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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Late-Night Cafe Brawl Leaves 4 in Hospital

Four young men were hospitalized with knife wounds after a brawl erupted late Wednesday night between Central Asians and ethnic Russians in northeast Moscow, police said.

Police were quick to dismiss suggestions that the clash was racially motivated, despite police sources who said young nationalists instigated the fight by attacking the migrants.

"Those involved were all drinking heavily and a scuffle broke out," police spokesman Yevgeny Gildeyev said. "This was an entirely ordinary brawl."

The fight broke out at around 11 p.m. Wednesday in a cafe near the VDNKh metro station, Gildeyev said.

"As a result of the fight, four youths were hospitalized for knife wounds and another two were injured but declined medical attention," he said.

Gildeyev declined to elaborate on the nationalities of those involved, saying only that all 10 people were citizens either of Russia or of former Soviet republics. He said police have classified the incident as hooliganism.

Police sources originally said a group of eight nationalists attacked two Central Asians -- believed to be from Kyrgyzstan -- who defended themselves with knifes, reported.

Police received a call from cafe staff shortly after 11 p.m. and encountered a group of dazed and injured young men upon arriving on the scene, reported. The Central Asian men, who had been armed with knives, had fled the cafe by the time police arrived, the web site said.

The injured young men were heavily intoxicated and were unable to describe their opponents, reported. Three of the four hospitalized suffered severe stab wounds to the chest, ribs and back, though doctors said they were not in critical condition, said.

The incident prompted State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov to call for a thorough police investigation.

"There should be a swift and comprehensive investigation to determine whether there were racist motives," Gryzlov said, Interfax reported. "Such incidents are unacceptable in our multiethnic country, moreover in the capital."

Alexander Brod, head of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, said it was too early to tell whether racism played any role in the attack.

"But we will be meeting with police to determine the exact nature" of the incident, Brod said.

At least 35 people have died in more than 120 racist attacks across the country this year, almost twice as many as last year, according to the most recent statistics compiled by Brod's organization. There were around 60 racist attacks in the same period last year, Brod said.