MorganRants

Things I am passionate about. Injustice, stupidity, intolerance, bigotry and small-mindedness. Oh and there might just be some humor to offset the whole thing.

Russian Muslim regions erupts in violence and gunfire

Posted by morganwrites on February 7, 2008

NAZRAN, Russia (AP) – Security forces fired in the air and beat stone-throwing protestors Saturday to disperse a banned anti-government rally in Russia’s largely Muslim province of Ingushetia.Automatic rifle fire erupted as police and paramilitary forces chased protestors through the center of Ingushetia’s biggest town, Nazran, near Chechnya in the Caucasus mountains of southern Russia.

There were no immediate reports of serious casualties, indicating that the shooting was in the air.

Smoke and flames poured from the offices of the state newspaper Serdalo and at Ingushetia’s main hotel Assa. It was not clear who started the fires.

A local state television employee told AFP that a mob had attempted to torch the television offices, but had been beaten back.

The approximately three hours of violence broke out after about 500 demonstrators ignored warnings and a heavy security presence to rally on Nazran’s central square against corruption and human rights abuses.

They carried placards calling for the resignation of the province’s widely unpopular president, Murat Zyazikov.

Hundreds of police, including special forces wearing helmets and black masks, beat the protestors off the square and pursued them in side streets. Demonstrators fought back with stones and bottles, including one filled with burning petrol.

“Why are you attacking us? We are brothers!” protestors shouted to the police, who were also apparently local ethnic-Ingush.

Hundreds of special forces, police, and regular troops, as well as two armoured fighting vehicles, could be seen deployed. A military helicopter circled over the town.

Half a dozen Russian journalists were detained while attempting to cover the incident, reported Echo of Moscow radio, two of whose reporters were among those taken to a police station.

Two members of the human rights organisation Memorial were also detained while attempting to monitor the rally, Echo of Moscow reported.

On Friday Russia’s FSB secret services announced that Nazran and other parts of Ingushetia had been declared “counter-terrorism zones”. The designation gives emergency powers to security forces to stop traffic and enter homes and businesses.

Organizers of the rally said it was called to protest against corruption and dozens of disappearances and murders blamed by human rights activists on government death squads. They called another rally for February 23, the news site www.ingushetiya.ru said.

Idris Khamkhoiyev, an unemployed resident of Nazran, said the Ingush were fed up with the authorities’ failure to address widespread poverty and human rights abuses.

“If they didn’t disperse us but had listened to us today, then we might have avoided this situation. We have to shout for them to notice us,” he said.

In November police fired automatic weapons in the air to disperse hundreds of people taking part in a similar protest.

The Ingush share close ethnic links with the Chechens, as well as the Sufi Muslim religion.

However they have never joined Chechnya’s independence movement and were largely spared two devastating wars conducted in Chechnya by Russia’s armed forces over the last 15 years.

Meanwhile, The Other Russia coalition said that a demonstration in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad planned for Sunday had been banned and two of their activists arrested for what it said were political reasons.

“We are abandoning the protest tomorrow, because the police called us and warned us all the protestors would be arrested if they came to demonstrate,” said Sviatoslav Voronin, spokesman for the coalition’s local branch.

So, how are things in your neighborhood?  Anybody remember the Watts riot in Los Angeles in August of ’65?

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