Murderer of Armenian Citizen Found Guilty in Russia

YEREVAN (PanArmenian/RFE/RL)–A court in the Russian town of Kostroma found Alexander Belov–Alexander Serov–and Andrey Potapov guilty for planning and committing the murder of an Armenian citizen–Ivan Khaltyan.

Although the prosecutor demanded a life sentence for Potapov–the murderer was sentenced to 21 years in prison. His accomplices received 18 and 8 years in prison for their involvement.

The month-long interrogation process also resulted in weapons charges against the accused. They have 10 days to appeal the verdict.

This case is only the latest in a string of ethnic violence in Russia. At least six ethnic Armenia’s were beaten–stabbed or shot to death this year in xenophobic extremism targeting dark-skinned immigran’s from the Caucasus–Central Asia–and Africa.

The Russian authorities’ failure to solve the vast majority of those crimes has is increasingly raising eyebrows in Armenia–leading to pressure from the Armenian Government on Moscow to stop the violence.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian raised the issue with a visiting senior Kremlin official last week.

The two men told President Vladimir Putin’s representative to southern Russia–Dmitry Kozak–that they expect tougher action against Russian neo-Nazi groups responsible for the increasingly serious violence.

Kocharian said the Russian law-enforcement bodies–widely accused of inactivity and even connivance in the deadly attacks–should act in a more "quick–steadfast–and understandable" manner.

Markarian urged Moscow to take "serious steps to identify and bring the guilty to justice as well as to avert more such incidents."

According to Markarian’s press service–while condemning the racist murders–Kozak said that "they are not specifically directed against Armenia’s" and that "the Russian authorities are doing everything to solve and rule out such crimes."

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