Residents of the small town of Pugachyov, Saratov Region, staged a rally demanding eviction of the natives of the North Caucasus republics. They also tried to block the Samara-Volgograd highway. The spontaneous rally gathered after a Chechnya native killed a former paratrooper. Although the criminal was detained immediately after the murder and a court arrested him, local residents clashed with Caucasians in Pugachyov. To prevent further escalation of tensions, additional police forces were sent to the town.
The murder occurred overnight to Saturday near the Zolotaya Bochka /Golden Barrel/ cafe in Pugachyov, the Kommersant reports. A row between Ruslan Marzhanov, 20, a former paratrooper, and a 16-year-old native of Chechnya /his name was withheld/ escalated to a fight in which the adolescent stabbed his opponent with a lancet several times. The injured man was rushed to hospital at about 02:00 where he later died.
On Saturday evening, Marzhanov's relatives and friends flocked to Pugachyov's Sobornaya Square /police said there were about 200 of them/ in order to have it out with the detainee's relatives. Police managed to prevent the conflict, but the crowd marched to the place densely populated by Chechen settlers and a mass fight began.
On Sunday, the Pugachyov residents gathered for a meeting again, and the rally then moved to the building of the district administration. People demanded eviction of the natives of North Caucasian republics from Pugachyov, otherwise, they said a large ethnic conflict was likely. The former paratrooper Marzhanov was not the first local resident killed by Caucasians. In May 2010, Chechnya native Mudayev fatally stabbed Nikolai Veshnyakov near the same cafe for which he was sentenced to ten years in jail.
"Evict them!" the crowd was chanting. Some 150 to 200 persons walked to the Samara-Volgograd federal highway. They planned to block it with two cars. After several skirmishes with police, the protesters freed the traffic area.
Head of the office of the Chechen Republic in the Volga Federal District Said-Akhmed Elesov, cited by the newspaper, noted that it was a household crime. "The criminal is not a local; he came from Chechnya to visit his relatives. This person is far from the traditions of our people," he told reporters, "the dead youngster had been friends with Chechens living in the area; it was they who carried him to hospital in their arms. The Chechen envoy also noted that using the ethnic issue, "some forces are trying to turn the situation in the direction they wish, with the view of meeting their own "mercantile and political interests."
Head of the committee for youth affairs of the Russian Congress of Caucasian Peoples Ruslan Togonizdze, cited by the RBK Daily, also believes that it was a domestic conflict: "For a long time, the Saratov region has been exemplary in terms of ethnic unity. This outrageous case - which is certainly a domestic incident - has shown that the society is not always ready to have a sober assessment of the situation."
In the opinion of director of the Sova center Alexander Verkhovsky, each regional or ethnic conflict has a background which comes in the open in the course of the investigation. However, this information is immediately disseminated by people who often have xenophobic attitudes, which is reflected on their coverage by the mass media.
"Black bankers" gang exposed
Police exposed one of the largest organized criminal groups engaged in illegal banking. Its participants managed to expatriate some 36 billion roubles in several years. Experts warn that in the conditions of financial globalization, such schemes will be increasingly complicated.
Agents of the Interior Ministry's main department for economic security and combating corruption, assisted by specialists of the Rosfinmonitoring service for fiscal monitoring carried out a large-scale operation to intercept the activity of the largest organized group which had been engaged in illegal banking and cashing for five years.
"The group operated in the Moscow region and other provinces," Interior Ministry spokesman Andrei Pilipchuk told the newspaper. It was led by a 42-year-old native of the town of Mytishchi, Moscow Region. In all, 400 persons were involved in illegal banking. The criminal scheme made use of five commercial banks under the gang's control, broker companies and more than 100 Russian and foreign firms. They provided their accounts and stamps to the criminals.
In actual fact, "white-collar" gangsters set up their own illegal bank to hide clients' money from the tax authorities.
Though primitive, the corruption scheme was highly effective, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta writes. Hundreds of gang members received money from clients. This money was wired to the accounts of flight-by-night firms set up by the banks which the gang controlled. The finale was routine: the sums were forwarded to banks accounts in two directions: the Baltic region or Cyprus. The money then was cashed and legalized by purchasing property, police said. In all, more than 36 billion roubles had been expatriated in five years. The gang's income is staggering. They charged 2 percent for their services to take the money out of the country. According to preliminary estimates, the "black bankers'" income reached over 575 million roubles.
The fact that Russia joined the World Trade Organization a year ago contributes to an increase in illegal schemes, the Novy Izvestia writes. "Few people like the restrictions set by WTO. Hence they are trying to circumvent them by means of illegal schemes," said an advisor with the modern development institute Nikita Maslennikov. On top of that, after the establishment of the Customs Union, more "shadow" imports and contraband began to flow into Russia. It also plays in swindlers' hand. The companies that engage in illegal imports of goods from third countries, often have the assistance of "black bankers," in order to legalize the proceeds. The schemes to take funds in the shadow sector are becoming increasingly complex, Maslennikov said, and international fraudsters can use Russia as a transit country.