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15 Sep, 2006 06:05

Police hold 200 in student migrants protest

Police hold 200 in student migrants protest

Almost 200 people were detained in central Moscow during an unsanctioned rally against migrants of ethnic Caucasus origin. In a separate incident, police held others involved in fighting at the Oktiabrskaya metro station close by. The fighting there invol

Eyewitnesses said most were young men, some looking like skinheads. It was not clear if the fighting was linked to the demonstration near the station, in which protesters from various universities in the city gathered to complain about migrants from the Caucasus.

Meeting organiser Alexandr Belov said that though the meeting had not even started, most students there had already been detained by police. “Nobody planned any provocations,” he said. “The aim of the meeting was to attract the attention of authorities to the discrimination against Russian students who are being abused, raped and killed by those who come from neighbouring republics.”

Most onlookers sympathised with the students’ demands and said they were also abused by immigrants. But some expressed concerns about the danger of racism. “I'm very concerned that in our country, ultranationalists whom I consider as fascists may come to power,” said one bystander. “They will say politically-correct things at first but then we will have a fascist regime. That's what I'm afraid of.”

Others said they wanted the authorities to see both sides of the issue and not to forget about native Russians. As the protest ended, organisers made a list of universities whose students supported the demands of the meeting. They delivered it to Russia’s education ministry.