MOSCOW — Moscow police detained hundreds of people after the murder of a Russian man provoked the worst nationalist violence in almost three years in the capital.
The riot, which state news service RIA Novosti said injured six policemen, began Sunday in the Birulyovo district after a 25-year-old local resident was allegedly stabbed to death Oct. 10 by a person born in Central Asia or Russia's Caucasus region. Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev held an emergency meeting after protesters ransacked a shopping center and vegetable storage facility, Moscow police said Monday on its website.
President Vladimir Putin faces a growing challenge from nationalist groups as tensions grow between ethnic Russians and migrant laborers. In December 2010, hundreds of riot police were deployed to quell nationalist riots near Red Square, which were provoked by the shooting of a soccer fan by migrants from Russia's southern Muslim provinces.
"This is a major warning bell because for the first time in Moscow, you've had severe unrest involving not just soccer fans but local residents too," Alexander Verkhovsky, head of the SOVA research center, which tracks xenophobia, said Monday by phone.
A thousand people participated in the unrest and 380 were detained, Vasily Oleynik, deputy head of Moscow's regional safety department, was cited as saying by RIA.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin's office is currently conducting a review of the vegetable storehouse and will also investigate other markets in Moscow, according to a website statement. Police have been ordered to find the killer as soon as possible and Putin has been informed about the situation, the mayor's office said.
Opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who challenged Putin ally Sobyanin for Moscow mayor in last month's elections with promises to rein in migration, called for the city's police chief to resign and urged authorities to impose tougher visa restrictions for workers from Central Asia.
"Sobyanin should come himself to Birulyovo and address the crowd," Navalny said on his Twitter account. "We need a root-and-branch reform of the courts, police and visa regime with Central Asia."