MOSCOW – Rioters smashed shop windows, stormed a warehouse and clashed with police in a Moscow neighbourhood yesterday in the biggest outbreak of anti-migrant unrest in the Russian capital in three years.
Demonstrators, some chanting racist slogans, vandalized shops and other sites known for employing migrant workers in the southern Biryulyovo area after the killing of a young ethnic Russian widely blamed on a man from the Caucasus.
Several hundred residents had protested peacefully, demanding justice over the killing, until a group of young men began smashing windows in a shopping centre and briefly set it on fire. A video posted on YouTube showed them chanting “White power!” as they forced their way in.
When police in riot gear tried to make arrests, protesters threw glass bottles at them and the police fought back with batons. Video footage from the scene showed overturned cars and smashed fruit stalls.
Some in the crowd, which grew to number several thousand, set off from the shopping centre and stormed into a vegetable warehouse employing migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Moscow police said several officers were wounded in the riots; around 380 people were detained and a criminal case was opened.
Many Muscovites chafe at an influx of migrant labourers to the capital over the past decade.
The Kremlin has watched with alarm at frequent outbreaks of violence in Russian cities between members of the Slavic majority and people with roots in the mostly Muslim North Caucasus, former Soviet South Caucasus states and Central Asia.
The head of President Vladimir Putin’s human rights council criticized law enforcement bodies for not doing enough to prevent the attacks on businesses employing migrants. (Reuters)