Clashes in Karelia

Police arrested 109 people in the north-west Russian town of Kondopoga after fierce rioting. Local residents were demanding that the town's north Caucasian community should be expelled. Residents said the ethnic group had criminal ties.

A Chechen delegation headed by the Minister for National Policy, Press and Information, set out for Kondopoga to assess events. The riots broke out after two Russians were killed in a Chechen-owned restaurant. Armed with knives, baseball bats and metal rods, attackers ransacked the restaurant, smashing windows and setting the building ablaze. They moved on to attack market stalls and garages run by people from the north Caucasus. More than 2,000 gathered in the town centre, rallying to demanding the killers of the Russian men be brought to justice.  

Peter Kirilenko, head of  the  local administration, said ethnic racial clashes would not be tolerated. “Our republic has always been notable for its tolerance,” he went on. “We will discuss the situation with the minority groups and the city authorities. We will use force, if needed, to restore calm but I think tension has already started to ease.” Those responsible for the crime would be arrested and punished, he said, adding that the  town was returning to normal life. Police had counted several groups of youngsters “trying to violate law and order during the night” but no serious incidents had been registered and groups of volunteers were patrolling the streets alongside the police.