Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

1,200 held in Moscow stabbing raid

Police and protesters clash in Moscow (AP)
Police and protesters clash in Moscow (AP)

Police have arrested 1,200 workers at a Moscow warehouse suspected of being involved in the death of a man that sparked riots on the Russian capital's southern outskirts.

The raid came the day after rioters angry over the stabbing to death of an ethnic Russian man descended on the warehouse where they believed the killer was working, throwing bottles and trash, smashing windows and turning over cars. Police detained hundreds.

In the police raid, men who worked at the warehouse in Biryulyovo, a working-class district on the southern outskirts of Moscow, were marched outside as crowds gathered nearby to pledge their support to the rioters. Most of the warehouse workers are migrants from the predominantly Muslim Caucasus region, whom many Russians accuse of pushing up the crime rate and taking badly needed jobs.

Tensions between ethnic Russians and natives of the Caucasus have long simmered, but stand-offs are becoming more common in recent years.

Caucasus natives work at many markets and warehouses around the city, but even though they are from the same country they are required to register in order to live in Moscow and face regular discrimination.

Moscow police described the round-up of 1,200 people as part of a "pre-emptive raid" and said that some were being investigated for possible criminal connections.

Most of those in the watching crowd said they supported the rioters, who they said could be relied on more than the police to protect the area.

Many average Russians accuse police and politicians of encouraging migrant workers because they are a source of cheap labour and bribe money, which the workers and employers pay to avoid the migration police.

Yegor Shcherbakov, 25, was killed in a dispute over his girlfriend with another man as the couple returned home on Thursday. Sunday's rioters were protesting at what they called impunity for the man's supposed killer.

Of the hundreds of suspected rioters arrested on Sunday, police kept only two in custody and fined 70 more. Dozens of police officers were injured.

-AP

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