Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Friday, 24 February 2006

Somali blood on Moscow snow

Somali student Mukhtar Ahmed Osman in Moscow
Mukhtar may stay on in Moscow to do postgraduate studies

When Somali civil engineering student Mukhtar Ahmed Osman was beaten unconscious in the snow by a gang of teenagers in a Moscow suburb three years ago, nobody came to his aid. Here he recounts his ordeal for the BBC News website:

It was about seven o'clock on a November evening in 2002, the year after I arrived from Somalia to study at RUDN university.

I was escorting a friend from the university here to his home near the Kantemirovskaya Metro station.

After I saw him home I came down out of the apartment block into the street to stop a taxi.

I saw kids playing in the snow nearby and I thought they were just kids playing. I imagine the average age was about 14 and there were about 13 of them. There was snow everywhere.

I believe there are good and bad in every nation and Russia is full of good, decent people

Then one of them came up to me and starting speaking very quickly. At that time, I was still only learning Russian and could only follow slowly so I asked him: "What? Could you repeat that please?"

He hit me and I tried to hit him back, but another one struck me from behind. I lost consciousness. When I was on the ground they started kicking me really hard.

Then they must have thought I was dead and they stopped. I opened my eyes and saw them standing in a circle around me and I said to myself if I don't do something they will start again, so I reached out and grabbed a stone or something and they ran away, and then I ran away.

My friend Igor

I got to the road where I stopped a car. The driver said 'Where are you going?' and I said to the Yugo-Zapadnaya Metro station and he said '$20'[well above the usual rate]. I agreed because I had no choice, and money was the last of my worries at that moment.

I was covered in blood and then I asked him if I could have some water to drink, and he said 'You shouldn't drink so much'. He must have thought I was drunk. [Mukhtar lives on a monthly budget of $150 and neither drinks nor smokes]. Well, he said he had no water.

Then he brought me to the station. Some guys there helped me get home and an ambulance was called. I was brought to hospital. Then some other Somalis came to see me after hearing about the attack. I did not go to university for 15 days. Then I went to the police and they filed a report, but nothing was done.

It's a pity but that's how life is here. I have a lot of Russian friends. I believe there are good and bad in every nation and Russia is full of good, decent people.

I have one very close friend - Igor is his name. He often phones me and tells me to let him know if I want to go somewhere and he will come with me. He and I go places all the time. If someone starts making trouble, he says 'If you're looking for trouble, mate, come to me first'. I feel safe when I travel with him.

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