#8 - JRL 7070
Skinhead movement attracts more teenagers in central Russian city
Source: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 0600 gmt 19 Feb 03
[Presenter] The Saratov authorities are concerned about the growing interest of local youths in the skinhead movement. The hot line telephone number in the local psychological aid centre has registered dozens of calls from parents who are worried about their children belonging to the movement. Earlier there were no such calls whatsoever. Our correspondent reports from Saratov.
[Correspondent over video of young men shouting nationalist slogans] Such small improvised demonstrations can be seen more and more often on the streets of Saratov at night. Worried parents have started to call the psychological aid centre's hot line for the first time in the centre's history asking for help. Their children have decided to shave their heads and join neo-fascists under their banners. However, the reaction of psychologists has been unexpected.
[Olga Kolesnichenko, worker of psychological aid centre] It can be a defensive reaction for some teenagers. They feel safer inside an organization rather than in society. They feel support and protection inside it.
[Correspondent] Parents are left without any help: neither psychologists, nor law enforcement agencies can answer the question why the interest in a nationalist movement has grown so sharply. However, the skinheads themselves have an answer. Roman is one of those who joined the movement recently. He asked for his face not to be shown.
[Roman] It is only natural. Not everybody is stupid. They can see what is going on in Russia, how difficult the situation is, how our government is pressing us. Everywhere you see people who made a fast buck. The markets are packed with vulgar traders.
[Corespondent] To be or not to be a great nation - the skinheads have solved this question for Russians a long time ago and very simply too. To be. And to beat.
[Unidentified skinhead] When someone needs to be beaten up, you should beat him, provided there is a reason. You should not wait until somebody else does it.
[Correspondent] The skinheads decided to let it be known who the boss of the city is in early autumn. It has become clear when several teenagers aged from 14 to 20 beat up a passer-by, a Tatar by nationality, in broad daylight.
[Dmitriy Sokolov, senior investigator of Oktyabrskaya prosecutor's office in Saratov] Vereshchagin aka Shnurok, attacked the passer-by from behind, knocked him off his feet and began striking blows with his hands and feet at the stranger lying on the ground..
[Correspondent] The five suspects said during the investigation that they had not liked the man. The man paid a high price for the skinheads' dislike, he died in a hospital the next day. Doctors registered concussion and a fracture of the base of his skull among other injuries.
Only a month ago several young men visiting a rock festival decided not to confine themselves to listening to local rock groups, but broke glass and furniture in the building as well as spraying some gas around. It was a miracle that nobody was injured. The perpetrators have never been found. The skinheads say the incident was far from the last. They are well prepared to teach love for Russia to everybody who has not learned it yet.