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Russia prosecutors ban 'Mein Kampf' for violating extremism law

[JURIST] The Russian Prosecutor General's Office [official website, in Russian] on Friday banned [press release, in Russian] Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf [Britannica backgrounder], finding it in violation of laws against extremism. The step was taken pursuant to Article I of Russia's Law to Combat Extremist Activities. According to the statement from the Prosecutor General's Office, "[t]he autobiographical book contains the ideas of Hitler's National Socialism, presenting the militaristic outlook that justifies discrimination and destruction of non-Aryan races that led to the start of World War II." Mein Kempf is readily available on Russian websites and also in bookshops throughout the country, but now people caught distributing or selling the book could be fined [RFE/RL report]. Some political commentators believe this step could contribute to a decrease of hate crimes in Russia, but others remain skeptical, saying it will be too difficult to stifle distribution [Reuters report], particularly via the Internet. Mein Kampf has also been banned in Austria, China and Germany, and its access is limited is several other countries.

Russia is currently struggling to limit hate crimes, which decreased in 2009 [JURIST report] according to the SOVA Center [advocacy website]. The Center report that 71 people were killed and 333 wounded in Russia in racially motivated attacks in 2009, down from 110 killed and 487 wounded in 2008. In December, the Russian Supreme Court [official website, in Russian] upheld [JURIST report] a lower court decision to shut down the Taganrog Jehovah's Witness congregation and ban the distribution of 34 Jehovah's Witness publications, finding both the Jehovah's Witness congregation and the publications are to be extremist. In 2007, the Russian parliament approved legislative amendments to change the prevailing definition of extremist crime [JURIST report] in Russian law to include activities taken for "political or ideological hatred."

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