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October 08, 2011

Anti-Extremist Laws in Russia Misused to Target Human Rights, Religious Groups


This week's FirstCast features selective enforcement of Russia's anti-extremist laws. The Russian Federation has experienced a dramatic upsurge in violent hate crimes over the past decade. According to the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, a leading Moscow-based NGO monitoring hate crimes, racist and other violent attacks by ultranationalist and neo-Nazi skinhead groups claimed as many as 470 lives since 2004 and peaked in 2008 and into 2009.

While Russia’s heightened prosecution of ultranationalist groups resulted in a decrease of violent hate crime, law enforcement and prosecutorial officials also use the same legislation to persecute nonviolent government critics including journalist, independent media and human rights organizations and religious organizations--draining resources away from police units tasked with combating real threats of racist violence.