Russian Armenian Leader Says Krasnodar Governor Should Accept Responsibility for Events

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The "Union of Armenia’s of Russia" (UAR) All-Russian public organization "expressing the will and interests of more than 2 million Armenia’s in the country–vigorously protests against the actions of Governor of the Krasnodar Territory Tkachyov and his myrmidons." According to the UAR’s Information-Analytical Department–the governor and his myrmidons take direct responsibility for triggering hostility that undermined the bases of inter-ethnic peace and consent and "created threat to integrity and even to the existence of Russia itself as a multi-national state."

"The clumsy attempts of Governor Tkachyov to explain the actions of vandalism by the passions of football fans supposedly acting under the influence of drugs cannot convince us. We are sure that the actions of young and adult vandals are the direct consequence of the attempts of the governor and his command to establish fascist orders in the territory. In accordance with the international obligations of Russia and its internal legislation–we demand the attraction of the governor and other co-participants of these crimes to judicial responsibility," says the Union of Armenia’s of Russia.

"The growth of extremism is a serious threat to stability and public security in the country," Putin said in his state of the nation address. "I am referring first of all to those who under fascist and extremist slogans and symbols organize pogroms and beat people–while police and prosecutors offices have no effective instrumen’s to punish the organizers and instigators of such crimes.

"They act–in fact–like organized crime groups–and should be subject to the same prosecution," he said.

The cabinet will soon send tough legislation aimed at fighting extremism to the parliament–he said.

The State Duma just Wednesday rejected a petition by liberal lawmakers to put hearings about extremism on the agenda for its fall session and voted down a proposal to invite Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov and General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov to report about extremist and nationalist groups.

Now the Duma will have no choice.

After Putin’s address–Justice Minister Yury Chaika said his ministry would send a bill to combat extremism to the Duma within days. The bill – to allow tough charges to be brought against attackers and parties deemed to have inspired them – has already been drawn up with the presidential administration–he said.

"The latest events in Moscow–Krasnodar–Kostroma and other regions in the country demonstrate the urgency of the issue that will be regulated by the law on fighting extremism," he said–according to Interfax.

In the southern Krasnodar region–a renowned hotbed of Russian nationalism–a skinhead group raided an Armenian cemetery Wednesday night and tore down about 30 monumen’s–Interfax reported Thursday.

Putin’s stand against racially motivated attacks Thursday marks the strongest statement he has made to date on the issue. Nationalities Minister Vladimir Zorin expressed hope Thursday that something would be done.

"This movement [of skinheads] represents a supreme threat to the Russian people because its very dignity is being humiliated," he was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Bishop Yezras Nersisian–the head of Russia and Nor-Nakhichevan Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church harshly condemned the acts of vandalism and desecration of the Armenian graves at the municipal cemetery of Krasnodar.

He described desecration as "blasphemous crime" and voiced hope that the perpetrators of this act of vandalism will be caught and made answerable. The Bishop also expressed confidence that such actions would not be prepared again in the future. "I am sure that nothing and nobody could shake centuries-old traditions of ethnic and religious tolerance in Russia and sacred friendship between the Russian and Armenian peoples," Bishop Yezras said.

Aghvan Vardanian–parliament member from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation said a delegation of Armenian lawmakers will be dispatched to the southern Russian city of Krasnodar–the scene of recent ethnic tension–to join counterparts from Russian State Duma for an in depth look into the situation. Tensions rose high after the Krasnodar governor approved a decision by local lawmakers calling for deportation of all illegal immigran’s from the region–in which each fifth person is believed to be an immigrant. Armenian population there is between 500,000 to 800,000.

The delegation will leave for Krasnodar either in late April or early May. Vardanian said the Armenian delegation will include members of foreign relation committee as well as members of the Armenia-Russian parliamentary group.

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