ST. PETERSBURG — Two leaders of a neo-Nazi gang were sentenced yesterday to life in jail for a rash of hate killings that terrorized minorities in Russia’s second-largest city.
The St. Petersburg City Court said Alexei Voevodin and Artyom Prokhorenko headed a gang that enlisted Russian supremacists and soccer fans aged 16 to 22 who preyed on non-Slavs with dark skin or Asian features, kicking and stabbing them to death.
The court also sentenced another 10 gang members to up to 18 years in jail for their roles in dozens of attacks over three years. Their victims included a 9-year old from the ex-Soviet republic of Tajikistan, and natives of North Korea, China, and African nations.
The gang also killed two former members suspected of cooperating with police and buried their bodies in a suburban forest.
In 2004, the gang members gunned down Nikolai Girenko, a prominent expert on African ethnology and a human rights advocate who organized antiracist conferences and helped police investigate hate crimes.
The killings rattled St. Petersburg, a city long plagued by assaults on labor migrants from ex-Soviet Central Asia and Russia’s Caucasus region.