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Police detain men suspected of setting churches on fire in Tatarstan

December 12, 2013, 10:23 UTC+3 KAZAN

The detained are young men aged between 22 and 35, followers of non-traditional Islam, the source says

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© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Pochuev

KAZAN, December 12. /ITAR-TASS/. Tatarstan’s police reports detention of men suspected of setting on fire at least two Orthodox churches, press service of the republic’s Interior Ministry said on Monday.

The detained are residents of the town of Chistopol — “they are young men aged between 22 and 35, followers of non-traditional Islam,” the source said.

“They explained, the idea to set churches on fire had occurred to them back in September 2013, and in mid-November they decided to follow the plans,” the press service said.

On the night of the crime on November 17, one of the suspects came to visit another one and suggested beginning the fires from the church under construction in Vishnevsky Street in Chistopol. The man said he had prepared bottles with gas and they were on him.

“They set fire between one and two o’clock at night,” the press service continued. “They divided the roles: one poured the gas onto the church’s wooden stairs, the other one lit a self-made wick, and they broke the burning bottle against the building’s corner. The vandals hurried to flee the scene. Luckily enough, the security saw the fire, and later on it was extinguished.”

The criminals set another church on fire at about 5 o’clock, where they used two bottles of flammable liquid. The church burned down.

“We have identified the two men and their accomplices very quickly. Now they all are detained, and we have reasons to suspect them of being involved in other fires in Orthodox churches in Tatarstan,” the press service said.

The seven criminal cases opened earlier on fires at Orthodox churches, have been merged, and the investigation continues under the Criminal Code’s article “Act of Terror.

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