Murder sparks nationalist rallies in Russian town
Fifteen witnesses have been questioned over the matter.
Deputy Governor of the Saratov Region Denis Fadeev has met with
the protesters and stressed that the local authorities won’t let
the locals resort to lynching.
“We really want to put things right in the area, with the local residents. Trust me, we also want those who come here to live by the rules, to act by law and cultural traditions,” he explained.
During the meeting, locals demanded that all the Chechen population of the town should be evicted – even those acting within the law. The protesters also urged the authorities to shut down all the bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in the town.
On Tuesday, a crowd of protesters gathered in Pugachyov’s main square, demanding that authorities thoroughly investigate the incident and provide increased security throughout the town.
The demonstrators urged the local government to come out and
speak to them. After their request was ignored, several hundred
demonstrators marched on the motorway between the cities of
Saratov and Samara, bringing traffic to a standstill.
Despite calling for increased security on the streets, protesters demanded that local authorities - including the local police head - be fired. They also tried to destroy and set fire to a nearby café which is popular among local North Caucasus natives.
Police attempted to stop the protesters, but it was only after the vice governor of Saratov region, Denis Fadeyev, arrived at the scene that people agreed to disperse. A crowd of angry locals then continued to a nearby community center to discuss their complaints with Fadeyev.
But the meeting failed to yield any meaningful results, according to local journalist Anton Naumlyuk. “The authorities have promised, the residents have asked. The investigation continues,” he tweeted.
He also tweeted that the residents vowed to resort to vigilante
justice if the results of the investigation did not satisfy them.
The mass protests were sparked after a 16-year-old ethnic Chechen
allegedly killed 20-year-old Russian paratrooper Ruslan Marzhanov
in a brawl.
The fight reportedly erupted after the suspect hit on Marzhanov’s
girlfriend, thereby angering the paratrooper. One week
after the conflict – on July 6 – the two men met for a fight
which resulted in the suspect stabbing the paratrooper with a
scalpel. The victim died of multiple wounds after being
transported to the hospital.
A criminal case was launched into the incident and the teenage suspect was arrested the same day. The 16-year-old has reportedly confessed to the killing.
Marzhanov’s friends and family staged a demonstration following
his July 7 funeral. Around 100 protesters headed to an area of
town heavily populated by ethnic Chechens, sparking clashes
between the two sides. Police quickly arrived at the scene and
were able to break up the fight.
Valery Radaev, governor of the Saratov region, has promised that
the incident will be thoroughly investigated. He stressed that
the person responsible for the murder will be punished according
to the law, and urged residents not to resort to lynching.
Speaking at a demonstration, the victim’s mother said that she wants Chechens to return home to the North Caucasus. A representative of Russia’s Republic of Chechnya, Said Elesov, was present at the Tuesday rally and offered Marzhanov’s mother an apology.
Russia’s Civic Chamber also reacted to the events. “I’m sure that a special inter-departmental commission should be created after such a high-profile case, attracting the community and conducting a thorough investigation,” Civic Chamber member Vladimir Slepak said in a statement.