Court to start review on merits of Manege square riot case

MOSCOW, September 7 (Itar-Tass) — The Tverskoi Court in Moscow on Wednesday will begin consideration of the merits of the criminal case over riots at Manezhnaya (Manege) Square in downtown Moscow that took place last December.

The prosecutor is expected to announce the indictment, after which the defendants will express their attitude to the brought charges.

The criminal case over the riots at Manezhnaya Square was opened on December 17, 2010. The defendants are: Belarusian citizen, an activist of the unregistered non-governmental organisation The Other Russia, member of the Strategy 31 movement Igor Berezyuk, two activists of The Other Russia Kirill Unchuk and Ruslan Khubayev, as well as Leonid Panin and Alexander Kozevin. All of them are in custody.

Berezyuk is charged with inciting mass disorders, hooliganism, inciting hatred or hostility, acts of violence against a government official and the involvement of an underage person in a crime. Khubayev, Unchuk, Panin and Kozevin are charged with making calls for rioting, vandalism and violence against a government official.

The riots took place in Moscow on December 11, 2010. They were caused by the situation surrounding the murder of a Spartak football club fan Yegor Sviridov during a scuffle with the natives of the North Caucasus, which occurred several days earlier. After that, up to 5,000 football fans and members of informal nationalist groups gathered at Manezhnaya Square as they were angered by actions of law enforcers who after initially detaining six suspects in the murder of Sviridov, later released five of them on recognizance. The unauthorized rally turned into a clash with security forces.

Criminal cases were opened on the facts of riots at Manezhnaya Square, as well as at the Metro stations Kitai Gorod, Tretyakovskaya, Tverskaya, Filevsky Park and others in connection with infliction of bodily harm, hooliganism and violence against law enforcement bodies.

The five defendants were arrested during the period from January to April this year.

“The criminal investigation against other rioters continues,” spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee (SK) Vladimir Markin said earlier.

According to earlier reports, investigation into the December 11, 2010 riot on Moscow’s downtown Manezhnaya Square is over and its main person named in the criminal charges, Igor Berezyuk, does not recognize his guilt, the man’s lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky said. “My defendant and I signed a protocol on familiarization with the materials of the case,” he told Itar-Tass in late June. “Now these materials will be handed over to the Prosecutor’s Office where the public prosecutor is due to draft an act of indictment that will be then read out in the courtroom.”

Berezyuk is accused of encroachments on several articles of the Criminal Code at a time, including the appeals for public disorders. “As for the riot itself, my defendant doesn’t recognize any guilt on his part in this,” Agranovsky said, adding that Berezyuk refuses to give any evidence as regards the episode with the policeman. Upon the examination of CCTV materials at the beginning of January 2011, the investigators drew a conclusion that Berezyuk had hit an OMON riot police officer on Manezhnaya Square.

Actions of protest were sparked off in a number of Russian cities, including Moscow, by the killing of the 28-year-old football fan, Yegor Sviridov, in a night-time brawl on the outskirts of Moscow. He was killed from a non-lethal gun by a man hailing from North Caucasus.

In Moscow, about 5,000 football fans and nationalistically minded young people filled Manezhnaya Square in the afternoon December 11, chanting nationalistic slogans and provoking incidents with the use of brute force against the non-Slavic-looking passers-by. Clashes between the protesters and the police occurred and 35 persons turned up at hospitals with various injuries by the end of the day.

Manezhnaya Square is a large pedestrian open space at the heart of Moscow bound by the Hotel Moskva to the east, the State Historical Museum and the Alexander Garden to the south, the Moscow Manege to the west, and the 18th-century headquarters of the Moscow State University to the north.

The square forms a vital part of downtown Moscow, connecting Red Square (which sprawls behind the Iberian Gate immediately to the south) with a major traffic artery, Tverskaya Street, which starts here and runs northward in the direction of Saint Petersburg. It is served by three metro stations: Okhotny Ryad, Ploshchad Revolyutsii, and Teatralnaya.

The Moscow City Court is simultaneously considering the case of murder of Yegor Sviridov.


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