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schizophrenic disorder

Alexander Koptsev

Alexander Koptsev burst into a synagogue on Bolshaya Bronnaya street in Moscow, Russia during evening prayers on January 11, 2006 and stabbed eight people with a hunting knife before being wrestled to the ground by the Rabbi and his son. Four of those injured were in serious condition. After the incident, Russia's Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar announced he was cutting short a visit to Israel to return to Moscow

On January 13, 2006, Koptsev was charged with racially-motivated attempted murder and humiliation of a religious group. He told investigators he was jealous of Jews and their better living standards, and was inspired to act by books and Internet websites. He added that the main factor was his "desire to die," and that he felt sorry for those he had injured. He has been described by Russian media as a racist skinhead. Russia's chief Rabbi stated that the attack was a symptom of a general climate of intolerance and xenophobia in Russia.

On February 28, 2006, Koptsev pleaded not guilty of attempting to murder Jewish worshippers at a synagogue. The official charge against him was attempted murder "motivated by racial hatred", a charge that is rarely brought in Russian courts. Investigators found anti-semitic pamphlets in his home, but insist that he was acting alone. He has been diagnosed with a schizophrenic disorder, but prosecutors said he was still fit to stand trial.

On March 27, 2006, Koptsev was sentenced to 13 years in prison and mandatory psychiatric treatment after being found guilty of attempted murder.

On April 4, 2006, Koptsev's lawyer, Vladimir Kirsanov, appealed to Russia's Supreme Court to have his client's sentence reduced, arguing he was mentally unstable, did not kill anyone, and did not cause any disabling injuries. Prosecution lawyers appealed to include the charge of inciting interethnic hatred, which was dropped by the court.

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