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Black Man Beaten to Death in Moscow - 2001-10-04


Members of the black community in Russia gathered this week to bury a black refugee who was beaten to death.

About 70 black men and women gathered for a memorial service in Moscow and sang in remembrance of Paul Masso Mayoni.

The casket was left open during the memorial service and people could see where his face had been beaten.

Mr. Mayoni had just left a center in Moscow that helps refugees when he was attacked. The 35 year-old refugee from Angola was with five black friends. Michel Pukutu-Mbundu was with him when the attack occurred and describes what happened.

Mr. Pukuta-Mbundu says he saw a group of men carrying broken bottles. At first he did not think it concerned them, but a friend who had already been beaten on previous occasions said, "No they are coming for us." Mr. Pukuta-Mbundu said the group began to run back to the refugee center.

Everyone but Mr. Mayoni made it into the building. His friends say they saw Mr. Mayoni on the ground being beaten over the head with baseball bats. After the attack, which took place in late August, he was taken to a hospital where he remained in a coma until he died on September 5. His body was not released by the police until this week.

Mr. Mayoni - who was married to a Russian woman and had two children - was one of 756 black people registered with the Refugee Reception Center in Moscow.

Officials at the center say almost all the refugees who come to center are from Africa and fled war and turmoil in such places as Angola.

Almost every black person at the funeral service had a story about being beaten since coming to Russia. Some say they had been beaten more than once.

While there are no official statistics on incidents of racial violence, the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy that has been compiling statistics estimates that a black person is attacked every week in Moscow.

Roshe Kaludi lived near Mr. Mayoni. He said their two families often took walks together in the neighborhood.

Mr. Kaludi said it is dangerous for black people in Russia. He says right now, he simply doesn't know who will be the next target.

After a number of racial attacks last spring, Russian President Vladimir Putin severely criticized racial violence, saying it is completely unacceptable. No one has yet been charged with Mr. Mayoni's murder.