Friday 17 December 2010

Cherkesov's relatives treat murder of "Spartak" fan as tragic accident

Caucasian Knot, Dec. 13, 2010 -- Relatives and friends of Aslan Cherkesov, a resident of Kabardino-Balkaria, suspected of murdering Yegor Sviridov, a football fan of "Spartak" in Moscow, consider what had happened to be a tragic accident, which was caused by a fatal coincidence.

"I know the pain of loss," said Sonya Cherkesova, Aslan's mother, "six months ago I buried my elder son. I express my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the mother of the deceased boy. Along with that, I want to declare to the whole world: my son is not a killer! He could not kill a man just so - whatever they talk about him!"

The traumatic pistol from which the fatal shot was made belonged to Aslan Cherkesov for two years. "He's never used it during this time," his mother said. "I know my son: if his life had not been in real danger, he wouldn't have used it this time either."

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that Sviridov was shot dead from a traumatic pistol at night on December 6 in Moscow in a mass brawl. Not far from the place of the incident militiamen detained Aslan Cherkesov, 26, a resident of Kabardino-Balkaria and found a traumatic pistol on him. Under decision of the court, Aslan Cherkesov was detained for two months - till February 6, 2011. Cherkesov himself declared his innocence, saying that his actions were self-defence, and he fired blindly, without aiming.

According to his relatives, Cherkesov with his friends was in the bar at "Rechnoy Vokzal". His three friends went out a bit earlier, while he paused to buy cigarettes. When he went out, his friends were lying on the pavement, and four persons were beating them. Aslan had his arms twisted out, and he was thrown on a car hood. Then, according to his story, they started choking him. When he saw a "rosettes" (a broken bottle neck with sharp edges looking like petals) in hands of one of the attackers, he pulled his pistol out of the back pocket of his trousers and made three shots into the air. The fourth shot was fatal.

Sonya Cherkesova does not deny that her son had administrative offences: "But those were minor offences; the murder, of which my son is accused, is quite a different thing."

"Journalists write that Aslan did not study anywhere and did not work. They try to make a complete 'rogue' out of him. I am very indignant with this, it's a lie! My brother has higher education, he worked as a rescue in the Ministry for Emergencies (MfE), and then was engaged in real estate business - he worked in a realtor company," said Ann Cherkesova.

Besides, the woman was furious that her brother was announced to be a nationalist: "How can he be a nationalist, when he has a Russian wife, who was pregnant with his child?"

Ann told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent about her intention to meet the family of the deceased young man. "Despite the threat to kill us, arriving from 'Spartak' fans, we'll surely meet the family of Yegor Sviridov to tell them that we are very sorry about what has happened," she said.

See earlier reports: "Rally of football fans in Moscow escalated into clash with OMON fighters," "In Moscow, 3000 fans commemorate "Spartak" fan killed in a mass brawl," "Spartak fans against RFU's refusal to toughen punishment to Anzhi."

Related Issues

Thursday 16 December 2010

Fearing Clashes, Police Detain Scores

Riot police officers detaining young men they suspect of seeking to stage interracial riots outside the Kievsky train station in Moscow on Wednesday.

By Natalya Krainova - The Moscow Times

Thousands of riot police patrolled downtown Moscow on Wednesday, detaining at least 800 people, conducting pat-downs and closing the Yevropeisky shopping center and access to the nearby Kievskaya metro station to stave off violence in the area.

Police feared that thousands of young people, inflamed over the killing of an ethnic Russian in a brawl with Caucasus natives on Dec. 5 and a subsequent riot by ethnic Russians that targeted Caucasus natives last weekend, would heed online calls to stage a violent rally in front of the Yevropeisky mall at 6 p.m.

Hundreds of young people — Caucasus natives and ethnic Russians — gathered in the vicinity of the mall on Wednesday evening, many of them chanting “Russia for Russians” and “Moscow for Muscovites.”

Police detained anyone whom they considered a potential threat, dragging them to waiting police buses.

“The situation in Moscow is under the control of law enforcement agencies. Residents have no reason to feel threatened,” police spokesman Viktor Biryukov said, Interfax reported.

But the situation remained tense late Wednesday, with many young people itching for a fight. A Moscow Times reporter overheard four boys aged 14 to 15 discussing how to carry out an attack on Caucasus natives as they drank alcoholic cocktails near the Noviye Cheryomushki metro station. “Now we’re going to find a [racial epithet] to beat,” said one. “What’s most important is to make sure that there are no cops around.”

