Moscow on brink of racist explosion-deputy mayor

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MOSCOW, Oct 5 (Reuters) Russia's capital is on the brink of an explosion if racist skinheads are not confronted, Moscow's deputy mayor said today.

There has been a steady increase in attacks on dark-skinned foreigners in Russia, especially immigrants from the former Soviet states in Central Asia and the Caucasus attracted by Russia's booming economy.

''The issue of skinheads attacking certain groups of Moscovites is very acute,'' Moscow's First Deputy Mayor Lyudmila Shvetsova told a news briefing in the Azeri capital Baku, Interfax news agency reported.

''If we fail to act the situation in the city could explode.'' By the end of August racists had killed 21 people in Moscow and beaten or wounded another 111 this year, the independent Sova Center which tracks attacks said.

This compares to 37 killings in the whole of last year, 16 in 2005 and 17 in 2004.

''We should instil tolerance in the public's mind,'' Shvetsova said. Moscow, one of Europe's biggest cities, this year banned a gay parade which the mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, called satanic.

REUTERS JK PM1708

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