Extremist incidents in Russia have risen threefold since 2004.
Alexander Chekalin, the first deputy head of the interior ministry, said In an interview Monday with Interfax that there were 356 recorded events of extremist activity in 2007, a 300 percent increase over the 130 recorded in 2004.
Chekalin said the statistics refer to “crimes in general committed on ethnic or religious grounds.” There were 264 such crimes in 2006 and 152 in 2005.
However, anti-Semitic attacks in Russia dropped last year from 2006, according to Alexander Verkhovsky, director of the Sova Informational Analytic Center, a Moscow-based nongovernmental organization that analyzes hate crimes in Russia. His group tallied 30 incidents of vandalism and nine violent attacks on Jews in 2007.
In the wake of the increase in extremist incidents, the Chabad-led Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia has publicly called on the Russian government to do more to combat rising xenophobia.
The vast majority of xenophobic attacks in recent years have been directed at dark-skinned immigrants from the former Soviet republics, especially Central Asia, said the federation’s chairman, Alexander Boroda.
“It’s just that xenophobia is now less directed against Jews, but it is evident to us that the situation in society in general leaves much to be desired,” Boroda told Interfax. “And we are not at all happy about the fact that some people hate Jews more than they do other ethnicities.”