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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Troops Stop Chechen Protest

KRASNOYARSK, Western Siberia -- A large crowd of angry Chechen fans threatened to take hostages when a jury decision overturned hometown favorite Adam Saitiev's victory at the 32nd Freestyle Wrestling World Championships.


Nineteen-year-old Saitiev, an ethnic Chechen, but representing the Russian team, was declared a winner over Igor Kupeev of Uzbekistan 3-2 in a controversial bout in the 69 kilogram weight class Friday evening.


But the Uzbek side appealed the final score, charging that the referee missed one of Kupeev's moves, good for two points. After going to the videotape the jury reversed the decision in favor of Kupeev.


Late at night after hearing the announcement, some 400 furious Chechens gathered inside a nearly empty 3,000-seat Sports Palace Yenisei and threatened to take hostage several top members of the International Wrestling Federation, including its president 70-year-old Serbian Milan Ercegan.


Special riot troop reinforcements equipped with Kalashnikov rifles and tear gas were called into the arena, already overcrowded with hundreds of local militia men.


Reigning world and Olympic champion Buvaisar Saitiev, 22, Adam's elder brother, who has lived and trained in Krasnoyarsk since 1992 and has the respect of the local population, tried to calm the angry mob.


Only after a promise from the international federation to uphold the initial result did the crowd begin to disperse. But the next day brought bad news for Adam and many of his followers as the jury decision stood and he lost his chance of a gold medal.


Still later that Saturday evening, the very same fans were jumping for joy while waving huge Chechen banners in honor of his older brother. Buvaisar beat his old nemesis -- the 1994 world champion Alexander Leipold of Germany 2-1 in the closest final of the day in overtime to give Russia its first world title at these championships.


It was their rematch of the 1995 World Championship final in Atlanta, also won by the Chechen wrestler.


"I was more nervous tonight than usual, partly because I had to wrestle in front of the home audience but mainly I wanted to win for my brother," Buvaisar said. "One day he'll learn to be a real fighter and beat not only his opponents but dishonest judges as well."


Kurmagomed Kurmagomedov, 19, from the Caucasus republic of Dagestan was able to overcome an experienced Turkish wrestler Ahmet Dogu 5-0 to win Russia's second gold medal in the 97 kilogram division in Saturday's bouts.


On Sunday, Les Gutches of the United States won the first gold for the Americans when he prevailed against Eldar Asanov in the 85 kilogram class. Gutches won on a referee's decision after a 1-1 overtime draw over his Ukrainian opponent, who received two cautions for passivity in the match.


"I'm not happy that I only scored one point," said the winner. "He [Asanov] is a tough opponent and I hope to do better next time."


Host country Russia, which was shut out of gold medal contention in Sunday's four finals, still led the overall medal count, claiming two gold and two bronzes, with Iran a close second with two golds and one bronze. The United States came in third, also taking three medals, one of each color.


"Our small nation has as many gold medals as the whole of Russia," shouted one smiling Chechen supporter, draped in his nation's flag, while leaving the arena on Sunday.


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