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Inter-Ethnic Conflict in Stavropol

Here’s one of those stories you haven’t been reading about in the news – especially as there has been practically no English-language coverage. Over the past week, and especially this weekend, there have been numerous brawls (involving hundreds), clashes and attacks between Caucasians and Ethnic Russians in the Southern city of Stavropol. One Chechen was killed last week, and this weekend, two Russian university students were senselessly murdered outside their school, an event which has greatly exacerbated tensions and provoked widespread grief and outrage. Some Slavic groups have called for a city-wide curfew in response to the violence, and are condemning the performance of the territorial migration office – perhaps foreshadowing a future policy toward Chechen immigrants in the area. Ethnic violence constitutes one of modern Russia’s greatest challenges to overcome, and it is unfortunate that the administration largely prefers to hide these kinds of problems and not allow them to be discussed or debated in the “controlled marketplace of ideas.” This inability to engage the inconvenient issues which directly impact Russia’s national identity is a critical flaw of the sovereign democracy model – one that could eventually become unsustainable.

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The mother Nadezhda and father Viktor stand in front of their house with a portrait of their son Dmitry Blakhin in Russia’s southern city of Stavropol, June 4, 2007. Two students Blakhin and Viktor Chadin were killed in Stavropol on June 3 near their institute, Interfax news agency reported. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko (RUSSIA)

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Friends carry the coffin with the body of Dmitry Blakhin in Russia’s southern city of Stavropol, June 4, 2007. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko (RUSSIA)

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A candle is lit in front of the portrait of Dmitry Blakhin at his room in a house in Russia’s southern city of Stavropol, June 4, 2007. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko (RUSSIA)

Kommersant summary via IHT:

INTERETHNIC TENSIONS HIGH AFTER MURDERS: The murder of two ethnic Russian university students on late Saturday or early Sunday in Stavropol could be the latest escalation in a conflict between Russians and residents from the Caucasus, the newspaper wrote. A large brawl on May 24 left one Chechen student dead. Officially, the two students were victims of a robbery, though police have been put on heightened alert. Officials have warned that funeral services for the two could spark interethnic riots like those in the northern city of Kondopoga last fall, which forced residents from the Caucasus, mostly Chechens, to flee.