2 Accused of Hate Crime in Moscow Blast

The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 22, 2006; 4:01 PM

MOSCOW -- Prosecutors charged two people with hate crimes Tuesday in connection with the bombing of a bazaar that killed 10 people and highlighted concerns over the growing number of racially motivated attacks in Russia.

Monday's blast hit the Cherkizovsky market, where a large number of traders come from Asia or the Caucasus regions. Ethnic groups have been victims of a growing wave of hate crimes in Russia.

Moscow Prosecutor Yuri Syomin said on Channel One that two suspects who were detained have been charged with "premeditated murder of two or more persons ... committed out of national hatred." A third suspect will be charged in the coming days, ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Syomin as saying.

He said the three detainees, all in their late teens or early 20s, had confessed to the crime.

"They got this idea because in their opinion there are too many people of Asian origin whom they are hostile toward," Syomin was quoted as saying by ITAR-Tass.

Syomin said the suspects, one of whom was a chemistry student, prepared a homemade bomb, deposited a bag with the explosive at the market, and ran away. The bomb exploded 55 seconds later, he said.

Coroners have found components that were used to prepare the bomb in the suspects' home, which Syomin said proves their guilt.

He said investigators had no information on whether the detainees were members of any radical or extremist group. Russian media, however, cited police officials as saying the group had actively protested a gay parade in Moscow this spring and were seen near the site where gay activists were attacked by radicals.

Two of those killed in the blast were Russians, three were Tajik citizens and two were Uzbeks, Syomin said, according to RIA-Novosti. A 30-year-old woman from neighboring Belarus was among the dead, Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Vanshina said in Minsk.

More than 50 people were wounded, including six who were in very grave condition.

China's Xinhua news agency, citing an unidentified embassy official, said seven Chinese nationals were among the injured.

Prosecutors on Monday opened a murder investigation in connection with the explosion. Under Russian law, terrorism is a separate offense.

© 2006 The Associated Press