A 20-year-old Caucasus native was hospitalized after he was beaten in a Moscow region commuter train by a group of about 20 young people screaming nationalist slogans, a police source told Interfax.

Shortly before 6 p.m., a fight broke out between ultranationalists and Caucasus youth, some of them armed with baseball bats and metal rods, on Smolenskaya Naberezhnaya, near the Yevropeisky mall. At least five people were injured, Interfax reported.

Riot police were also patrolling Manezh Square, where 5,500 football fans and nationalists angered over the death of football fan Yegor Sviridov, 28, staged an unsanctioned rally that turned violent Saturday when protesters attacked a group of Caucasus natives who passed by.

The Japanese Embassy recommended that its nationals stay off Moscow streets because “riots are possible,” an embassy source told Interfax.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin promised Tuesday to deal harshly with anyone who attempted a repeat of Saturday’s violence. President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the police to punish those responsible and offered assurances on Twitter that the authorities remained in control.

But in the hours after Saturday’s riot, a message appeared online that called for revenge and was attributed to a Caucasus blogger.

“I call on you to arm yourselves if possible and have no fear and not to hide at home,” said the blogger’s message. “We will decide at the scene about further actions.”

The call, which bloggers said was first posted on the social network but was deleted by late Saturday, was reposted more than 3,300 times on LiveJournal by late Wednesday.

Police have downplayed the message as a provocation by ultranationalists, but many young people appear to have heeded the call.

By late Wednesday, police had detained at least 800 people, including 400 near the Yevropeisky mall, police spokesman Biryukov said. Many of those detained were Caucasus natives carrying air guns and other weapons, he said. Other reports said the number of detainees reached 1,200.

About 600 young people chanting nationalist phrases and obscenities marched from Kievsky Station toward nearby Bolshaya Dorogomilovskaya Ulitsa, Interfax reported. Riot police walked beside the crowd, blocking an attempt by several dozen youth to shut off Bolshaya Dorogomilovskaya Ulitsa to traffic, RIA-Novosti reported.

By 6 p.m., the Yevropeisky mall and the exit from the Kievskaya metro station were closed.

The threat of violence hung over other cities as well. About 60 people were detained near Sennaya Ploshchad in St. Petersburg on suspicion of planning a riot, Interfax reported, citing local police. In downtown Samara, about 100 young people were detained on suspicion of planning to hold an unsanctioned gathering, local police told Interfax.

North Caucasus leaders urged young people to refrain from violence. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov warned at a news conference late Tuesday that “pressure” would be placed on any Chechens who took part in rallies in Moscow.

“If any one of our Chechen young men allows himself to take part in mass protests in Moscow … he will be pressured through his family and friends according to our traditions and customs, which do not tolerate disobedience,” he said.

Said Amirov, mayor of the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala, called on Caucasus natives to opt for “a dialogue on the level of people of authority representing the conflict parties” instead of rallying on Moscow’s streets, RIA-Novosti reported.

The All-Russian Association of Fans also asked football fans not to take part in rallies Wednesday “because it might have a negative effect on the fan community,” association head Alexander Shprygin told Interfax.

Meanwhile, the security services were searching the Internet for extremist speech and determining IP addresses of those who posted extremist messages, RIA-Novosti reported, citing an unidentified senior security official.

Related Issues

Far right goes on rampage during anti-immigrant clashes in Moscow

Many of the demonstrators shouted nationalist slogans and gave Nazi salutes.

By Shaun Walker in Moscow - The Independent

Police detained around 1,000 people in central Moscow yesterday in an attempt to contain ethnic tensions between Russian nationalists and migrant workers – sparked by the killing of a football fan – from flaring into pitched street battles.

Thousands of riot police patrolled locations across the city, including the Kiev Station, where there were rumours that a massed fight could take place between the two groups. Police checked documents and confiscated knives and other weapons, calling on the crowds to disperse and detaining anyone who disobeyed orders, herding them into waiting buses.

The Russian capital has been tense since the weekend, when protests over the murder of Yegor Sviridov, a Spartak Moscow football fan, turned violent. Mr Sviridov was killed earlier this month, allegedly shot dead by a native of Russia's troubled, mainly Muslim, North Caucasus region.

On Saturday, thousands of football fans and nationalists packed Moscow's Manezh Square, near the Kremlin, and began attacking anyone of a non-Slavic appearance. In terrifying scenes, riot police had to tell bloodied victims to hide under cars as they fought off the angry mob and waited for reinforcements. After the fighting on the square was brought under control, mobs of youths entered the metro system, and proceeded to pull people who looked non-Russian from trains and assault them on the platform. Dozens were injured.

