A student from Congo died Wednesday in a St. Petersburg hospital several days after being attacked by unknown assailants, a prosecution official said.
It was the latest of a growing number of attacks in Russian cities on dark-skinned foreigners and immigrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus region in recent years, according to the AP.
Roland Epassak, 29, was hospitalized Friday night after the attack in Russia's second-largest city, said city prosecution spokeswoman Yelena Ordynskaya.
About 50 African students and local residents gathered Wednesday in front of the academy where the Congolese had studied to protest against nationalist violence.
Ordynskaya, however, said that prosecutors were not treating the crime as racially motivated and suggested it could be an act of hooliganism or robbery, although all versions would be examined.
Andrew Suberu, head of the Nigerian community in St. Peterburg, said that letters of protest would be sent to the heads of the city's universities, police, and St. Petersburg administration.
"We want to say in those letters that it's time to stop nationalist hatred and extremism in St. Petersburg. We can't just wait to be beaten up and killed," he was quoted as sayung by the AP.
Suberu, who has lived in St. Petersburg for 20 years, said xenophobia has worsened significantly in the past decade.
In the past few years in St. Petersburg there have been a number of attacks on people of other nationalities and races, including the murders of a Vietnamese student, a 9-year-old Tajik girl and a Syrian student last year.
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