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Russia: Mayor says 900 Romani residents relocated after fatal conflict - but were they forced to?

20.6.2019 12:39
The 2019 unrest in Chemodanovka, Penza Oblast, Russia. (PHOTO:  Telekanal 360)
The 2019 unrest in Chemodanovka, Penza Oblast, Russia. (PHOTO: Telekanal 360)

The Moscow Times reports that after the unrest that was recently sparked in the Penza Oblast of Russia, apparently by an interethnic conflict among youths in the village of Chemodanovka, approximately 900 Romani residents have been forced to leave the region altogether. Romani residents of Chemodanovka and the neighboring village of Lopatki are said to have traveled by bus and relocated to the Volgograd Oblast, 500 kilometers away.

The daily Novaya Gazeta reported that Sergei Fadeyev of the Chemodanovka municipal leadership spoke at a public forum and said the relocation of the Romani residents had been against their will. Novaya Gazeta also reported Fadeyev as saying the local council is addressing whether or not the relocation was legal.

The entire situation around the relocation of the Romani people is, however, very unclear. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty quotes Fadayev as saying the Romani residents left their homes "voluntarily", and he denied reports that the relocation had been forced on the Roma when speaking to the RIA Novosti wire service.

Dina Cheremushkina, spokesperson for the Governor of Penz Oblast, also denied that the relocation may have involved force. "The Roma decided voluntarily to leave their homes," she told Novaya Gazeta.

"I am unable to say where they went," Cheremushkina told the paper. "Certainly they have friends or relatives in other regions."

"No buses were organized for them," the Governor's spokesperson claimed. The violent clash between local residents in Chemodanovka happened on the evening of Thursday, 13 June.

The cause was apparently a conflict among local youth at a fishpond, as a consequence of which local Russians took the law into their own hands and set out to punish the alleged culprits in the Romani community. The Romani people who were attacked reportedly used weapons to defend themselves, killing one assailant and injuring four others, one of them seriously.

Russia's statewide media did not begin reporting on the case until about 1 000 inhabitants of Chemodanovka blocked a federal highway on Friday, 14 June in an attempt to draw attention to the conflict and to achieve clarification about the murder of 33-year-old Vladimir Grushin, who lost his life when he and about 200 other local Russians set out to attack Romani people whom they believed had been bothering Russian girls and allegedly attempted to rape one of them. On Saturday, 15 June, the homes of Romani residents of the village of Lopatki were set on fire.

bau, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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konflikt, nepokoje, Rusko, Stěhování


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