MOSCOW -- The U.S. Embassy warned Americans of African and Asian descent to beware of violent neo-Nazi thugs after a black Marine was beaten by a group of skinheads this weekend at a popular outdoor market.
Yesterday, Moscow police arrested one of the assailants, who by chance was interviewed by a Russian television crew moments after the incident and bragged that he often beats black people on the city's streets.
"To be honest with you, they just seem to be attracted to my fists like metal to a magnet," said the man, who gave his name as "Boose" and displayed his bloody knuckles for the camera. "Everywhere I go, they bite me on my fists."
Embassy officials declined to discuss any details of the assault, citing the victim's request for privacy. But police said the victim was a U.S. Marine who was knocked unconscious and lost his two front teeth in the beating.
"A group of so-called skinheads attacked and beat a member of the official American community of Afro-American origin," said a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy. "The American Embassy in Moscow again warns its citizens to exercise caution in areas where groups of 'skinheads' are known to loiter."
The embassy first warned the expatriate American community about the neo-Nazi danger April 22, after two young Asian women were severely beaten by a group of more than 20 skinheads near a major boulevard in Moscow.
That assault followed a threat by neo-Nazis to attack foreigners of color at random to mark the birthday of Adolf Hitler on April 20. Since then, at least three serious attacks have been reported on people from Kenya, Nigeria and India.
The beating of the Marine took place Saturday afternoon at a crowded market known as Gorbushka in Moscow's Fili Park, where compact discs and cassettes are sold.
The Marine, accompanied by an interpreter, had purchased several CDs and was walking around the market when four XTC skinheads began beating him without warning, police said. The attackers apparently did not know he was American.
As they repeatedly hit and kicked him, the attackers yelled racial slurs and obscene phrases.
"The only reason he was assaulted is because he is black," said Alexei G. Ogorelyshev, deputy head of criminal investigations for the Fili Park police precinct. "But this time, the skinheads were unlucky. They picked on the wrong person, who turned out to be a U.S. citizen and a U.S. Embassy employee. It is a rather explosive combination. This means they have gotten themselves a lot of trouble."
The crew from Moscow's TV 6 station, which was covering a religious event nearby, arrived at the scene moments after the beating and interviewed people in the crowd, including Boose, who police say was the main assailant, and an associate named Renat, who explained the attackers' motivation.
"A black always means evil," Renat said. "That is why everyone of sound mind should kill blacks. It is the only way one can counter evil." The reason black people come to Russia is to sell drugs, he asserted, echoing a widespread belief among Russians.
"Black culture penetrates and contaminates the Russian culture," he continued. "We caught some drug pushers by the hand today and told them no in a way that only the Russian people can say no."
Neo-Nazi groups that appeal to Russian nationalism have been on the rise since the Communist state collapsed in 1991.
Moscow has less random street crime than many Western cities, but racism is deeply rooted in Russia. Immigrants from former Soviet republics in Asia and students from Asia and Africa routinely face bigotry and intolerance.
Pub Date: 5/04/98