Russians jailed for racial schoolyard attack

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A Russian court sentenced six men Friday to jail terms of up to three-and-a-half years for a racial schoolyard attack that left a teenager from the Caucasus in a months-long coma.

During the attack on two teenagers in February 2009, the group cried: "Russia for Russians". Their victims were from Dagestan, a republic in the Russian Caucasus.

The six men -- aged between 19 and 26 -- were given jail terms from 18 months to 3.5 years by a court in Saint Petersburg.

Racism and xenophobia have been on the rise in Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Ethnic Russians form the vast majority of the country's population of 142.9 million but there is also a large Muslim minority of over 20 million concentrated mainly in the Caucasus and the Volga region.

Extremist, racially-based crimes rose by nearly 20 percent in 2010, according to Russia's attorney-general.

© 2011 AFP

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