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Migrant Roundups Follow Moscow Rioting


Antimigrant Unrest In Moscow Neighborhood
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WATCH: Riot police were deployed to the Biryulevo district of the Russian capital after nationalist-fueled violence broke out on October 13. Mobs of mostly young men were angry over the killing last week of an ethnic Russian, and stormed shops and overturned cars until police got the situation under control overnight. (Video by RFE/RL's Russian Service)

Moscow police have detained some 1,200 migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus at a vegetable warehouse, a day after some of the worst antimigrant unrest in the Russian capital in three years.

On October 13, rioters smashed shop windows, stormed a warehouse, and clashed with police in the southern Biryulevo area after a demonstration over the killing days earlier of a young ethnic Russian widely blamed on a man from the Caucasus.

Eight people, including two policemen, remain hospitalized as a result of the skirmishes.

IN RUSSIAN: Continuing coverage by RFE/RL's Russian Service

A total of 23 people, including eight police officers, were reported injured.

Some 400 rioters were detained, but the majority were released hours later. Seventy of those detained were asked to return for questioning, and two of the detainees are still in custody.

Moscow police say they have launched a criminal case into the riots. Police said on October 14 that 3 million rubles (almost $93,000) in cash, as well as knives, a bat, and three guns were found in a vehicle on the warehouse territory.

Police Response

Sporadic clashes and arrests continued into the night, although police said they had regained control of the affected areas by around 10:30 p.m. local time. Witnesses reported police helicopters circling in the dark over the Biryulevo district.

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Police cut off all traffic in the area and shut down a major highway as a precaution.

Groups of young men were said to have initiated the violence at a shopping center in the Moscow neighborhood of Biryulevo, smashing windows and overturning cars but apparently not causing any fatalities.
Groups of young men were said to have initiated the violence at a shopping center in the Moscow neighborhood of Biryulevo, smashing windows and overturning cars but apparently not causing any fatalities.
On October 13, Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev met with top ministry officials in Moscow over the violence. Kolokoltsev urged law enforcement officials to check all vegetable warehouses in the Russian capital for both illegal migrants and possible suspects in the killing.

"Literally tomorrow, activate the work in relation to all of the vegetable warehouses, which are a constant source of tension, especially in the districts that surround those warehouses," Kolokoltsev said.

"I am asking the head of the [Moscow] police and I'm asking all managers who are on call of duty, who participate in this work, to quickly deal with these warehouses, bring order, make everyone work according to Russian law, where they are located, where they work, regardless of the region they came from."

Kolokoltsev stressed that all of the inspections should be done as soon as possible to prevent unrest in the city.

"I really hope that this work will improve the situation in the city," he said. "Otherwise, all those provocateurs and extremists will definitely use this opportunity to call on young people to the barricades to make a judgment no one needs."

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After the violence broke out, the deputy chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Rushan Abbyasov, urged Moscow youth of all nationalities to prevent the situation in Biryulevo from escalating.

Abbyasov added that the incident will not affect upcoming celebrations by hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Moscow of Eid al-Adha, known in the former Soviet Union as Kurban-Bairam. This year, the three-day Muslim holiday, which marks the end of the hajj, starts on October 15.

A Russian lawmaker, Mikhail Starshinov, said on October 14 that additional security measures will be taken during the celebrations. While "the majority of our Muslim citizens are very educated, adequate, and respected people," Starshinov said, "black sheep are among all the groups -- Muslims, Christians, or Jews."

Meanwhile, the majority of shops and warehouses in Moscow where migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus often work remain closed.

The Tajik Embassy has urged its citizens living in Moscow not to go to work until the situation calms down.

Men look at an overturned car and smashed watermelon stand after a protest in the Biryulyovo district of Moscow on October 13.
Men look at an overturned car and smashed watermelon stand after a protest in the Biryulyovo district of Moscow on October 13.

Earlier on October 13, thousands of people had protested peacefully, demanding justice over the killing on October 10 of a 25-year-old local man identified as Yegor Shcherbakov.

Police said he was stabbed by an unknown assailant in unclear circumstances while his fiancee watched in horror.

The killer fled the scene but was caught on surveillance cameras that suggested he could have been from Central Asia or the Caucasus.

The subsequent protest turned violent when a group of mainly young men broke off and smashed windows at a shopping center before trying to storm a vegetable warehouse that employs migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia.

A video posted on YouTube showed them chanting "White power!" as they forced their way in.

Scuffles erupted when police moved in to try to make arrests. Protesters threw bottles at police, who fought back with batons.

Ethnic Tension

It was the worst violence over migrants in Moscow since December 2010, when several thousand youths rioted outside the Kremlin after the killing of an ethnic Russian soccer fan that was blamed on a man from the North Caucasus.

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Violence has flared in other Russian cities as well between the Slavic majority and people with roots in the mostly Muslim North Caucasus, ex-Soviet South Caucasus states and Central Asia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of such dangers in the multiethnic country.

Earlier this month, Putin said Russia needed migrant labor in industries like construction but suggested their numbers could be cut in some others, including trade.

With reporting by Reuters, ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and AFP
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