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Human rights activist protests far-right march in Moscow

MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - A human rights advocate called on Moscow authorities and the public Tuesday to prevent a march by ultra-right supporters in the Russian capital scheduled for November 4.

November 4 was first introduced as National Unity Day last year to mark Moscow's liberation from Polish invaders in 1612, replacing November 7, which commemorated the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Last year, 3,000 people from radical right movements, including the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, the Russian National Union, the National Patriotic Front Memory, and skinheads, gathered for the Right March in central Moscow. Marchers chanted nationalist slogans such as "Russia for Russians."

"If Moscow's authorities fail to react to [plans to hold] the march, this will be an aggressive and xenophobic action in the center of Moscow," said Alexander Brod, head of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights.

He said such organizers as the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, which proactively operates in 40 Russian regions, aim to deport immigrants and limit the rights of ethnic minorities. "And they are planning to gather about four thousand people for the march," Brod said.

He said St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko had rigidly opposed plans to hold the rally, and he also urged law enforcement bodies and public organizations to respond properly to such preparations.

A total of 40 people have been murdered and some 260 injured in racially motivated attacks in Russia since January, the activist said. "Most of the victims were Azerbaijani nationals, Africans, nationals of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Jews, and immigrants from the Middle East and China," Brod said.

He added that Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Voronezh Region in central Russia, the Rostov Region in the south and Vladivostok in the Far East were the most dangerous regions in terms of xenophobic sentiment.

"The xenophobic situation in Russia is neither worse nor better than in other countries, but law enforcement has improved since recent years," Brod said adding that 81 people have been prosecuted for fuelling ethnic hatred this year.

Still, he continued, law enforcement agencies are insufficiently good at coping with such manifestations, and he called for consolidation of all public organizations throughout the country against xenophobia and intolerance.

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