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Moscow has become a focal point for racist violence in recent years, given its combustible mix of disenchanted ethnic Russian youth and labor migrants from the Caucasus and impoverished former Soviet republics in Central Asia. Police recorded 26 racially motivated murders in Russia last year, Reuters reports.

Several football fans were injured in central Moscow Saturday in clashes with Interior Ministry troops that broke out during a thousands-strong rally in memory of a Spartak Moscow supporter killed a week ago – Reuters reports on recent football fans, troops clashes in Central Moscow.

The incident, with its racist overtones, is likely to darken Moscow’s image less than two weeks after Russia won the right to host the 2018 soccer World Cup. Thousands of young men gathered at an unsanctioned rally on Manezh Square near the Kremlin around 7 a.m. EST in memory of Yegor Sviridov, 28, shot dead during a fight in northwest Moscow last Sunday night.

A number of passers-by, who were of a non-Slavic appearance, were attacked by the fans, according to a Reuters witness. When the OMON troops beat off the attackers to rescue the victims, the crowd attacked them with fists and makeshift weapons, including flares and metal fence posts.

The clashes lasted for about 30 minutes, followed by a standoff between the two sides for more than an hour. Several suspects, believed to be from the Caucasus, have been detained in the Sviridov murder case. Small-scale political protests are relatively common in the capital, but a gathering on this scale so close to the seat of Russian power is highly unusual.

I use to follow to Ilya Varlamov’s tweets, a local photographer, and here are his photos. What is going on in Moscow just terrible. Some more photos from this guy. Chick on photos to see in an original size.

(To underline – this all happens in a light of Putin’s crooner career for Sharon Stone. See my last post.)

Russia – Strategic partner?! Focal point for racist violence?! Think about it…

Video via RiaNovosti