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Cablegate: Neo-Nazis Sentenced in St Petersburg Murder Case

VZCZCXRO3606
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #3863 2191510
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071510Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2746
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 4368
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2322
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2616

UNCLAS MOSCOW 003863

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM RS
SUBJECT: NEO-NAZIS SENTENCED IN ST PETERSBURG MURDER CASE

1. (SBU) Summary: On August 7, a St. Petersburg court
sentenced seven defendants for their roles in the murder of
anti-fascist activist Timur Kacharava and other crimes.
Ringleader Andrey Shabalin was sentenced to 12 years in
prison, three received two- and three-year sentences, and
three were given suspended sentences. Human Rights watchers
see this a positive step in the prosecution of hate crimes,
but say that the government needs to do more to prevent these
crimes by attacking the root causes of nationalist hatred.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) On August 7, a St. Petersburg court sentenced seven
defendants for their role in the November 2005 murder of
anti-fascist activist Timur Kacharava and attempted murder of
activist Maksim Zgibay. Consulate St. Petersburg reports
that all seven were convicted of committing a hate crime in
addition to convictions for murder and hooliganism. The
court sentenced ringleader Andrey Shabalin to 12 years in
prison (the prosecutor had asked for 14 years). One
defendant received three years in prison, two received
two-year sentences, and three received suspended sentences.
The lighter sentences were given to the defendants who were
minors at the time of the attack. Prominent Human Rights
attorney Yuriy Schmidt, a colleague of the victims' lawyer,
told us that the sentences were expected. He added that the
sentences could have been longer if the investigators had
done a better job preparing the case. According to news
reports, the defendants intend to appeal their sentences to
the Russian Supreme Court.

3. (SBU) Human Rights activists noted that the sentences
demonstrated that prosecutors and the courts were serious
about prosecuting hate crimes. Aleksandr Brod of the Moscow
Bureau for Human Rights told us that the sentences were more
severe than in similar past cases. Memorial's Grigoriy
Shvedov told us that "a 12-year sentence is a very concrete
and practical message in the fight against extremism."
Mikhail Chlenov of the Eurasian Jewish Congress told us that
the convictions reflected a welcome and visible effort by the
government to lower the level of xenophobia in Russia.

4. (SBU) However, our Human Rights contacts added that the
government needed to do more to attack the root causes of
extremism than focus on convictions. "More education is
needed, especially for teenagers, to prevent these crimes
from happening," said Chlenov. Shvedov added that since the
government will reach a limit in how severely it can sentence
teenagers. Shvedov added that without greater efforts on
education and prevention, tougher sentences would only act to
slow the extremist problem, not shrink it.

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Comment
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5. (SBU) We are encouraged that the court followed through on
these charges with substantial sentences. These convictions
and a similar conviction in June for the murder of a
Congolese student are signs that law enforcement is
increasingly serious about prosecuting hate crimes.
RUSSELL

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