Yesterday, nationalist groups said they were planning to meet again, while the Russian blogosphere had been awash with rumours that hundreds of Chechens and other natives of the North Caucasus were travelling to Moscow to exact revenge for Saturday's attacks. The fear was of a clash between two heavily armed gangs bent on revenge.

In the end, while the police detained hundreds, there was little in the way of fighting. Groups of nationalists shouted "Russia for Russians!" and "Moscow for Muscovites", while scuffles broke out at various locations across the Russian capital. But the serious battles that had been expected did not materialise, and most of those detained were released shortly afterwards.

The situation in the Russian capital remains tense, however, with nationalist leaders using rhetoric designed to stoke tension. "Today Moscow is a dangerous city, mainly due to immigrants from the North Caucasus and Central Asia," said Alexander Belov, a nationalist figurehead who formerly led the Movement against Illegal Immigration. "Russia is now a battleground. If you go out unarmed, you have minimal chance of surviving. I call on every Russian to carry a gun or at least a knife – not to do so is an act of criminal irresponsibility."

President Dmitry Medvedev has called for order and promised that those provoking riots will be punished.

Related Issues

Monday 13 December 2010

Geopolitics For Dummies: What Does The Collapse Of The Soviet Union Really Mean? By Eugene Ivanov

The Ivanov Report, December 13, 2010 -- Regardless of how one would characterize the collapse of the Soviet Union -- as the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century" or just its "major geopolitical disaster" -- everyone appears to agree that it was one of the 20th century's most fateful geopolitical events. Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin once called it a "genuine drama" for the Russian nation. In contrast, many in the West celebrated the disappearance of the Soviet Union as a Cold War trophy and a sign of the "end of history."

While the fact that the Soviet Union has "collapsed" is not in dispute, little attention is being paid to what the Soviet Union, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), actually was. The only thing everyone seems to remember is that the USSR was composed of 15 so-called Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR). So when the USSR was "collapsing", the "collapse" was supposed to proceed precisely along the borders separating the SSRs, resulting in the creation of 15 newly independent states. Can it get any simpler than that?

Not so fast. In 1991, the Soviet Union was a true administrative monster that held together as many as 173 different territorial entities: 15 above-mentioned SSRs, 20 Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics (ASSRs, parts of SSRs), 8 autonomous regions, 114 regions, 6 territories ("край"), and 10 autonomous districts.

Countless changes to this administrative puzzle have occurred in almost 70 years (1922-1991) that the Soviet Union was in existence: new districts, regions and republics emerged and then disappeared with the speed of images on a slide show; borders between entities were drawn and redrawn, and then redrawn again, by a restless hand of a mysterious artist; shuffling smaller "republics" between bigger ones was taking place almost as often as shuffling cards in professional poker. Just a few examples. In 1936, the Kazakh and Kyrgyz ASSRs ceased being parts of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), the largest SSR in the USSR, and were "upgraded" to the Kazakh and Kyrgyz SSRs, while the Karakalpak ASSR was transferred from the RSFSR to the Uzbek SSR. In the 1950's, a swath of RSFSR territories bordering the Kazakh SSR went under the Kazakh SSR's jurisdiction. In 1954, the Ukraine SSR got a gift from the RSFSR: Crimea (the Crimea region of the RSFSR).

Think about that for a moment. Crimea has been an intrinsic part of Russia for almost 200 years, with the Russian Empire spending blood and treasure, during the Crimean War of 1853-1856, to keep the peninsula within its borders. And then, a Communist apparatchik, Nikita Khrushchev, following the best traditions of the Soviet Union's arbitrariness, just transferred Crimea from Russia proper to Ukraine. (The reason for Khrushchev's decision -- to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the reunification of Ukraine with Russia -- sounds especially absurd today.) Is it not incumbent upon anyone who wants to put away the legacy of the Soviet Union to condemn this act of supreme state stupidity (the term "state treason" would perhaps be more appropriate) and to demand that Crimea be returned to where it truly belongs: in Russia?

