MARCO WERMAN: Russia is not such a great place to be a foreigner these days. According to a Russian human rights group, hate crimes are on the rise there. The Sova group says 97 people were killed and 525 wounded in apparent hate crimes there last year. Most of the victims were people who appeared to be non-Russian. Many were darker skinned people from Central Asia and the Caucasus, and some were African immigrants. Reporter Jessica Golloher visited a small center in eastern Moscow that offers these victims medical care and refuge.
JESSICA GOLLOHER: The doctor has just arrived and patients are already lined up to see him in the cramped clinic converted from a coal room. One of first is Manuel Thomas, and he's from Nigeria. The thing you notice immediately about him is he's a big man, both tall and muscular. Then you see his two black eyes and find out he was attacked by 8 men and left for dead in the snow.
MANUEL THOMAS: So they start speaking and start shouting, saying, ï¿½Black guy, what are you doing in Russia? What are you doing in Russia? You should go back to your country, black guy. Nigger.ï¿½ All kinds of bullshit. Like, they start beating me, start you know ï¿½
GOLLOHER: Ronny Kumi is from Ghana and knows there's no use looking for help. He's lived in Moscow for nearly five years and has been attacked three times. After one of the beatings, a shopkeeper came up to him.
RONNY KUMI: My T-shirt was spoiled with blood. I asked him, ï¿½So what is next?ï¿½ He said, ï¿½Go home.ï¿½ I said, ï¿½Why go home? It's better I go to the police.ï¿½ He said, ï¿½The police will not help you. I wouldn't be a witness if you call me. And nobody's ready to be a witness, so you better go home.ï¿½
GOLLOHER: Pastor Robert Broncoma is from the United States and head of the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy. He came up with the idea for the center.
BRONCOMA: We came here, and pretty quickly we had a number of our members who were ill and were refused care. Ambulances would come and just see that they were African and not pick them up. We had three people die, and so I frankly kind of got angry and said, ï¿½Well, we have to set something up so that they will have care.ï¿½
GOLLOHER: Dr. Darren Brink is also from the United States and is the only doctor at the clinic. He works two days a week and says he sees several people every week who have been beaten because of the color of their skin, and says the center is essential.
BRINK: We provide an environment where people who have been injured can receive the care that they need. Anything from people requiring the suturing of wounds up to people who require intervention for facial fractures, eye injuries, all sorts of things we've seen and I suppose we'll continue to see.
GOLLOHER: Russia enacted hate crimes legislation in 2004. The law provides a basis for the prosecution and investigation of crimes motivated by ethnic, racial, or religious bias. Repeated attempts to reach the Moscow police and state representatives in the Duma for comment on hate crimes were unsuccessful. Another Nigerian, Vincent Elenya, says the police don't enforce the law. He's been attacked 3 times in Moscow and says the last time police just watched him get beaten up outside a nightclub.
ELENYA: They said it was my fault, I should have run and that I shouldn't have come out in the street, especially to the club, maybe alone or something like that, that I was at fault, that I came to the club.
GOLLOHER: According to the non government Sova Center For Information and Analysis, 39 people were victims of hate crimes last month in Russia. 14 of those people died. Most of the attacks are in the big cities St. Petersburg and Moscow. Manuel Thomas:
THOMAS: You have to be scared of Moscow. Moscow is a dead zone. You have to scared of Moscow.
GOLLOHER: For The World, I'm Jessica Golloher, in Moscow.