MOSCOW, March 3 (RIA Novosti) – The number of ethnically motivated attacks dropped in Russia last year, while convictions in xenophobic attack cases increased, according to a report unveiled Monday by the Moscow Bureau of Human Rights.
In 2013, 25 people were killed and at least 180 more were injured in incidents of nationalist aggression against perceived foreigners, Alexander Brod, the bureau’s director, said at a press conference.
Moscow led the country in ethnically motivated violence, followed by St. Petersburg and the southern cities of Krasnodar and Voronezh, the report said.
At the same time, police crackdowns on ethnically motivated attacks increased, Brod said, with 54 people in 32 Russian regions convicted of hate crimes.
The bureau report did not include conviction or attack statistics from 2012 for comparison, though the Moscow-based SOVA Center think tank said 19 people were killed and 187 injured in nationalist attacks that year.
Still, the human rights experts who took part in the press conference agreed that the Russian government had yet to implement forceful legislation to address the country’s ongoing problems with migration.
National policy “still carries an on-paper, official character, not properly embodied in regional programs,” Brod said. “Almost nothing has been done to educate [people] and promote a culture of interethnic dialogue and social advertising.”
The report detailed several recommendations from the Bureau of Human Rights to mitigate ethnic conflict, including the creation of community councils across Russia to coordinate state, NGO and media cooperation in developing national policy.
Migration has proven a contentious issue for Russia in recent years, with nationalist tension rising alongside a massive influx of labor migrants, many from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.