A court in Moscow has sentenced five members of a neo-Nazi gang to life in prison for the racially motivated murders of 27 people. Several other members of the outlawed Nationalist Socialist Society were also found guilty – including one woman – and given jail terms of up to 23 years.
The gang targeted Muslims and dark-skinned migrants during 2007-8.
The defendants in the dock joked with each other, taunted the judge and attempted Nazi salutes in handcuffs. As the verdict was read out, they shouted: “Our conscience is above your laws, we’ll be back”, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.
The 18-month trial heard that the gang had hunted down people in Moscow who were or appeared to be from central and south-east Asia, Africa or the Caucasus region, and brutally attacked them. Ringleader Lev Molotkov, who pleaded not guilty, was described by presiding judge Nikolai Tkachuk as “an extraordinary danger to Russian society”.
In total, 12 people were found guilty of murder, inciting racial hatred, attempting terrorism and participating in extremism. At least one attack was filmed and posted on the internet. Molotkov and four others were sentenced to life, while a young woman, Vasilisa Kovolyova, was among those jailed for for between 10 and 23 years.