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Monday, 30 August 2010

Teenage girl killed in skinhead rampage at Russian festival

Over 100 men attack at Tornado festival in Miass, injuring up to 100 people in latest ultra-nationalist attack to hit country.

A 14-year-old girl was killed and dozens of revellers injured yesterday when more than 100 bare-chested skinheads rampaged through a rock concert in central Russia attacking people with iron clubs.

The teenager was among a crowd of around 3,000 people at the Tornado festival in Miass, 900 miles east of Moscow, when the attack happened.

Many visitors were left bloodied and dazed after being hit with iron clubs and sticks, television and news agencies reported. One report, quoting a police source, suggested the teenage girl had suffered multiple stab wounds.

State-owned Rossiya-24 TV saidup to 100 people were injured and 14 ambulances were called to the scene.

Images on the local news website Chelnovosti.ru showed battered revellers and scores of skinheads congregating at the event, which featured Russia's top rock acts.

The motive for the assault was not known, and the ITAR-Tass news agency said local police had refused to comment.

Witnesses told Russian journalists that the skinheads burst through security cordons, pushing police aside and in some cases grabbing their truncheons to attack visitors.

The Ekho Moskvy radio station reported that around 15 attackers were detained, but the majority fled.

Russia has an ingrained neo-Nazi skinhead movement and attacks on foreigners in Moscow and St Petersburg have been relatively common in recent years. The January 2009 murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasiya Baburova prompted a Kremlin crackdown on ultra-nationalists, who were blamed for the killings.

In April, a Moscow court banned the far-right Slavic Union, whose Russian acronym SS intentionally mimicked that used by the Nazis' infamous paramilitaries. The group was declared extremist and shut down, but the group's leader, Dmitry Demushkin, complained that it had tried to promote its far-right agenda legally and warned that the ban would enrage and embolden Russia's most radical ultra-nationalists.

Neo-Nazi and other ultra-nationalist groups thrived in Russia after the Soviet collapse in 1991. The influx of immigrant workers and two wars with Chechen separatists triggered xenophobia and a surge in hate crimes.

Racially motivated attacks, often targeting people from Caucasus and Central Asia, peaked in 2008, when 110 people were killed and 487 wounded, an independent watchdog, Sova, said. The Moscow Bureau for Human Rights estimated that some 70,000 neo-Nazis were active in Russia compared with a just few thousand in the early 1990s.

The Guardian