Azerbaijanis and Armenians have engaged in fights and violent rampages in Moscow following recent cross-border clashes between the two Caucasus nations.
Moscow police said on July 25 that they had arrested more than 30 people on charges of involvement in fights and disturbances.
On the same day, in St. Petersburg, police detained dozens in a bid to prevent another outbreak in clashes between members of the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities.
The spate of violent incidents apparently began when groups of Azerbaijanis beat up Armenians in Moscow early on July 24 and later attacked Armenian-owned stores.
An amateur video posted on the Internet showed several men smashing a car with Armenian license plates and beating up its driver.
Russia’s state-run TASS news agency quoted law enforcement as saying on July 24 that a group of Azerbaijanis had attacked a store selling construction materials belonging to Armenians in Moscow’s Salaryevo district.
On the same day, seven Armenians attacked an Azerbaijani restaurant on Bratislava Street.
Armenians and Azerbaijanis then engaged in fights and attacked each other’s shops and restaurants across the Russian capital.
Calls For Restraint
Calls for restraint from Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats and other officials didn’t seem to have any effect and the brawls have continued.
The Armenians’ Union in Russia said that officials from the country’s Federal Security Service, the top KGB successor agency, held a meeting on July 24 with representatives of the Armenian community to discuss the street clashes and promised that the instigators of violence would be punished.
The incidents in Moscow follow renewed fighting on the border between the two South Caucasus neighbors earlier this month.
Fighting broke out on July 12, and at least 12 Azerbaijani soldiers, including a general, and four Armenian servicemen died before the clashes involving artillery fire and drone attacks largely stopped several days later.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the late 1980s and early 1990s as they transitioned into independent countries amid the dissolution of the Soviet Union. About 30,000 people were killed.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan but is controlled by Christian Armenian separatists.
Russia, the United States, and France are the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which acts as a mediator in resolving the crisis. The group has been struggling for years to mediate a solution.
With reporting by the RFE/RL’s Armenian and Azerbaijani services and AP