29 December 2010, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of December 20-26

At the background of anti-nationalist actions held in Russia, nationalism-motivated mass brawls continue; head of Russian ICPO did not come out to Kuban residents in Kuschevskaya, but instructed to deal with their appeals; "war for hijabs" continues in Azerbaijan, - look these and other events in the review of the week of December 20-26, 2010, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Mass brawls with "ethnic motives"

Last week the southern Russia witnessed more riots with possible interethnic context.

Thus, on December 25 about twenty persons took part in a mass brawl between Cossacks and natives of Dagestan in the village of Stepnoe, Stavropol Territory. Four persons suffered in the conflict. A criminal case was initiated under Part 2, Article 213, of the Criminal Code (hooliganism). All the fighters were in the state of alcoholic intoxication.

Two days earlier, on December 23, in Stavropol, six young Dagestanis made a fight. The incident burst out in the Lenin District of the city. According to the GUVD (Chief Interior Department) of the Stavropol Territory, one of the brawlers was wounded in his head, when he tried to take away a pistol from another fighter, who was shooting in the air. The shooter managed to escape. The reason of the brawl was not reported.

In the evening on Saturday, December 25, a mass brawl burst out in Moscow with participation of locals and Caucasians. Two persons were stabbed, said a source from law enforcement bodies. The incident took place in the shopping centre in Bolshoi Ovchinnikovskiy Lane, Zamoskvorechye District. Militiamen detained a native of Chechnya, 20, and took a knife away from him.

Anti-nationalist Moscow

Last week, in response to mass nationalist actions, frequent in Moscow over the past fortnight, an anti-nationalist rally was held in the Russian capital under the slogan "Moscow for All!" On December 26, more than three thousand persons from many Russian cities gathered in Pushkin Square. Viktor Shenderovich, a writer and journalist, was running the event.

The audience was addressed by writers, politicians, actors, journalists, stage managers and veterans. Besides, poems and letters of those who could not get to the rally were read out.

No incidents or provocations were registered. Militiamen were polite and loyal in handling the participants and media people.

The well-known culture and television workers - Chulpan Khamatova, Yevgeny Mironov, Tatiana Lazareva, Mikhail Schatz and Leonid Parfyonov - were urging people to come and take part in the anti-nationalist rally.

Echo of Kuschevskaya in Kuban

On December 22, residents of the Krasnodar Territory (also known as "Kuban" by the name of the main river) and Rostov Region since early morning were waiting for reception by Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigatory Committee under the Prosecutor's Office (ICPO) of the Russian Federation, near the building of the village administration of Kuschevskaya. A month ago, on November 22, during his meeting with residents of the village of Kuschevskaya, Krasnodar Territory, Mr Bastrykin said that on December 22 he would come back to the village. On that day, hoping to meet the head of the ICPO, people came to the village from different regions of the Krasnodar Territory and from the Rostov Region.

However, until very late at night nobody gave any clear information to the people whether Mr Bastrykin would meet them. Later the ICPO confirmed that its boss had been in Kuschevskaya: he held a closed meeting, awarded the distinguished inspectors and left. Nobody went out to people who kept hoping until almost midnight.

Having failed to see Bastrykin, the gathered people decided to write a letter to him. In their collective appeal residents of the village of Kuschevskaya and other districts of the Krasnodar Territory and Rostov Region expressed their "collective distrust to the authorities and judiciary bodies of the Krasnodar Territory, namely: the territorial Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Prosecutor's Office and Supreme Court." The authors also pointed out that after November 22 "there was no improvement in the work of these bodies; moreover, under a number of applications the situation had even worsened."

The text of the appeal to the head of the ICPO was published by the "Caucasian Knot"; in this case reaction followed quite soon. Already on December 27 it became known that Bastrykin ordered to make a check of the facts of passivity of law enforcement bodies and authorities of the Krasnodar Territory, listed in the collective appeal published by the "Caucasian Knot".

Azerbaijan: right to hijab

Last week Azerbaijan continued holding mass protests against the ban on wearing headscarves (hijabs) in schools.

On December 24, about a hundred believers went out to protest against the ban on hijabs in schools in Gyandzha - the second most populous city of Azerbaijan. The rally was dispersed by the police.

Besides, last week Muslims demanded to allow the girls with hijabs to attend school No. 103 of the settlement of Khodzhasen, Binagadin District of Baku. According to the Ministry of Education, the action was accompanied by aggression: a group of Muslims attacked the secondary school and broke several windows of the institution. Besides, according to a source, in the course of the incident, which took place on December 23, the assailants wrote a warning on the school door threatening to set the building on fire, if the ban is not lifted. The Ministry addressed law enforcers who initiated an inquiry.

Earlier, similar actions took place in Baku (on December 10), in the city of Masally in southern Azerbaijan (on December 15) and in the village of Nardaran, 30 kilometres to the northeast of Baku (on December 18). The protests were caused by the statement of the Minister of Education Misir Mardanov on December 9 that all schoolchildren should wear standard uniforms, where the Muslim headscarf is not assumed. Believers regard these restrictive measures as a violation of human rights.

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