The Interpreter

A special project of Institute of Modern Russia
Photo: Maxim Blinov / RIA Novosti

Ethnic Tensions Explode Into Riots in Moscow

Number of Detainees in Biryulevo Reaches 380

There have been nearly 450 people detained in Moscow after protests erupted over what is believed to be an ethnicly-charged murder. Russian was stabbed to death by a man said to be from the Caucasus, and “people’s assemblies” are marching on the area. Over the summer there were similar incidents in Pugachev, and ethnic tensions generally have been increasingly manifesting themselves in pograms and public speaking against minorities.

It’s worth noting that Russian officials appear to be downplaying the riots in northern Moscow, as they are claiming that they are unrelated to the Biryulevo incidents.

 There have been  many videos posted to Youtube showing some of the violence. In the video below, a narrator describes the scene as protesters overturn a truck after police started to make arrests. 

Read a full analysis here.


Police have detained about 380 people in the Moscow district of Biryulevo on the evening of 13 October, RIA Novosti reported, citing the press service of the Moscow Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry.

This group of 380 does not include about 60 persons also detained in the Northeast region of the capital; Anatoly Yakunin, chief of the Moscow police, emphasized that these detentions were not related to events in Biryulevo, RIA Novosti reports.

According to Yakunin, some “settling of scores” took place between foreign citizens “over some debt obligations” as a result of which police detained the people involved in the conflict and opened a criminal case under Art. 213 of the Russian Criminal Code (“hooliganism”). According to Interfax, the fight took place at No. 16 Signalny Passage. As an anonymous police source told Interfax, the fight broke out over wages between workers employed loading goods at a vegetable warehouse and their employers.

The new wave of detentions began in West Biryulevo after a clashes between a crowd and police erupted at Biryuza, a local shopping center. A crowd gathered at the shopping center about 21:30 demanding that the murder of Yegor Shcherbakov be investigated. [Shcherbakov, a local resident, was allegedly knifed to death by an assailant believed to be from the Caucasus—Ed.]

Vladimir Kolokoltsev, head of the Russian Interior Ministry, urged that the identities of the participants in Biryulevo be established as quickly as possible and that they be brought to trial. The minister emphasized that police should work with the initiators of such actions [as a “people’s assembly"] only within the framework of the criminal investigation. At the same time, Kolokotsev stressed that the Interior Ministry is prepared if necessary to provide assistance to detectives at the criminal investigation department for a rapid probe into the murder of Shcherbakov. RIA Novosti reported that the minister sent Aleksandr Gorovy, his first deputy, to Biryulevo.

On the evening of 13 October, police reported that they are prepared to declare a manhunt for a foreign citizen who may have been involved in the murder of Shcherbakov. As an anonymous police source reported to Interfax, a shawarma seller is suspected in the murder of Shcherbakov. No official information about the identity of the suspect was available.

Participant in "people's assembly" in Biryulevo. Photo:  Ilya Pitalev/RIA Novosti
Participant in “people’s assembly” in Biryulevo. Photo: Ilya Pitalev/RIA Novosti