VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AP) _ A district court on Tuesday banned the Russian National Unity movement _ a prominent neo-Nazi group _ from the Far Eastern territory of Primorye.

Members of the movement had tried repeatedly to register with authorities, but were refused. In its ruling, the court noted that the movement had been operating illegally, since it was not registered, and that it was aimed at inciting ethnic hatred.

Although very small, neo-Nazi groups have steadily grown bolder and more visible in Russia in recent months. They have been accused of beating members of racial minorities, desecrating Jewish cemeteries and bombing synagogues.

Russian National Unity, led by Alexander Barkashov, is the most vocal and active of the groups. Its members sport swastika-like symbols and black uniforms, raise their hands in a Nazi-like salute, and assail liberal reforms as a Western plot to destroy Russia.

RNE members have held weekend rallies in Vladivostok parks, and spray-painted their logo on the walls of city buildings.