Deadly turf war at Moscow cemetery caught on CCTV (VIDEO)

Police officers and an ambulance seen here at Moscow's Khovanskoye cemetery, the site of a mass drawl with gunfire © Maksim Blinov
A massive turf war, allegedly over illegal proceeds from Europe’s largest cemetery, was caught on CCTV cameras, which recorded the preparations for the deadly battle, as well as the fighting that involved hundreds of people and resulted in three deaths.

Video taken by a number of cameras attached to the main office at the entrance to Moscow’s Khovanskoye cemetery shows a large number of athletically built bullies assembling in the parking lot around noon.

The footage shows a few men believed to be armed with automatic weapons coordinating the upcoming attack on walkie-talkies before setting off for the cemetery to face the “illegal migrants” around half-an-hour later.

Walking past the main alley, the gang disappears from the view of the cameras. Some time passes before migrants armed with shovels and sticks are seen chasing after the men who had come to mark their turf.

A few minutes later, fighting erupts as bystanders hide to avoid being injured in the mass brawl, which is reinforced as more people come to the migrants’ rescue. The cemetery’s security guards also tried to intervene.

According to police, who arrived at the scene along with the National Guard some 40 minutes later, at least 200 people were involved in the fight that left three dead. Police said that “not everyone who participated in the conflict were employees of the cemetery... [who were] mainly foreign nationals illegally residing on the territory of the Russian Federation.”

Upon arrival, officers had to fire warning shots into the air to prevent conflict from escalating further, according to Interfax sources in law enforcement.

Authorities say that the conflict started over who should control the distribution of labor at the 200 hectare necropolis, which caters to over one million graves. The fight involved people from the Russian Caucasus and illegal immigrants from the neighboring Central Asian republics. Relatives employ the migrant workforce to bury their deceased family members and then look after the cleanliness of the burial sites afterwards.

A total of 111 people were detained at the cemetery and adjacent territory, according to Interfax citing a source in police. A criminal investigation has been launched.

The source also said officers recovered a Kalashnikov rifle along with 51 empty cartridge cases from bullets of different calibers, brass knuckles, knives, axes, sticks and pieces of steel framework from the scene.

Moscow’s mayor Sergey Sobyanin expressed his condolences via Twitter, promising to punish those responsible.

A source in the medical community told Interfax 26 people were taken to Moscow hospitals, half of them with gunshot wounds of various degrees of severity.

A 22-year-old citizen of Tajikistan, an illegal resident of the cemetery was among the victims of the brawl. He died from a gunshot wound to the chest. A 42-year-old foreigner and another unidentified man died after being run over by a car. There are no other casualties, the Interfax source has said.