We’ve been following growing tensions in the North Caucasus town of Pugachev after anti-Chechen protests erupted in the wake of a murder of a half-Tatar and half-Russian former paratrooper at the hands of a Chechen youth. At the end of last week, the police arrested at least 13 people in a sweep related to the incident. – Ed.
Police officials detained 13 natives of Chechnya during a sweep conducted after the murder of former paratrooper Ruslan Marzhanov and [protest] rallies in the city of Pugachev, said Sergei Sedov, deputy head of the investigative division of the Russian Investigative Committee for Saratov Region.
As Caucasian Knot reported, on 6 July, 20-year-old former soldier Ruslan Marzhanov was killed in Pugachev. A 16-year-old native of Chechnya is suspected of the murder and is being held in custody. After the murder, spontaneous protest actions erupted in the city with the demand to deport natives of Chechnya. On 10 July, Mikhail Babich, presidential representative to the Privolzhsky Federal District reported that the Chechen diaspora took some of their youth out of the city of Pugachev. Arbi Navruzov, chair of Vaynakh, the Chechen civic organization, for the Saratov Region stated that natives of Chechnya were not forcibly deported from Pugachev. The Pugachev administration in turn also confirmed the departure of a certain number of natives of the North Caucasus, but the exact number of those who left is not known.
According to Sedov, 13 natives of Chechnya were detained on the morning of 11 July during a search of a private home in the village of Anin Verkh in Perelyubsky District.
“The police came into a private home where several Chechens were located and asked them to show their documents. Two men were standing in one of the rooms holding pitchforks. One of them put down the weapon at the demand of the police, but the second, Ali Khaydaev, born 1993, began threatening the policemen with the pitchfork. Khaydaev tried to strike a police officer and then the law-enforcer twice shot the attacker in the legs. After that, Khaydaev dropped the pitchfork and was detained,” Sedov told Interfax.
According to Sedov, the investigation prepared a petition to the court to arrest the suspect. Khaydaev is not giving testimony, invoking Art. 51 (“no one is obliged to give testimony against himself”) of the Russian Constitution, explained Sedov, noting that Khaydaev does not have a relationship to the murder of the paratrooper killed earlier.
“He was a resident of the Gudermess District of Chechnya and came to the Saratov Region to visit relatives after the crime was committed, on 9 July, in his words, to support them. Furthermore, the detainee suspected of the murder of the paratrooper is Khaydaev’s relative,” said Sedov, deputy director of the investigative division of the Russian Investigative Committee.
He also noted that aside from Khaydaev, police detained other men who were in the private home – a total of 12 persons. All of them are accused of administrative misdemeanors – lack of [residential] registration.
Caucasian Knot does not yet have comments from the detainees or their representatives.
“We looked at the criminal cases that were closed or suspended since 2011, and we found no evidence at all that these crimes were committed by persons of Chechen ethnicity, nor did we find any others (not native to this locality). They are virtually all local residents who are native residents of Pugachev. The suspension notices are being checked. There is no cover-up of crimes,” RIA Novosti quoted Sedov as saying.
According to Sedov, members of the operations headquarters organized in Pugachev in connection with unrest in the city have discussed the fact that there is not a single cover-up of a crime at the police department.
He also noted that the people who were eye-witnesses of the fight between the paratrooper and the Chechen teenager do not face criminal charges. “The most important thing we want to achieve in Pugachev is strict compliance with the law by everyone, including local residents,” Sedov added.
The situation in Pugachev is under the supervision of the Interior Ministry, says a notice on the website of the Saratov Region office of the Russian Interior Ministry.
We will recall that on 10 July, after spontaneous protests demanding the deportation of natives of Chechnya, Igor Lopatkin, chief of the police department, was removed from his post. On the evening of 11 July, nationalists from other towns arrived to try to link up with participants in a public assembly of residents of Pugachev waving imperial flags. Some of them were detained. Today police released all the detained nationalists. Traffic Safety patrols have been reinforced at the entrance to the city and police volunteers have been patrolling to limit the number of visitors who plan to take part in rallies.