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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Investigators Focus on Execution Clip

Itar-TassA web site displaying a video clip of the execution, still online Tuesday.
The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that it was investigating a video posted on several Russian ultranationalist web sites that appears to show the brutal execution of two men from Central Asia and the North Caucasus.

The ministry's high-tech crimes and organized crime departments are trying to establish who originally posted the video, a ministry spokesperson told Interfax.

Irina Zubareva, a spokeswoman for the ministry's high-tech crimes department said investigators had established that the video was uploaded on foreign servers and that the ministry had contacted authorities in those countries for assistance, Interfax reported.

She said the ministry would hand over findings to the Prosecutor General's Office, which will then decide whether to open a criminal case.

Investigators were also examining whether the video showed a real or staged execution, Interfax said.

Staged or not, the people behind the video could still be prosecuted for inciting ethnic hatred and denigrating human dignity, Kommersant on Tuesday cited a city law enforcement source as saying.

Alexander Verkhovsky, head of the Sova center, which monitors hate crimes, said he had seen many hate crime videos in his work, but most of those that purported to depict murders appeared to have been staged or fake. This one, he said, appeared very genuine.

"I've never seen anything that blatant," Verkhovsky said.

The three-minute video, which was posted by a LiveJournal.com user Sunday and credits a certain Russian National Socialist Party with production, shows two men kneeling on the ground with their arms and legs tied up.

"We were arrested by Russian national socialists," they say in barely audible voices.

A subtitle on the video identifies the two as "colonists from Tajikistan and Dagestan." A Nazi flag stands in the background while two men in masks and camouflaged clothing give Nazi salutes.

Then, a man with a knife or saw beheads one of the abducted men as heavy metal music plays in the background. The other hostage is then shot in the head.

The blogger that originally posted the video has links to the National Socialism/White Power web site that has about 10 videos of natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia beaten, Kommersant reported.

The video was also uploaded on several file-sharing sites but was subsequently removed Monday. It was still available, however, on at least one LiveJournal.com community and several individual LiveJournal.com blogs as of Tuesday afternoon.

Russia has seen a marked rise in xenophobia and racism in recent years, with numerous attacks on foreigners, many of them from the former Soviet republics in Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as members of ethnic minorities within Russia and Jews.

The Tajik Embassy in Moscow issued a statement saying it was concerned about the video, the BBC's Russian service reported on its web site Tuesday. (MT, AP)