The Moscow District Military Court sentenced the leader of a Russian nationalist group and five other members to life in prison for dozens of ethnically motivated murders.
Lev Molotkov, the leader of the National Socialist Society (NSS) group and another five defendants are accused of 27 ethnically motivated murders and an attempt to kill an FSB official. Four of the defendants, including the leader, denied all the charges, saying they were forced to confess “under torture and moral pressure.”
The convicted nationalists were smiling as the judge read the verdict. “Our conscience is above your laws,” one of them said. The defendents relatives however burst out in hysterics and bombarded the judge and prosecutors with obscenities.
According to the verdict, among the nationalists’ victims there were anti-fascism group members as well as NSS’s former members, suspected of having links with security service officials.
The closed-door hearings that started in April 2010, are being carried out in the military court since one of the defendants, Sergei Yurov, was also accused of desertion.
The NSS, which was banned in February 2010, was established in 2004 and organized combat training and published a newspaper advocating national socialist ideology.
Russia has seen a wave of racially motivated crimes since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Routine attacks by skinheads and youth gangs on foreigners and people with non-Slavic features are a regular occurrence in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as the city of Voronezh, which hosts many foreign university students.