Russia - Ghana relations/

08-11-2002

Ghana's Envoy to Moscow Hurt in Racial Attack

MOSCOW, Nov. 8 - Earlier this year, Maj. Gen. Francis Y. Mahama, Ghana's ambassador to Russia, joined 36 other African envoys here in a written appeal to the Foreign Ministry to do more to protect embassy employees and other Africans from a wave of racist attacks. On Thursday he became a victim of the latest one.

General Mahama, 60, said a group of seven young men attacked him and his driver, Donladi Emor, 48, moments after they arrived at 5 p.m. for a walk in Victory Park, a popular, neatly manicured space near Moscow's World War II memorial.

Without warning, the men began to beat them, shouting racial epithets, the ambassador said today. The beating took place, he said, in front of a festive holiday crowd that did nothing to intervene.

General Mahama, who needed three stitches and has a black eye, reported the attack to the police, who sent officers to the Ghanaian Embassy to take a report. By tonight, there had been no arrests.

In Moscow, as in much of Russia, attacks on foreigners - especially Africans and Asians - and on migrants from the Caucasus in the south have become increasingly common in recent years, despite appeals for tolerance by the police and elected officials, including President Vladimir V. Putin.

Zimbabwe's ambassador was attacked last December; two African-American marines from the American Embassy were attacked in the center of Moscow in April.

While the Russian government does not keep statistics on racially motivated crimes, the African ambassadors, in their appeals to the authorities, have reported more than 140 attacks since 2000. At least four Africans have been killed in those attacks.

"Maybe they think they're doing enough," General Mahama said in an interview today, referring to the Moscow police and Russian security officials, "but we have yet to see the results."

The attacks have been attributed to socially and economically disenfranchised Russian men, many of them skinheads or neo-Nazis, who turn their anger on ethnic or racial minorities. But critics have also complained about the indifference of investigators and police officers, who often classify racial attacks as hooliganism or simple assaults and who often themselves view dark-skinned people with suspicion.

General Mahama, who said he frequently visits Victory Park, recalled being stopped by the police three times during a single visit. "Three times they checked my documents," he said. "But yesterday there were no police to be seen."

The attack occurred on the anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which was celebrated as a national holiday in the old Soviet Union and is still observed in Russia as the Day of Reconciliation and Accord.

GNA Version:

Ghana's Ambassador to Russia, Major general(Rtd) Francis Yahaya Mahama and his chauffeur, Mr Danladi Imoro, has been physically attacked and molested by a group of gangsters in Moscow, a release said on Monday.

The release issued in Accra by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a confirmed report received by the Ministry indicated that the Ambassador and his chauffer were attacked on Thursday 3 November 2002.

According to the release, the incident occurred when the victims were on a walk at Moscow's Victory Park and the two, who were rushed to the hospital for treatment, have since been discharged and were convalescing.

It said the incident had duly been reported to the Russian authorities in Moscow, while the Russian Ambassador in Ghana had been summoned to the Foreign Office in Accra and the government protested.

The government has also expressed deep concern and request for thorough investigation by the Russian authorities with a view to bringing the culprits to book and prevent any future occurrences.

The Foreign Minster, Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyeman had previously met and personally conveyed government's indignation to the Russian Ambassador. The Russian Ambassador has however, regretted the act and condemned the attack and initiated investigations into the incident.

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