Granted, the borders of some Soviet Socialist Republics -- the three Baltic SSRs (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) come to mind first -- did reflect historically established demarcations between stable and mature nations. But others did not. Instead, they were created by the malicious mind of the world's most creative nation builder, Josef Stalin. Take the Georgian SSR. This product of Stalin's imaginative cartography included the Abkhaz ASSR and South Ossetia autonomous region, both placed under Georgian rule in contradiction to historic and common sense and despite protestations by both the Abkhaz and Ossetian people. So when in 1991, Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union, both Abkhazia and South Ossetia rightfully demanded their independence from Georgia. They won it, after an armed rebellion, in 1992-1993. But the Western governments have refused to accept their de facto independence. Western strategists apparently believed that in this part of the Soviet Union, its "collapse" should be partial, so that Georgia's independence from the USSR was legitimate, despite the fact that Georgia joined the USSR voluntarily, but the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia was not, despite the fact that both entities were made part of Georgia by Stalin's order.

Our Secretary of State ought to consider this the next time she articulates U.S. policy in the region. The Madam Secretary should remember that by vowing to uphold Georgia's "territorial integrity", she is attempting to preserve the legacy of the Soviet Union (and fulfill the dreams of its bloody dictator).

(The Soviet Union is hardly the only place where creative geopolitical cartography was applied. The West applauded the "collapse" of Yugoslavia, a mini-"evil empire" for many. But for the NATO strategists, the "collapse" was not complete enough, so NATO took away, by brutal force, Kosovo from Serbia. But when Serbs in Western Kosovo wanted to join their compatriots in Serbia to stop the ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Kosovars, the West cried foul and vowed to uphold the "territorial integrity" of the narcomafia heaven that contemporary Kosovo is.)

It will take time to heal all the wounds -- political, economic, social, cultural, and physological -- the precipitious and disorderly disintegration of the Soviet Union has caused to Russia and its people. It will also take time to fully understand what the Soviet Union was and was not in the history of the Russian state. The burden of this work lies on the shoulders of the Russians themselves. But we in the West can help, too. First, by accepting that today's Russia is not a Soviet Union and will never be one. Second, by realizing that the "collapse" of the Soviet Union is still going on, and we can't just end its history by whim.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Soccer fans clash with police in Moscow

(CNN), December 12 -- Police have released more than 60 soccer fans detained Saturday in downtown Moscow riots that injured 29 people, an interior department spokesman said Sunday, according to state-run media.

Hundreds of soccer fans clashed with Moscow police as an unsanctioned nationalist-tinged mass memorial for a fellow supporter turned violent, according to state media.

The confrontations took place in Manezh Square, outside the Kremlin, and led to the arrests of 65 Spartak Moscow fans for "disobedience," Moscow police spokesman Viktor Biryukov said, according to official Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

An undetermined number of people -- including several police -- were hurt in the clashes, news agencies reported.

The head of the Spartak Moscow fan club told the semi-official news agency RIA Novosti that the showdown had nothing to do with sports but instead was rooted in problems in Russian society. Nationalist group members stirred the clashes, Russian Football Union president Sergei Fursenko told the news agency.

Some 5,000 fans of the Moscow soccer club had gathered to remember a fellow fan, Yegor Sviridov, who was killed December 6 in northern Moscow by several men from Russia's Caucasus region.

Police blocked their rally, but fans then started a fight with men from Caucasus, reported Itar-Tass. Hundreds of fans chanted nationalist slogans, with some throwing flares and smoke pellets at police.

Video on the independent Russia 24 network showed helmeted police officers clubbing protesters and dragging them away.

Anti-riot police used batons to try to break up the gathering and help facilitate traffic through the area, according to Itar-Tass. Some fights broke out, and several police officers were injured.

Moscow police chief Vladimir Kolokoltsev used a megaphone to urge the crowd to disperse, saying, "You have let (your) steam out. Now you'd better go home," reported Itar-Tass. Kolokoltsev later credited Interior Ministry official Yuri Demidov for giving "exhaustive answers" to fans' questions and calming them down.

Still, according to Itar-Tass, about 300 supporters "crushed everything" on their way from the square to the subway, breaking lights on escalators and smashing windows on a train.

Kolokoltsev said that he was confident that all those involved in the December 6 confrontation in northern Moscow would be arrested. Itar-Tass reported Friday that two of those suspects had already been detained.

