12/16/2010, 00.00
Send to a friend

Moscow under siege for racist violence

by Nina Achmatova
The death of a Spartak fan killed in a fight with a Caucasian triggers clashes between xenophobic ultra-nationalists and immigrants from the Caucasus. For four days the capital has been under curfew and there are still incidents of xenophobia. The police yesterday arrested over 1300 people, including immigrants and extremists. Islamic and Orthodox religious leaders are warning about the risk of ethnically motivated massacres.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - For four days an escalation of violence between the xenophobic ultra-nationalists, linked to the world of football fans and groups of immigrants from the Caucasus, has been holding the capital prisoner. Yesterday, in a maxi raid on a demonstration organized by fans, police arrested about 1300 people, most of them immigrants with whom the extremists had already begun to clash.

The town's police chief, Viktor Biryukov, said that police seized knives, sticks and other weapons. More than 3 thousand officers in riot gear were deployed around the station in Kiev where the xenophobic nationalists and immigrants had gathered for the protest. "Caucasians go Home" and "Russia for Russians" read some of the banners and slogans shouted by the protesters.

The trigger, a brawl between supporters and immigrants

The death of a Spartak fan, in a fight with a Caucasian, on 11 December triggered the violence. Immediately after the killing, rumors of the arrival of groups of Caucasians in the capital, ready to respond to the provocations of the Spartak hooligans started to circulate online and in media reports. Spartak fans in turn had already taken to the streets shouting racist chants. The reaction of the murdered boy’s "comrades", was decidedly ultra-nationalist in nature and led to the first violent protest during the weekend, which resulted in a real urban warfare under the walls of the Kremlin that ended with a toll of more than 30 wounded, and seventy arrests. Since then, Moscow is virtually under a state of siege, with the center closed and patrolled by police in riot gear, ready to intervene in case of any recurrence.

December 13, the xenophobic alarm saw attacks by gangs of young against Caucasians immigrants and death by stabbing, of a Dagestani who had been brutally beaten first.

Religious leaders appeal for peace

The alert level has also led to the mobilization of members of religious communities. The head of the Council of Mufti Ravil Gainutdin warned about the risk of an "anti-Caucasian and anti-Islamic trend in Russian society." "Russia must not become an arena of inter-ethnic slaughter." And he called to "Youth, first of all the Muslims, not to respond to provocation. Do not leave home "was his call.

The Russian Orthodox Church has said it is "concerned about the situation" of ethnic relations. The head of the department for relations between the Church and Society of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, has called on the authorities to expel the immigrants responsible for the death from the country and asked local people for dialogue on the basis of shared rules of civil coexistence.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Patriarch Kirill: restricting immigration exacerbates ethnic tensions
Beijing imposes harsh sentences on Tibetan monks and lama
Russia hunts for illegal immigrants; 2 thousand detained
New Year, xenophobes threaten to burn the Koran on Red Square
Russia faces debate on the legalization of polygamy


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”