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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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