Moscow is bracing for more violence after recent unrest that included dozens of violent acts targeting people from the Caucasus and Central Asia and thousands shouting nationalistic slogans.
On Decmber 13, the Moscow government dispatched busloads of extra police and several ambulances to the city center, according to the Russian-language Gazeta.ru. The extra forces cordoned off the Alexandrovskiy Garden, which is adjacent to the Kremlin, and closed off the nearby Ohotniy Ryad metro station.
Police are also preparing for possible clashes over the next several weeks, with leaders of Caucasian communities contemplating counter-rallies and the impending 40-day anniversary of the death of football fan Yegor Sviridov, whose shooting by a group of Caucasus natives ignited the recent tension. (The 40-day mark is significant in the Russian Orthodox Church.)
About 5,500 people came out onto the city’s central Manezhnaya Square on Saturday, Dec. 11, demanding an investigation into Sviridov’s death, which happened during a brawl on December 5. The protest soon escalated into riots, however, with Sviridov’s fellow football fans chanting slogans like “F*uck the Caucasus,” gesturing the Hitler sieg-heil salute and attacking people with a Caucasian and Central Asian appearance. Protests had also taken place during the previous week in Moscow, also on Saturday in St. Petersburg, and in Rostov on Sunday, resulting in at least 32 medical visits and 140 people detained in all three locations.
Ten cases were brought against alleged initiators of the violence in Moscow on Monday, according to the city’s Assistant District Attorney Alexey Zaharov, despite an initial announcement that the police would not be able to identify the perpetrators. In a statement on Monday, President Dmitri A. Medvedev on Monday warned that nationalist attacks “threaten the stability of the state,” and ordered law enforcement to crack down on race-based clashes using “all powers and methods established by the law,” the New York Times reported.