More than 30 people have been arrested in Moscow and St. Petersburg as ultra-nationalists staged rallies over the death of Ivan Agafonov.
Agafonov, 19, died after a scuffle outside a Moscow nightclub on Aug. 13 and Dagestan-born martial arts champion Rasul Mirzayev is accused of throwing the fatal punch.
That has angered right-wing groups, who are planning a wave of protests against “Caucasian lawlessness”.
And even the reversal of a decision to release Mirzayev on bail was not enough to prevent unauthorized rallies taking place in Russia’s two biggest cities.
‘It could be you’
Nationalist groups gathered outside Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky Court, with representatives of “Russky obraz”, “Russky grazhdansky soyuz” and “Russkoye obshchestvennoye dvizheniye” claiming more than 300 people joined the protest.
Organizers claimed that the protest could not be cancelled because Mirzayev had been remanded in custody: “We know he is being held once more, we do not know that he will be punished and thrown in jail. In place of the murdered boy could be you or your loved ones,” read a message which spread on internet forums.
Police were pelted with stones and paving slabs as they tried to arrest young women who had joined the demonstration, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.
Officers later said about 50 people took part in the rally, most of them football fans. Twelve people were detained, the police press service told Life News, adding that they were believed to be the organizers.
A similar demonstration in St. Petersburg saw about 15 people detained, mostly for being drunk in public and using abusive language.
Tensions remain high, with police on alert for further trouble in Moscow at the weekend – perhaps coinciding with the Spartak vs CSKA football match on Sunday evening.
Speaking in court prior to being remanded in custody, Mirzayev himself admitted throwing the punch which caused Agafonov to fall, hitting his head and sustaining the injuries which ultimately killed him.
But he said that Agafonov was no mere “boy”. “He is almost two meters tall and weighs just under 100 kg. Should I stand there and wait for him to hit me?” he said in court, Itar-Tass reported.
And Moskovsky Komsomolets reported that the student was also under investigation for alleged involvement in two aggravated robberies of couriers.
His mother and his girlfriend both denied that Agafonov had committed any crime.
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