Unsanctioned Pugachev rally hosts heated xenophobic rhetoric
The participants demanded the forced removal of people from the North Caucasus from the town. “It’s already been years since young people could safely walk the streets,” participants shouted, according to news reports.
Police tried to detain one of the protesters, but were fought off by the crowd.
Local administrator Stanislav Sidorov tried to address the meeting, but was booed and targeted with empty bottles. Sidorov disappeared into a nearby recreation center, after which demonstrators surrounded the city administration building and pelted it with eggs and bottles.
Extra police were on hand for the event, while Saratov region vice governor Denis Fadeev and Saratov region Internal Ministry boss Sergey Arenin were also present. Arenin heads the ‘temporary operational headquarters set up in case of aggravation of the situation.’
All entries to the city are now host to police stations that inspect incoming cars. Meanwhile, State Duma deputy Anton Ishchenko, who comes from the Saratov region, has vowed to take the situation in Pugachev under his personal control.
Locals made their way at one point to the Volgograd-Samara highway R226 in a bid to block it. Later, the route was unblocked.
Additionally, a group of protesters made their way to the local Caucasian restaurant Halal, with some calling for it to be set ablaze, while others called for the slaughter of the Caucasian families. Police forces stopped the mob.
Due to safety concerns, the restaurant will remain closed for a month.
On the evening of July 8,a video spread on the Internet showing several tank-style armored vehicles roll through what is said to be Pugachev; video comments say the armored vehicles were brought to the city after the demonstration. However, Saratov region military commissioner Nikolai Shebanov said no such orders were given.
The reason for the local outrage was the July 6 murder of local 20-year-old paratrooper Ruslan Marzhanov, who died in hospital of stab wounds shortly after his assault. A 17-year-old Chechen was arrested on allegations that he had killed Marzhanov, with the Pugachev inter-district investigation committee opening a criminal case under Part 1 of Article 105 of the Criminal Code: murder. The suspect will be held for two months.
Following Marzhanov’s July 7 funeral, an unsanctioned rally was held on Pugachev’s Cathedral Square, after which demonstrators went to the town’s ‘Chechen district,’ where there was a brawl. It is likely that fireworks or traumatic weapons were in use, as shots were heard. Several people who participated in the clash were detained, though the exact numbers of detainees and victims have not been made public.
One attendee at the funeral was detained for distributing leaflets.
Local police refuted claims about the row, saying that about a hundred people had tried to force entry to the house of the Chechen suspect’s relatives to ‘deal with them’ – but that the mob was pacified by Stanislav Sidorov, the local administrator, and local police chief Igor Lopatkin. Administrators held a preventative talk with the crowd, which began to disperse shortly thereafter.