November 14, 2006

Russia: Jewish group's office attacked

Unidentified assailants threw gasoline bombs at a Jewish organization's office in a Russian Siberian city and scattered leaflets with threats, prosecutors and activists said Wednesday.

The incident early Sunday in the city of Surgut about 2,200 kilometers (1,350 miles) east of Moscow caused Jewish community organization's office to catch a small fire, which was quickly put out, said Timur Kireyev, a spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia.

Regional persecutor's spokeswoman Tatyana Mashchenko said a criminal investigation into property damage and attempted crime has been opened.

Kireyev said the perpetrators also scattered leaflets depicting skulls and bones in the office.

The incident followed the federation federation's appeal for regional authorities to do more to protect synagogues and Jewish communities throughout the country, citing numerous incidents of vandalism and grave desecration.

In recent years Russia has seen a marked rise in hate crimes, which rights groups say is fueled in part by authorities' reluctance to track down perpetrators and tackle growing nationalism.

On Saturday, police detained hundreds of ultra nationalists who took to the streets in cities across Russia in defiance of a ban on right-wing marches.