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ULAN-UDE, January 11 (Itar-Tass) — One person was killed in a shootout near the village of Zhemchug in Buryatia, and another two were hospitalized with gunshot wounds, deputy chief of the regional department of the Investigative Committee (SK) Sergei Bazarov told a news briefing in Ulan-Ude on Wednesday.
Bazarov said the conflict had started as a result of turf wars between two gangs. "The investigators have no information about any economic motives or the attempts by a gang to capture the village; it was a domestic conflict," he underlined.
Deputy head of the Buryatia police operations department Valery Kalganov told reporters one of the gangs carried out a sort of promotional campaign after the incident, in an attempt to present the conflict in advantageous light for them /which looked similar to the events in the Ural settlement of Sagra on July 1, 2011/, and also to obstruct the probe.
However, the suspected mastermind of the conflict, rural council deputy Andreyan Batlayev, who has a criminal record, will "certainly answer the investigator's questions," the SK assured.
According to the investigator's preliminary version - which Sergei Bazarov related to the journalists - the events unfolded thus: there were two clashes between criminal groups of Ulan-Ude and the village of Zhemchug on January 6 in the Tunkinsky district.
Part of the villagers sided with the visitors from town, who initially numbered four, but they later secured the support of 20 people. The number of their opponents in the village reached 50.
The first clash occurred in a wood near the Kyren district center. The visitors from town demanded that a Kyren resident pay them 250.000 roubles because he had beaten up their acquaintance. A villager, who was a wrestling coach, was beaten during the conflict. On the same day, the victim's friends, who were athletes, took up firearms and caught up with the attackers at the "Strelka" place near the federal Kultuk-Mondy federal highway. A large fight followed, in which a 20-year-old resident of Ulan-Ude was killed.
The investigation is carried out by a joint group comprising SK experts and Buryatia police.
"Residents of the Tunkinsky district are obstructing the probe, although bona fide citizens initially had nothing to do with the incident," Valery Kalganov underlined, "the interested representatives of the rural criminal group give distorted information to the public. For example, rural council deputy Andreyan Batlayev, who lied about the incident to the mass media, has a conviction for murder. His son is on police record, and was involved in the conflict. Batlayev's son is now in hiding while Batlayev is putting pressure on witnesses.
Police and investigators acknowledge "a difficult moral and psychological situation in the village" at present.
On Wednesday, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said a majority of the participants in the Buryatia fight were criminals.
"It was ascertained in the course of investigation that a majority of the participants in the conflicts were criminals; of those, a number of Zhemchug residents had been hiding from the investigators," Markin said.
According to the spokesman, the investigators had established the cause of the conflict.
"In August, two residents of the Tunkinsky district /one of them lived in the village of Kyren, and the other in the village of Zhemchug/ had a row which escalated to a fight. Later, the Kyren resident, assisted by his acquaintances from the criminal underworld, including those living in Ulan Ude, demanded that the Zhemchug villager pay him money as compensation.
The Zhemchug resident agreed to pay. On January 6, a group of armed young people from Ulan Ude, together with several local residents of the Tunkinsky district, met with the Zhemchug resident. "During the meeting, the man refused to pay, and called his fellow villagers for help; most of them had criminal convictions," he said.
Taking firearms along, the Zhemchug villagers met with the young visitors at the crossroads of the Kultuk-Monday highway. They began to shoot at each other, in which a Zhemchug resident fired a fatal shot in the back of a 21-year-old man. Three more participants in the conflict were wounded.
At present, the investigators are questioning the persons involved in the conflict to ascertain all the circumstances of the crime. "Searches have been conducted and a number of expert examinations will be carried out to ascertain the location of weapons," Markin added.