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Violent Mobs Attack Immigrants in Karelia

Published: September 5, 2006 (Issue # 1201)


The northwestern industrial town of Kondopoga was consumed by ethnic violence over the weekend, with angry and often drunken bands of Slavs waging an uncoordinated series of attacks on natives of the Caucasus.

The violence included mobs with Molotov cocktails burning down Caucasian-owned businesses and natives of the Caucasus being forced out of town. An air of fear and uncertainty permeated the town Sunday

The angry mobs, which left the town of 37,000 pockmarked with storefront fires and shattered glass, stemmed from a fight Wednesday evening outside the Chaika restaurant in which two ethnic Russians were killed.

A group of young ethnic Russians, including some ex-convicts, had been drinking in the restaurant that evening, an official at Karelia’s Interior Ministry said.

The men began arguing with the restaurant’s bartender. The argument led to a fight. The bartender, an Azeri, managed to escape but later returned with some friends, all natives of the Caucasus, bearing knives, baseball bats and iron rods. In the ensuing brawl, two ethnic Russians were killed; nine others, including Russians and natives of the Caucasus, were injured.

Police detained several suspects at the site of the brawl, including those suspected of having committed the two murders. That did not stop the Chaika and other Caucasian-owned businesses from being attacked Friday and Saturday; owners subsequently fled Kondopoga.

The angry mobs behind the violence appeared to have been galvanized, in part, by a local web site, Kcity.ru, which posted an appeal to town residents Friday to meet at the town square Saturday afternoon to protest the knifing of the ethnic Russians.

On Saturday, about 2,000 people showed up at the square. Speakers included the leader of the nationalist Movement Against Illegal Migration, Alexander Belov, who demanded the expulsion of natives of the Caucasus lacking residence permits.

Police officers told Interfax that all Caucasus natives had left the town by Saturday.

A Karelian Interior Ministry official confirmed Sunday that hundreds of natives of the Caucasus had been living in the town and that most of them had fled, while some had gone into hiding.

Saturday evening saw further attacks, mostly by young men and teenagers, on the Chaika restaurant and nearby kiosks and markets.

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Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldn’t miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norway’s largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.