Mass protests that embraced a small town of Pugachev in central Russia’s Saratov Region after a 20 year old paratrooper was killed by a Chechen boy continued on Wednesday. Around 50 local residents tried to block the railroad at a rail station soon after the meeting with the Russian presidential envoy in the Volga Federal District, Mikhail Babich. Two hundred more people gathered on a local square to collect signatures under an address to the region’s governor, Valery Radayev. Law enforcers are checking extremism-related activities of rallies’ organizers, while Pugachev police chief was sacked.
To avoid escalation of tensions representatives of North Caucasus diasporas have already taken out of the town 20 young people, Babich was quoted by Kommersant as saying. However, Chechens will not be expelled from the region, the envoy said.
The daily recalled that people have been taking to streets for unsanctioned rallies for the third day demanding that all Caucasians should be forced out of the Saratov Region. Protesters tried to block a federal highway and put a restaurant on fire. These protests were caused by the murder of a local resident, former paratrooper Ruslan Marzhanov. He died from 13 stab wounds. A 16-year-old Chechen boy Ali Nazirov was arrested on murder charges.
Protesters demand tougher control over migration processes and creation of observer councils in law enforcement bodies. They also insist that municipal executive and legislative bodies should be empowered to reject residence permits.
Meanwhile, Pugachev’s authorities started taking measures to curb anger of the population. In particular, a ban on alcohol sales was imposed and police started checking passports and visas.
In reply to local residents’ request to expel the Chechen diaspora from Pugachev, Babich said this measure contradicts the Russian legislation, Novye Izvestiya wrote. “There will be no illegal anti-constitutional measures,” he said. On Wednesday police detained one of nationalist movements’ activists, Nikolai Bondarik, who was going to Pugachev by train promising “to gather even more people in the streets.”
In the story of Pugachev’s riots there is a grieving family, Rossiyskaya Gazeta wrote. At first, Ruslan Marzhanov’s father asked his townmates to stop protests and not to disturb his son’s memory. This person expressed confidence that his son died not as a result of ethnic strife. In reply he heard just hisses and shouts. He believes that it is no coincidence that some forces use mass rallies against the Chechen diaspora in their favor. He says he does not believe in protesters’ sincerity.
Meanwhile, many witnesses say protests at first evoked by the tragedy are gradually turning for residents of Pugachev into an evening walk. Girls put on makeup and mini-skirts knowing that they will get on cameras of the central TV, while many young men for some reason try to have some alcohol. And the tragedy of the Marzhanov family in this crowd is somehow taken aside. “I do not believe in sincerity of protesters,” said Shamil Marzhanov.