MEDIA TO BLAME FOR RUSSIAN FASCISM?

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MOSCOW, October 28 (RIA Novosti) - Close on 55,000 young Russians, on expert estimations, say they are skinheads. A majority concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the country's largest cities, a mere two or three years ago. Now, fascism has spread throughout Russia to give analysts reason to refer to a second wave of skinhead activism, says Novye Izvestia, prominent Moscow daily.

Violent attacks on Caucasians and foreign students are sweeping Russia this autumn. A neo-fascist gang ransacked a synagogue in Central Russia's Penza a few days ago.

"Russia came through its first wave of skinhead outrages late in the 1990s into this decade's start. There were roughly 40,000 skinheads by 2002," says Alexander Tarasov, co-director of the Phoenix centre of new sociology. He is manager of its department for new sociology and contemporary youth policy studies.

The expert blames media outlets for the current skinhead revival. It is rooted, he says, in a pressing information campaign of two years and a half ago, before the State Duma passed a bill against extremism. Footages flooded government broadcasting companies at that time to show hoodlums at work, and explain what the skinhead movement was about.

The campaign reached its peak with a nation-wide live cast of football fans run havoc in Manege Square, just in between the Kremlin wall and parliamentary premises.

That was how entire Russia learned about skinheads-they could not wish greater publicity.

The anti-extremist bill became federal law, but xenophobia is steadily gaining momentum, and more youngsters join skinheads. Experts think Russia will have 80,000 within a few years.

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