Russian Skinheads Most Numerous in World

Mosnews/April 18, 2005

Russia has up to 50,000 'skinheads' with active groups in 85 cities, with the estimated total number of skinhead activists outside Russia no more than 70,000, Moscow Human Rights centre told Interfax Monday.

Skinheads are currently the most violent of all Russia's nationalist activists, said Semyon Charny, chairman of the centre.

"40 murders and hundreds of assaults were committed in Russia for ethnic reasons in 2004, and skinhead groups bear the responsibility for most of them," Charny was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Russian skinheads do not belong to a single organization, they rather fall into a number of smaller groups that can be as little as 10 people, Charny said.

"There only used to be skinhead groups in bigger cities and in the south of Russia where ethnic friction is intense, but now the skinhead movement has widened and taken to more cities and towns," he added.

Skinhead groups currently operate in 85 Russian cities. St. Petersburg has the most, 10,000-15,000 people; Kaliningrad has 1,000; Nizhny Novgorod has 600-2,000 skinheads; Rostov on Don has more than 1,500 and Pskov, Yekaterinburg and Krasnodar have more than 1,000 skinheads each, the chairman of the human rights centre reported.

There are also smaller skinhead groups of several hundred people in Voronezh, Samara, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Tomsk, Vladivostok, Ryazan and Petrozavodsk, he added.

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