Foreigners in Russia are not always at ease. Over the weekend in the capital, criminals robbed a Japanese diplomat, and in Voronezh and St.-Petersburg skinheads brutally murdered an African student.
In St.-Petersburg assaults against foreigners has become a disturbing trend. A foreign student there was recently brutally murdered.
For several days, the city's law-enforcement officials did not disclose any information, and when released, the official report regarded the crime as an attack by "hooligans". Eyewitnesses were also wounded in the attack. Indian students from the Mechnikova Medical Academy confirmed that they were attacked on Saturday night by hooligans and skinheads wearing swastika armbands.
The foreign pupils held an emergency meeting at the academy, where it was revealed, that Indian students had been repeatedly threatened and assaulted by organized gangs of racists.
On February 23 Burdenko, at the center of Voronezh, a foreign student of the medical academy was killed. Yesterday, friends and fellow students arranged assemblies to protest the assault and murder of foreign students, as was reported by the local media.
Following classes on Saturday, February 21, Amaro Lima set off to the market for groceries. His body, apparently stabbed to death, was discovered by pedestrians that evening, although the street is one of the main roads of the city and is heavily travelled on weekends. The student died before medical aid arrived; his body was taken directly to the mortuary. When interrogated by police, residents of nearby houses said they hadn't seen or heard anything suspicious. Amaro was known to have a particularly quiet and agreeable disposition, and acquaintences were incredulous at the idea of him picking a fight with anyone. Foreign students at the institute are sure that the murder was carried out on nationalistic grounds. All clues point to this conclusion.
Five years ago, foreign students at Voronezh began to organize in their own defense. Notably, their efforts coincided with the growth of RNE and skinhead recruitment. In the beginning, problems were ignored, particularly by civic and law enforcement authorities. The media and the public assumed that violence against foreigners was not so much a consequence of nationalism, as an outbreak in common hoolinganism. Meanwhile, assaults against foreigners in Voronezh increased, especially against the university students, currently numbering about 2,000. Two years ago, two Chinese students were found brutally murdered.
As "Russian News" reported, the foreign medical students in Voronezh stand defiant against the threats from nationalists: "At first we were told not to go outside in the evening, or at night when gangs wander the streets. And then we were asked to leave. But it has not helped. Our comrade was killed. Now we demand justice if one of us be beaten or abused, let alone killed."
At a meeting in the assembly hall of the Medial Academy yesterday, Vasilij Volkov, representative of the Voronezh Central ROVD, answered foreign students' questions (the longstanding question remains--"How Long?"). Law enforcement officials announced that the murder has been declared a criminal case and turned over to the jurisdiction of the MVD. It was also reported that suspects are being investigated, and that solving the murder is a top priority in the department. Foreign students, impatient with promises that do not offer them any real security, were not impressed by the announcements, and filled the hall with yells and whistles when the number of officers on the case ( 2 ) was revealed. When it became known that the television crews invitated by the students were not permitted entry, by security gaurds who asked "why should we haul the garbage from a hut?" The students threatened to write letters to the MID and OON, and some of the students have decided to leave Voronezh and even the country.
The magnitude of the threat was apparent in the answer to a hypothethical question asked by a professor at the academy - "When was the last time you saw a skinhead next to a hostel? " - A chorus of voices answered "Yesterday!"
While police in Voronezh met with the foreigner student assembly, the apartment of a Japanese diplomat in Moscow was ransacked.
On Monday evening, February 24, a member of the Japanese embassy staff in Russia, Namiye Keiko, contacted the Moscow police department, - as reported by "RN" in the press-service UVD. – "It has been declared, that in the period from February 18 till February 23, in the absence of the Japanese diplomat, unknown persons obtained her keys, broke into her apartment on Myasnizkoi street and stole 70 thousand yen, 80 US dollars, a digital camera, and several pairs of shoes.
Ms. Keiko occupies the position of First Secretary of the Japanese embassy; her absence from Moscow was due to a business trip.