MINELRES: SOVA Summary: Mass riots in a Karelian town of Kondopoga

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Tue Sep 5 21:18:42 2006

Original sender: SOVA Center <mail@sova-center.ru>

Mass riots in a Karelian town of Kondopoga

Mass riots took place this weekend in a small – less then 40 thousand
inhabitants – town of Kondopoga in the republic of Karelia (which is
situated to the North of St. Petersburg). It began on the night of
August 30 with an ordinary fight of drunken people in a restaurant
“Chaika”, which belongs to a businessman from Chechnya. The fighters
from the both sides of the conflict were very likely to be criminals.
The same evening, by the appeal of the Chechen man, who had suffered in
the fight, a group of some other Chechen men arrived to the restaurant
and started a mass fight. Many people were beaten (some of them had not
taken part in the first conflict), two Russian ethnic men were killed,
two more died – presumably -  in the hospital, some others were
seriously injured. Reportedly, the assailants were shouting “Allah
akbar” and anti-Russian slogans. The police didn't interfere in the

This event raised indignation in the town, where the level of xenophobia
against people from the Caucasus had been already high. This indignation
was used by the local nationalists from the Movement Against Illegal
Immigration (Russian abbreviation - DPNI). They were supported by the
Moscow leader Alexander Potkin (Belov), who came to Kondopoga. A meeting
of the Kondopoga inhabitants was appointed on September 2 to claim the
incident to be properly investigated and all the people from the
Caucasus to be deported from the town. 

But the situation went beyond these discriminating claims. A crowd of
inhabitants – mostly young people – attempted to smash the restaurant
and put it on fire at the night before the appointed meeting. This was
suppressed by a riot police troop which had arrived to the town. There
were serious clashes with the riot police all over the town, disorderly
attacks on the people from the Caucasus (including in their houses),
arsons of their property. As a result, almost all of the Caucasian
inhabitants of the town left it. 

Nevertheless, the meeting took place on September 2. The resolution
included such claims as to establish a “people's squad” and also to
revise the registration in Kondopoga of all the “visitors”, with the
“representatives of the people” participating in this revision. The
local authorities started negotiations with the representatives of the
gathered people and approved an idea to take the “Chaika” restaurant
away from the owner.

However, the same evening the crowd resumed the attempts to attack the
“Chaika” restaurant. The first assault was restrained by the riot
police, but the second one was a success, because this time police
didn't interfere and the restaurant was burned down. There were at least
10 more other arsons that evening. The riot police actively (and as
usual cruelly) started to disperse groups of people on the streets. It
is very likely to be, that there were not only the perpetrators of the
pogrom dispersed, but also just sympathizers. There were over hundred
people detained during this night. On the morning of September 3, 25 of
them were sentenced to 15 days of arrest for hooliganism.

The situation in the town started to calm down. In spite of the DPNI
leadership calls to the nationalists to come to Kondopoga, apparently
not many of them responded. Instead there were more police troops coming
to the town. Six suspects of the murders and beatings on the August 30
night were arrested (3 of them were given up by the Chechen community).
There were criminal cases opened on the facts of the initial fight and
the following pogroms. On September 4 night, there was another attempt
to put the “Chaika” restaurant on fire, but it was restrained by the
riot police. There were other arson attempts, but much less than the
previous night.

There is a threat that such events may happen in other towns of Karelia
and Archangelsk region. The law machinery is put on alert.

SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, Moscow 

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