Source: CNN

Related issues

During an unauthorized rally fans at the Manege Square a few dozens people attacked migrants from the Caucasus (Ria Novosti)

Thursday 9 December 2010

21 May 1864: From Dmitri Kipiani to Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich Romanov

Excerpt from Stanislav Lakoba's ''Двуглавый орел и традиционная Абхазия'' (Double-headed eagle, traditional Abkhazia)

In the suppression of the last pockets of resistance in the Caucasus, Georgian militia, loyal servants of the autocratic state, played a significant role. Together with the Russian troops, they took part in the victory parade at Krasnaya Polyana on 21 May 1864. And on 9 June, as a crowd gathered, Tiflis Marshal of the Nobility, Dmitri Kipiani, greeted the Governor of the Caucasus, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich Romanov, with the words:

"Your Imperial Highness! You have completed the conquest of the Caucasus and have thus incorporated in history an event of enormous importance that is inseparable from your name. Persons selected by the Georgian nobility bring your Imperial Highness congratulations in the name of all social classes."

In June, the autocratic state abolished the Abkhazian monarchy and instituted a temporary "military-national administration." Thereafter, Abkhazia was renamed the Sukhum Military Department of the Russian Empire. General P. N. Shatilov became Head of the Department on 12 July 1864.


В подавлении последних очагов сопротивления на Кавказе большую роль сыграли и грузинские ополчения - верные служители самодержавия. Вместе с русскими войсками они принимали участие в торжественном параде победы на Красной Поляне 21 мая 1864 года. А уже 9 июня при стечении народа тифлисский предводитель дворянства Дмитрий Кипиани обратился с приветствием к наместнику на Кавказе, великому князю Михаилу Николаевичу Романову:

"Ваше Императорское Высочество! Вы довершили покорение Кавказа и тем внесли в историю неразлучное с вашим именем событие громадной важности. Избранные грузинским дворянством, приносим Вашему Императорскому высочеству поздравление от имени всего сословия".

В июне самодержавие упразднило Абхазское княжество и ввело временное "военно-народное управление". Отныне Абхазия была переименована в Сухумский военный отдел Российской империи. Начальником отдела 12 июля 1864 г. стал генерал П. Н. Шатилов.

Двуглавый орел и традиционная Абхазия
Станислав Лакоба



- Many Georgians were eager to take advantage of the privileges associated with imperial service, associate themselves with Europe's notion of progress, and also distinguish themselves from nearby rival and Islamic peoples such as the North Caucasus mountaineers.[5]

- Service records from the imperial era left in what has recently been renamed the Georgian National Archive illustrate the important role played by Georgians in various wars against both mountaineers and the Ottoman Turks.[6]

- Colonel Giorgi Tsereteli from Kutaisi, for example, not to be confused with the writer and sometime theater critic referred to later in this article, managed to survive fighting in Chechnia and Dagestan from 1855-59, service on the Lezgin Line after the conquest, and combat in the war of 1877-78 against the Turks. In 1876 he helped put down a rebellion in Svanetia.[7]

- After the conquest, a Georgian was considered sufficiently reliable to administer troublesome Dagestan oblast¢ in the 1880s. [8]

- Tbilisi served not only as the base of imperial administration and a growing imperial educated society, but also as an anchor for the Russian military in their prosecution of the long Caucasus War.[9]

- Tbilisi was host to important innovations in Russian imperial policy. The well-known geographic, ethnic, and religious complexities of the region perhaps contributed to a general willingness on the part of Russian officialdom to innovate in its administration of this frontier. Tsar Nicholas I himself lost patience with the seemingly interminable war and granted extensive authority to Prince Vorontsov, an unusually powerful and independent figure in the imperial administration. As Anthony Rhinelander has explained, Vorontsov was experienced in the borderlands and well-acquainted with the Caucasus, where he began his military career as an adjutant to Georgian Prince P. D. Tsitsianov (Paata Tsitsishvili) in the early 19th century.

The Dilemmas of Enlightenment in the Eastern Borderlands: The Theater and Library in Tbilisi, by Austin Jersild and Neli Melkadze


[5] sakartvelos sakhelmtsipo saistorio arkivi (Georgian National Historical Archive, Tbilisi, hereafterSSSA) f. 4, op. 3, 1846–1855, d. 181, ll. 22, 60

[6] SSSA f. 7, op. 8, 1861–74, d. 2, ll. 21–52.

[7] SSSA f. 229, op. 1, 1884–85, d. 127, ll. 33–37.

[8] SSSA f. 229, op. 1, 1888, d. 220.

[9] On the war and Sufism in the North Caucasus, see Moshe Gammer, Muslim Resistance to the Tsar: Shamil and the Conquest of Chechnia and Daghestan (London: Frank Cass, 1994), and Anna Zelkina, In Quest for God and Freedom: The Sufi Response to the Russian Advance in the North Caucasus (New York: New York University Press, 2000).