Russian skinheads jailed for filmed race attacks

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A Russian court jailed 19 skinheads Thursday for up to nine years for carrying out a series of brutal race attacks, including two murders, and then posting films of the assaults on the Internet.

The group's leader, Andrei Linok, 20, who goes under the alias Lincoln-88, received the highest sentence of nine years at the hearing in Saint Petersburg, while the other gang members, aged 17 to 23, received lesser terms of up to seven years, a court spokesman told AFP.

The group were convicted of 12 hate crimes in 2007 against non-Slavic looking people, including the murders of an Armenian and an Uzbek. Their trial had heard how many of the attacks were filmed and then uploaded by the gang onto the Internet, prosecutors said.

At the time of the attacks, Linok was still in his final year of school in the town of Zelenogorsk and most of the other members were minors.

Photographs posted on a neo-nazi website show Linok, a slight figure with cropped brown hair, throwing Hitler salutes and posing with the flag of the banned nationalist group, the Movement against Illegal Immigration (DPNI).

The DPNI was banned as extremist by a Moscow court last month. It earlier announced plans to join forces with an already banned group, the Slavic Union, to create a unified national movement called Russkiye, or Russians.

Attacks against foreigners of non-European appearance occur regularly in Russia, although the authorities say that numbers have been dropping amid a crackdown on extremist organisations.

An NGO that monitors hate crimes, Sova, said in a report released in March that there were 37 hate killings in 2010, while 382 people were injured in attacks with racist or neo-nazi motives.

© 2011 AFP

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