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More than 200 arrested in Moscow

By Maxim Tkachenko, CNN
Riot police patrol the streets of Moscow in anticipation of clashes between ethnic groups in the capital.
Riot police patrol the streets of Moscow in anticipation of clashes between ethnic groups in the capital.
  • Police arrested them in a bid to prevent ethnic clashes
  • They seized weapons including knives and tasers
  • Most of those arrested are from the north Caucasus

Moscow (CNN) -- Police arrested more than 200 people in downtown Moscow Wednesday and seized weapons in a bid to prevent clashes between ethnic Russians and members of Caucasus ethnic groups, Russian news agencies reported.

Russian state-run news agency RIA-Novosti and Interfax quoted Moscow police spokesman Col. Viktor Biryukov. CNN's repeated calls to Biryukov went unanswered.

Most of the arrested men are from North Caucasus, Biryukov told the agencies. "All the detainees have been taken to the closest (police stations) for investigations," he said.

Police seized non-lethal weapons, knives, and tasers from some of those arrested.

The police spokesman said that by and large, the situation in the Russian capital was quiet and under police control. He said police and Interior Forces soldiers were patrolling streets in the central part of the city, and that large police details were posted on squares outside Kiyevsky Station and other railway terminals in the Russian capital.

Interfax reported that some 3,000 Moscow police officers were deployed to maintain order after reports of possible clashes between "radical youths" and members of Caucasian ethnic communities.

The agency said about half of those officers were deployed in the area of Kiyevsky Station.

Police were checking people's papers "as a preventive measure," Biryukov said.

Interfax reported that despite their efforts, police failed to prevent a number of small-sized scuffles fueled by ethnic hatred in parts of downtown Moscow.

Security was heavy in most large streets and squares across Moscow on Wednesday in anticipation of possible illegal rallies and demonstrations in the follow-up of large-scale clashes that took place in Moscow and some other cities across Russia over the weekend.