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    ASSOCIATION OF FOREIGN STUDENTS IN RUSSIA APPEALS TO EDUCATION MINISTER TO ENSURE THEIR SECURITY

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    MOSCOW, March 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- The Association of Foreign Student in Russia forwarded a letter to Acting Education Minister Vladimir Fillipov with a request to ensure their security. The recent murder of the Guinean student in Voronezh, a regional center 700 km from Moscow, and the reaction of the local press to this murder served as a ground for this appeal "We, foreign students, studying in Russia, categorically protest against kindling of inter-racial sentiments," says the letter signed by head of the association Gabriel Kochofa.

    On February 21, Amaro Lima, a second-year student of the local medical academy from Guinea-Bissau, was killed. Several days later one of the Russian female students told the law enforcement bodies that a dark-skinned lad whom she allegedly saw during the action of protest of foreign students after the murder of the Guinean student attacked her with a knife. Later the girl acknowledged that she herself inflicted knife wounds to herself and that in this way she wanted to frighten her parents, who allegedly interfered with her personal life. However, by that time the local mass media managed to publish materials about that attack, which were qualified by foreigners as stirring up of nationalist sentiments.

    In its letter to the minister the Association of Foreign Students expressed the hope that the murderers of the Guinean boy, who had been already identified by the police, would be punished. The authors of the letter also ask the minister to take measures with regard to the mass media, which circulated the libel about the foreign students.

    "Racism has never existed in Russia. That is why we hope that the Russian Federation's authorities will take relative measures in resolving this issue," the message of foreign students to Russia's education minister says.

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