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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hate-Crime Killings Up in 2006

Even as hate-crime killings are on the rise, the total number of attacks is down from previous years, activists who monitor extremist activity are reporting.

Galina Kozhevnikova of the Sova center, a Moscow NGO, said the drop in attacks was the first since 2004. At the same time, she said, attacks have grown more violent.

"Right-wing radicals are trying to attract the attention of the public and the media," she said at a news conference Tuesday at which Sova released its study of the first five months of 2006.

From March through April, 87 people were attacked, with 14 of those people dying. By comparison, in the spring of 2005 the center had tracked 122 attacks, including five deaths.

Slavic supremacists failed to capitalize on a huge march they held in November 2005, Kozhevnikova said. Since then, their events have been sparsely attended.

But recently these same extremists have gained support by rallying against gays, Kozhevnikova said. Extremists rallied against two nightclubs holding events in April and May for gays and a gay rights march in May. The march, which was expected to take place in central Moscow, was shut down after skinheads, ultranationalists and others turned up en masse to protest it.

"It's a very disturbing phenomenon," Kozhevnikova said. "Homophobia bridged different groups -- Orthodox Christian fundamentalists and skinheads -- whereas before, that had been impossible."

The Sova report also noted that Russian prosecutors were increasingly pressing hate-crime charges. Previously, authorities failed to recognize the racial element in crimes, the report said.

At the same time, a growing number of people convicted of hate crimes are receiving suspended sentences, Kozhevnikova said, encouraging perpetrators to think they are above the law.

The Prosecutor General's Office did not comment on the center's findings.

Kozhevnikova also said journalists unaccustomed to covering right-wing extremists had unwittingly hyped up the ultranationalist cause.