Moscow - The number of victims of racist violence in Russia is on the rise, the Moscow-based Sova Centre for human rights said Wednesday. Already in the first six months of this year 34 people have died as a result of xenophobic attacks while another 280 have been injured, according to Sova.
The number of victims had increased by one fifth compared to the same period last year, the centre's head, Galina Koshevnikova, was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Most of the victims were people from the Caucasus as well as Central and South-East Asia, while the majority of acts of violence were carried out by skinheads, Koshevnikova said.
The Sova Centre estimates there are around 60,000 right-wing extremist skinheads across the country.
According to the centre, which is backed by several human rights organizations, 231 people were injured in the first six months of last year. Some 20 of them died as a result of attacks.
Extremist violence was worst in mayor cities such as Moscow, St Petersburg and Nishni Novgorod, Koshevnikova said.
Acts of violence with a xenophobic background had been registered in 26 Russian regions so far this year. Racism and xenophobia continue to make the headlines in the Russian media.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly asked his country's authorities to take more efficient measures in the fight against extremist violence.
Attacks on members of sexual minorities, who are also increasingly targeted, have not been included in the data, according to Koshevnikova.