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Published: Friday May 16, 2014 MYT 5:36:16 AM
Updated: Friday May 16, 2014 MYT 5:37:19 AM

Russian police arrest dozens after killing provokes ethnic unrest

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian police detained nearly 60 people on Thursday after a demonstration venting anger against immigrants and demanding the arrest of an Uzbek man suspected of killing a local turned violent, Russian media reported.

Some of the hundreds of protesters in the town of Pushkino, 30 km (20 miles) northeast of Moscow, chanted anti-immigrant slogans, toppled kiosks at a street market and attacked a bus, beating its driver, Ekho Moskvy radio reported.

The riot raised fears of a new outbreak of racial violence such as happened on the streets of Moscow last October and in 2010 after killings of Slavic men that were blamed on people from the Caucasus.

The protesters in Pushkino were angry that Zhakhongir Akhmedov, whom investigators suspect fatally beat a local man, Leonid Safyannikov, after an argument in a parking lot on Tuesday, had escaped arrest.

Citing police, media reported that Akhmedov had fled to Uzbekistan, the homeland of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Russia, but was arrested there and would be returned to Russia for prosecution.

All those detained were later released, state-run news agency RIA reported.

The riot underscored the challenge President Vladimir Putin faces in avoiding violence between ethnic Russians and mostly Muslim people from the Caucasus and the ex-Soviet states of Central Asia, many of them labour migrants.

Putin's pledge to protect Russian-speakers in Ukraine - by military force if necessary - seems to have increased the anger of Russian nationalists at home who accuse the government of ignoring their rights and going easy on migrants.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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