trial against skinheads charged with desecrating
Armenian graves in Krasnodar, Russia, continues
to be delayed, eight months after charges were
More than 20 Russian citizens were charged with
destroying 31 Armenian graves in the Slavyanskoe
cemetery last April 17. Nine of the accused have
appeared so far in the court of Kuban in sessions
that began in August.
The Armenian newspaper Yerkramas reported that
seven of the accused remain free, after signing
documents agreeing to not leave the area. Two
others have been held in custody.
The newspaper reported that the defendants initially
admitted their guilt, then recanted, saying they
were pressured by police into making implicating
The hearings were first postponed so that one
of the accused could be examined by a doctor.
A second postponement occurred when one defendant
did not appear in court.
The delays, says Armen Hovsepyan, a member of
the Krasnodar branch of Armenians Union of Russia
cause Armenians of Krasnodar to doubt the validity
of the trial.
"The trial lasts over eight months, though
all evidences of crime were obvious," Hovsepyan
says. "It is time to bring the verdict. I
am afraid that impunity would inflame the tensions
against Caucasians in the region."
The Armenian Diaspora of Krasnodar (around 500,000)
believed that the action of hooligans was provoked
by the remark of the regional governor, who announced
by local TV early in April that Krasnodar should
be cleaned of people from the Caucasus.
They blame Alexander Tkachiov for his "anti-Armenians"
politics, which they say were inherited form the
previous Governor Nicolay Kondratenko.
On November 16 the ex-governor of Krasnodar,
Kondratenko, said in a speech that more than 50
percent of schoolchildren in Adler (one of the
seaside cities of Krasnodar region) are Armenians.
"We Russians are losing Russia" he said.
says that migration control became tougher after
Chechen terrorists took hostages in a Moscow theater
in November, leading to about 200 deaths.
"The migration control is at every step,"
Hovsepyan says. "The police stop you in the
street only because you are not Russian."
Hovsepyan , a native Krasnodar resident says
that all Armenians take passports with them everywhere.
At the same time he says that Krasnodar indeed
faces a great flow of illegal migration. "The
situation is stable, though Armenians, both citizens
and illegal immigrants, feel the tensions while
in transport, institutions or in the street."
The hearing of another case connected to anti-Armenian
actions was recently heard in another Russian
city of Krasnoarmeisk, where 150 Armenians make
up a population of about 35,000.
There (50 kilometers north of Moscow), 20 Russians
were arrested July 7 after 25 Armenians were beaten
or injured. The incident was sparked by a fight
between a Russian and an Armenian, in which the
Russian was stabbed and spent several weeks in
Mariana Babayan, the second secretary of the
Armenian Embassy in Moscow told ArmeniaNow that
the Armenian community was watching the trial
and says that it was fair.
"The verdict is that it was a domestic conflict
between Armenians and Russians. The accused were
free with condition not to leave the city."
"We have to admit that Hayk Sayan (accused
in the stabbing) initiated the clash. He is in
jail at present.
"Recently the delegation of the Embassy
went to Krasnoarmeisk. The situation is stable
and calm there. Armenians of Krasnoarmeisk could
call us at any moment if there will be any troubles.
The mayor of Krasnoarmeisk arrived at our invitation
to celebrate Armenia's independence in September.
I can say than in Moscow Armenians are not oppressed.
At least those who have citizenship or temporary