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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

5 Go on Trial in Tsaritsyno Rampage

For MTFrom left to right, Polyakov, Rusakov, Volkov and Trubin sitting in the defendants' cage at the start of their trial Tuesday. They are charged with attacking an outdoor market.
Five young men went on trial Tuesday on charges of participating in a racially motivated rampage in the outdoor Tsaritsyno market last year that left three people dead.

The Moscow City Court started proceedings by unexpectedly excluding the written confession of one of the defendants, a decision illustrating that the new Criminal Procedural Code was being adopted by the court system. The confession did not conform to the requirements of the code, which went into force July 1.

Four of the defendants sat in the courtroom's steel defendants' cage. They were Mikhail Volkov, 20, a student at the Finance Academy and a marketing manager with the National Jewelry Trade Association; Vladimir Trubin, 23, a manager; Sergei Polyakov, 17, a vocational student; and Valery Rusakov, a shaven-headed 17-year-old who said he is unemployed.

The fifth defendant, Sergei Klemanov, 21, a student at the Moscow University of Modern Humanities, sat outside the cage with five defense lawyers.

Klemanov agreed to cooperate with investigators in November.

All five suspects are charged with participating in the riot on Oct. 30, hooliganism and assault. Volkov is also charged with organizing the attack and being an accomplice in murder.

According to the indictment, Volkov bought 150 steel bars at the Kashirsky Dvor construction materials market the day before the attack. He is accused of handing them out at the Tsaritsyno metro station Oct. 30 to a crowd of young people he had invited to participate and telling them to attack non-Russians. The crowd of more than 150, whom Prosecutor Viktor Lyutikov referred to in the indictment as "unidentified individuals," rushed to the nearby Azeri outdoor market, beating dark-skinned people, trashing kiosks and smashing storefront windows. The rampage continued inside the metro. An Azeri, a Tajik and an Indian national died after being bludgeoned, and about 30 market traders and passers-by were hospitalized.

Volkov and Rusakov maintained their innocence in court on Tuesday. The other three partially admitted their guilt and promised to elaborate during the trial.

If convicted on all charges, they face eight to 18 years in prison.

Polyakov was detained the day of the attack, while the other four were picked up on Nov. 18. Klemanov was released after two days on a promise not to leave Moscow.

The courtroom Tuesday was packed with nearly two dozen supporters of the defendants, who sat on each other's knees for lack of space. The young men had closely cropped hair and wore inexpensive tracksuits and heavy boots. Several of the girls had pierced noses and eyebrows.

Polyakov's and Rusakov's mothers quietly sat beside the five lawyers and refused to talk to reporters.

Sharif Agayev, an Azeri national who suffered a fractured skull in the riot, was the only victim to testify at the trial. He appeared to be confused about the proceedings and refused to speak with reporters.

Ilya Pytalyov / For MT

Sharif Agayev, who suffered a fractured skull in the riot, testifying Tuesday. Behind him are Polyakov's and Rusakov's mothers.
The trial opened with an appeal by Volkov's lawyer Vladimir Vymenets to exclude his client's confession. He said Volkov told him that southern district police officers had beaten him for 10 hours before he signed the confession.

"Police had already written the confession in which they declared Volkov organized the attack, but he insists that he was just an onlooker," he said.

Vymenets said a medical examination on Nov. 26 had found Volkov

suffered from fresh injuries to his head, chest, arms and legs.

Volkov, wearing steel-rimmed glasses that gleamed on hollow cheeks, testified that his health had been permanently damaged after the beatings and asked that the police officers be brought to justice.

After a brief break, Judge Fyodor Shtunder announced his decision to exclude Volkov's signed confession -- but not because of the alleged police brutality. He said the confession, which is arranged as a group of explanatory notes, did not adhere to the new Criminal Procedural Code's list of documents that can be accepted in court.

He said, however, that he might reverse his decision if evidence submitted during the trial warranted it.

Sergei Belyak, a lawyer who independently observed the trial, said the judge could change his mind if the police officers who obtained the confession convinced him it had been voluntarily signed and its improper format did not invalidate its importance.

Vymenets was clearly pleased by the judge's decision, saying it halved the evidence against his client.

"The other half is contained in the testimony of another defendant, the one who sits outside the cage," he said outside the courtroom, referring to Klemanov.

Andrei Babushkin, the head of the nongovernmental Committee for Civil Rights, said he believed that the authorities want to make an example of the defendants, and that they would be convicted.

"Without a guilty verdict in this trial, it will be impossible to avert such crimes in the future," he said.

He said, however, that prosecutors have once again shown their shortsightedness by not charging the suspects with participating in a racially motivated attack.

The Kremlin pushed anti-extremism legislation through parliament last month in an attempt to crack down on skinhead and other racially motivated attacks.

A group of nationalists, who happened to be at the courthouse for another trial Tuesday, said shortsightedness by the suspects was to blame for the bad rap nationalists are getting in the media.

"They are good Russian boys thinking the right way, but their methods put all politically organized Russian patriots in danger," said a leader of the ultranationalist Russian National Unity movement, who refused to give his name. Behind him stood a small army of teenage boys clad in black quasi-military uniforms.

Learning that he was being interviewed by a reporter with a Muslim surname, he abruptly shrank back.

"You dared to ask us for comments?" he said, snarling.