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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen-Owned Bar Set on Fire in Karelia

A Chechen-owned bar in the Karelian town of Olonets was set on fire early Wednesday by drunk youths following an argument with the bar's manager.

Olonets is close to the town of Kondopoga, where ethnic riots broke out in September.

The manager of the bar, Ogonyok, or "little fire," apparently ejected the youths after they started drinking heavily and fighting among themselves, reported Thursday. The youths later returned, poured gasoline on the one-story wooden building and set it on fire, the web site reported.

They did not do much damage. The manager, an ethnic Azeri who is also a Russian citizen, reported repairs would cost 1,000 rubles ($37.15).

A local police officer who declined to to give his name said ethnic tension was not necessarily to blame. "Some of them might have been trying to provoke a Kondogopoga here," the officer said, referring to the drunk youths. "Or, you know how it is, people get drunk, and then they have to leave, and they bear a grudge for that." The official said fights are common at Ogonyok.

Olonets is home to the republic of Karelia's largest Chechen community. Wednesday's incident in the town of 10,000 bears some resemblance to the events that ignited the disturbances in Kondopoga. In Kondopoga, an Azeri bartender at a restaurant and bar quarreled with ethnic Slavs; in a subsequent brawl, two Slavs were killed.

On Wednesday, the State Duma rejected a motion filed by 92 opposition deputies for an inquiry into the events in Kondopoga. Also Wednesday, the case of Sergei Mozgalev, accused of picking the fight with the Azeri bartender in the Kondopoga restaurant, was sent to court by Karelian prosecutors.