Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Moscow is in a state of maximum alert for the risk of more ethnic riots, after at least 29 people were injured yesterday in clashes between ultra-nationalists, who had gone on a real hunt for immigrants, and police that moved in to stop vandalism in the city's south-western suburb of Biryulevo.
Anonymous medical sources told Interfax that 23 protesters were injured, eight of them requiring hospitalisation, as well as six officers from OMON, the Russian Interior Ministry's Special Purpose Mobile Unit.
The demonstration began as a protest against the murder of a 25-year-old ethnic Russian, allegedly by a man with the "non-Slavic" traits, probably a native of Central Asia.
During the protest, young nationalists chanted xenophobic slogans, broke the windows of a shopping mall considered a meeting place for immigrants from the Caucasus, and attacked the police.
Quickly, the situation degenerated and turned into a riot, spreading to adjacent streets. At the end, 380 people were arrested.
The violence set off alarm bells in central Moscow where the authorities closed the capital's Manezhnaya Square, under the walls of the Kremlin, where in the winter of 2010 a large gathering of nationalists and right-wing extremists resulted in the killing of Russian football fan Yegor Sviridov by an immigrant.
Many now fear that the situation could get worse. Some, like Duma National Minorities Committee Deputy President Mikhail Starshinov, propose to establish a city district militia made up of local residents "to defend their fellow citizens."
Tensions between Slavs, Central Asians and Russian from the Caucasus break out periodically not only in Moscow but also in other cities of the Russian Federation.
There is strong popular dissatisfaction with massive inflow of migrants to Moscow and immigration was a central topic in the capital's latest mayoralty elections won by a Kremlin loyalist, Sergei Sobyanin.
Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the Synodal Department for Relations between Church and Society, said that the Church understands the indignation of the people.
Hence, he called on the authorities to meet out an exemplary punishment against immigrants who do not respect the rules of civil life and urged minority communities to deliver themselves the perpetrators of such crimes before violence breaks out. (N.A.)