MOSCOW, July 28 (UPI) -- Russian authorities are expressing concern over a dramatic increase in the number of hate crimes in Moscow this year.
Figures released by the country's Investigative Committee indicate 73 hate crimes were reported in the city during the first six months of 2008, a increase of 600 percent over the number recorded for the same period last year, the Moscow Times reported Monday.
Committee head Alexander Bastrykin says "decisive and systematic efforts" must be undertaken to halt the trend.
"We are worried that while the overall number of crimes registered in Russia has shrunk by 9 percent, crimes of an extremist nature are increasing year after year," said Bastrykin.
Two high-profile hate crime trials opened in Moscow City Court last week, one of them involving a group of teenagers accused of targeting dark-skinned victims. A second case involves seven ultra-nationalists charged with committing at least 21 racially motivated killings.