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Authorities are bracing up for nationalist protests after Moscow's Zamoskvorechye court 's verdict for sambo champion Rasul Mirzayev

November 28, 2012, 11:07 UTC+3

Throughout Tuesday, social networks and blogs were disseminating nationalists' calls to stage a protest action

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Moscow's Zamoskvorechye court on Tuesday announced the verdict for world sambo champion Rasul Mirzayev, a native of Dagestan, accusing of causing the death of student Ivan Agafonov. The athlete was sentenced to two years restriction of freedom for murder by negligence and released in the courtroom, as he had spent more than a year in custody. The authorities are bracing up for nationalist protests.

The Komsomolskaya Pravda reminds that on August 15, 2011, Mirzayev, 25, quarreled with student Ivan Agafonov, 19, at a nightclub, and hit him in the face once. Agafonov, hitting the back of his head on the asphalt. Several days later, he died in hospital.

The court found Rasul Mirzayev guilty of "murder by negligence," and sentenced him to two years restriction of freedom. A day spent in a remand prison counts for two days of "restricted freedom," so the fighter who had been in custody 15 months by that time, was set free immediately after the announcement of the verdict.

The ruling places a number of restrictions on the world champion: he must stay in Dagestan's Kizlyar district, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta writes. He is not allowed to change the place of residence without notifying police or visit public places and places of entertainment. Also, he must report to police every three months.

Speaking at a news conference after the announcement of the verdict, Judge Andrei Fedin elaborated on the reasons behind handing down precisely that sentence, the Kommersant writes. Fedin stated he could not classify Rasul Mirzayev's actions otherwise, because it was the prosecutors who had changed the classification of his actions. This is determinant for the court. Also, Fedin said it was not in his will to select the penalty for the athlete. Under the law, the judge cannot mete out a jail term for minor offenses to which a murder by negligence belongs, he said. The selection of jail term is restricted by the requirements of the penal code.

On Tuesday, the reports on events in central Moscow resembled frontline bulletins, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted. Three squares were sealed off, including Manezhanya Square, where riots had occurred two years before.

It was the authorities' reaction to the reports about possible protest actions against the verdict for Mirzayev. Throughout Tuesday, social networks and blogs were disseminating nationalists' calls to stage a protest action.

Several hours earlier, a group of police accompanied Mirzayev out of the court building to drive him in an unknown direction amidst the shouts "Shame!"

Observers called the verdict for Mirzayev political, and its coverage by a number of mass media outlet biased. The authorities decided to choose the lesser of the two evils by avoiding unrest in Dagestan, said director of the Center for Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin. "Obviously, the authorities are less afraid of nationalist riots in Moscow. The court has been delaying the verdict to the last moment as it is," Makarkin said.

Chairman of the commission for ethnic relations and freedom of conscience under the Public Chamber Nikolai Svanidze does not rule out that nationalists might stage actions: "Actions may take place, but it does not mean the verdict might have been different. The persons who wish to carry out nationalist acts are looking for any pretext to do it."


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