Wed, Aug 15, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Russia investigates hate-crime video

ULTRANATIONALIST Prosecutors told reporters that they had opened a criminal investigation as the country suffers a marked rise in radical xenophobia and racism

AP , MOSCOW

Russian prosecutors are investigating a video posted on several ultranationalist Web sites that appears to show the brutal execution of two men from Central Asia and the Caucasus -- and the beheading of one of them.

The video, which was posted on the Web site of a Russian organization calling itself National Socialism/White Power along with other more common Web sites, shows two men kneeling on the ground with their arms and legs tied up.

"We were arrested by Russian national socialists," they say in barely audible voices.

A subtitle on the video identifies the two as "colonists from Tajikistan and Dagestan." A Nazi flag stands in the background while two men in masks and camouflaged clothing give Nazi salutes.

Then, a man with a knife or saw beheads one of the abducted men as heavy metal music plays in the background.

The video then cuts to the other man on his knees with his hands taped behind his back and his mouth taped shut. A hand can be seen firing a gun into the man's head and the body falls forward into what appears to be a freshly dug grave. Heavy metal music continues to play.

There was no way to independently confirm the content of the video, but Russian prosecutors told news agencies on Monday that they had opened a criminal investigation into its content.

Later on Monday, the video appeared to have been taken down from several of the sites, including the popular blogging Web site LiveJournal and a message on the National Socialism/White Power Web site indicated the site had been overwhelmed with views.

Alexander Verkhovsky, an activist with the SOVA center, which monitors hate crimes in Russia, said after watching the video that he had never heard of the organization.

He also said he had seen many hate-crime videos in his work, but most of those that purported to depict murders appeared to have been staged or fake. This one, he said, appeared very genuine.

"I've never seen anything that blatant," he said.

Russia has seen a marked rise in xenophobia and racism in recent years, with numerous attacks on foreigners -- many of them from the former Soviet republics in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

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