Moscow neo-Nazi gets 13 years
The Moscow City Court on Monday sentenced a man who attacked worshippers in a synagogue with a hunting knife to 13 years in prison and mandatory psychiatric treatment.
The court found Alexander Koptsev guilty of attempted murder on racist grounds for stabbing and wounding nine men in January at the Moscow synagogue.
It dropped a charge of provoking interethnic hatred, and prosecution lawyers said they would appeal that, the Interfax news agency reported.
"By deciding to drop (the article), the court made a political decision in order to reassure the public that such things don't exist," prosecution lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant said.
The Moscow prosecutors' office said Alexander Koptsev, 20, had said during interrogation that he had committed the crime "out of envy for them (Jews), since they live better" and that he had been inspired by books and Internet sites. He also told investigators that one of his motivations was "my desire to die."
Koptsev said in televised comments that he was retracting initial statements he made in custody, but it was unclear whether he was referring to the comments the prosecutors made public.
"While in custody, I made statements. I retract them," he said from behind the bars of a courtroom cage in footage shown on state-run Rossiya television, his hair very short and his face marked with cuts and bruises. But he added that he later made accurate statements.
A million Jews live in Russia, according to the Federation of Jewish Communities, and the Jewish community is currently experiencing a revival after a wave of emigration to Israel and other countries.
Rising xenophobia in recent years has seen hundreds of racially motivated attacks on targets including dark-skinned immigrants from former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus Mountains region. Rights activists say hate groups are emboldened by authorities' mild approach to prosecuting hate crimes, and complain that literature from neo-Nazis and other extremists is sold freely.
Shortly following the attack, security guards at a Kiev synagogue thwarted a stabbing attempt in Ukraine.
A 60-year-old man arrived at the synagogue and asked to meet with the rabbi.
When they were alone, the man pulled out a knife and, declaring that "all Jews should be killed," attempted to stab the rabbi.
Security guards pulled off the assailant and handed him over to local police.