St Petersburg -- today at 8 pm a citizen of Afghanistan was assaulted and severely injured downtown. Eyewitnesses say that the three men who attacked the victim were dressed in police uniforms; furthermore there's evidence that the attackers were police officers and that they were drunk while beating the Afghan man. At this time, St. Petersburg officials won't comment on their investigation.
This incident follows multiple attacks in Russia based on the skin color, ethnicity and national origin of the victims. For more stories related to this topic, please see the Human Rights section of Russia Blog.
The Obshestvennaya Palata (Social Counsel) of Russia recently held hearings on the increase in violence against non-Russians and ethnic minorities in the last few years. Among the Counsel's suggestions, they proposed to create government TV channels and radio stations which would broadcast in the languages of Russia's largest minority groups. The counselors also admitted that too many Russian youths confuse loving their Motherland with jingoism and xenophobia, and schools and parents should be paying more attention to educating children about the true meanings of patriotism, national diversity and common sense.
President Putin has condemned the violence, and asked the FSB (Russia's equivalent to the FBI), Russian police and prosecutors to pay much closer attention to their work in combating racist attacks and hooliganism.
Personally, I think that this wave of ethnic-related violence in Russia has peaked. Russian government and human rights advocates are working hard to prevent further attacks; however, these improvements will not come over night, since this thuggishness is rooted in a fundamental problems in Russian society.