| An obscure nationalist group has claimed responsibility
for the murder of a prominent expert on ethnic and racial issues in his
St. Petersburg apartment last weekend.
The web site of the group, Russian Republic, posted Wednesday a "verdict"
issued by its self-styled government to "execute" Nikolai Girenko,
64. The statement described Girenko as "an enemy of the Russian people"
and said he was guilty of helping to jail "patriots." It was
signed by a certain Popov.
Girenko pioneered a method of classifying ethnically motivated crimes
and testified as an expert in a number of trial involving extremist crimes.
An unidentified assailant rang Girenko's doorbell and then shot him through
the closed door as he approached to open it Saturday.
A St. Petersburg city prosecutor's office spokeswoman told Interfax
on Thursday that her office was investigating the web site's claims.
Shortly after Girenko's murder, St. Petersburg Deputy Prosecutor Andrei
Zhukov said investigators believed Girenko was killed because of his work
but suggested that the death was a case of hooliganism.
Girenko assisted the prosecutors in high-profile court cases, including
the 2002 murder of an Azeri trader and an ongoing investigation into a
local skinhead group, Schultz-88.
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