Russians rally against racism

More than 1,500 stage protest in central Moscow against xenophobia following wave of ethnic clashes.

    Police clashed with football fans during a protest in central Moscow over Sviridov's death on December 11 [EPA]

    More than 1,500 people have staged a rally in Moscow, Russia's capital, against a recent wave of ethnic unrest following the deadly shooting of a Russian football fan.

    The protests on Sunday came after a group of ultra-nationalistic Russian football fans clashed with ethnic minorities from the Northern Caucasus region and central Asian countries on December 11 over the death of Yegor Sviridov.  

    Sviridov, a 28-year-old engineer and fan of the Moscow football club Spartak, was killed on December 6 during a brawl between Russian football fans and migrants from the North Caucasus.

    Suspects were arrested, but all but one were freed on bail, angering the Russians.

    About 5,000 nationalists chanting "Russia is for Russians" gathered in memory of Sviridov near Moscow's Red Square on December 11. A number of the rioters attacked passers-by who appeared to be from non-Slavic minority groups, as well as police.

    More than 30 people were injured in clashes that lasted for half-an-hour.

    Vladimir Ryzhk, an opposition leader who took part in the Sunday rally in which protesters carried placards reading "Russia is for everyone" and "Russia without Fascism", said the rise of nationalism could bring the country to a dead end.

    'Hopeless case'

    "Each city, each town and village in Russia is multi-national. Any outbreak of nationalism in Russia will
    ruin the country, will ruin the society, the state, the culture, everything. Russia will be over," Ryzhk said at the rally.

    "If nationalism will come forward, we could give up Russia as a hopeless case. I am against that. People gathered here are patriots of Russia, they are people who love Russia the way it is." 

    The violence has raised fears the government's is either unable or unwilling to stem the rising tide of xenophobia in Russia.

    Some Russian officials and analysts regard radical nationalism as the single biggest threat faced by Russia, which is home to over 160 distinct national and ethnic groups.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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