Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 191

On October 12, a phalanx of some fifty athletic-looking Russians, wielding metal rods, attacked Azerbaijani, Moldovan and Belarusan produce vendors at Moscow’s Timiryazev food market. While police stood idly by, the attackers destroyed produce stalls and beat up vendors, some of whom were lying bloodied and unconscious on the ground by the time the OMON finally appeared on the scene and the aggressors left undisturbed in their jeeps. Four Azerbaijanis were hospitalized with severe injuries. Vendors complained to reporters that the attack–far from being the first–had followed a steep increase in the “protection tax” extorted by a crime syndicate in complicity with the market administration. The salesmen had balked at the new “tax.”

Russian media covered the pogrom extensively. Coincidentally, on the same day in Chisinau, the Moldovan Foreign Ministry disclosed a failed proposal to the governments of CIS countries regarding mutual protection of their citizens’ legal rights. A draft document to that effect was submitted by Moldova to the meeting of CIS Countries’ Foreign Ministers on October 8 in Yalta, Ukraine. According to Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru, the document would have required observance of the rights of citizens of CIS countries legally to reside and work in other CIS countries. Chisinau had in mind the difficulties encountered in Russia’s cities by farm produce traders from Moldova and the South Caucasus. The countries directly concerned favored Chisinau’s proposal, but the Russian side blocked it on the questionable grounds that it might have blurred the Yalta meeting’s focus on combating terrorism (Itar-Tass, Russian Television “Vesti” program, Flux, October 12; izvestia, Azadlyg, October 13).