Russia’s rough streets

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Russia’s rough streets

Foreigners who aren’t Caucasian gamble with their lives if they decide to study or do business in Russia. The streets there are roaming with bands of ultraright nationalist groups randomly targeting nonwhite foreigners with murderous attacks.

A young Korean student has become the latest victim. The student, surnamed Kang, was studying in an exchange program at a university in Barnaul, a Russian border city near Kazakhstan, when he was brutally murdered by Russian youths while walking down the street.

Russian police are investigating three suspects in their late teens and early 20s.

The victim wasn’t even robbed, meaning he was likely the target of a random hate crime.

Kang is the fourth official victim of Korean origin in the spree of murderous attacks in Russia on nonwhite foreigners by extreme nationalistic groups.

In February 2005, a teenage student from Korea was stabbed to death in St. Petersburg by two Russians. In February 2007, one student died of internal bleeding in intensive care after being beaten by a mob. In January last year, a female student was terrorized by Russians who attacked her with a flammable material.

Each time, the Russian government promised it would follow up with a campaign to rein in these extremist right-wing groups and end their racist attacks.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and subsequent economic calamities led to extreme nationalism and neo-Nazism across Russia. More than 20 different types of xenophobic groups are active in Moscow alone.

A recent poll showed that about 15 percent of the young Russian population supports the extreme nationalistic movement.

Last year, 71 foreigners were killed in crimes motivated by racism and xenophobia. The Russian authorities proudly boast that the number has fallen from 110 in 2008.

It will be tough to find anyone willing to invest or study in a country where violence and murders are motivated by skin color and nationality.

Xenophobia and hate crimes should not be tolerated in a country that advocates and runs on a system of laws.

Russia must act more strongly and sternly against racist crimes by deeming them the biggest threat to its future and security.

Authorities must investigate Kang’s case thoroughly and enforce heavy punishment on the offenders.

If such incidents continue to occur, Russia will slowly find itself shunned by other civilized nations and become a pariah on the international scene.
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