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Russia Sends Azerbaijani Murder Suspect To Pretrial Detention

  • RFE/RL

At his arraignment hearing, Orkhan Zeynalov (pictured) said he stabbed Yegor Shcherbakov in self-defense.

At his arraignment hearing, Orkhan Zeynalov (pictured) said he stabbed Yegor Shcherbakov in self-defense.

A Moscow court has ordered pretrial detention until December 10 for an Azerbaijani citizen suspected in the high-profile murder of a Russian man that sparked a wave of antimigrant violence in the Russian capital.

At his arraignment hearing on October 17, suspect Orkhan Zeynalov pleaded not guilty -- stepping back from a statement the authorities say he had made in which he reportedly admitted stabbing Yegor Shcherbakov to death in self-defense in Moscow's Biryulyovo district on October 10.

Shcherbakov's death sparked violent antimigrant riots in Moscow's southern Biryulyovo district on October 13.

Rioters smashed shop windows, clashed with police, and stormed a vegetable warehouse in Biryulyovo where many migrants from former Soviet republics work.

On October 14, Moscow police arrested more than 1,200 migrant workers from Central Asia and the Caucasus in the troubled district and launched investigations into the vegetable warehouse where Zeynalov reportedly worked.

On October 16, Russian police announced that they were looking for the head of the company that manages the vegetable warehouse, Aliaskhab Gadzhiyev, who is suspected in employing scores of illegal immigrants.

Gadzhiyev's associate, Magomed Churilov, and the chief of a security firm that guarded the warehouse, Viktor Kotelevsky, have already been arrested.

Baku Protests

Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Elman Abdullayev told journalists in Baku on October 17 that Zeynalov's presumption of innocence had been violated by his rough treatment at the hands of Russian police and by Russian media who have called him a criminal before he has been put on trial.

Abdullayev added that the Azerbaijani Embassy sent a note about Zeynalov's case to the Russian Foreign Ministry on October 16.

Azerbaijan's ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbuloglu, told Russia's Dozhd online television on October 16 that the goal of the official note was to ensure that Zeynalov's rights were not violated.

Bulbuloglu said it was "very unsettling" to see Zeynalov on television dragged into Russian Interior Minister's office and held on his knees there].

"First of all, it is a violation of every possible judicial procedure. The Internet is full of rights activists writing that the detainee's rights have been violated," Bulbuloglu said.

"He is a foreigner and should be treated as such. First of all he needs to be provided with consular, translator's, and lawyer's support."

Zeynalov was detained by police on October 15. Zeynalov's lawyer, Viktor Anikushkin, told journalists that Zeynalov's pretrial detention will be appealed.

"I have to thoroughly study the whole case and this is what [Zeynalov's] defense said [in court today] -- namely, that not all the materials that would prove his guilt have been presented to the court," Anikushkin said.

"This is why the defense pleaded to postpone the hearing [on Zeynalov's detention] for another 72 hours. The court has, thus, violated the principle of legal equality and we will appeal against it."

Russia's Investigative Committee said on October 17 that Zeynalov would be formally charged within the next 10 days.

With reporting by Interfax,, RIA Novosti, ITAR-TASS, and