Football fans block Moscow road in protest at killing

  • Published
Spartak fans march on to Moscow's Leningrad Avenue, 7 December
Image caption,
Video and photos showed fans invading the avenue on Tuesday evening

Moscow football fans briefly blocked a key city artery in protest at a killing which puts new pressure on race relations in the Russian capital.

They stopped traffic on Leningrad Avenue for half an hour, climbing on cars, lighting flares and chanting nationalistic slogans.

Protesters demanded a full inquiry into the murder of Yegor Sviridov, 28.

He was allegedly shot in a fight with a group of men from the North Caucasus, a mountainous region in southern Russia.

Longstanding ill-feeling between ethnic Russians and members of the North Caucasus's numerous small ethnic groups is one of the country's most sensitive social problems.

While ethnic minorities complain of continuing discrimination in central Russia, some ethnic Russians accuse the authorities of trying to play down hate crimes against Russians.

The death of Mr Sviridov generated a wave of anger on Russian nationalist websites, which reported graphic, unconfirmed details of how he died.

Russia's chief investigator's office (SK) said its Moscow branch would take charge of the investigation into Mr Sviridov's death.

"The decision was made taking into account the wide social response sparked by this crime," spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

'Full and unbiased'

Leningrad Avenue, which connects the city centre to Sheremetyevo Airport, was blocked by about 1,000 fans of Moscow's Spartak football team, according to police figures.

Image caption,
The Spartak supporters' website carried a photo of Mr Sviridov

They marched to the road from a prosecutor's office in the north of city, where they had angrily demanded a "full and unbiased" investigation into their fellow Spartak fan's death.

The demand also appeared on the Spartak supporters' website Fratria, accusing the authorities of failing to catch the killer of another fan, Yury Volkov, who was stabbed to death in Moscow in July, allegedly during a fight with a group of Chechens.

Police say the demonstrators left the avenue peacefully and no arrests were made. Two windows in a kiosk were broken but it was unclear when the damage had occurred.

Video of the protest posted on Russian websites shows fans chanting "One for all, all for one" as well as nationalistic slogans such as "Russia for Russians" and "Moscow for Muscovites".

Suspects released

Aslan Cherkessov, 26, a resident of the Kabardino-Balkaria region, was formally accused by a Moscow district court of murdering Mr Sviridov and placed in custody until 6 February.

A lawyer for the accused, Venera Goncharova, said she would appeal against her client's detention, Russia's Interfax news agency reports.

Mr Markin earlier gave brief details of the killing: "The SK investigator ascertained that it was Cherkessov who fired on Sviridov, inflicting a fatal head wound upon him."

Police say Mr Sviridov was shot dead with a rubber bullet pistol on Monday night in a fight at a bus stop involving 10 people on Kronshtadt Boulevard. A friend accompanying him was also shot and seriously injured.

Russian media report that three other suspects were detained along with Mr Cherkessov but then released, and are now being sought again.

While gas-powered rubber bullet guns are legal weapons in Russia, they have come in for increasing scrutiny following their use by criminals.

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