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Amnesty highlights racism in Russia, Chechnya rights violations

LONDON, May 28 (RIA Novosti) - Amnesty International highlighted in a report on Wednesday a rise in race-hate attacks in Russia, the authorities' increasing intolerance of dissent, and ongoing human rights violations in the North Caucasus.

"The number of racist attacks that came to the attention of the media rose; at least 61 people were killed across the country," the organization said in a 400-page human rights report.

The international rights group said Russian authorities have recognized the problem, and that the number prosecutions for racially motivated crimes has increased, but that these measures have failed to curb racist violence.

Russia's non-governmental organizations called on Tuesday for drafting a national program to counter racism and xenophobia. The Moscow Human Rights Bureau, citing its data at a news conference, said 126 race-hate crimes were committed in the first five months of this year, in which 66 people were killed and 132 injured.

Racist attacks occur mainly in big cities, including Moscow, St Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, where the majority of foreigners and ethnic minorities live. Voronezh in western Russia, which has a large number of foreign students, has also seen a large number of attacks.

Amnesty International also traditionally criticized Russia for strict media control and arrests of protestors, human rights activists and political opponents, some of whom have suffered beatings.

Amnesty said there were fewer reported cases of disappearances in Chechnya last year, as "individuals were reluctant to report abuses fearing reprisals."

The group said serious human rights violations were still frequent in the North Caucasus republic, which has remained unstable since the end of the second military campaign against separatism in the early 2000s.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia was responsible for enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions in 15 judgments relating to the second Chechen conflict.

Neighboring Ingushetia saw an increase in serious violations, including enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions, Amnesty said.

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