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World - Europe

Russian government proposes ban on Nazi propaganda

rally
Neo-Nazis rally in Moscow  
August 1, 1998
Web posted at: 1:25 p.m. EDT (1325 GMT)

MOSCOW (CNN) -- The Russian government has proposed legislation that would ban certain fascist propaganda, including swastikas and other Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols.

The Justice Ministry says the measure is aimed at decreasing the growing number of hate crimes and vandalism, which it associates with weekly gatherings of racist and neo-fascist groups in Moscow.

"The situation surrounding Nazis in Russia has significantly worsened, and we have decided that some laws are very much needed," says Russia's Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov.

The neo-fascist movement in Russia is composed mostly of young skinheads who demand that ethnic minorities be driven out of the country.

According to human rights groups and neo-Nazi organizations, there are about 4,000 neo-fascists in Moscow.

The movement is one of many that have flourished in post-communist Russia but draws on one of country's more bitter cultural memories. During Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, many Soviet citizens were forced into manual labor for the Third Reich. And millions of Soviets were killed and wounded.

Prime minister urges bill's passage

The bill to ban Nazi propaganda must be approved by Russia's Parliament to become law. Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko is calling for speedy action by lawmakers.

The legislation would not restrict the rights of neo-fascists and Nazis to gather or to register as social groups. Those rights are protected under the Russian constitution.

CNN's Kurt Achin contributed to this report.

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