Khabarovsk, Russia – A group of Russian skinheads have been detained for throwing Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in the country’s far eastern city of Khabarovsk, officials said Monday.
Nobody was injured in the attack overnight Saturday to Sunday, which was timed to take place ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year holiday due to begin this Friday, the far eastern branch of Russia’s interior ministry said.
“The nationalists acted in two groups: one threw bottles filled with a flammable mix at the windows of the synagogue; the other one, at a police officer’s home,” the ministry said in a statement.
“At the synagogue the young people chose as their target a room specially equipped for the education of small children.”
The four skinheads, aged 15 to 23, face arson charges that carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, the statement said.
The authorities were also considering whether to file additional charges of attempted murder for firebombing the home of the police officer, who was involved in investigating racist crimes, it said.
Human rights groups say that violent hate crimes are a serious problem in Russia, though attacks on Jews are less common than attacks on people of non-Slavic appearance from the Caucasus and Central Asia.
In January 2006, a young Russian with links to extremist groups stabbed eight people in a synagogue in central Moscow.