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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

LR Racism Special Issue Part III: Russian High Court Frees Racist

The Moscow News reports:

Russia’s Supreme Court has overturned the verdict of Aleksandr Koptsev, who had attacked parishioners in a Moscow synagogue.Alexander Koptsev burst into the synagogue on Bolshaya Bronnaya street in Moscow on January 11, 2006, and stabbed eight people with a hunting knife before being wrestled to the ground by the rabbi and his son. Four of those injured were in serious condition. Russia’s Chief Rabbi, Berl Lazar, announced he was cutting short a visit to Israel and returning to Moscow after the incident.Koptsev was charged with racially-motivated attempted murder and humiliation of a religious group. He told investigators that he was jealous of Jews and their better living standards and was inspired to act by books and internet websites. He added that the main factor was his “desire to die” and he felt sorry for those he had injured. He has been described by Russian media as a skinhead. Russia’s chief rabbi stated that the attack was a symptom of the general climate of intolerance and xenophobia in Russia.On March 27, 2006, Koptsev was sentenced to thirteen years in prison and mandatory psychiatric treatment after being found guilty of attempted murder. A month later Koptsev’s lawyer, Vladimir Kirsanov, appealed to Russia’s Supreme Court to have his client’s sentence reduced, arguing he was mentally unstable, did not kill anyone, and did not cause any disabling injuries. Meanwhile, prosecution lawyers have also appealed to include the charge of inciting interethnic hatred, which was dropped by the court. The resolution of the Supreme Court, as quoted by Gazeta.ru internet daily, states that a Moscow local court will now reexamine Koptesev’s case.

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