RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Autor)
A Russian court has sentenced 27 suspects to prison terms ranging from two to 10 years for their roles in a deadly 2019 ethnic brawl.
The Penza regional court on July 14 also acquitted one defendant in the case of a mass brawl in the village of Chemodanovka, after which dozens of Romany families left the village.
Twenty-five of those sentenced were released from custody, as they had already served out their sentences while in pretrial detention.
The two men who received the lengthiest prison terms, Nikolai Yurchenko and Pavel Yanenko -- 10 years and seven years in prison respectively -- were found guilty of inflicting bodily harm that led to a person's death.
It remains unclear what exactly sparked the brawl in mid-June 2019, which left Vladimir Grushin dead and four others wounded.
Some media reports quoted law enforcement sources as saying that a conflict between children touched off the melee, which ended with police arresting about 170 people.
Chemodanovka council leader Sergei Fadeyev said that after the brawl, all Romany families in the village and the nearby settlement of Lopatki had "voluntarily" left their homes for an unknown destination.
The regional government said the same day that some 130 Roma left their homes. No official reason was given for why they left, while Fadeyev insisted that they left of their own will and were not forced out.
Roma, members of an ethnic group that lives on the margins of society, are frequently the victims of discrimination, prejudice, and hate in many parts of Europe, particularly in the east, including Russia and other former Soviet republics.
Copyright (c) 2010-2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.