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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Detain 51 at Stavropol Protest

APProtesters trying to attack a shwarma cafe, which are often owned by ethnic non-Russians, in Stavropol late Tuesday.
Fifty-one people were detained during an overnight protest in Stavropol to denounce the killing of two students, police said Wednesday. Two were still being held Wednesday.

About 1,000 young people took part in the protest, denouncing non-Russians and brawling with police. Most were skinheads and members of ultranationalist organizations such as the Movement to Stop Illegal Immigration, a Stavropol city police spokesman said by telephone.

The slain students, Viktor Chadin and Pavel Blokhin, were stabbed to death Saturday night in what ultranationalists call an ethnic hate crime. The deaths came less than two weeks after an ethnic Chechen student, Gilani Atayev, was killed in a street brawl in the southern city.

But a prosecutor said ethnic hatred was not even being considered as a possible motive. "There is no basis for that," Andrei Vlasov, prosecutor of the city's Leninsky district, said by telephone.

Another source in the Leninsky district prosecutor's office noted that a suspect had been identified in the killings and he was not from the Caucasus. No arrests have been made.

The Stavropol prosecutor's office has opened a criminal case against a demonstrator suspected of inciting ethnic hatred, the city police spokesman said.

Semyon Danilov / ap
Protesters shouting as police stop their march in Stavropol on Tuesday night.
A spokesman for the police station in the Leninsky district, where the demonstration took place, identified the suspect as Alexander Chernovolov, a Stavropol resident. "Chernovolov shouted ultranationalist slogans more furiously than others, called for the expulsion of people of other nationalities from Stavropol, and insulted them," said the spokesman, Interfax reported. Chernovolov was being held in custody Wednesday. If charged and convicted of inciting ethnic hatred, he could face up to five years in prison.

Another demonstrator faces a fine for hooliganism, including the use of foul language, the city police spokesman said. The other 49 detainees were released after a short "explanatory conversation," he said. He said a window of a cafe was broken during the rally but nothing was seriously damaged.

The presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, Dmitry Kozak, and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev met with Stavropol police on Wednesday to discuss the May 24 street brawl in which Atayev was killed. Kozak called the incident "an ordinary fight that often happens in Moscow and other cities" and accused "outside forces" of exaggerating it.