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    RUSSIAN MINISTER PROPOSES SETTING UP PUBLIC AGENCY TO COUNTER XENOPHOBIA

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 27 (RIA NOVOSTI) - Acting Minister for Ethnic Affairs Vladimir Zorin has proposed that a public agency against xenophobia be set up in Russia. This agency would analyze specific incidents of xenophobia and assist the government in dealing with them, Zorin pointed out as he addressed a Russian Assembly of Public Forces to Counter Xenophobia, Extremism and Terrorism. This is the first time such a forum has been held in Russia.

    Russian society has no clear idea of whether there are any public forces out there fighting xenophobia; xenophobic organizations, by contrast, are known to all, Zorin said, describing xenophobia and extremism as a major threat facing today's Russia.

    In his view, Russian law-enforcement agencies are now doing more to combat these phenomena. To corroborate his point, he cited the following statistics: courts across Russia are currently considering ten cases relating to instigation of ethnic strife and another three cases involving the establishment of associations to provoke ethnic strife. He then reminded his audience that in 2002, only one such case had been put on trial and all of the defendants had ended up acquitted.

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