution and to avoid large gatherings and areas frequented by 'skinhead' groups." U.S. Consul General James Warlick said the warning had been prompted by the e-mail threat, as well as the upcoming anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth on April 20 and several recent skinhead attacks.

Two U.S. citizens were assaulted last month in the southern city of Krasnodar, and Americans were harassed this month in Moscow, including at such major tourist sites as Red Square and the Arbat pedestrian mall.

"Our advice is to be vigilant and prudent," Warlick said, adding that the embassy had expressed its concern to the Foreign Ministry and the Moscow police.

"We've said ... this kind of violence can't be tolerated," Warlick said. "When there are incidents of this kind of violence, we ask that the authorities pursue the attackers and prosecute them."

Russia has a small but occasionally violent far-right nationalist movement, whose members normally target dark-skinned people.

The message sent to the embassies was addressed "to the ambassador" and signed by "Ivan," the president of what was called the Skinhead Group of Russia, embassy officials said. A contact member on the message turned out to be the number of another extremist organization, Russian National Unity, which claimed to have no connection with the threatening e-mail.

"You are hereby warned now: We are not responsible for any killings of your citizens or your diplomats," the message said, according to Warlick.

A spokesman for the Moscow police said the force would take steps to prevent extremist acts in the run-up to Hitler's birthday, Interfax reported.

"Radical youth organizations have their own way of celebrating it," he was quoted as saying. He added that police would take "tough steps" to ensure calm.

The prosecutor general also has ordered extra measures be taken to prevent illegal acts against foreign nationals, Interfax said, citing a spokesman.