Massive pogroms between Russians and Chechens hit Karelia Republic

Russia’s quiet and peaceful Karelia Republic became the center of massive riots and pogroms last weekend. Residents of the town of Kondopoga gathered on the town’s square and smashed market stalls and cafes belonging to natives of the Caucasus. Three people were killed in the attacks.

The riot became a response to the crime committed by Chechen nationals at night of August 30. A group of Chechen men killed several Russian citizens residing in the town. Mutual aggression and hostility will continue to increase if the government takes no measures to establish law and order in the republic.

Local authorities instituted criminal proceedings on the fact of massive riots in Karelia’s Kondopoga. Up to 130 people were arrested.

The town of Kondopoga was not a conspicuous place on the map of Karelia at all. “Everyone goes to work at the local pulp and paper mill in the morning and watches TV or drinks some alcohol in the evening. This is a typical lifestyle for the town,” local resident Sergei Sokolov said. The man added that the number of people of Caucasian nationalities had increased considerably in the town lately. “They lived here before too, there were dozens of Caucasian families, all of them market vendors. Now there are thousands of them here. The number of crimes committed in the town increased too,” the man said.

The incident started on Tuesday night in a local restaurant Chaika (translates into English as Seagull). Two companies - with only Russian men in one of them and only Chechen men in the other one - started to argue. The argument grew into a fight between about 30 people. Two local residents were killed in the fight, nine others were hospitalized with various injuries. One of the injured men died at the hospital afterwards.

One of the eyewitnesses, named only as Anton A. told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that a group of Chechen men, wielding knives, arrived on two cars and started screaming “Stab Russian pigs!” and “Allah Akbar!” “They started beating people sitting in the restaurant although they had nothing to do with the conflict,” Anton said. The Chechens were beating restaurant visitors brutally, deliberately breaking people’s arms. An employee of the town’s morgue said that someone cut one victim’s ears off.

The brutal fight in the restaurant triggered massive attacks against Caucasian individuals in the town of Kondopoga. Almost all Caucasians had to leave the town within 24 hours as a result of the pogroms. The majority of them went to the city of Petrozavodks, the capital of Karelia.

It is worthy of note that officials of the Internal Affairs Ministry of Karelia deny the ethnic hostility motive of the conflict. “The conflict is based on the issues of the town's property. Someone wants to line their pockets on this tragedy and gain political profit in the pre-election campaign,” a spokesman for the ministry said. The head of the town’s administration, Alexander Popchenkov, stated that the conflict was solely based on ethnic strife.

Based on Russian media news reports

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov