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Moscow Riots Continue

Moscow Riots Continue - Behind a black door just steps from the golden domes of Novodevichy monastery, a group of young men and women sit huddled at computers. They are surrounded by racks of the red and white jumpers and scarves that mark the devoted fans of FC Spartak, Moscow's leading football club.

This is the headquarters of Fratria, the unofficial Spartak fan club that lost one of its members when he was killed during a brawl with a gang from the Caucasus, the restive mainly Muslim region on Russia's southernmost flank.

The shooting of Yegor Sviridov on 6 December has sparked the worst race riots Moscow has seen since the fall of the Soviet Union. The killing and beating of immigrants has increased, racist and anti-Semitic graffiti has proliferated, and the atmosphere is tense.

Moscow Riots Continue

For the past week, groups of roaming youth have taken to the streets daily, shouting "Russia for Russians! Moscow for Muscovites!" The youths manning the shop at Fratria insist they are not involved. "We only support legal, peaceful forms of protest," says Lena Sekhina, the club's press secretary.

Russia has a growing racism problem, with nationalist feelings increasingly stoked by the government since the collapse of the Soviet Union left an ideological vacuum. Yet many are beginning to wonder why tensions have finally boiled over. There are the conspiracy theories that say the unrest was stoked by the government of Vladimir Putin to prove the need for his authoritarian rule.

Others wonder whether nationalist groups are taking advantage of the weakened political climate following the dramatic firing of Moscow's veteran mayor, Yury Luzhkov, two months ago.

Moscow Riots Continue

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