Then last week, a young Russian man was stabbed to death in an argument about his girlfriend. On Tuesday, police said they had detained a man from Azerbaijan and plan to charge him in the killing — but by that time Biryulyovo was already Russia’s biggest news story. Angry young men and some women, many apparently fueled by vodka, had stormed the market Sunday, smashing doors and windows and looking for migrants to assault — and when the police belatedly intervened, the mob attacked them instead.
More than 300 people were detained, and several were hospitalized.
But since then, city officials have been scrambling to placate the Russians who feel offended by the migrants and abandoned by their public servants. It’s not the easiest of maneuvers, because Moscow’s leaders have been profitably pitting migrants against residents for years, taking advantage of both.
Until Sunday’s riot, residents said, no one had listened to their complaints about the killing.
“You do not want feedback?” asked Alexander Shumsky, head of a citizens group called Probok.net that tries to find solutions to urban problems. (The name is a play on the Russian words for “No traffic jams.”)
“So you got it anyway,” he wrote in his blog, “just in a different form.”
Only three of the rioters face charges. On Tuesday, the police department fired the head of the Biryulyovo detachment, as well as his immediate superior.
Officials promised new regulations making it harder for foreigners to rent or buy Moscow apartments, though this would achieve little because most migrants here are either Russian citizens from the Caucasus or are already in illegal living situations, greased with bribes.
Health officials shut down the market, posing another problem: It handles 60 percent of Moscow's fruit and vegetables. Trucks were backed up Tuesday, with nowhere to deliver their loads.
Also Tuesday, the Russian Orthodox Church called for volunteer patrols to identify illegal migrants, in apparent recognition that the police don’t enforce the law. The Interior Ministry said police had detained 1,245 migrants who work at the market in order to check their documents — as if the local beat cops didn’t already know who was in the city illegally — and charged 214.
It was not clear how many of those facing prosecution were among the victims of Sunday’s riot.