Moscow 'skinheads' kill Afghan

Xenophobia is on the rise in Russia, a new poll suggest

BBC News/March 31, 2004

An Afghan man has died in a hospital in Moscow, a week after he was allegedly beaten by a gang of Russian skinheads. Abdul Wasi, a 27-year-old market trader, was attacked with bottles and metal bars as he walked home.

Mr Abdul, who leaves a three-month-old daughter and a Russian wife, stayed in a coma for a week before dying of a brain haemorrhage on Wednesday.

The attack came as a nationwide survey revealed high levels of xenophobia among Russia's youths.

The poll - by St Petersburg University's social studies institute - suggests that one in three young Russians describe themselves as nationalists.

One in 10 of the 16- to 19-year-olds said they would take part in "nationalistic pogroms" if paid to do so.


Russian police believe that Mr Abdul was beaten unconscious by a gang of skinheads as he was walking home at night.

Other Afghans in the Russian capital are concerned that brutal beatings are becoming routine, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow reports.

She says one man told her he was afraid to let his family out alone on the streets.

Representatives of other ethnic minorities in major Russian cities also say they are being increasingly targeted by gangs of racist teenagers.

A nine-year-old Tajik girl died last month after being stabbed by suspected skinheads in St Petersburg.

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