Russian skinheads jailed over racist murders

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A Russian court jailed two skinheads for life on Tuesday for carrying out seven murders, including the shootings of an African student and an anti-fascist campaigner.

The leader of a racist gang, Alexei Voyevodin, and another member, Artyom Prokhorenko, were jailed for life. Ten other younger members were sentenced to between two and 18 years, a spokesman for the court in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg told AFP.

The armed gang began its attacks in 2003, with victims including a North Korean man, a Senegalese student shot outside a nightclub and a Russian anti-fascist activist, Nikolai Girenko, who was shot at his home in 2004.

Girenko, 64, a senior researcher at Saint Petersburg's anthropology and ethnography museum, is believed to have become a target because he submitted expert reports to courts on extremist crimes.

Most of the gang members were arrested in 2006 when the second gangleader, Dmitry Borovikov, was shot dead by police as they attempted to detain him. A jury trial ended with a guilty verdict late last month.

The two gang leaders had previously been members of an extremist football hooligan group called Mad Crowd, investigators said.

Thirty-seven people were killed and 382 injured by ultra-nationalist groups in Russia in 2010, Sova, an independent group which monitors hate crimes in Russia, said in a report published in March.

Sova warned that ultra-nationalist movements were gaining wider support among football fans after hundreds rioted in Moscow last December over the shooting of a prominent supporter allegedly by men from the Caucasus region.

© 2011 AFP

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