Moscow police have arrested at least 1,300 youths in an attempt to quash a wave of ethnically motivated violence. Brutal protests and clashes have escalated since the shooting of an extremist soccer fan on December 5.
Radical soccer fans met to protest media coverage
Moscow police arrested at least 1,300 Russian nationalist and North Caucasian youths on Saturday in a bid to avoid ethnically motivated clashes after tensions and violence increased in recent days.
A police source told the Interfax news agency that the detainees belonged to both groups and that numerous weapons had been seized.
A large contingent of armed security forces had been deployed throughout Moscow after ultra-nationalist and migrant groups issued calls over the Internet to rally. Earlier reports had put the number of arrests at 250.
Outside the capital, some 100 youths were temporarily detained in the southwestern city of Samara when they tried to gather in a park. Dozens were also arrested in Volgograd in southeast Russia.
President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday urged Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev to increase the number of surveillance cameras installed on central squares across the country to help police identify escaped rioters.
A bloody December
December has been marked by ethnically motivated violence
Moscow has seen a sharp rise in radical violence this month. The December 5 shooting of Russian soccer fan Yegor Sviridov in Moscow, supposedly by Caucasus nationals, triggered violent clashes between members of the extreme-right and police on December 11 near the Kremlin - which described the protesters as "fascists."
Ultra-nationalists have continued to plan protests over the fan's death. Saturday's rally, set to take place near a television station, was planned as a protest of the portrayal of the event by the media.
Reports have surfaced almost daily in December of attacks against ethnic minorities by groups of young men. Among the attacks was the deadly stabbing of an Uzbek man, for which Moscow police have arrested two youths, ages 14 and 15.
On Wednesday police detained 1,000 people across Russia to prevent another ethnic clash that was being planned online.
Author: David Levitz, Martin Kuebler (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Kyle James