“Dry Law” Passed in Protesting Pugachev

July 12, 2013
Roman Pyatakov/fn-volga.ru

Due to the disorders gripping the city of Pugachev, the district administration has introduced a “dry law “in the city. Mikhail Babich, Russian Federation presidential representative to the Privolzhsky Federal District has arrived to investigate the situation in Saratov Region. Babich announced that the ban on the sale of alcohol is a justified measure because many of the citizens protesting during the unrest were drunk. After the murder of a Tatar paratrooper by a Chechen teenager, Pugachev residents have been out on the street for the third day now and are demanding the expulsion of natives of the North Caucasus. The Chechen community has already taken some of their youth who are considered radical out of the city. – Ed.

Massive unauthorized protest actions that began in the city of Pugachev in the Saratov Region on 7 July compelled the district administration to introduce a “dry law” which will be in effect until 19 July. Mikhail Babich, Russian presidential representative to the Privolzhsky Federal District, arrived in Pugachev today to clarify the situation. “This measure is justified because yesterday and the day before, a significant number of people taking part in the protest actions were in an intoxicated state. Therefore such restrictions have been introduced,” explained Mr. Babich.

The presidential representative announced that law-enforcement agencies have begun pre-investigative fact-finding regarding the organization of mass protests in Pugachev, and representatives of the Russian Investigative Committee have arrived in the city for this purpose. “The fact-finding is being conducted regarding persons guilty of mass protest actions that were political and extremist in nature,” Interfax Povolzhye quoted Babich as saying. He also stated that the investigators already knew the names of “persons for whom these crimes were profitable.”

“It is possible that the authorities were insufficiently attentive to the appeals of citizens who demanded the investigation of a high-profile murder,” Babich emphasized, commenting on the wave of protest that had arisen in Pugachev. In addition he noted that law-enforcers “will meet with residents until the situation is normalized and concrete demands are developed.”

Babich rejected the idea of massive deportation from Pugachev of representatives of the Chechen community – the main demand of the citizens who started the disorders. “We will not perform any unlawful actions at all. We will not make any hasty decisions,” Babich stated.

Meanwhile, the Chechen community itself initiated the evacuation of some of their young people from the city; according to Babich, this was in order to avoid inflaming the complicated situation in the city further or to provide any reason for an escalation of new conflicts. “The Chechen diaspora has taken some of their young people out of Pugachev, whom they believe to be the hard-to-manage, radical part of the youth, Babich told journalists. As local residents told Interfax-Povolzhye, six young Chechens out of the 100 representatives of the Chechen ethnic group living in the city have left.

On 8 July, hundreds of residents of Pugachev, the district center of Saratov Region, came out on Sobornaya Square and tried to block traffic on the Samara-Volgograd highway, demanding that natives of the North Caucasus republics of Russia be deported. The cause for the action was the murder of a former paratrooper by a teenager from Chechnya. Additional forces were transferred to the city to prevent similar incidents.

On the evening of 9 July, several hundred people once again staged a rally in Pugachev, and then closed off the federal Samara-Volgograd highway, demanding the expulsion of natives of the North Caucasus. Local residents, outraged at the murder of 20-year-old Ruslan Marzhanov, demanded the resignation of the head of the local police and the introduction of a state of emergency. Groups are travelling from Saratov and St. Petersburg to support these demands.