The way of the world in Moscow

ALTHOUGH Russia is polishing up its international image and trying to give the impression that it is getting away from the bad old days of being run by criminal gangs, the country still has a long way to go before all its problems are solved. Formula 1 bosses want to go to Moscow in 2003 for a Grand Prix on a track in the southern suburbs of the city. They see Russia as a major market in the years ahead and want to be seen to be breaking new ground.

Perhaps it looks like that from inside helicopters and limousines.

On the streets things are rather different. Although organized crime seems to be toning down its activities and becoming less overtly violent other problems are emerging, notably with the rise of right-wing nationalism. On Tuesday a gang of 300 extremists, armed with iron bars, attacked market traders in the south of the city, killing up to four people. The police were powerless to stop the attacks and were themselves attacked by the mob and only escaped by firing into the air to scare away the rioters.

It is not the first time that this sort of thing has happened in the southern suburbs of Moscow. In April there was a similar attack on Adolf Hitler's birthday. Extreme right-wing and nationalist movements have grown dramatically following the collapse of Communism, their anger being directed against ethnic groups.

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