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In Russia, Ultra Nationalists Use Soccer Fan's Death As Rallying Cry

After a Russian soccer fan was killed following an argument with an Azerbaijani, ultra-nationalists held a rally near Red Square in Moscow that led to 100 arrests. Soccer stadiums are increasingly the bastion of xenophobic movements in Russia.

Russian riot police.
Russian riot police.

Worldcrunch *NEWSBITES

MOSCOW - Russian authorities are increasingly worried that soccer fans are feeding a rise in neo-Nazi activities. The latest sign was a large, non-sanctioned ultra-nationalist rally in central Moscow to protest the death of an 18-year-old soccer fan, Andrei Uropina, who was killed in a fight outside a Moscow nightclub last week. An Azerbaijani, Khosruvlo Nail, is wanted on suspicion in Uropina's death.

The ire of ultra-nationalists is most frequently directed towards individuals from the Caucasus region, particularly Chechens, but also Azerbaijanis and Armenians, who have become the most popular ethnic scapegoat for problems in Russian society.

Riot police were dispatched to Manezh Square, next to Moscow's Red Square, to break up the rally over the alleged murder. Wearing track suits and T-shirts proclaiming "I am Russian," the nationalists who gathered stood out from the tourists, making them easy targets for police, who confiscated flares, smokebombs, pistols and metal rods. Some 100 protesters were arrested. Word of the protests spread through social networking sites as organizers said Nail had fled Russia and accused the police of playing down the incident.

Investigators deny there was any racial motive to the murder, arguing that the alleged killer was actually standing up for his friend, a Russian, after an altercation broke out in the line for a disco. They said Nail had been put on a federal and international wanted list and that he was facing charges of murder and attempted homicide.

There have been many calls for another ‘Manezh Square," which has become the traditional place for ultra-right actions. But until the latest rally, those calls had attracted no more than a couple teenagers. Last December, more than 6,000 football fans and nationalists rioted there, demanding an investigation into the killing of a Spartak Moscow soccer fan who was shot in a dispute with several people from the Caucasus.

Maria Rozalskya, an expert on the ultra-right, said that a repeat of the events of last December was possible. "But for that to happen, there needs to be enough of a reason. The nationalists still need enough of a reason to gather en masse in the way they did last year."

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Photo -Rob Lee
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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

A paper dove reads "Mariupol" at a shelter for displaced children in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine.

Paweł Smoleński

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

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Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

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