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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Moscow market bomb was race crime

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A bomb at a Moscow market that killed 10 people including migrant workers was a race-hate crime, the city's chief prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Police have detained two suspects in Monday's bombing and they have been charged with racially motivated murder, said Moscow chief prosecutor Yuri Syomin.

Russia has seen a spate of violent race crimes. The most common targets are immigrants from mainly Muslim former Soviet republics who have arrived in Russia in large numbers to work in its booming economy.

Seven of the 10 people killed in the bombing have so far been identified. Officials said two were Russian. The rest were from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, both former Soviet states.

"We have charged the suspects with murder," Syomin told a news briefing. "We have added to these charges the qualification that the crime was ... motivated by ethnic hatred."

"They experienced negative feelings towards people of Asian origin," he said.

Both suspects are students in their early 20s, Syomin said. One is from Moscow and the other is from the Volga river region of Udmurtia. The prosecutor said he so far had no evidence that either man belonged to any extremist groups.

The homemade bomb ripped through the densely-packed Cherkizovo market in an eastern suburb of Moscow. Most of the traders working there are from ex-Soviet republics or from China and Vietnam.

Human rights Amnesty International has said race-related crimes are out of control in Russia. President Vladimir Putin has instructed police to crack down on the problem.
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