UN rapporteur Doudou Diene, who recently visited Moscow and St. Petersburg, said the lack of an official state policy had created a breeding ground for intolerance.
"In Soviet times, the state encouraged friendship between different peoples. It doesn't do that anymore, and as a result, there is an ideological vacuum," he said.
But Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said Monday that all hate crimes in Russia "were being investigated and culprits were held responsible."
Commenting on Diene's statement that many Russian parties ran on racist and xenophobic platforms, Kamynin said the parties in question had been denied registration or could be banned by court.
"We have never denied the existence of problems in the fight against racism and xenophobia, but today almost all countries, even most developed ones, are facing these phenomena," Kamynin said. "The ability of national governments to effectively combat these crimes is most important."
He said Diene's invitation to Russia "proved our readiness for cooperation and dialogue in this sphere."
"The special rapporteur is right saying that the problem of racism has not only political and juridical aspects, but also an important cultural side," Kamynin said. "The Russian Federation is a multi-ethnic state, and the development of inter-cultural dialogue and encouragement of tolerance has always been a priority of our policy."
He said Russia expected Diene to submit a "balanced and unbiased report" to the UN in the fall, and to give the country "realistic and pragmatic recommendations."