NOVOSIBIRSK, March 28 (RIA Novosti) -- A Siberian court jailed Tuesday five skinheads convicted of race-hate crimes for between six and ten years and gave three others suspended sentences.
The court had found them guilty Monday of four racially motivated attacks against people from the Central Asian countries of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
"After studying the case and hearing witness testimonies, the court has established the defendants' guilt in the attacks," Judge Larissa Chub said when delivering the verdict at the conclusion of a trial that lasted for more than two years.
The "Brotherhood of Skinheads," as the group called itself, was detained in 2002 on suspicion of assaulting dark-skinned people from former Soviet republics. In one such attack, an ethnic Tajik was stabbed 18 times. A search of their homes uncovered extremist paraphernalia, books, and audiocassettes.
According to the investigation, the illegal group had existed for months and called for "clearing the [Novosibirsk] region from non-Russians" and claimed they were "pure Aryans."
A wave of racially motivated crimes has recently swept Russia. Reports of attacks on foreigners with non-Slavic features have prompted Russian and foreign human rights groups to raise concerns over the alarming spread of racist and xenophobic attitudes in the country.
In one of the latest incidents, four teenagers suspected of the murder of an Armenian man on a commuter train two weeks ago were arrested in the Moscow Region Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in February that a rise in crimes based on ethnic and racial intolerance was shameful and demanded that the police take serious measures to improve the situation.