Nearly 400 People Detained in Immigration Raid in Russia

Published: April 11, 2013

MOSCOW — Russian security services and immigration police raided a market in the center of St. Petersburg on Thursday and detained 378 people, many of them migrants from Central Asia and the mainly Muslim North Caucasus.

The arrests followed an armed melee at the gates of the market early Thursday morning in which one man died of a knife wound. Local news reports said he was from the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic of the North Caucasus.
In a statement, St. Petersburg police called the follow-up raids a preventive measure and said that immigration police were reviewing residency permits for 330 of those detained. The statement said that 26 people had been charged with hooliganism and 19 people were being investigated for participating in the fight.
The open-air Sennoy market, a popular hub for migrant workers, has become a frequent target for immigration raids by city police. In early February, more than 270 people were detained in Muslim prayer rooms near the market in an investigation into the distribution of extremist literature and video clips showing terrorist acts.
In that case, police deported seven of the men, natives of Tajikistan and Azerbaijan, and investigated another man on suspicion of having incited terrorism and hatred. A conviction under that charge can carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.