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Kremlin condemned over nationalist violence

Mass of Protesters Near Kremlin At Dusk, Some Holding Flares OverheadHitler's birthday is soon to come, when police, embassies and universities warn foreigners to steer clear of the streets.

And the government stands accused of not doing enough to curb the menace of nationalism as one of the movement's leaders is calling for extremists to unite.

Alan Al-Khalidi, half-Russian, half-Iraqi, was set upon last year on April 20 by a gang of thugs in Nazi regalia.

He was stabbed 13 times, and is still recovering from his injuries ­ and blamed the authorities for not doing enough to halt the violence.

"[Nationalism] is just a form of dirty power that results in street terrorism. I think that their goal is to destabilise the whole situation in Russia," he told The Moscow News.

Al-Khalidi says the authorities have never made any serious efforts to educate the public and that while there are pressing problems like the economy ethnic violence is a useful deflector.

Suspended sentence

Last December's notorious race riot beneath the Kremlin walls resulted in its first conviction this week.

But Vladislav Khakhanov, 25, received a six-month suspended sentence after being convicted of racially motivated violence.

And that angered Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the liberal Yabloko patry, who said that stiffer penalties were needed.

"Without making punishment inevitable nothing will really work," he said.

The Russian People?

Against this background, the banned Slavyansky Soyuz (Slavic Union) has proposed joining recently banned fellow far-right group the DNPI and other shadowy organisations in an alliance called Russky Narod (The Russian People).

But it seems that infighting among the extremists is likely to scupper that plan.

"Demushkin (leader of Slavyansky Soyuz) didn't tell me anything about this and I spoke to him recently," said Vladimir Tor, head of Russkoe Obshchestvennoe Dvizheniye (Movement for Russian Society) and more formally known as Vladlen Kralin, when The Moscow News phoned him up.

But Vladimir Basmanov, the DPNI leader, had spoken to him about it. "Basmanov made this proposal to unite, formed in such a way that we couldn't accept it. Basmanov is an outlaw and has lost his sanity," Tor added, saying that he would continue to look for influence by any legal means.

And Mitrokhin was unimpressed with the planned alliance, which has been proposed before without emerging.

"I don't think it possible that they will become a serious political force as no-one will register this organisation. At that end of the spectrum there is no unity and people have overwhelming ambitions and there is constant infighting," he told The Moscow News.

An unclear message?

However, Yabloko's own track record on nationalism has raised eyebrows recently.

Mitrokhin attracted stinging criticism for announcing his aide would attend a racially charged memorial rally for dead Spartak fan Yegor Sviridov, a move which left political commentators dumbfounded.

He gave the same justifications this time as then. "We were responsible for security and were there to not let the whole thing turn into a political-nationalist debacle as happened on Manezhnaya," he said by telephone.

This was said at the time to be neither within the remit or the capacity of an opposition party without any Duma seats, but Mitrokhin points out that nothing like the riots has happened since.


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