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St. Petersburg faces neo-Nazi challenges

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St. Petersburg prosecutors have ordered two principals who failed to report students’ ties to neo-Nazis be punished.

One of the students was later charged with murder, leading to scrutiny from local officials who discovered that the school administrator had not reported him, according to the Regions.ru Web site.

School officials are obligated to inform municipal officials about neo-Nazis attending their schools, one of several efforts to combat the groups’ influence.

Students showed up at school with shaved heads and clothing associated with neo-Nazi groups in Russia. One of the students brought to school neo-Nazi literature and Nazi artifacts he had unearthed in battlefields around the city.

A St. Petersburg court also sentenced six anti-fascists for their part in an attack on a rally held by one of Russia’s most xenophobic groups, leading to questions of whether the punishment was fair. The six youths are part of movement who push back, often violently, against neo-Nazi youths in Russia.

In September 2006, prominent activist Oleg Smirnov gathered about 30 youths and attacked a rally of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, a far-right nationalist group that plays on some of the most xenophobic elements of Russian society.

The attack on the rally caused no major injuries to the nationalist group. They fled and were later detained by police.

Evidence unearthed during the investigation showed that there could have been some degree of official favoritism toward nationalist protesters, who were given a permit to hold the rally despite laws against hate speech.

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