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Violence In Tatarstan On Paratroopers Day

KAZAN, Russia -- The celebration of Paratroopers Day in the Tatar capital Kazan briefly turned violent on August 2 when Russian ex-soldiers attacked some foreign workers, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Some 40 drunken former paratroopers commandeered a truck and headed for Kazan's fruit and vegetable market, where they started roughing up vendors, mostly men from Central Asia.

Police intervened quickly to prevent major bloodshed and arrested some 35 ex-paratroopers.

Igor Sitko, press secretary of the Interior Ministry office in Kazan, said three market vendors sustained minor injuries.

All the detained attackers were later released. No criminal cases were launched against them, though they may be fined for "hooliganism."

Paratroopers Day frequently deteriorates into violence across Russia when former soldiers get drunk, start chanting patriotic and ultranationalist slogans, and start fights with non-Russian immigrants.

Russian media reported that earlier this year, inebriated former paratroopers attacked people from Central Asia and the Caucasus near the Kiev metro station in Moscow and in the cities of Astrakhan, Yekaterinburg, and Ulyanovsk.

The Moscow-based human rights center Sova regularly expresses concern that ethnic minorities and immigrants are at risk of attack on Paratroopers Day, celebrated each year on August 2.

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