Russian Neo-Nazis Strike Again: Right-Wing Execution Video Under Investigation
The gruesome video shows one man decapitated and another shot in the head beneath a swastika flag. Many think it is authentic -- and on Wednesday, the Russian authorities made the first arrest.
A screenshot of the video showing the apparent execution of two men by a Russian neo-Nazi group.
Authorities are still trying to determine if the video, which made its appearance on Sunday on the popular social networking site LiveJournal, is authentic -- although many observers believe that it is. Even if it's not, authorities say, those involved in making and posting it would still be guilty of inciting ethnic hatred and denigrating human dignity, the Russian paper Kommersant reported on Tuesday.
"I've never seen anything that blatant," Alexander Verkhovsky, head of the Sova center which keeps tabs on hate crimes in Russia, told the Moscow Times.
The clip depicts two young men, bound, gagged and kneeling beneath a swastika flag in a forest. A subtitle claims that they are "colonists from Tajikistan and Dagestan" while the two tell the camera in accented Russian that they were arrested by Russian national socialists. Two masked men give the Nazi salute in the background.
Then, one of the prisoners is beheaded. The other one is shot in the head. When or where the video might have been made is unclear.
The video posting included a message by a group calling itself the National Socialist Party of Russia. The group demanded that all Asians be expelled from Russia and that the Caucasus be granted independence. In addition, the note called for the release of the leader of neo-Nazi group Format 18 (18 being right-wing shorthand for Adolf Hitler's initials), in prison since July.
Still, many extremists groups are distancing themselves from the macabre video, with many even suggesting in blog postings that it could have been made by those seeking to discredit right-wing movements in Russia. Investigators have provided little information as to how the investigation is progressing.
The country has seen a sharp rise in xenophobia recently with attacks against minorities, especially those from the Central Asian and Caucasian republics. Over 50 people have been killed by right-wing groups already this year.
If the video is authentic, it could mark the beginning of a new wave of similar hate crimes. The note attached to the video announced that "a military vanguard" had taken up arms in a fight against "black colonists and those who support them from the Russian government."
Also on Wednesday, officials looking into Monday's train bombing on the Moscow-St. Petersburg line have said that cables found at the site may indicate that ultranationalists could have been responsible. The remains of an explosive device resemble the one used in a June 2005 train bomb set off by two ultranationalists.
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