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13 Dec, 2010 10:31

Those behind violence in Moscow will be dealt with – Medvedev

Those behind violence in Moscow will be dealt with – Medvedev

President Dmitry Medvedev has posted a strong warning in his Twitter blog, vowing to deal with all those behind the riots that rocked the center of Moscow on Saturday, prompted by the killing of a football fan earlier this month.

Dmitry Medvedev has also said that the situation in the capital, as well as the whole country, is under control.“The recent events in Moscow – the disorder, attacks on people should be classified as crimes, and the people behind them should be punished,” Dmitry Medvedev said. “Especially dangerous were the actions aimed at fuelling hatred and hostility based on racial, national or religious differences. Such actions are a threat to the state's stability.”“To counteract such actions police can and must use all means allowed by the law,” he added. “I stress – any legal necessary and sufficient means. There shouldn’t be any chaos on the streets or in public places.”

Saturday’s rally saw thousands gather at Manezh Square, in a central location not far from the Kremlin, to mark the death of a Spartak Moscow supporter, Egor Sviridov. He was killed in a mass brawl involving some men born in Russia's North Caucasus. The Interior Ministry believes Saturday’s riots were instigated by Nationalist groups.Special forces deployed to the area found it difficult to break up the rally, which grew from what authorities expected to be a peaceful gathering to an uncontrollable mob, says political analyst Dmitry Babich.“Obviously, the meeting was organized on the internet and thousands of fans suddenly showed up,” said Babich. “And in the first hours of the confrontation, police were pretty friendly to them, expecting to find some kind of ‘healthy forces.’ And I think that was a mistake, because there are no ‘healthy forces’ among rioters.”

The fact that ultra-nationalist sentiments gained the upper hand at a rally that was originally organized by soccer fans is a worrying sign, said Aleksandr Verkhovsky, director of the Moscow-based racism watchdog Sova.“There is always a kind of competition [between soccer fan clubs and nationalist groups],” he said. “In this situation the leadership of the soccer fans lost control, and that is a very important point, because from this moment on we cannot guarantee that soccer fans in Moscow [will not fall under the nationalists' control].”

Earlier on Monday, police again appeared to be cordoning off Manezh Square and stepping up security efforts in what was said to be preparation for another confrontation. According to media reports, a meeting had been arranged between football fans and members of the Caucasian Diaspora near Manezh Square. The shopping mall in the center of the square had been closed for the day, but its managers refused to comment on the reasons, Interfax news agency reported.Shortly thereafter, however, police began to leave the scene.“The current situation at Manezh Square is calm and fully under the control of law enforcement forces,” a spokesperson for Moscow Police told Itar Tass news agency. “There have been no accidents or serious crimes reported, and no one has been detained.”